Part 5 section 22: The Countess comes to see Karenin and tells him that she will help take care of his house and his son. She does not do a very good job, and Karenin's valet Korney actually ends up arranging most things.
Part 5 section 23: The Countess had married when she was quite young, but her husband left her and they now live apart but are not divorced. After her husband left she never ceased to be in love with somebody, often with several men and women at the same time. At this time she convinces herself that all of those loves meant nothing and that she is in love with Karenin. She has heard that Anna and Vronsky are in town and does not want Karenin to know it, as she does not want him to be hurt. She receives a note from Anna asking to see her son, Serezha, and she sends back no answer.
Part 5 section 24: Karenin receives the Order of Alexander Nevsky, the tsar's favor. All of the other committee members laugh at his situation behind his back. The Countess goes to see Karenin, and tells him that Anna is in Petersburg.
Part 5 section 25: Karenin goes to see the Countess and reads Anna's note. He thinks that he does not have a right to refuse Anna. The Countess convinces him that it would not be good for the boy to see his mother as he thinks that she is dead. She writes Anna a note saying that her husband has refused her request. Karenin remembers all of his recent dealings with his wife and feels shame and regret, especially when thinking about how no one wanted his forgiveness.
Part 5 section 26: Serezha's birthday is coming and he is excited. He wants everyone to be happy and is proud of his father for having gotten the award. He tries to have his lessons, but he does not learn much.
Part 5 section 27: Serezha's favorite occupation while out is keeping an eye out for his mother. He was told that she had died, but he did not believe it. He later heard accidentally that she was not dead, and he continues to look for her. His father comes home and much of his joy diminishes, and his father gives him his lessons from the Old Testament. His father and his teacher are both displeased with him because he does not learn well.
Part 5 section 28: Vronsky and Anna put up at one of the best hotels when they arrive in Petersburg. Vronsky goes to see his mother and brother and they still do not approve of his relationship with Anna. Anna and Vronsky have plans to go and live at Vronsky's estate in the country. Both of them think that Society has changed and that they will be somewhat accepted. However, while the world is open to Vronsky, it is closed to Anna. Betsy comes to see Anna, but makes it clear that she is not satisfied with Anna's position because she is not yet divorced. Vronsky tries to get his sister-in-law Varya to visit Anna, but she tells him that she has her daughters to think of and cannot offend Society. Vronsky realizes that they are no longer accepted in the Petersburg Society.
Part 5 section 29: Anna does not want to write or come into contact with her husband, but she wants to see her son. That is why she writes to the Countess, and she is humiliated when she receives no reply. When she does receive the reply with the refusal, she gets angry. As the next day is Serezha's birthday, Anna buys a lot of toys and plans to go and see him early in the morning. She goes, and the old hall-porter recognizes her and lets her in. She goes up to see her son and realizes how much he has changed. He tells her that he knew she would come on his birthday. They kiss and talk intimately.
Part 5 section 30: Meanwhile, the servants are concerned because they know that soon Karenin will wake and will go in to see his son. The nurse enters and tells Anna that Karenin will be coming. Serezha tells her not to leave yet, and she tell him that she loves him and that he should love his father. Anna leaves the room and sees Karenin approaching her. He bows his head to her and she is seized by loathing for him and leaves the house. She had forgotten to give Serezha the toys she brought him, so she takes them away with her.
Part 5 section 31: Anna is greatly affected by the visit with her son. She realizes that she does not have the love for her baby girl that she does for him. She takes out some pictures of Serezha to look at and sends for Vronsky so that she does not have to be alone in her anguish. He has Yashvin as a visitor and so brings him as well, and Anna thinks that Vronsky does not want to be alone with her.
Part 5 section 32: Vronsky thinks that Anna has been acting strangely and wants to talk to her about it. Anna receives a note from Betsy asking her to come see her, but gives specific times for her visit, so that it is obvious she has arranged that no one will meet Anna at her house. Anna asks a friend to get her a box at the opera. Vronsky does not understand what she is doing and why she seems so aggressively merry. He asks her if she is really going to the theatre, and she asks why she shouldn't. He tells her that it is out of the question for her to go and begs her not to. She says that she will go.
Part 5 section 33: Vronsky enters the theatre and does not see Anna but can tell where she is by the direction people are looking. He then sees her and sees that she is disturbed as are the Princess Barbara and Yashvin who are also in the box with her. In the box next to theirs are the Kartasovs, and the wife is angry and standing with her back to Anna, putting on her cloak. Vronsky can see that something humiliating happened to Anna. He goes to see his brother, and his sister-in-law tells him that Madame Kartasova insulted Anna and then left. He runs into Anna and she tells him that this is his entire fault. He replies that he had asked her not to come, and she tells him that Madame Kartasova had said that it was a disgrace to sit near her. Vronsky is both sorry for and angry at Anna. The next day they leave for the country.