Levin can’t bear to be with Nikolai, but he can’t bear to not be there. Kitty, on the other hand, takes an extremely practical approach: she cleans the sick room, sends for the doctor, and makes sure all necessities are dealt with. Nikolai comes to adore Kitty. When Nikolai holds Levin’s hand and kisses it, Levin is overcome.
Unlike Levin, who cannot handle pragmatic affairs in an emotional crisis, Kitty remains calm and at ease. Levin gets too overcome with passion in all extremes of his life to be any good at sorting through logistics, but crisis has the opposite effect on Kitty, as it makes her more mature. There is also a sense here that Tolstoy is suggesting that women operate more comfortably and capably in these domestic situations than men do—that women have a domestic strength that men lack.