The day Koznyshev arrives is one of Levin’s most tormenting days. It is one of the most pressing work seasons, and as Levin works on the farm and looks at the peasants working so hard to harvest the crops, he wonders what it’s all being done for, as everyone will eventually die. Levin talks with a peasant who compares a stingy innkeeper with a kind man who lives for his soul. When the peasant mentions living for his soul, Levin has a revelation: this is the answer to his existential crisis.
Levin watches the peasants and wallows in existential despair; he projects his own despair onto the peasants. A peasant tells Levin a fable that ends with the injunction that one must live for one’s soul. This simple, trite statement strikes a tremendous chord with Levin: the cliché is Levin’s eureka moment.