Now that you have reached the end of Anna Karenina, you may find yourself wondering if Tolstoy secretly combined two novels—one starring Anna and the other Levin—or, if it is just one novel, what holds the different plotlines together?

One possible answer is to regard Dolly and Stiva as the link between them. Indeed, although Anna and Levin aren't related themselves, they do have relatives in common: Anna is Levin's sister-in-law's sister-in-law. But is this connection strong enough to hold the novel together? This indirect kinship does seem to keep Anna and Levin in the same orbit. Much as Anna begins the novel by coming to the rescue for Stiva and Dolly in their time of crisis, Levin ends the novel by bailing them out—Dolly and the children are spending their second summer with the Levins, and Levin steps in for the dead-beat Stiva.

No matter how many ways Anna and Levin are related by family, Tolstoy hints at another kind of connection between them—one of a more mysterious nature. Are they living parallel lives or with the wrong partner? Are they kindred spirits? Levin's faith saves him; was Anna completely faithless or was it simply a matter of too little too late?

Anna and Levin's mysterious kinship

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