Seryozha doesn’t believe that Anna has actually died, and whenever he goes for a walk, he looks for her: his nanny has confirmed that Anna is still alive, and he loves her too much to think that she’s bad. Karenin speaks almost abstractedly to Seryozha, as though addressing an imaginary boy, and gives him his religious lesson––verses from the gospels and the Old Testament. Although Seryozha knows the verses well, he gets lost in daydreams and can’t concentrate. Seryozha refuses to believe in death. That night, for his birthday, Seryozha makes a secret prayer that his mother will return.
While Karenin walls himself in his work and the façade of social ambitions, Seroyzha lives willfully in the bubble of his dreams, refusing to accept a reality other than the one he has constructed for himself. Karenin interacts with Seryozha as though his son were an imaginary, idealized boy, not the real, physical individual that he is.