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After his mother's death, Alyosha and his brother Ivan fall under the care of a general's widow, and then her heir.
At the age of 20, Alyosha is staying at the monastery near Skotoprigonyevsk for a year. When he first arrived he visited his mother's grave.
Alyosha is distressed by the meeting between Dmitri and Fyodor held at the elder Zosima's cell. After the guests leave, Zosima tells Alyosha to go out into the world.
Outside Alyosha meets Rakitin. The two of them witness Fyodor's scene in front of the Father Superior's. Fyodor orders Alyosha to leave the monastery, and drives off.
Alyosha heads over to Katerina Ivanovna, but on the way is accosted by Dmitri.
After his conversation with Dmitri, Alyosha heads to his father's house, where he witnesses Dmitri's attack on his father.
On his way out, Alyosha sees Ivan, who says he'll protect Fyodor from Dmitri.
Alyosha arrives at Katerina's, where he witnesses a scene between Katerina and Grushenka. Katerina's maid slips a note into his pocket.
As night falls, Alyosha heads back to the monastery and is again accosted by Dmitri on the road. After speaking with him, Alyosha returns to his room, the outer chamber of Zosima's cell. Alyosha remembers the note and opens it to find that it's a love letter to him from Lise.
Alyosha leaves the monastery and visits his father, who complains about his brothers. Alyosha kisses his father good-bye and heads off to Madame Khokhlakov's.
On his way there, he gets in the middle of a schoolboy brawl. One of the boys bites his finger and runs off.
Alyosha arrives at Madame Khokhlakov's. He first speaks with Lise and confirms his intentions to marry her. He then follows Madame Khokhlakov into her drawing room, where Ivan and Katerina are having a discussion. Alyosha announces to Katerina that she loves Ivan, which sends her into hysterics. Ivan leaves. Katerina gives Alyosha 200 roubles to give to Captain Snegiryov.
On the way to Snegiryov's, Alyosha stops by Dmitri's place, but he isn't there.
At Snegiryov's, Alyosha discovers that the boy who bit his finger is Snegiryov's son Ilyusha. Outside, after initially accepting Katerina's money, Snegiryov proudly rejects it and runs away.
Alyosha returns back to the Khokhlakovs and tells Lise about the Snegiryov incident. Madame Khokhlakov intercepts him as he leaves and expresses her concern about his engagement to her daughter.
Alyosha heads back to his father's, where Smerdyakov informs him that Dmitri and Ivan are meeting at the town tavern.
Alyosha heads there and finds Ivan eating alone. The two of them have a debate about religion.
Alyosha then rushes over to Zosima's cell at the monastery. He listens to Zosima's deathbed musings on his life and his beliefs and witnesses Zosima's death.
Distraught, Alyosha spends the next morning weeping at another monk's grave in a corner of the hermitage. He is even more disturbed in the afternoon, when Zosima's corpse begins to stink.
Rakitin discovers Alyosha lying face down in a pine grove between the hermitage and the monastery. He convinces Alyosha to join him for a visit to Grushenka's.
At Grushenka's, Alyosha discovers that Grushenka had promised Rakitin 25 roubles for bringing him to her. At first, she tries to seduce Alyosha by sitting on his lap, but when she hears of the elder's death, she jumps up and expresses her condolences. Alyosha is touched by this kindness and recovers his composure.
Alyosha returns to the monastery at nightfall and prays by Zosima's coffin. As he prays, he has a mystical vision that fills him with rapture and restores his faith. Three days later, he leaves the monastery for good.
The novel picks up Alyosha's story again two months later, in the days leading up to Dmitri's trial.
Alyosha is at the Snegiryovs, where he has reconciled Ilyusha, who is terribly ill, with the other schoolboys. He meets another schoolboy, Kolya Krasotkin, and a friendship develops between them.
Alyosha then visits Grushenka, who is distraught over Dmitri's trial.
He then visits Madame Khokhlakov, who complains about a satirical piece written about her in the newspaper. Lise, who is a nervous wreck, gives Alyosha a note for Ivan.
Alyosha visits Dmitri in his cell and passes Rakitin on the way. Dmitri tells him that Ivan and Katerina are planning his escape. Alyosha reassures Dmitri that he believes in his innocence.
Alyosha visits Katerina and passes Ivan. Ivan joins Alyosha at Katerina's, where they discuss Dmitri's case. When they leave, Alyosha hands Ivan Lise's note, which Ivan tears up. Alyosha reassures Ivan that he does not believe he killed their father.
Late that night, Alyosha is informed by Maria Kondratrievna that Smerdyakov has committed suicide. After informing the police commissioner, Alyosha rushes over to Ivan's, where he finds him very ill.
The next morning Dmitri's trial begins. Alyosha testifies in his brother's defense. When Ivan takes the stand, Alyosha jumps up and says, "Aaah, I remember it," but nobody notices him.
Five days after Dmitri's conviction, Alyosha visits Katerina, who is caring for Ivan. Alyosha tells her that Dmitri would like to see her.
He then heads over to visit Dmitri at the hospital. While they are talking, Katerina suddenly arrives and reconciles with Dmitri. Grushenka arrives as Katerina and Alyosha leave Dmitri's room.
Alyosha attends Ilyusha's funeral and offer words of comfort to his young friends.