That morning, Karenin receives a delegation from the racial minorities in the provinces; he also writes a letter to the lawyer to act at his discretion, enclosing the love letters from Vronsky to Anna. Oblonsky arrives, and Karenin turns down the dinner invitation, telling Oblonsky that he is starting divorce proceedings against Anna. Oblonsky insists that Karenin talk the matter over with Dolly, and Karenin finally agrees, also agreeing to come to dinner. They talk about Oblonsky’s superior, whom Karenin feels has been promoted too highly too quickly.
Karenin treats his internal affairs as though they are a political knot he has to untangle, proceeding with his letter to the lawyer with the same cool efficiency that serves him well in political matters. Because Karenin knows that Oblonsky knows about his marital turmoil, he feels uncomfortable around him, but when he realizes that Dolly might be able to help Anna change her behavior, he agrees to put himself in the potentially awkward dinner party.