Levin goes to the Zoological Gardens, where, as expected, he finds Kitty skating. Kitty skates unsteadily towards him, and Levin finds himself blushing and stammering. Levin rents skates and takes the ice with Kitty. He is an excellent skater. Levin tells Kitty that he is more confident when she leans on him, which makes Kitty back away and become chilly towards Levin.
Levin’s physical vigor in skating reflects his robust character and zest for life. He is initially awkward around Kitty, whom he adores and reveres, but when he can be engaged in physical activity, he becomes bold, but this is too much of an advance for Kitty.
Levin sees a young skater doing a new jump, and he tries it himself, pulling it off successfully. Kitty, watching him, regrets to herself that she is not in love with him. Levin goes off to dinner with Oblonsky, conflicted by his encounter. He is worried about Kitty’s turn of mood toward him, but he is buoyed when she says, “See you soon,” and because of his inner conflict, he can barely listen to Oblonsky’s chatter.
Levin’s skating prowess proves his vigor and shows that he is in the prime of life. Tolstoy switches into Kitty’s point of view briefly to show that she enjoys flirting with Levin and likes his company but does not think she loves him. Levin is so lovesick that he cannot pay attention to Oblonsky.