Throughout the novel, blushing is an important sign of emotion: even though characters might not be able to say what they’re feeling, their actions speak louder than words, and their appearance reveals deep physical sensations. Characters blush out of embarrassment—when Levin is courting Kitty, for example, and he first confesses his love for Kitty to Oblonsky, he is deeply embarrassed and awkward, and the blushing reveals that his emotions run deep. When Levin develops a crush on Anna later in the novel, his blush guiltily gives him away to Kitty before he can confess verbally. Blushing demonstrates true emotion that runs in the blood and cannot be masked, despite the demands of society. Although Karenin wants to remain composed and collected throughout Anna’s affair, his blushing gives away the fact that he does have emotions under his chilly exterior. However, sometimes blushing is a false positive, or a holdover from a prior emotional state. When Kitty and Levin are happily married, Kitty sees Vronsky and blushes, but the reddening is more from embarrassment at the conduct of her former self than due to any new sensations.
Blushing Symbol Timeline in Anna Karenina
The timeline below shows where the symbol Blushing appears in Anna Karenina. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 5
Part 1, Chapter 9
...as expected, he finds Kitty skating. Kitty skates unsteadily towards him, and Levin finds himself blushing and stammering. Levin rents skates and takes the ice with Kitty. He is an excellent... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 20
Part 3, Chapter 26
...peasants at elections. The snipe-shooting that day is not very good. At tea afterwards, Levin blushes and feels awkward around the sister-in-law, who is wearing a dress with a plunging neckline. (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 4
Part 7, Chapter 1
Part 7, Chapter 10
Part 7, Chapter 11
...obsessively thinks about Anna. He tells Kitty that he has reconciled with Vronsky, and admits, blushing, that he has seen Anna; she immediately can tell that he has fallen in love... (full context)
Part 7, Chapter 28
Part 8, Chapter 7