The next day, Oblonsky goes to a ballet rehearsal to give a dancer a necklace, then goes to the market to shop for the dinner party. Along with Karenin, Levin and Kitty will be coming to dinner; Koznyshev will be there as well, and Oblonsky looks forward to political fireworks between him and Karenin. Oblonsky can tell by Karenin’s awkwardness that relations are strained between Anna and Karenin. Oblonsky has had a difference of opinion with his superior at work, but feels it will all shape up.
Oblonsky is still openly carrying out affairs, but he is also devoted to his family life. Unlike Karenin, who feels like he has to maintain a proper social face by pretending that the marriage is going well, Oblonsky feels free to conduct infidelities openly, flirting for all the world to see. Oblonsky is an eternal optimist, convinced that everything will turn out for the best.
Oblonsky speaks briefly with Levin, who begins telling him all about workers in Europe, saying that there is no worker problem in Russia, but that the issue is that the peasants’ relation to the land is crumbling. Oblonsky seems attentive, but only hears what he wants to hear––that is, that everyone seeks pleasure.
Levin and Oblonsky obtain two entirely different impressions from their conversation, showing Tolstoy’s mistrust of verbal communication: even when Levin thinks he is communicating his ideas passionately, Oblonsky only hears what he already thinks.