When Vronsky returns, he and Anna are both in good spirits, but their moods quickly sour when they quarrel over when they should leave Moscow for the country. Anna is angry that Vronsky says he has to visit his mother and therefore see the young princess whom his mother wants him to marry. Anna says that respect was invented to cover up the empty place where love should be, and Vronsky is hurt.
Anna and Vronsky become worse when they’re together, understanding each other less and less well. In contrast, Kitty and Levin don’t work as well when they’re apart, but when they’re together, they function as a bonded domestic partnership, which is how marriages should work.
Anna storms off in a jealous rage, believing that Vronsky is in love with another woman because he wants to put off their departure for a few days. She comes to the realization that only her death will make Vronsky love her and resolve the shame of her relations with Karenin and Seroyzha. Vronsky returns and mollifies Anna, agreeing to everything; Anna’s jealousy melts into a desperate tenderness.
Anna’s irrational, emotional thinking leads her to thoughts of suicide, which is the first time in the novel that Tolstoy has shown Anna considering death actively as an option; though the man on the train tracks at the novel’s beginning and the ominous recurring nightmare have signaled the possibility of death, now this consideration has bubbled into Anna’s consciousness. It’s interesting that Anna realizes that death will make Vronsky love her more. Their relationship has been founded on a kind of reckless love and also the emptiness of lies and evasions. Death is the ultimately emptiness; suicide the ultimate recklessness. And so suicide will pull Vronsky further into the toxic spiral he shares with Anna. And for Anna, who now exists solely to try to hold onto Vronsky’s love, the logic that dying would let her keep is love (even if it means she is dead) begins to seem pretty sensible.