Dolly continues to insist that divorce is necessary and that they should have a legal bond. Anna says that the thought of divorce drives her mad: even if she knows she should do it, she’ll lose custody of her son. She wants to have both Seryozha and Vronsky, but this is impossible. When Dolly goes to bed, she is eager to see her home and children again; Anna, meanwhile, takes morphine before returning to her room. Vronsky wants to find out the result of her conversation with Dolly, but Anna tells him nothing.
Even though Dolly realizes that the ties between Vronsky and Anna are built on shaky grounds, she still wants Anna to get a divorce and marry Vronsky so that she will stop living in this unstable limbo world. Yet Anna’s love for her son—perhaps the only pure love she has left in her life, though she idealizes even that—and her resulting desire to remain his legal mother, tie her hands. Stuck as she feels herself to be, Anna has begun to take drugs to block out the world, since her own imagination and willful thinking has not proven potent enough.
The next morning, Dolly returns to Levin’s estate. During the ride home, her servants agree with her that the Vronsky estate is luxurious but extremely stiff. When Dolly comes home, she is so happy to be back that she can be sweet about Anna and Vronsky.
Dolly is relieved to return to her children: she’s no longer jealous of other women, but instead realizes that though she may not have domestic bliss, she does have a home life based on love, not on the empty trappings of money and beauty.