As Nikolai tells Levin about his work and political life, Levin finds it difficult to listen because Nikolai looks so consumptive. When Nikolai steps out of the room for a moment, Marya tells Levin that Nikolai’s drinking has gotten worse.
Though Nikolai is more passionate than ever about his political activities, his health is failing. Even though Marya is not legally his wife, she devotedly takes care of him.
Over dinner, Nikolai discusses his socialist views, growing heated in his dismissal of institutions, and Levin is uncomfortable when he recognizes his own views coming out of the mouth of his brother. When Levin leaves, he privately tells Marya to write to him if things get worse and to persuade Nikolai to live in the country with Levin.
Levin is discomfited to hear socialist views that he himself has expressed sounding ridiculous when they come out of Nikolai’s mouth. Although Nikolai doesn’t want to be saved by his brother, Levin wants to save him.