Koznyshev and Levin chat. Koznyshev thinks that zemstvos are very important theoretically, but Levin has been disenchanted by seeing how they work in reality. Koznyshev says that their sickly older brother, Nikolai, is back in Moscow and has sent Koznyshev a note telling the younger brothers to leave him alone. Despite the note, Levin resolves to see him, but before doing so, he goes to find Kitty.
Nikolai, Levin’s brother and Koznyshev’s half-brother, is a ruined man whose physical illness reflects his state of demise. He has squandered most of his fortune and associates with the underbelly of society.