Oblonsky is late to his own dinner party; when he arrives, things seem stiff and awkward, but Oblonsky mingles and puts people at ease. When Levin arrives, all he can concentrate on is seeing Kitty again, whom he hasn’t talked to since the failed proposal, and they are both very emotional. Oblonsky takes Levin to meet Karenin, but Levin and Karenin, as it happens, had met previously once, on a train. Kitty asks Levin about bear hunting and gives Levin an opportunity to show off his physical prowess while looking at him adoringly. Levin tells the story of how he and Karenin met, and he feels as though he has grown wings; Koznyshev watches his half-brother in wonder.
Oblonsky is the only one who can make the dinner party function smoothly. He is the social lubricant: without him, no one understands how to act, but when he is around, conversations run smoothly, and people become comfortable again. Karenin and Levin are contrasted: whereas Karenin hides all his emotions, even from himself, Levin is extremely excited by seeing Kitty and cannot hide his emotions. And Kitty is the same: though she does not say it aloud, her body language suggests that she loves him, and Levin is radiant.