Study Guide

The Brothers Karamazov Summary

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Brothers Karamazov Summary

The novel opens with the Karamazov brothers returning to their hometown after being raised largely away from home by distant relatives. Now young men, they each have their own reasons for being there: Dmitri seeks to settle an inheritance dispute with their father, Fyodor Karamazov; Alyosha is a novice at the local monastery; and Ivan ostensibly has returned to assist Dmitri. The dispute between Dmitri and his father has been aggravated by their romantic rivalry over Grushenka, despite the fact that Dmitri is already engaged to Katerina Ivanovna. The Karamazovs meet with the elder Zosima at the monastery in an attempt to resolve their differences, but scandal ensues when Fyodor causes a scene.

After the scandal, Alyosha seeks out Dmitri, who is spying on Fyodor from a neighboring garden. Dmitri spills the details of his sordid affair with Grushenka and his shameful theft of Katerina's money in order to woo Grushenka. Leaving Dmitri, Alyosha enters his father's house, where he finds his father, Ivan, Smerdyakov, and Grigory engaged in a religious dispute over dinner. Suddenly Dmitri enters in a rage and beats Fyodor, then runs out the door. After the attack, Alyosha seeks out Katerina, who, to his surprise, is entertaining Grushenka. Grushenka insults Katerina and is thrown out. Katerina's maid hands Alyosha a note, which he opens when he finally returns to the monastery. The note is from Lise Khokhlakov, who declares her love for him.

The next morning, the elder Zosima sends Alyosha to check on his brothers and his father. Alyosha first visits his father, who is angry and suspicions about Dmitri and Ivan. On leaving his father, Alyosha heads off to the Khokhlakov residence, but his journey is interrupted by a group of schoolboys who are attacking another schoolboy. When Alyosha attempts to aid the defenseless schoolboy, the boy bites his hand and runs off. At the Khokhlakovs', Alyosha is taken aside by Lise and proposes marriage to her. After his chat with Lise, Alyosha enters the drawing room, where Ivan and Katerina have a dispute. After Ivan leaves, Katerina gives Alyosha 200 roubles to give to a Captain Snegiryov, who was insulted by Dmitri.

Alyosha heads to the Snegiryovs' cottage, where he meets the entire Snegiryov family, including the young boy, Ilyusha, who bit him earlier in the day. Captain Snegiryov proudly rejects Alyosha's offer of charity. After another brief visit to the Khokhlakovs, Alyosha seeks out Dmitri again. In his father's neighbor's garden, Alyosha meets Smerdyakov, who tells him that Dmitri has gone off to visit Ivan at the village tavern.

At the tavern, Alyosha finds Ivan alone. As they dine together, Ivan defends his religious skepticism to Alyosha by way of a long poetic fantasy entitled "The Grand Inquisitor." At the end of their meal, they part ways.

At this point, the novel shifts to Ivan's perspective. He heads back to his father's, where he meets up with Smerdyakov. Smerdyakov's sly insinuations about a possible murder of Fyodor trouble Ivan. During the night, Ivan finds himself checking on his father for no reason, and feels ashamed. The next morning, Fyodor convinces Ivan to go to Chermashnya, but on the way to the train station Ivan changes his mind and heads to Moscow.

The novel then shifts gears back to Alyosha, who is in the elder Zosima's cell where other monks have gathered to share his last moments. Zosima relates stories from his life and elaborates his religious teachings. Then suddenly he falls to the floor, praying, and dies.

The next morning Zosima's body is put on display at his wake. But despite everyone's expectations that some miracle might occur, his body begins to decay, much to the delight of his detractors.

This scandal troubles Alyosha, and Rakitin, sensing Alyosha's state, invites him to visit Grushenka. Grushenka happily announces to them both that a former lover of hers, a Pole, has finally returned to her, and she awaits his call to join him. Alyosha is grateful that Grushenka has not seduced him and returns that evening to Zosima's wake, where he prays and feels his faith revived.

The novel shifts perspective to Dmitri, who runs around town looking for someone to loan him 3,000 roubles, the amount he stole from Katerina. Both Kuzma Samsonov and Madame Khokhlakov turn him down. Dmitri at first believes that Grushenka is at Samsonov's, but when he realizes that she isn't, he immediately suspects her of going to his father's. Dmitri is tempted to attack his father, but refrains. As he escapes over the garden wall, he is caught by Grigory. In an attempt to free himself, he hits Grigory on the head.

Dmitri returns to Grushenka's, and finally learns from her servants that she is off at Mokroye to meet her Polish lover. He rushes off to Mokroye, where Grushenka rejects her Polish lover and declares her love for Dmitri. They throw a party to celebrate, but the festivities come to an end when officials arrive to arrest Dmitri for the murder of his father.

At this point, the novel moves several months ahead to the days leading up to Dmitri's trial, and turns to the story of Kolya Krasotkin and Ilyusha Snegiryov. After the incident with Alyosha, Ilyusha takes seriously ill. Alyosha rallies the other boys to cheer Ilyusha. Kolya, who was reluctant to visit at first, finally visits Ilyusha with the gift of a dog which Ilyusha was convinced he had killed. Despite Ilyusha's excitement and joy, a Moscow doctor, on a visit paid by Katerina's charitable generosity, announces that Ilyusha has very little time left to live.

Meanwhile Dmitri's case has caused quite a stir throughout Russia, helped in part by Rakitin's sensationalist journalism. Ivan attempts to convince Dmitri to escape a trial he surely can't win, but Ivan's own certainty about his behavior during the murder are put to the test by his conversations with the sly Smerdyakov. In their last conversation, Smerdyakov confesses that he murdered Fyodor. When Ivan returns home after his conversation with Smerdyakov, he imagines that he meets the devil in his own room. The hallucination is interrupted by a visit from Alyosha, who informs Ivan that Smerdyakov has committed suicide.

Dmitri's trial begins the next morning. Just as the witness testimony seems to be going Dmitri's way, Ivan makes a scene at the trial, which in turn stirs Katerina to reveal some damning evidence against Dmitri. Despite his defense lawyer's brilliant closing argument, Dmitri is found guilty.

The novel ends in the days following Dmitri's trial. Dmitri contemplates escaping with Grushenka to America, and Katerina nurses Ivan, who took ill immediately after he caused a scene at Dmitri's trial. Alyosha attends the funeral of little Ilyusha, and the novel closes with Alyosha and his young friends at Ilyusha's wake.

  • Book 1, Chapter 1

    Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov

    • The novel opens with the narrator telling us that Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov is the third son of Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, who died a "dark and tragic death" thirteen years ago. Instead of going straight to this juicy bit, though, the narrator decides to go into everything leading up to the death. So buckle your seatbelts, 'cause it's going to take him, oh, several hundred pages.
    • We learn that Fyodor is the scum of the earth who makes oodles of money and lives a scandalous lifestyle.
    • He had his first son, Dmitri, by his first wife, Adelaida Ivanovna Miusov, who came from an aristocratic family and was apparently quite a catch. No one is sure why she eloped with him in the first place, but she ended up abandoning him and their son to run off to Petersburg with a seminarian. She died before Fyodor could chase her there. After her death, Fyodor made a scene around town, drinking, sobbing, and shouting in the streets.
  • Book 1, Chapter 2

    The First Son Sent Packing

    • After his mother's death, Dmitri was ignored by his father and sent to live with Grigory, the trusty family servant.
    • His mother's cousin, Pyotr Alexandrovic Miusov, happened to return from Paris a year later and rescued Dmitri. But then Pyotr abandoned Dmitri to go to Paris, pawning him off onto his mother's cousin, who then died and passed Dmitri on to one of her daughters.
    • Dmitri grew up, led an unruly life, went into the military, and spent way more money than he had.
    • He came back to Fyodor's to see what he could get of his inheritance left to him by his mother. Fyodor started off by giving Dmitri some money from time to time over the course of four years. By the end of this time, Dmitri was impatient for the rest of his inheritance, but Fyodor informed him there was no money left. Dmitri wasn't satisfied with this explanation and suspected a scam.
  • Book 1, Chapter 3

    Second Marriage, Second Children

    • Now we get to wife #2. The next lovely lady Fyodor decided to take for a wife was Sofia Ivanovna, an orphan and the ward of General Vorokhov's widow. This widow was apparently was so hard on Sofia that she was once caught trying to hang herself.
    • Fyodor swooped in and eloped with Sofia, but he was enraged to discover that she wouldn't be getting any dowry.
    • This second marriage was just as terrible as the first, or perhaps more so, with Fyodor having orgies in the house in front of his wife. Sofia became a "shrieker," which is the local term for a hysteric.
    • Sofia bore Fyodor two sons, Ivan and Alexei, and died soon afterward. Upon her death, the general's widow visited Fyodor, slapped his face, and took the children into her care. When she died, the kids went to stay with her heir, Yefim Petrovich Polenov, who actually took good care of them and made sure they got an education.
    • Ivan seemed to be particularly gifted intellectually and went off to Moscow to study. He paid his own way by writing journalism and reviews. One editorial on the issue of ecclesiastical courts caused quite a controversy.
    • Everyone was surprised when Ivan showed up back in town at Fyodor's, on the invitation of Dmitri as it turned out. The precise reasons why, however, the narrator isn't going to tell us until later (again, wait a few hundred pages...).
    • But it turns out that Alexei has been in town staying at the local monastery for at least a year before Ivan shows up, which is the narrator's way of shifting gears into the next chapter.
  • Book 1, Chapter 4

    The Third Son, Alyosha

    • At this point, we've caught up to the time period of the main events of the story. Alyosha (a nickname for Alexei) is now 20, Ivan is 24, and Dmitri is 28. Of all the sons, Alyosha is least like Fyodor. He's pure, sweet, and everyone spontaneously loves him.
    • Alyosha had initially come to town to visit his mother's grave. Just three years before, his father had gone off to Odessa and made a pile of cash. Upon his return to town, he devoted all his time to acting like a fool and humiliating women and generally creating scandal.
    • Fyodor didn't even remember where Alyosha's mother was buried – Grigory the servant had to show Alyosha the grave marker. After seeing his mother's grave, Alyosha asked his father's consent to enter the monastery, and after cracking a few blasphemous jokes, his father consented.
  • Book 1, Chapter 5


    • Alyosha's mentor at the monastery is the spiritual figurehead, Zosima. As his elder, Zosima has complete control over Alyosha. The idea is that through obedience to his elder, Alyosha will be able to gain mastery over himself and attain religious illumination.
    • Meanwhile, relations between Dmitri and Fyodor have become so bad that Fyodor, half in jest, suggests that they settle it through a meeting with Zosima. Dmitri agrees, and so does his former guardian Pyotr Miusov, who happens to be suing the monastery over a forest. Ivan, who functions as a mediator between Dmitri and Fyodor, is also coming.
    • Alyosha is filled with foreboding at the prospect of this meeting, and he's particularly concerned that his father is going to cause another scandal.
  • Book 2, Chapter 1

    They Arrive at the Monastery

    • Fyodor, Ivan, Pyotr Miusov, and Miusov's distant relative Pyotr Fomich Kalganov arrive at the monastery, but there's no Dmitri in sight.
    • They are led to Zosima's hermitage by Maximov, a landowner who happens to be headed in the same direction. On the way, a monk intercepts them and invites them to dinner with the Father Superior later in the day.
    • The hermitage is surrounded by beautiful flowers. Outside, the faithful have gathered to wait for Zosima's blessing. A monk asks them to wait while he announces their arrival to Zosima.
  • Book 2, Chapter 2

    The Old Buffoon

    • When they enter Zosima's cell, they are joined by two hieromonks (monks who are also priests), the Father Librarian and Father Paissy, as well as another young seminarian. Alyosha walks in at the same time with a novice and Zosima.
    • Zosima blesses the hieromonks, but Pyotr Miusov, who considers himself too advanced to believe in religion, politely refuses the blessing. Fyodor mockingly imitates Pyotr.
    • Ivan also bows and refuses the blessing. Alyosha blushes, ashamed of their behavior.
    • Fyodor goes off on a tangent and tells a silly and untrue story about Diderot. He then asks Zosima how to "inherit eternal life," and Zosima calmly tells him by not lying.
    • Fyodor seems to take this advice with good humor, then accuses Miusov of telling him the false story about Diderot. Miusov is confused and wonders whether he did tell the story, but then gets annoyed with Fyodor for mocking him.
    • Zosima excuses himself from the gathering to bless the faithful outside, but before he leaves, Fyodor manages to kiss his hand, claiming that he was fooling around just to test him.
  • Book 2, Chapter 3

    Women of Faith

    • Outside, the first woman Zosima greets is named Nastasia, who was grieving for her dead three-year-old son. Zosima tells her that it's a good thing that she's weeping because it shows what a good mother she is, but she ought to return to her husband and care for him. Nastasia is comforted by his words.
    • Next up is a widow whose son Vasenka is serving in the military out in Siberia. She hasn't heard from him in a while and heard a superstition that if she put his name on the church's list of prayers for the dead, he'll contact her. Zosima tells her that would be a sin and to patiently await her son. He further predicts that the son is alive and will either return or send her a message.
    • After that, Zosima greets a woman who walked four miles with a baby to see him. She gives him some money to distribute to the poor, and he blesses her and her child.
  • Book 2, Chapter 4

    A Lady of Little Faith

    • In contrast to the women Zosima greeted in the previous chapter, the next visitor is a wealthy landowner. She thanks Zosima for healing her daughter Lise, or rather, for improving Lise's condition – she seems to be partially paralyzed from the waist down.
    • Lise laughs outright at Alyosha, who seems embarrassed by her attention.
    • It turns out the lady landowner and Lise already know Alyosha. Lise has a message for him from Katerina Ivanovna, who wants to talk to Alyosha about Dmitri.
    • The lady landowner voices her concern to Zosima that she feels unable to love mankind. Zosima praises her for feeling troubled and asks her to keep working at it. But the most important piece of advice he gives her is to avoid lying, in particular lying to herself.
    • Lise continues to mock Alyosha, and Zosima asks her why she's giving Alyosha such a hard time. Lise tells Zosima that Alyosha used to visit them often but no longer does. Zosima promises to send Alyosha to visit them.
  • Book 2, Chapter 5

    So Be It! So Be It!

    • When Zosima returns to his cell, Fyodor is relishing his attacks on Miusov, who flatters himself as an intellectual in the enlightened, European style (meaning not religious).
    • The conversation turns to Ivan's recent editorial on the ecclesiastical courts, the one that caused such a scandal before he left Moscow to return to his father's home. Ivan argues that the ecclesiastical courts (or the Russian Orthodox Church) should take over the state courts because only they can reform criminals by providing them with a moral guide, something the state courts can't do.
    • Miusov, who at first considers Ivan an intellectual like himself, agrees with Ivan's argument at this point because he thinks it's almost socialistic: that is, the state disappears as Russia moves toward a utopian society.
    • But Ivan explains that the state disappears only to be replaced by the Church. (Imagine what it would be like if the United States were governed by a single religious group, rather than a government. Imagine having a church determine your taxes, administer the prisons and the courts, run the DMV, etc. That's essentially what Ivan is proposing.)
    • Miusov vehemently disagrees with this religious turn in Ivan's argument and accuses him of "Ultramontanism." But Father Paissy is in wholehearted agreement.
    • Just then, Dmitri arrives.
  • Book 2, Chapter 6

    Why Is Such a Man Alive!

    • When Dmitri enters, he gives a deep bow to Zosima and receives his blessing. Then he bows deeply to his father, who bows in such a way that even though he looks serious, he still looks like he's mocking Dmitri.
    • Miusov can't let Ivan's argument in the previous chapter go. He tells the group that Ivan had also claimed that man only loves mankind because of a belief in immortality; a love for mankind is not something that comes naturally or is part of human nature. If you're an atheist and don't believe in immortality, then love for mankind is just hypocrisy: you should embrace egotism and do whatever you want. Ivan's point can be summed up in the phrase "everything is permitted."
    • Zosima remarks that these contradictions in Ivan's beliefs only indicate that Ivan is continuing to wrestle with these spiritual issues. He gives Ivan a blessing.
    • This solemn moment is broken up by, you guessed it, Fyodor, who immediately jumps up and accuses Dmitri of trying to bilk him out of his money. He also tells Zosima that Dmitri has been cavorting with another woman even though he's already engaged to the daughter of his former colonel.
    • Dmitri starts yelling back at his father, then the monks start exclaiming at the scandalous behavior of the two.
    • Suddenly Zosima gets up and kneels before Dmitri, bows, and touches the floor with his forehead. He then asks everyone in the cell to forgive him.
    • Overwhelmed, Dmitri rushes out of the room. Miusov attempts to excuse himself, but Fyodor says he's leaving. Miusov decides to stay and heads toward the Father Superior's with Ivan to have dinner.
  • Book 2, Chapter 7

    A Seminarist-Careerist

    • After the guests leave, Alyosha accompanies the feeble Zosima to his cell. There, Zosima tells Alyosha that he will have to leave the monastery and endure life out in the real world before he returns to the monastery. Zosima tells Alyosha to "seek happiness in sorrow" and then to leave his cell to join his brothers.
    • Outside Alyosha encounters Rakitin, another novice. Rakitin is a cynical type, and interprets Zosima's bow to Dmitri as a fake prediction of a crime that's about to be committed in the Karamazov family. Alyosha is shocked, but Rakitin thinks it's obvious that the Karamazovs are all headed toward some awful deed.
    • According to Rakitin, Dmitri will do anything for Grushenka, the woman he's having an affair with. But Fyodor also has the hots for Grushenka. Meanwhile, Ivan is circling over Katerina, Dmitri's wealthy and dignified fiancée.
    • Rakitin has the inside scoop because he's Grushenka's confidante, but Alyosha suggests that Rakitin is also in love with Katerina.
    • Just then, Rakitin points out that Fyodor is running out of the Father Superior's quarters, followed by Ivan, Miusov, and the landowner Maximov. Fyodor and Father Isidore are shouting at each other.
  • Book 2, Chapter 8


    • While Alyosha was helping Zosima in his cell, Miusov, Kalganov, and Ivan proceeded on to the Father Superior's. Miusov had just finished apologizing for Fyodor's behavior when Fyodor popped in. Fyodor had been planning on skipping the lunch, having caused enough commotion already, but in his carriage he had changed his mind and decided he had a couple more tricks up his sleeve.
    • Fyodor at first accuses Maximov the landowner of being somebody else – some dude named von Sohn who, according to Fyodor, had died a grotesque death in a brothel.
    • Next, Fyodor attacks the Father Superior and the monastery in general. He accuses them of stealing the peasants' money and spending it on lavish spreads like the dinner they're about to enjoy. He also accuses them of turning his second wife, the "shrieker" (Ivan and Alyosha's mother) against him.
    • During these tirades, the Father Superior's only reaction is to thank Fyodor for giving them all a dose of humility, which Fyodor ignores.
    • Miusov can't stand Fyodor's behavior anymore and leaves, followed by Kalganov.
    • Fyodor also leaves, demanding that Alyosha leave the monastery as well. Ivan follows Fyodor. As they get into their carriage, the landowner Maximov comes running after, thinking that the real party's with Fyodor. But Ivan pushes him away from the carriage and orders the driver to leave.
    • In their carriage, Fyodor tries to get Ivan to talk, but Ivan coldly ignores him.
  • Book 3, Chapter 1

    In the Servants' Quarters

    • The novel shifts back in time and spends a few pages with Grigory Vasilievich and his wife Marfa, Fyodor's servants. Grigory is a pious man who, as was mentioned before, took care of Fyodor's sons when his wives died.
    • Grigory's one child with Marfa was a great disappointment because the child was born with six fingers. Grigory thought the child must be a dragon and only reluctantly had the child baptized. The child died a couple of weeks later, but on the night they buried their child, Marfa woke to hear the cries of a newborn.
    • The two of them went out to the bathhouse in the garden, where they discovered the village holy fool, Stinking Lizaveta, who had just given birth to a son.
  • Book 3, Chapter 2

    Stinking Lizaveta

    • Stinking Lizaveta was just 20 years old when she gave birth to her son. Her father was an unemployed drunkard who beat her whenever she came home, but generally Stinking Lizaveta wandered around town dressed only in a simple shift, despite the best efforts of the townspeople to clothe her. Simple-minded and mute, Stinking Lizaveta would often sleep outside in random gardens.
    • One night, or so the rumors went, Fyodor and some other drunken gentlemen were headed home from the club and found Stinking Lizaveta. One of them asked whether she could ever be considered a woman, and they all laughed, except for Fyodor. The gentlemen encouraged Fyodor to have sex with her, but he refused.
    • A few months after this incident, everyone noticed to their shock that Lizaveta was pregnant. While Fyodor denied it, everyone assumed he was the father, a rumor that only seemed confirmed with Lizaveta gave birth in his kitchen garden.
    • Grigory and Marfa raised the child as their own, and Fyodor even took a liking to him, naming him Smerdyakov, after his mother's last name. Smerdyakov grew to be a cook in Fyodor's household.
  • Book 3, Chapter 3

    The Confession of an Ardent Heart

    • Alyosha decides to take a shortcut over to Katerina Ivanovna's even though she intimidates him. To get to Katerina's, he has to cut through his father's neighbors' garden. These neighbors are an old woman and her daughter, a former chambermaid used to working in grand homes.
    • As Alyosha gets to the garden, he's astonished to see his brother Dmitri inside. Dmitri waves him over. Alyosha asks him why he's whispering, and Dmitri shouts out that he's got a secret. But Dmitri's voice quickly goes down to a whisper again as he asks Alyosha to follow him to a gazebo in the center of the garden.
    • In the gazebo, Alyosha notices that Dmitri has been hitting the cognac pretty hard. Dmitri starts to ramble, spouting off a mixture of German and Russian poetry and proclaiming himself to be the lowest, basest sensualist – as only a Karamazov could be.
  • Book 3, Chapter 4

    The Confession of an Ardent Heart: In Anecdotes

    • Dmitri continues to spill the beans to Alyosha, confessing that he's been an unapologetic womanizer for quite a long time. Alyosha unexpectedly replies that he's just like Dmitri; it's just a matter of degree.
    • Dmitri then tells Alyosha that he'd like to tell him about his tragedy, the details of which Ivan already knows.
    • Back in his lieutenant days, Dmitri had some issues with his colonel. His colonel had had two wives, now deceased, and each wife had given him a daughter. The first daughter, Agafya, was already becoming a spinster at the ripe old age of 24. The second daughter, who happens to be the Katerina Ivanovna that so terrifies Alyosha, was bright and accomplished and quite the social star. While Agafya was on speaking terms with Dmitri, Katerina always treated him with cold contempt.
    • Dmitri had just received a large sum of money from their father, Fyodor, when he learned that there were financial irregularities with the way the colonel was handling government money. Dmitri pulled Agafya aside and told her that if the family ever needed money, he would lend it to them, but only if Katerina came by herself to his rooms to ask for the money. Agafya was shocked and dismissed Dmitri's comment.
    • As it turns out, the colonel had been loaning the government's money to a friend of his, who usually repaid the money with interest. This time around, though, his friend had not repaid the money. On top of that, a new major was in town, asking questions. The colonel was just about to shoot himself when Agafya, sensing something was amiss and thinking of Dmitri's words, charged in and intervened.
    • Dmitri says that he was just about to go out that night when the door opened, and who should it be but Katerina Ivanovna. When she asked for the money, Dmitri suddenly balked at the thought and pretended he was taking back the request. But just as suddenly, filled with intense hatred, he changed his mind and wrote her a check for the sum. She bowed deeply, with her forehead to the ground, and left.
  • Book 3, Chapter 5

    The Confession of an Ardent Heart. "Heels Up"

    • Dmitri continues to tell Alyosha about his history with Katerina. After he loans her the money, the family's honor is saved. Then the colonel dies of an illness and Katerina and her sister leave for Moscow. A wealthy aunt takes Katerina under her wing.
    • Katerina is able to repay the money to Dmitri and also, in a letter, offers herself in marriage to him. Dmitri sends a letter back, then sends a letter explaining the situation to Ivan. Ivan is living in Moscow at the time, and Dmitri tells him to go see Katerina. There, Dmitri suspects, Ivan fell in love with Katerina. Later Dmitri finally arrives in Moscow, where his engagement with Katerina is celebrated.
    • Although Katerina had made him promise to reform, Dmitri is quickly seduced back to his old ways by Grushenka, a foxy babe in their hometown. Grushenka also has her claws in their father, Fyodor.
    • Dmitri confesses that the worst of it is that Katerina had entrusted him with 3,000 roubles to send to her sister in Moscow. But instead of sending the money, Dmitri had spent it all partying with Grushenka.
    • Dmitri's only hope, as he tells Alyosha, is to repay Katerina so that he's not the absolute lowest scum of the earth. Since he has no money of his own, he asks for Alyosha's help in getting the money and in breaking off his engagement with Katerina.
    • But Alyosha's just a poor monk. Where is he supposed to get the money, you ask? From the very same father, Fyodor, who's also in love with Grushenka.
    • Smerdyakov has told Dmitri that Fyodor, in an attempt to win over Grushenka, has promised her 3,000 roubles. All she has to do is sneak into his room with a secret knock that only Smerdyakov and Fyodor know. But now Dmitri knows about their little scheme because Smerdyakov has spilled the beans.
    • This is why Dmitri has been hiding in their neighbor's garden guzzling cognac. He's waiting for Grushenka, to prevent her tryst with his father.
    • On top of all that, Dmitri wants Alyosha to convince their father to give Alyosha the money intended for Grushenka, money Alyosha can then give to Dmitri to give back to Katerina.
    • Complicated much?
  • Book 3, Chapter 6


    • When Alyosha enters his father's home, his father and brother Ivan are finishing dinner and the servants attend them in the dining room.
    • Here we're given a little background on Smerdyakov, Stinking Lizaveta's son.
    • A quiet, sullen child, Smerdyakov was discovered to have the "falling sickness" (epilepsy); he would fall into fits every month or so. For some reason Fyodor grew quite fond of the boy after his illness was discovered.
    • One day, Smerdyakov was found picking through his soup, and Fyodor decided that Smerdyakov should be trained as a chef. After training in Moscow, Smerdyakov came back to be Fyodor's cook. Now 24, he is just as sullen and silent as ever.
  • Book 3, Chapter 7


    • The conversation turns to an incident Grigory heard in town. A Russian soldier on the borderlands had been caught by the Asians. When he refused to reject Christianity, he was flayed alive.
    • Fyodor jokingly remarks that the soldier should be proclaimed a saint and his skin sent to a monastery to be worshipped. Grigory, who is quite devout, frowns.
    • Then Fyodor notices that Smerdyakov is smiling and asks him to explain himself. Smerdyakov asserts that if he were in the soldier's shoes, he would have renounced Christianity before the Asians asked him to do so. Then he wouldn't have blasphemed in rejecting God.
    • Fyodor loves Smerdyakov's twisted logic, but Grigory is furious. Smerdyakov slyly notes that not even devout Grigory has faith enough to move mountains.
    • Fyodor enjoys Smerdyakov's argument as a great example of Russian faith, and he prods Ivan and Alyosha to agree with him.
  • Book 3, Chapter 8

    Over the Cognac

    • Fyodor dismisses the servants. He gets more and more drunk on cognac and starts making up stories about Zosima. He asks Ivan why he won't go to Chermashnya as a favor to him, but Ivan continues to refuse.
    • Fyodor then tells Alyosha some unsavory stories about his dead mother. After getting through one story about how he spit upon one of her religious icons, Fyodor notices that Alyosha has, all of a sudden, begun to tremble and weep, just as his mother, the "shrieker," used to do.
    • Fyodor wonders if he's gone too far, and Ivan savagely reminds him that Alyosha's mother is his mother, too.
    • At this point, Dmitri suddenly barges into the room.
  • Book 3, Chapter 9

    The Sensualists

    • Dmitri runs around the room, shouting that he saw Grushenka headed to the house and he knows she's here. Everyone insists that she couldn't possibly have entered the house without their being aware of it.
    • Fyodor accuses Dmitri of stealing the money intended for Grushenka and rushes at him. Dmitri grabs Fyodor by the hair, throws him to the floor, and kicks him. Ivan and Alyosha pull Dmitri away. Finally convinced that Grushenka isn't in the house, Dmitri runs off to look for her. As he leaves, he reminds Alyosha to go see Katerina.
    • The servants help Fyodor to bed and Ivan leaves to get some air in the yard. Alyosha goes to his father, who is still out of it from drink and the beating he got from Dmitri. Fyodor tells Alyosha he can have his mother's icon and return to the monastery. He asks Alyosha to see Grushenka, but then takes back his request. He then asks Alyosha to visit him the next day.
    • On his way out of the house, Alyosha sees Ivan, who says that he'll protect Fyodor from Dmitri.
  • Book 3, Chapter 10

    The Two Together

    • Troubled by what has just transpired at his father's home, Alyosha heads off to Katerina's, but it's already dusk.
    • When he arrives there is some commotion in the drawing room before he is at last shown in. The room is empty, with a tea service set for two, and Alyosha realizes he must have interrupted some company.
    • Katerina comes in and greets him warmly. Alyosha gives her Dmitri's message, which Katerina doesn't take as a rejection. Instead, she tells Alyosha that she's convinced that she can save Dmitri from himself by showing what a true friend she can be, even forgiving him for stealing the money that was meant for her sister and spending it on his mistress, Grushenka.
    • For who should be visiting Katerina at that moment but...Grushenka! She walks in to the room and greets Alyosha. Katerina gushes that Grushenka is an angel, takes her hand and kisses it. Katerina informs Alyosha that Grushenka has agreed to break it off with Dmitri.
    • Grushenka denies that she ever promised any such thing. Katerina is confused, but seems reassured when Grushenka takes her hand to return her kisses. But, laughing, Grushenka changes her mind and refuses to kiss Katerina's hand.
    • Realizing that Grushenka has just been toying with her, Katerina almost attacks her but is restrained by Alyosha. She begs Alyosha to leave, and as he does, the maid hands him a note from Madame Khokhlakov.
  • Book 3, Chapter 11

    One More Ruined Reputation

    • As night falls, Alyosha hurries back to the monastery. On the road he is suddenly accosted by a man who shouts, "Your money or your life!"
    • Fortunately it's just Dmitri, who's decided to play a prank on Alyosha. Alyosha chastises him for being so light-hearted, especially given Dmitri's attack on their father earlier that day. Dmitri apologizes and tells his brother he loves him.
    • Alyosha then tells Dmitri about Katerina's quarrel with Grushenka. At first Dmitri seems almost enraged, but as soon as he hears about Grushenka's joke on Katerina, he laughs heartily. Alyosha chides Dmitri for taking Katerina's insult so lightly. Chagrined, Dmitri remembers telling Grushenka how moved he was by Katerina's sacrifice for her father, and he thought Grushenka had sympathized with him. Realizing that Grushenka may have been mocking him the entire time, Dmitri denounces himself as a "scoundrel."
    • Dmitri then tells Alyosha that a "horrible dishonor is being prepared," beating his chest with his fist. Then he runs off without telling Alyosha what the "horrible dishonor" is.
    • Mystified by his brother's words, Alyosha continues on to the monastery, where the elder Zosima has already gone to bed. Father Paissy greets Alyosha at Zosima's chambers and reminds Alyosha that, despite being out in the world, he is still a novice monk under Zosima's orders and must remember his vows.
    • After waiting by Zosima's bed as the elder sleeps, Alyosha returns to the outer chamber, where he takes off his boots to go to bed. He prays before his simple cot. He doesn't ask God for anything (given the dismal world of the novel, it isn't clear God is exactly a receptive guy anyway); he only desires for the "tenderness" that comes with prayer.
    • In the middle of his prayer, he happens to feel the envelope that Katerina's maid had left in his pocket. After finishing his prayer, he opens the envelope. It's a letter from Lise, the young daughter of Madame Khokhlakov. She professes her love for him but worries that her reputation will be ruined because of her letter. Alyosha laughs with joy as he finishes the letter and passes into a peaceful sleep.
  • Book 4, Chapter 1

    Father Ferapont

    • Early the next morning, Alyosha is awakened by the elder Zosima. Although Zosima is quite frail, he's eager to speak to the monks who have gathered around him. He speaks in fragments that are scarcely coherent, but his general message seems to be that the monks should seek to love all mankind, they bear the guilt of all mankind, and it is only through love that they can fulfill their religious duty.
    • The whole monastery is in a general state of excitement, although the monks scarcely dare to admit to themselves their hope that on his death, Zosima will perform extraordinary miracles.
    • Their hopes are fueled when they learn that the woman Zosima had admonished for praying for her son as if he were dead (in Book 2, Chapter 3) has actually received a letter from her son announcing that he is returning home soon. Alyosha learns of this news through a letter from Madame Khokhlakov, sent to him through Rakitin, and everyone else somehow learns of it too.
    • A visiting monk from Obdorsk (who also happened to be there when Zosima had made the prediction about the old woman and her son) is confused by these events. The night before, he had visited Father Ferapont, Zosima's primary rival at the monastery. Unlike Zosima, Ferapont is, well, a grouch. Generally curt because of his vow of silence, Ferapont fasts a lot and hangs out alone having visions beyond the monastery's beehives. When he does speak, Ferapont is generally rude or just confused.
    • To the Obdorsk monk, Ferapont talks about his visions, including one where the Holy Spirit announced that someone would visit him today to ask him stupid questions – hint hint.
    • Meanwhile, back in Zosima's cell, he is ready for bed, and only a few monks and Alyosha remain with him. Zosima reminds Alyosha of his obligations out in the world, to his family. While Alyosha leaves reluctantly, he is heartened by Zosima's promise to entrust him with his last words.
    • Before Alyosha leaves, Father Paissy pulls him aside to remind him that science has yet to come up with a superior vision of humanity than Christianity. As he leaves, Alyosha realizes that Father Paissy has probably been entrusted with his spiritual well-being once Zosima has passed away, and he's grateful for his spiritual guidance.
  • Book 4, Chapter 2

    At His Father's

    • After leaving the monastery that morning, Alyosha heads straight to his father's, who's in a grumpy mood.
    • Fyodor goes off on a tirade about how everyone is evil; it's just that he lives his evil openly. Fyodor then explains to Alyosha that the reason that he won't press charges against Dmitri is because he knows that would make Dmitri sympathetic in Grushenka's eyes.
    • Fyodor then remarks that Ivan's a cold fish who loves no one. He asks Alyosha to ask Dmitri if Dmitri would leave Grushenka alone for one or two thousand rubles. Alyosha hesitatingly agrees, but Fyodor quickly takes the offer back spitefully.
    • Alyosha gets up to leave and kisses his father goodbye. Fyodor is surprised by the gesture and wonders if he'll see Alyosha again, but Alyosha reassures him that it's just a simple goodbye. After Alyosha leaves, Fyodor goes to his bedroom to sleep.
  • Book 4, Chapter 3

    He Gets Involved with Schoolboys

    • Alyosha then heads off to Madame Khokhlakov's. On a lane to Mikhailovsky Street he encounters a group of boys, all of whom have stones in their hands. He then notices a sickly boy a few feet from them. All of a sudden the sickly boy throws a stone at one of the boys. Before he knows it, Alyosha is also hit on the shoulder by a rock.
    • The boys start hurling stones at the sickly boy and Alyosha pleads with them to stop. They insist that the sickly boy attacked one of them first, stabbing a boy with a pen-knife earlier that day.
    • Alyosha asks the sickly boy why he's throwing stones. The boy yells at him to leave him alone. As Alyosha turns back, the boy throws another stone at him.
    • Alyosha asks the boy why he did that and the boy promptly bites him on the finger. Alyosha calmly wraps his bleeding finger in a kerchief and persists in trying to get the boy to talk to him. But the boy breaks out into tears and runs away.
  • Book 4, Chapter 4

    At the Khokhlakovs'

    • Alyosha arrives at the Khokhlakovs', bloody finger and all.
    • Madame Khokhlakov wants to talk about Zosima's "miracle," but she's also mystified by what she perceives to be her daughter's hysteria. Lise pipes up behind a door that she isn't hysterical at all, but Madame Khokhlakov chides her for driving herself into hysterics.
    • Alyosha interrupts this little tiff by asking for a clean cloth for his wounded finger, the sight of which horrifies Lise and Madame Khokhlakov.
    • As Lise sends her mother off to get various dressings for Alyosha's wound, she has a moment alone with him. She tells him her love letter was just a joke, and now that she's embarrassed, she'd like it back. Alyosha replies that he left the letter back at the monastery, and besides, he took her letter very seriously and plans to marry her.
    • Lise is thrilled, but just then her hysterical mother returns. Lise slyly announces to her mother that Alyosha is planning on getting married, but doesn't reveal that it's to her.
    • Her mother is just confused and rambles on about rabid schoolboys. Then she announces that Katerina has also arrived and is eager to speak with Alyosha.
  • Book 4, Chapter 5

    Strain in the Drawing Room

    • Alyosha leaves Lise and follows Madame Khokhlakov into the drawing room, where Katerina and Ivan seem to have just finished a conversation.
    • Alyosha is struck by Madame Khokhlakov's description of Katerina as loving Dmitri only out of "strain," because he had woken up in the middle of the night uttering that very word.
    • Katerina announces that although she is unsure whether she loves Dmitri, she will never leave him, out of a sense of duty. Alyosha notices that Katerina seems to recognize her own pridefulness and feels sorry for her.
    • Ivan announces his agreement with Katerina's proposal, but Alyosha detects a note of malice in his words. Ivan then announces that he's leaving for Moscow.
    • Katerina seems disconcerted but quickly recovers and expresses how glad she is that Ivan's leaving, because Ivan gets to tell her aunt about all of her and Dmitri's shenanigans.
    • Madame Khokhlakov is beside herself with what she views as Katerina and Ivan's irrationality, because she believes they love each other.
    • Alyosha is suddenly moved to chide Katerina for being so dramatic and faking her happiness at Ivan's departure. He tells her that he believes she and Dmitri perhaps never loved each other, and that she really loves Ivan.
    • This drives Katerina into hysterics.
    • Ivan is amused and explains to Alyosha that what motivates Katerina isn't love but pride, and that Katerina has only tolerated Ivan's friendship to take revenge on Dmitri. He then leaves the room.
    • Katerina is still beside herself, but then offers Alyosha a couple hundred roubles. She asks Alyosha to take them to a retired captain named Snegiryov, whom Dmitri apparently insulted in front of Snegiryov's son. The captain lives in poverty with his wife and children, and Katerina wants to offer the roubles as charity.
    • Then she abruptly leaves the room.
    • Madame Khokhlakov praises Alyosha for his outburst, but Alyosha is utterly chagrined at the havoc he believes he caused. Madame Khokhlakov then runs off to take care of the hysterical Katerina.
    • Lise, who is again behind the door to her room, won't let Alyosha open it to see her, but asks him how he became such an "angel." Alyosha is just confused and distraught (who could blame him?) and tells her that he has to go.
  • Book 4, Chapter 6

    Strain in the Cottage

    • Alyosha heads off for Snegiryov's, but, as he has to pass his brother Dmitri's house on the way, he decides to stop and see if he's around. Dmitri's landlord insists he's not around, so Alyosha continues on his way.
    • At Snegiryov's, Alyosha hesitates to introduce himself, but Snegiryov invites him to make himself at home in his humble cottage. Crowded into the room is the rest of Snegiryov's family, including his ill wife and two daughters. When Alyosha mentions the incident with Dmitri, the young boy who bit him earlier emerges from behind a curtain in the corner.
    • Alyosha denies that that's what his visit is about, but Snegiryov offers to whip the boy, which appalls Alyosha. Bust as suddenly, Snegiryov refuses and even yells angrily at Alyosha.
    • Alyosha tries to calm Snegiryov down by reassuring him that Dmitri will apologize and make amends if necessary. Snegiryov seems calmer and introduces Alyosha to his wife. But his behavior – and his wife's – annoy his children, so Snegiryov recommends that Alyosha follow him outside.
  • Book 4, Chapter 7

    And in the Fresh Air

    • Snegiryov then starts rambling on to Alyosha about the back-story behind his dispute with Dmitri. He had been some kind of servant to Dmitri but had cheated him on Grushenka's and Fyodor's orders. On discovering this, Dmitri had turned him out of the tavern by his beard, mockingly called the "whiskbroom," in front of his own son and the other children. His son continues to be mocked by the children and is constantly getting into fights with them even though he's frail.
    • Alyosha then offers him the 200 roubles. Snegiryov seems genuinely grateful and goes on about all the wonderful things he can do for his family.
    • But all of a sudden, Snegiryov's mood seems to change. He flings the roubles on the ground and announces that his honor can't be bought. But as he runs away, he also asks Alyosha what his son would say if he knew that he had accepted money from a Karamazov.
  • Book 5, Chapter 1

    A Betrothal

    • When Alyosha arrives at the Khokhlakovs', Madame Khokhlakov is on her way out the door to tend to Katerina, who is now running a fever.
    • Alyosha and Lise are alone, so Alyosha tells Lise about his encounter with Snegiryov. He reveals that he's actually glad that Snegiryov rejected the money because it gave Snegiryov the chance to prove he was an honorable man. Alyosha decides that Snegiryov will be more receptive to the money the next day.
    • Lise then tells Alyosha that her note to him actually wasn't a joke at all. Alyosha tells her he knows, and Lise is annoyed because he seems so cold. But then he kisses her, which surprises them both. He confesses that he had her letter in his pocket all along.
    • Lise asks Alyosha why he seems so terribly sad, and he mentions how troubled he is by his family's conflicts and Zosima's ill health.
    • After kissing Lise good-bye, Alyosha heads downstairs only to be headed off by Madame Khokhlakov, who is distressed by what she's overheard between him and Lise. Alyosha refuses to show her Lise's letter and continues out the door.
  • Book 5, Chapter 2

    Smerdyakov with a Guitar

    • Alyosha decides he'll try to catch Dmitri at the gazebo by his father's house again, so he plants himself there in the hope that Dmitri will show up eventually.
    • He's surprised to hear the sound of guitar playing and a man's voice singing. A woman replies, and Alyosha realizes it's Smerdyakov playing the guitar to one of the neighbor girls, Maria Kondatrievna.
    • All of a sudden, Alyosha sneezes. He can't eavesdrop on the two any longer, so he goes up to them and inquires after Dmitri. Smerdyakov tells Alyosha that he isn't Dmitri's "keeper," that Dmitri is constantly threatening him. Maria adds that the other day she heard Dmitri telling Smerdyakov that he would grind his head in a mortar.
    • Smerdyakov tells Alyosha that Dmitri was invited to meet up with Ivan at a local tavern, so Alyosha takes leave of them and heads to the tavern.
    • When Alyosha arrives at the tavern, Ivan invites him up to his private room, where he's dining alone.
  • Book 5, Chapter 3

    The Brothers Get Acquainted

    • Ivan tells Alyosha that it's about time they got acquainted, since they haven't really gotten to know each other since Ivan left for school when he was 15 and Alyosha 11.
    • Thinking about his dramatic scene with Katerina, Ivan tells Alyosha that he still thirsts for life, which he believes is a very Karamazov quality. Alyosha agrees and professes that we should all love life, even more than meaning.
    • Ivan asks Alyosha whether he's seen Dmitri today. Alyosha says no, but he did see Smerdyakov. Ivan is intensely interested in what Smerdyakov had to say. Alyosha asks Ivan what will happen between Dmitri and their father, and Ivan fends off the question, asking Alyosha if he's Dmitri's "keeper" (which is oddly exactly what Smerdyakov said in the previous chapter).
    • Despite everything, Ivan seems to be in a celebratory mood and is positively happy about being free of Katerina. In fact, he wonders if he ever loved her in the first place.
    • He then claims that it's important for Alyosha to understand exactly what kind of man he is, and goes off on a long monologue about how he believes in God but rejects the world that God created.
  • Book 5, Chapter 4


    • Ivan continues to explain his refusal to accept the world that God created by citing the suffering of the most innocent of human beings: small children. He lists for Alyosha examples of horrendous child abuse: a Turk killing a Bulgarian child before its mother; a Swiss named Richard who had a miserable childhood and grew up to kill a man, but eagerly awaited his hanging because he'd meet God, or so he's told; parents who flog their daughter mercilessly, and the public outcry that the parents were even brought before a court; parents who made their daughter sleep in an outhouse all night; and a general who, furious that a kid hurt his dog, ordered his hounds to hunt the kid down and tear him apart.
    • After these horrendous examples, Ivan concludes that he could not accept a world founded on the suffering of just one child, and asks Alyosha if he could either. Alyosha agrees, but he then suggests that the world is founded on the suffering of an innocent who did have the right to forgive all wrongs – Jesus Christ.
    • Ivan rejects Alyosha's reply and tells Alyosha that he'd like to share a little poem with him, which – get this – he hasn't written, but has memorized.
  • Book 5, Chapter 5

    The Grand Inquisitor

    • Before Ivan dives into his poem, he gives Alyosha a little lecture on literary history. Ivan explains that in the 16th century – which is when the actions of his poem take place – poems and plays were written about holy figures – the Virgin Mary, Christ, angels, even god – coming down to earth and conversing with ordinary people.
    • Ivan's own poem is set in 16th century Seville (in the 1500s), at the height of the Spanish Inquisition. It's the day after a particularly bloody massacre where hundreds of heretics were burned at the stake.
    • Christ decides to appear, but instead of making a grand entrance, he comes quietly and inconspicuously. (About as inconspicuously as Brad Pitt at your local mall, apparently, because everybody recognizes him.) He doesn't say anything, but he quietly performs miracles – raising a child from the dead, healing the blind – which pretty much gives him away.
    • As Christ goes around wowing everyone with his miracles, the Grand Inquisitor, the guy in charge of all the heretic-burning, appears. He demands that Christ be arrested by the guard, and everyone is so frightened by him that they readily comply.
    • Later that night, the Grand Inquisitor visits Christ in prison. He recognizes his prisoner as Christ, but, paradoxically for a self-described Catholic, refuses to listen to anything He has to say.
    • At this point, Alyosha is extremely puzzled. Alyosha wonders whether the whole poem is supposed to be some kind of joke. Ivan says it's not, and continues on.
    • The Grand Inquisitor, according to Ivan, berates Christ for rejecting Satan's three temptations back in the day when Christ was wandering the wilderness. Those three temptations, for those of you fuzzy on the New Testament, were: 1) offer everybody bread and they will follow you; 2) jump off a cliff to prove that you're the Son of God, and people will believe you; and 3) set yourself up as the ruler of the entire earth and use your power to compel people to obey you.
    • According to Ivan's Grand Inquisitor, Christ rejected all of these temptations because he wanted man to freely follow him (instead of being won over by bread, dazzled by miracles, or coerced by earthy power).
    • But the Grand Inquisitor claims Christ got it all wrong, because man does not want to be free. Or rather, only a chosen few can endure the terrible gift of freedom; the majority prefer to be led around, told what to do, and essentially be treated like children. Some even choose to accept the gift of freedom, but because they are not strong or clever enough to know what to do with it, they end up setting up reason and science as gods instead.
    • Here the Grand Inquisitor lets Christ in on his secret: he is on Satan's side. Out of his concern for mankind, he has deprived them of their freedom by accepting Satan's temptations, the temptations of miracle, mystery, and authority that Christ had rejected in the wilderness.
    • But just because the Grand Inquisitor has all the power doesn't mean he's a happy man. He views his power as a horrible burden, which he has to endure because he happens to be one of the chosen few who accept the terrible gift of freedom. He has to lie to the majority in order to deprive them of their horrifying freedom, and this lie, this sin, makes him suffer.
    • Alyosha finds Ivan's poem absurd, although he has trouble spelling out his objections coherently.
    • He asks Ivan how the poem ends, and Ivan imagines that at the end of the scene, Christ gets up and kisses the Grand Inquisitor on his wrinkly old lips. The Grand Inquisitor then frees Christ and tells him never to return again.
    • Alyosha doesn't understand how Ivan could possibly live with such a dismal view of the world. Ivan says he'll rely on the good old "Karamazov baseness." Ivan then reproaches Alyosha for judging him so severely, and Alyosha bends over and kisses his brother.
    • Ivan is immensely pleased by this gesture and takes his leave of Alyosha. Alyosha notices that Ivan is walking with a slight sway and that his right shoulder is lower than his left.
    • He then rushes back to Zosima, who is still on his deathbed. Much later, Alyosha will wonder how he forgot about his brother Dmitri so quickly.
  • Book 5, Chapter 6

    A Rather Obscure One for the Moment

    • As Ivan heads back to his father's house, he feels increasingly troubled. When he arrives, he sees Smerdyakov sitting on a bench outside and is suddenly overwhelmed by his intense loathing for him. But despite this, he finds himself sitting down on the bench to talk with Smerdyakov.
    • Smerdyakov asks Ivan why he doesn't go to Chermashnya, and Ivan is confused by his question. Smerdyakov then babbles a bit about how concerned he is by the trouble between Dmitri and Fyodor, and how worried he is that Dmitri will kill him for conspiring with Fyodor. He wonders whether he'll get an attack of "falling sickness" (epilepsy) the next day.
    • Ivan thinks Smerdyakov is being absurd because he isn't supposed to be able to predict when his epileptic fits will come on.
    • Smerdyakov then worries that he'll be considered Dmitri's accomplice just in case Dmitri does end up killing Fyodor, because he's told Dmitri about the secret signals. If Grushenka arrives to accept Fyodor's money, Smerdyakov and Fyodor have agreed on a special knock to announce her arrival.
    • Ivan gets even more irritated, but Smerdyakov continues on to tell him that Grigory, Fyodor's faithful servant, is knocked out from the tonic he takes for his back troubles, and his wife Marfa has taken a sip too. If Smerdyakov does have a fit, there will be no one to prevent Dmitri from attacking Fyodor and stealing his money.
    • Ivan wants to know why Smerdyakov is so convinced that Dmitri will kill Fyodor. Smerdyakov says if Grushenka were to seduce Fyodor, she would convince him to sign over their inheritance to her.
    • Ivan asks whether that's the real reason Smerdyakov wants Ivan to go to Chermashnya instead of Moscow – Chermashnya is closer just in case Dmitri does commit the murder. Smerdyakov is so irritating at this point that Ivan is about to punch him, but instead he walks away laughing.
  • Book 5, Chapter 7

    "It's Always Interesting To Talk With an Intelligent Man"

    • When Ivan enters the house, he is too irritated to bother speaking with his father. But during the night, he finds himself oddly compelled to get up and check up on him, and he's not sure why.
    • When morning comes, he announces to his father that he is off to Moscow. Fyodor begs Ivan to go to Chermashnya to take care of a business deal. Wondering why everyone wants him to go to Chermashnya, Ivan tells his father he'll consider it.
    • On his way out, he blurts out to Smerdyakov that he's off to Chermashnya. Smerdyakov's reply is that it's "always interesting to talk with an intelligent man."
    • On his way to the train station, Ivan's not sure what Smerdyakov meant by that phrase, but he's really bothered by it. He decides not to go to Chermashnya and to go straight to Moscow instead.
    • A couple hours after Ivan leaves, Smerdyakov has a fall and goes into an epileptic fit. Fyodor is concerned because Smerdyakov's been his lookout for both Grushenka and for Dmitri, but he's somewhat reassured because, before his epileptic fit, Smerdyakov had told him that Grushenka would almost certainly arrive that night.
  • Book 6, Chapter 1

    The Elder Zosima and his Visitors

    • When Alyosha arrives at the elder Zosima's quarters, he is sitting up looking relatively well, surrounded by four other monks: Father Iosif, Father Paissy, Father Mikhail (the superior), and Brother Anfim.
    • Zosima asks Alyosha if he has seen his brother, but Alyosha isn't sure which brother he is referring to at first. Zosima explains that he had seen a fate of terrible suffering in the face of his brother Dmitri and had hoped that Alyosha could save him. He tells Alyosha to find Dmitri at all costs after their conversation.
    • Zosima then says how much Alyosha reminds him of his own dead brother.
    • The narrator intervenes at this point to tell the reader that what follows in the next chapter is a narrative of Zosima's life written by Alyosha, who wrote down what he remembered of that night much later.
  • Book 6, Chapter 2

    From the Life of the Hieromonk and Elder Zosima, Departed in God, Composed from his Own Words by Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov

    a) Of the Elder Zosima's young brother

    • Zosima begins by telling everyone about his older brother, Markel, who died from consumption when he was only 17. All through his life, Markel had rebelled against any religious teaching. But at the age of 17, during Holy Week, his consumption took a turn for the worse, and the doctor said he had a very short time left to live.
    • Suddenly Markel underwent some kind of religious conversion. Zosima recalls his brother's joyful expression as he celebrated God's glory and exhorted everyone around him to welcome paradise on earth. His brother passed away a few weeks after Easter.

    b) Of Holy Scripture in the Life of Father Zosima

    • Zosima then recalls the first time he felt God's word in his soul. When he was 8 years old, he heard the story of Job in church, and he felt overwhelmed with awe and astonishment. He tells his fellow monks that all they have to do to touch the souls of their flock is to share the moving stories of Scripture.
    • As an example, he relates the story of a young man he encountered in his early days as a monk. The young man wonders whether even animals "have Christ." Zosima tells the young man a story about how a saint once convinced a bear not to attack him by handing it a piece of bread. The young man is moved by the story.

    c) Recollections of the Adolescence and Youth of the Elder Zosima While Still in the World, The Duel

    • Flash forward to an older Zosima, who's now a hip cadet officer partying in St. Petersburg. He falls in love with a girl who's smart and hot, but then he gets called away for a couple months on a military mission. When he gets back, the girl is married. Hurt and angry, Zosima deliberately insults the girl's husband during a conversation about an important event. This insult leads to a duel.
    • (He parenthetically remarks that it's 1826, so they might be arguing about the Decembrist uprising, when a radical group tried to overthrow the Tsar.)
    • The evening before the duel, Zosima is in a foul mood. He takes it out on his servant Afanasy by slapping him so hard that he bleeds.
    • The next morning, though, Zosima's mood is radically different. He's filled with a deep self-consciousness that there is something utterly shameful within him. He realizes that he treated Afanasy with inhuman cruelty. He realizes that Afanasy is a man created in God's image like himself, just like the guy he's going to duel. In fact, everyone is made in God's image.
    • Filled with this enlightenment, Zosima rides off to the duel with his second (in a duel, each man picks a second to help ensure the duel is fair), a fellow military officer. Zosima and the girl's husband take twelve paces apart from each other, and the girl's husband takes the first shot. Instead of shooting back, Zosima throws away his weapon and apologizes.
    • Everyone's in dismay. Zosima explains that if he hadn't let the girl's husband take a shot at him, everyone would have thought he was apologizing because he was a coward. No one knows what to do with that, but they all acknowledge that he's done something "original."
    • Back at his regiment, the officers debate whether Zosima ought to resign, but Zosima interrupts them to announce that he's resigning and joining a monastery.
    • When news of his actions spreads through the town, Zosima is greeted with laughter, but not with malice, as everyone seems to accept him with love. At a social gathering, the girl he was in love with embraces him with gratitude, as does her husband and everyone else.
    • Just then, Zosima notices an elderly man approaching him.

    d) The Mysterious Visitor

    • This elderly man, an important and wealthy official well respected in the town, had never spoken to Zosima before. But after the dueling incident, the elderly man begins to visit him regularly in his rooms, where they have long philosophical discussions.
    • Zosima is impressed with his visitor's wisdom, and much of what he says echoes Zosima's later, more mature philosophy, including the idea that paradise is possible on earth if universal brotherhood can be achieved (a huge "if," given all the havoc the Karamazov brothers create).
    • Eventually Zosima's visitor confesses that he killed someone. Fourteen years ago he was in love with a widow who had already promised herself to an officer. Although the officer was away on a military campaign, the widow expected him to return to her soon.
    • Furious, the visitor snuck in at night and stabbed her to death. He then stole a few items to make it look as if a servant had robbed and murdered her.
    • The visitor's plan succeeded. A disgruntled servant was blamed for the deed and – conveniently, before the visitor could feel guilty about letting someone else take the fall for his crime – the servant died a couple weeks later of some illness.
    • As the years went by, the visitor was tormented by guilt. He fell in love again, married a young woman, and had three children, but he couldn't bear to embrace them because of his guilt.
    • Zosima advises the visitor to confess his deeds, but the visitor continues to waffle for a couple of weeks. The visitor leaves late one night, then suddenly returns. They sit together, and the visitor mysteriously tells Zosima to remember that he had returned that night.
    • The next day, the visitor confesses everything. Nobody really believes him, even though he kept some souvenirs from the widow he murdered, and many think he's crazy. As if on cue, the visitor falls seriously ill. On his deathbed, he confesses to Zosima that he had returned that night to kill Zosima for fear that Zosima would tell everyone about his terrible secret.
    • The town blames Zosima for the visitor's mad confession and subsequent decline. When the visitor dies a couple of weeks later, Zosima leaves town and joins a monastery. It's only at the end of this section that we finally learn the name of the visitor, Mikhail.
  • Book 6, Chapter 3

    From Talks and Homilies of the Elder Zosima

    e) Some Words about the Russian Monk and His Possible Significance

    • As the title of the chapter suggests, there's precious little action going on here. Instead, the novel lets Zosima gets a couple of things off his chest before he dies. (Oh, was that a spoiler?) We'll give you the broad outlines of his talks here.
    • In this section, Zosima asserts that the Russian monk has an important role in the world, despite living in isolation from his fellow man. According to Zosima, it's really everyone else who is isolated: because people are so caught up in worldly desires, they have no interest in making real connections with other people.
    • The modern world of reason and science hasn't freed humankind; it has enslaved them to material things, the desire for wealth and earthly power.
    • Through a life of humble prayer, the Russian monk is freed from these material needs. Consequently, he can show others the way to true freedom through leading an exemplary life. Moreover, the Russian monk has an intimate connection to the Russian people, who are fundamentally a religious (or Orthodox) people.

    f) Some Words about Masters and Servants and Whether It Is Possible for Them to Become Brothers in Spirit

    • Here, Zosima insists that "[e]quality is only in man's spiritual dignity," and not in superficial distinctions in class. Thus masters and servants ought to be brothers in spirit.
    • Case in point, he tells the story of meeting up with Afanasy, the servant he brutally slapped while he was an officer in St. Petersburg, eight years after he left to become a monk. Afanasy warmly welcomes Zosima into his home and even donates money to Zosima for his mission.

    g) Of Prayer, Love, and the Touching of Other Worlds

    • In this section Zosima talks about how prayer is essentially like the 19th century version of Twitter: you can pray for anyone, at any time, even if you don't know them. Conversely, someone out there is comforted by the thought that someone is praying for them, even if they don't know who it is.
    • This sense of being connected to everyone in the earthly realm leads to a feeling of connection to the heavenly realm, to God and his higher truth.

    h) Can One Be the Judge of One's Fellow Creatures? Of Faith to the End

    • Zosima here insists that man cannot judge or be judged by other men because everyone is guilty. It's only by recognizing how guilty we all are that true universal love becomes possible.
    • Zosima exhorts his followers to embrace the ecstasy of loving God, even to the point of throwing themselves onto the earth and kissing it.

    i) Of Hell and Hell Fire

    • Zosima muses that the best part of hell may be physical suffering, because burning in the fires of hell would take your mind off the even greater torment of your spiritual pain, the pain of being without love. But perhaps in sensing this deeper spiritual pain, the condemned would at least have some "image" of what love is like, an image they may not have had access to when they were being distracted by worldly pleasures.
    • Even suicides – who, according to the Russian Orthodox faith, are condemned to hell – deserve one's pity, and Zosima confesses to praying for suicides even though the religion forbids it.
    • At this point, Alyosha's manuscript breaks off, and the narrator gets back to the action. On this last evening, everyone visiting Zosima believes he is getting better. All of a sudden, though, he feels an intense pain in his chest and falls to the floor, kissing the earth and praying. In this position, he dies.
    • The chapter ends with the narrator coyly promising that the events that follow are "strange, disturbing, and bewildering."
  • Book 7, Chapter 1

    The Odor of Corruption

    • Zosima's corpse is prepared and placed on display in his cell for his wake.
    • The monastery is packed with visitors, eager to witness some miracle surrounding the death of the famous elder. Father Paissy notices two faces in the crowd that bother him, though he doesn't know why: the Obdorsk monk and Rakitin.
    • Then outside he comes across Alyosha, weeping by the grave of another monk buried in a corner of the hermitage.
    • Father Paissy takes his place by Zosima's coffin and begins to read from the Gospels. In the middle of the afternoon a noticeable odor emerges from the coffin. This wouldn't be
    • so weird – Zosima is dead, after all – except that there were great expectations that Zosima's body would not decay, as saints of old did not.
    • As the news spreads, all of a sudden Father Ferapont, Zosima's nemesis, appears in Zosima's cell. He runs around, claiming to be casting devils out of the cell. Father Paissy sternly rebukes Ferapont and drives him out of the cell.
    • But the damage is done. The other monks and visitors murmur their approval of Ferapont, and Paissy is saddened to see Alyosha scurrying away with a weird expression on his face.
  • Book 7, Chapter 2

    An Opportune Moment

    • The narrator explains that Alyosha is feeling all kinds of conflicted emotions about his elder's death.
    • Rakitin comes across Alyosha in a pine grove between the hermitage and the monastery. He is lying face down on the ground.
    • Rakitin goads Alyosha about his feelings about Zosima's death (and the corpse's unseemly rotting). Alyosha dimly feels that he needs to remember something really important about Dmitri, but he can't remember what.
    • Finally Rakitin convinces Alyosha to peel himself off the ground and join him for a visit to Grushenka's.
  • Book 7, Chapter 3

    An Onion

    • When Alyosha and Rakitin arrive at Grushenka's, they find that she's all dressed up and in a state of excitement, as if she were expecting someone. She tells them she told Dmitri that she was going to spend all day doing accounting with her "old man," Samsonov, but in fact she's waiting around for a very special message.
    • She's so excited that she invites herself to sit on Alyosha's lap. Instead of feeling terrified, as he usually is with women, Alyosha finds himself just plain curious.
    • Grushenka announces that her "officer" is in town. This officer had left her when she was just 17 and married another woman. It seems that now his wife has died and he wants to get back together with Grushenka.
    • Grushenka admits that she had thought of seducing Alyosha before because he just seemed so good and made her feel ashamed, but she announces that she just loves him.
    • Rakitin remarks that Alyosha is grieving over Zosima's death, and Grushenka jumps off Alyosha's lap in dismay. Alyosha reads this action as her "saving" him from lusty thoughts and proof that there is some goodness within her.
    • Grushenka tells Alyosha a fable about an old woman whose sole kind deed in life was to give an onion to a beggar woman. Upon her death, the devils threw her into a lake of fire, but her guardian angel appeals to God. God tells the angel that if the old woman did one act of kindness, he would spare her. The angel mentions the onion. God says OK, you can extend an onion to her, and she can hold onto the onion, and you can pull her out of the lake with the onion. But if the onion breaks, she's stuck in the lake of fire. So the angel offers the woman the onion, the woman grabs hold, and the angel pulls. But everyone else in the lake of fire grabs onto the woman. When she tries to shake them off, the onion breaks and she is back in the lake of fire.
    • Grushenka tells Alyosha that her non-seduction of him is her one "onion," her one kind act. In fact, she had even offered Rakitin 25 roubles to bring Alyosha to her for just this purpose. She throws Rakitin the money, which Rakitin accepts, although shamefacedly.
    • Grushenka is still exploding with emotion, torn between joy that her officer is returning to her and anger that he rejected her in the first place. She even considers bringing a knife to her meeting with him.
    • The message from her officer finally arrives: he would like to meet her at Mokroye.
    • Alyosha and Rakitin leave Grushenka's. Rakitin is still annoyed with Alyosha for being so angelic and leaves him. Alyosha walks alone to the monastery.
  • Book 7, Chapter 4

    Cana of Galilee

    • Alyosha gets back to the monastery at 9 in the evening and visits Zosima's cell, where Father Paissy continues to read from the Gospels over Zosima's coffin. Alyosha kneels to pray and finds that instead of all of those conflicting emotions he felt earlier, he just feels a kind of "sweetness."
    • Father Paissy is reading the story of the marriage at Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle of transforming water into wine.
    • As Alyosha drifts in and out of sleep, still praying, he enters into a kind of a trance, in which snippets of Paissy's reading mingle with his own scattered impressions of the day's events.
    • While in this trance-like state, he sees Zosima himself appear before him, filled with joy. Zosima tells Alyosha that everyone – presumably in heaven – is at the wedding feast, everyone who gave just an onion.
    • Suddenly Alyosha is filled with rapture and wakes up. He goes outside and falls to ground, kissing it.
    • Three days later, Alyosha leaves the monastery as Zosima had directed him.
  • Book 8, Chapter 1

    Kuzma Samsonov

    • Meanwhile the novel finally returns to Dmitri. So what's he been up to for the past 200 pages – which take up only two days, by the way, as the narrator reminds us on the first page of this chapter?
    • Dmitri has been making a royal fool of himself, that's what.
    • Ashamed of stealing 3,000 roubles from Katerina only to spend it all on Grushenka, Dmitri decides he must return the money to Katerina somehow to save his honor. Only then can he begin a new life with Grushenka.
    • But Dmitri has no money. So he hatches up the desperate plan of going to see Samsonov, Grushenka's old "patron," to borrow the money to repay Katerina and to whisk away Grushenka.
    • Dmitri arrives at Samsonov's and is taken upstairs to see the old man himself, holed up in a small bedroom with his swollen legs. In Dmitri's confusion, he notices a malicious glint in Samsonov's eyes, but he quickly brushes this aside as the peevish wincing of an old man in constant pain from his gouty leg.
    • Dmitri proposes that Samsonov lend him money, using his inheritance, a woodlot in Chermashnya, as collateral. Of course Dmitri doesn't yet have his inheritance, nor is it likely he will ever receive it because it's being held by his father.
    • Samsonov rejects Dmitri's proposal, but then suggests that Dmitri see a fellow by the name of Lyagavy, who's been trying to purchase the woodlot from his father. Lyagavy is staying with a priest in the village of Ilyinskoye.
    • Dmitri is effusively thankful for the tip and leaves Samsonov. The narrator tells us that it was all a malicious joke on Samsonov's part, and that he was infuriated by Dmitri's visit.
  • Book 8, Chapter 2


    • Having no money, Dmitri pawns his silver watch for six roubles and borrows three roubles from his landlords. Then off to Ilyinskoye he goes.
    • At Ilyinskoye he meets up with the priest Lyagavy is staying with. The priest tells him that Lyagavy – who should be called Gorstkin, since he hates the name Lyagavy – is staying with a forester at Sukhoy Possyolok.
    • Upon their arrival at the forester's, they discover that Lyagavy is passed out drunk in his room.
    • Unable to wake him, Dmitri decides to wait outside the drunk's room until he wakes up. The priest heads back to Ilyinskoye.
    • Dmitri must have fallen asleep, because all of a sudden he wakes up to find the room filled with fumes. The forester helps Dmitri air out the room, but Lyagavy sleeps peacefully on.
    • Dmitri again falls asleep outside Lyagavy's room, and the next time he wakes it's 9 in the morning. He finds that Lyagavy has already started drinking heavily again. He tries to engage Lyagavy in conversation, but Lyagavy keeps accusing him of being out to cheat him.
    • Realizing that he's been the victim of Samsonov's malicious trickery, Dmitri returns back home and straight to Grushenka's.
  • Book 8, Chapter 3

    Gold Mines

    • As we learned in Book 7, Chapter 3, Grushenka told Dmitri that she was off to help Samsonov with his accounts.
    • The narrative picks up with Dmitri, who leaves Grushenka and tries desperately to find some money. He pawns off his shooting pistols with a casual friend, a young official in town.
    • Dmitri then goes off to visit his father's neighbor, Maria Kondatrievna, where he is distressed to learn that Smerdyakov has fallen ill.
    • Dmitri heads home, worried. He washes up, gets dressed, and decides to borrow the 3,000 roubles he needs from Madame Khokhlakov.
    • Dmitri arrives at Madame Khokhlakov's, who is, strangely, thrilled to see him. He keeps trying to ask her for the 3,000 roubles, and eventually succeeds – or so he thinks. But Madame Khokhlakov really is just trying to get him to work with the gold mines, where he would, eventually, earn 3,000 roubles. She drapes a small silver icon around his neck as a kind of good-luck charm.
    • Dmitri, furious and impatient with Madame Khokhlakov's incoherent plans, bangs his fists on the table, spits, and walks out the door.
    • Outside Dmitri dissolves into hopeless tears as he beats himself on a certain spot on his chest, the same spot he had beaten when he talked previously with Alyosha in Book 3, Chapter 11.
    • Grief-stricken, he wanders into the square, where he encounters an old woman whom he recognizes as a servant of Samsonov. When he asks her about Grushenka, he discovers that Grushenka had left Samsonov's shortly after he dropped her off.
    • Furious, he heads to Grushenka, where he discovers from her servant Fenya that she has just recently left for Mokroye. On the way out, he takes a brass pestle from the table and stuffs it in his pocket.
  • Book 8, Chapter 4

    In the Dark

    • Suspicious that Grushenka may have headed off to his father's house, Dmitri goes there. He sneaks into his father's yard over a garden wall.
    • From his post outside his father's bedroom window, Dmitri can see Fyodor, all dressed up, his head still in bandages from when Dmitri beat him up. To test whether Grushenka is there, Dmitri gives the secret tapping signal on the window. Fyodor immediately rushes to the window, calling for Grushenka.
    • The narrative abruptly breaks off with Dmitri pulling the brass pestle from his pocket...and...Grigory wakes up. Suddenly we're seeing things from Grigory's point of view.
    • Grigory remembers that the garden gate is still unlocked, so he goes off to lock it. He notices a man running and grabs his leg as the man tries to jump the wall. He feels a blow and falls unconscious.
    • The narrative shifts back here to Dmitri's point of view, who throws the pestle onto the grass. Dmitri tries to stop the blood flowing from Grigory's head wound, but gives up and heads straight back to Grushenka's, where a servant's nephew tells him that she headed off to Mokroye a couple of hours ago.
  • Book 8, Chapter 5

    A Sudden Decision

    • Dmitri dashes into see Fenya to get the scoop on Grushenka. He frightens Fenya and her grandmother because of his bloodied appearance. She confirms that Grushenka is off to Mokroye.
    • Dmitri then heads back to his friend Pyotr Ilyich Perkhotin, the young official he'd pawned his pistols to. He pays back the loan and gets his pistols back.
    • Perkhotin is startled by how much money Dmitri seems to be flashing around all of a sudden. They send Perkhotin's servant out to the local store for some change, but Dmitri asks Perkhotin's servant to order lots of treats, as Dmitri is planning on wooing Grushenka again in Mokroye.
    • Perkhotin helps Dmitri wash off the blood, all the while trying to get the story out of him, but Dmitri incoherently mumbles about gold mines and Madame Khokhlakov and punishment and theft. Still confused, Perkhotin accompanies Dmitri to Plotnikov's store, where Dmitri loads up a cart with goodies and sets off for Mokroye.
    • Perkhotin is highly suspicious of Dmitri. He goes to the tavern to take his mind off things, but when he tells everyone about Dmitri's sudden wealth, they wonder if Dmitri's finally gotten around to killing his father.
    • This concerns Perkhotin, so he decides to investigate and heads to Grushenka's house to get the story from her servant Fenya.
  • Book 8, Chapter 6

    Here I Come!

    • Dmitri hightails it off to Mokroye. He's eager to meet up with Grushenka, but at the same time he's seriously considering suicide. It doesn't help that the coachman seems to want to have a philosophical chat with him. With the loaded pistol in his pocket, Dmitri appears to plan on suicide at dawn.
    • When he arrives at Mokroye, the innkeeper Trifon Borisich is pleased to see him, particularly as Dmitri spent so much money last time he was in town.
    • Trifon leads Dmitri to the room where Grushenka, her officer, her officer's friend, and a couple of locals (Kalganov and Maximov) are sitting. Grushenka shrieks in surprise when she sees Dmitri.
  • Book 8, Chapter 7

    The Former and Indisputable One

    • Dmitri tells everyone not to be afraid – he just wants to hang out with Grushenka. Grushenka calms down and Maximov entertains everyone with a couple stories about his own stupidity.
    • Grushenka gets increasingly irritated with the Poles, who keep speaking to her in Polish.
    • At an awkward moment, Dmitri proposes a toast to Russia, to which everyone drinks except the Poles, who then cheer Poland. This irritates Grushenka even more.
    • Then Maximov proposes a game of cards. Dmitri is losing a lot of money – so much so that Kalganov intervenes and stops him from playing.
    • Then Dmitri has a brilliant idea. He invites the Poles to another room, where he proposes to give them 3,000 roubles to leave Grushenka. The Poles seem interested, until Dmitri reveals that he doesn't have all the money on him. Suddenly they stomp out of the room indignantly and denounce Dmitri's behavior.
    • Grushenka has had it with the Poles and tells them off. As if on cue, some peasant women begin to sing a dance tune, and the innkeeper himself walks in and tells the Poles to shut up. The innkeeper reveals that the Poles have been cheating at cards all night. Still indignant, the Poles lock themselves up in a room.
  • Book 8, Chapter 8


    • The party begins, with the champagne flowing and scrumptious morsels for everyone. The peasant girls dance and sing, somewhat bawdily. Grushenka watches everything from an armchair, pulling Dmitri over to whisper to him from time to time.
    • Dmitri goes out on the verandah to get some fresh air. He encounters the innkeeper, who seems to be worried about something.
    • Dmitri goes back to the party but Grushenka isn't there. He finds her in another room, weeping in a corner. She declares her love for him, and Dmitri is ecstatic.
    • They return to the party and even get the Poles out of their room to join the fun. The Poles, however, aren't amused by Dmitri. Grushenka is suddenly exhausted, and Dmitri takes her back behind the curtain dividing the room.
    • Drunk, exhausted, and overjoyed, Grushenka and Dmitri dream of their new life together. Their conversation is interrupted, however, by the arrival of the police commissioner, the deputy commissioner, the deputy prosecutor, and the district attorney.
    • The attorney declares that they are arresting Dmitri for the murder of his father. Dmitri is utterly bewildered.
  • Book 9, Chapter 1

    The Start of the Official Perkhotin's Career

    • The novel picks up with Perkhotin knocking at the widow Morozov's house, where Grushenka is renting a place. Here the servant Fenya tells Perkhotin that Dmitri had arrived earlier, covered in blood, and had even confessed to killing a man.
    • More concerned than ever, Perkhotin starts to go to Fyodor Karamazov's but decides against it because he fears causing a scandal just in case Fyodor Karamazov was not murdered. Instead, he decides to ask Madame Khokhlakov what happened.
    • Although it's late – 11 at night – Madame Khokhlakov is finally roused from her bed to receive Perkhotin. She attests that she never lent Dmitri any money and even writes a short statement to that effect.
    • Perkhotin and Khokhlakov experience a mutual attraction, despite the extraordinary circumstances, and Perkhotin goes on his way.
  • Book 9, Chapter 2

    The Alarm

    • Perkhotin rushes over to the house of Mikhail Makarovich Makarov, the district commissioner of police, where a party is taking place. When he arrives, he discovers that not only are all the important officials there, but they have also already been notified of Fyodor Karamazov's murder by the servant Marfa Ignatievna.
    • What happened was this: Marfa is woken up by a terrible scream from Smerdyakov, the kind that always began his epileptic fits. She notices Grigory is missing, then hears groaning from the garden, where she discovers a bloodied Grigory much as Dmitri left him in. She rouses her neighbor, Maria Kondratievna, her daughter, and the visiting Foma, and they all go to Fyodor Karamazov's house, where they discover his dead body. Marfa then runs off to the deputy commissioner's.
    • Perkhotin, Makarov, and the other officials head over to Fyodor Karamazov's house to investigate. After surveying the scene, they dispatch the deputy commissioner off to Mokroye to keep watch on Dmitri while they get the paperwork settled for his arrest.
    • This is why, when Dmitri had previously met Trifon Borisivetch outside (Book 8, Chapter 8), the innkeeper looked concerned – he had already been notified by the deputy commissioner of Dmitri's impending arrest.
  • Book 9, Chapter 3

    The Soul's Journey through Torments. The First Torment.

    • So now we're back at the inn, where Dmitri has just been accused of his father's murder. Grushenka has to be pulled away from Dmitri. Dmitri is sat at a table, where Parfenovich and Kirillovich begin his interrogation. A clerk takes notes.
    • Dmitri is relieved to learn that Grigory is OK, and he denies that he murdered Fyodor. The officials remind him that he's been talking about murdering his father for the last month or so; that he's been loudly protesting that his father owes him his inheritance; and that Dmitri regarded the 3,000 roubles Fyodor was saving for Grushenka as his own property.
    • Dmitri concedes all these points, but he still denies murdering his father.
    • His initial joy and relief at discovering that Grigory is still alive gives way to sadness at his father's death.
    • Grushenka bursts in to interrupt the interrogation and she has to be taken to a different floor altogether. Makarovich explains to Dmitri that he calmed Grushenka down and placed her in the care of Maximov and the innkeeper's daughters. Dmitri is grateful.
  • Book 9, Chapter 4

    The Second Torment

    • Parfenovich and Kirillovich continue their interrogation.
    • Full of good intentions, Dmitri gives a long, rambling, detailed account of the events of the past two days, but the district attorney and the prosecutor aren't too impressed with his candor. They only seem interested in a few questions of fact: how much money he had, how much money he needed, and why he grabbed the brass pestle.
  • Book 9, Chapter 5

    The Third Torment

    • Parfenovich and Kirillovich then ask Dmitri about his visit to his father's. Dmitri insists that the gate to the garden was closed, while Parfenovich and Kirillovich insist that it was open.
    • Dmitri then tells his interrogators about the secret signals that only he, Smerdyakov, his father, and Grushenka knew, the signals that would announce Grushenka's arrival to Fyodor. Parfenovich suggests that Smerdyakov may have killed his father, but Dmitri rejects this possibility because he believes Smerdyakov is a weak-willed coward.
    • The interrogators keep pestering Dmitri, even asking him to demonstrate exactly how he sat on the garden wall when Grigory accosted him. Dmitri tells them about getting his pistols back from Perkhotin, his suicide plans, and even gives them the note he had shown to Perkhotin in Book 8, Chapter 5.
    • The interrogators go back to the question of the money. They estimate, given how much money they've found on Dmitri right now (around 800 roubles) and the amount he spent on the festivities, that he had roughly 1,500 roubles on him, not 3,000. Dmitri refuses to tell them how he got the money or why he had claimed previously that he had 3,000 roubles.
    • They then ask Dmitri to strip so they can search his possessions.
  • Book 9, Chapter 6

    The Prosecutor Catches Mitya

    • The prosecutor and the deputy commissioner search Dmitri's clothes, thinking he might have sewn his money into them, but find nothing. They discover some blood on his right cuff and take all the clothes in as evidence. They find some clothes from Kalganov for Dmitri to borrow.
    • The prosecutor informs Dmitri that Grigory's testimony conflicts with his story. Dmitri had said that the gate to the garden was closed, while Grigory insisted it was open. Puzzled, Dmitri is shown the envelope that had the money, and his exclamations only serve as further proof to his interrogators that he's guilty.
    • Frustrated, and now convinced that it must have been Smerdyakov who killed his father, Dmitri decides to confess an awful secret.
  • Book 9, Chapter 7

    Mitya's Great Secret. Met With Hisses.

    • Dmitri confesses his terrible secret, which is that the money is actually the money he stole from Katerina. (This makes sense if you've been keeping track of the fact that none of the characters can ever specifically state how much money Dmitri throws around.)
    • On his first spree with Grushenka a month ago, he had only spent 1,500 roubles, not 3,000, as legend had it. He had saved the other half of the money, sewn up in a bit of cloth and hung like an "amulet" around his neck before he had left for Mokroye, thinking he might need money to marry Grushenka if she accepted him.
    • The prosecutor and the district attorney are skeptical. They ask him where the cloth is, and Dmitri doesn't know exactly – he just remembers tearing it up in the town square. They ask him where he got the cloth, and he guesses that he might have stolen his landlady's bonnet.
    • By this point, Dmitri realizes that he is lost. After a short break, they decide to proceed to interrogate the witnesses.
  • Book 9, Chapter 8

    The Evidence of the Witnesses. The Wee One.

    • First up for interrogation is the innkeeper Trifon Borisich, who insists that although he never actually counted the money, he could see by sight that Dmitri was holding 3,000 roubles.
    • He adds that Dmitri even stated that he was going to spend his "6,000," which the interrogators find very interesting because it suggests that Dmitri spent the 3,000 he stole from Katerina and the 3,000 he stole from his father.
    • In addition to the peasants, Kalganov and the Poles are interrogated as well. The interrogators find the Poles' story about how Dmitri tried to bribe them for 3,000 roubles further confirmation of his theft.
    • After Maximov, the interrogators call in Grushenka, who behaves with solemnity and grace. Dmitri declares to her that he did not murder his father, and Grushenka declares her belief in Dmitri's honesty and innocence.
    • By this point, Dmitri is utterly exhausted and falls asleep. He has a dream that he's being driven by a peasant in a cart across the steppes. As they pass through a village, he asks the peasant why everyone is so poor, and why a baby held by one of the impoverished peasant women is crying. He thinks he hears Grushenka telling him that she will stay with him for the rest of her life, then he wakes up.
    • Parfenovich holds a transcript before him and asks Dmitri to sign it, which Dmitri does, without reading it.
  • Book 9, Chapter 9

    Mitya Is Taken Away

    • Parfenovich then reads Dmitri a "Resolution," which formally places him under arrest. After another long speech declaring his innocence, Dmitri bids farewell and offers his hand to Parfenovich, who rejects it.
    • Grushenka says a brief good-bye to Dmitri, this time with none of the hysterics of their other encounters, and she promises to stick by him.
    • They load Dmitri into a cart to take him back to town. Just before he leaves, Kalganov pops up and shakes his hand.
    • Dmitri leaves, and the scene ends with Kalganov sitting in a corner, crying into his hands.
  • Book 10, Chapter 1

    Kolya Krasotkin

    • The novel shifts to the beginning of November, where we are introduced to 14-year-old Kolya Krasotkin.
    • Krasotkin is popular among his peers and respected for being a daredevil. In the previous July, he had lain down on some railroad tracks on a dare as a train passed over him. The story spread, and his reputation was sealed – but his widow mother was utterly distraught, so he had to vow never to pull such a dangerous prank again.
    • Kolya also has an intellectual streak in him, reading books from his father's library and showing off in class, particularly in Dardenalov's history class. This is in part because Dardenalov has the hots for his mom, which Kolya tolerates.
    • Kolya also has a dog, Perezvon, who he picked up a month ago. He keeps the dog in the house, teaching it all kinds of tricks.
    • Oh, and Kolya's the kid that got stabbed by the sick boy Ilyusha in Book 4, Chapter 3.
  • Book 10, Chapter 2


    • On this particular Sunday, Kolya is eager to go out, but he's been asked to babysit his neighbor's kids. He shows them a small toy cannon with some shot and makes his dog perform tricks for them.
    • Finally the servant Agafya returns and Kolya heads out with his dog.
  • Book 10, Chapter 3

    A Schoolboy

    • Kolya steps out onto the market square and whistles for Smurov, a boy a couple years younger than him. Together they head through the square to visit Ilyusha.
    • It seems that since the rock throwing incident, Ilyusha has taken seriously ill. Moreover, he keeps calling for a dog named Zhuchka, which no one has been able to find. Since the incident, his classmates have started visiting him regularly, along with Alyosha Karamazov.
    • Although Ilyusha has dearly wanted to see Kolya, Kolya has refused to visit him for the entire month until now.
    • As the two boys cross the square, Kolya baits the peasants who are out selling their wares.
    • Finally they arrive at Ilyusha's, but Kolya asks Smurov to go in and ask Alyosha to meet him outside
  • Book 10, Chapter 4


    • When Alyosha comes out, Kolya gives him the back story on his relationship with Ilyusha. When Ilyusha first arrived at school, he was picked on by the kids. But Kolya appreciated his fighting spirit and defended him, and Ilyusha took to following Kolya around.
    • One day, Smerdyakov told Ilyusha that it would be really cool if he placed a pin in a piece of bread and gave it to a dog. This dog – the same Zhuchka that everyone's searching high and low for – eats the bread and runs off squealing in pain.
    • Filled with remorse, Ilyusha breaks down in tears before Kolya. Kolya isn't having any of that "sentimental slop" and sends Smurov to tell Ilyusha that he's breaking off their friendship for a short time.
    • Without Kolya's protection, Ilyusha is again pestered by the other kids, which led to the stabbing and stone throwing described in Book 4, Chapter 3.
  • Book 10, Chapter 5

    At Ilyusha's Bedside

    • Ilyusha's room is crowded with kids, along with the rest of his family. Captain Snegiryov has accepted Katerina's charity, and she has even paid for a famous doctor to come in to diagnose Ilyusha that day. Alyosha is also present.
    • When Kolya comes in, Ilyusha is thrilled. He's petting a mastiff puppy that his father brought him, but he's still in mourning over Zhuchka. Kolya tells Ilyusha that he's brought him an even better dog.
    • But when the dog, Perezvon, finally enters, Ilyusha instantly recognizes it as the ever-suffering Zhuchka.
    • It seems that over the past several weeks, Kolya has found Zhuchka and trained it all kinds of tricks.
    • Thrilled by Ilyusha's reaction, Kolya brings out his toy cannon again but hands it over to Ilyusha's mother to play with at Ilyusha's request.
    • Kolya entertains Ilyusha with the story of his recent brush with the law. Walking through the square, he had tricked a peasant into rolling over a goose with a cart. He was taken to court but got off with just a stern lecture.
    • Another child, Kartashov, tries to show up Kolya on his knowledge of history – specifically the founders of Troy – but Kolya is able to silence the child with a few clever questions.
    • The antics are drawn to a close, however, when the famous doctor makes his appearance in the room. Everybody else clears out.
  • Book 10, Chapter 6


    • Outside, Kolya and Alyosha get to know each other. At first Kolya tries to impress Alyosha with his knowledge – disparaging religion and championing socialism, among other things. Frustrated, he asks Alyosha if he despises him, a question that surprises Alyosha. Alyosha quickly reassures Kolya.
    • Kolya is won over by his frankness and lack of condescension. He opens up to Alyosha and confesses that he knows he suffers from vanity. Alyosha tells Kolya that he shouldn't be so worried about appearing ridiculous, and they both declare their friendship.
    • Their conversation is cut short when the famous doctor emerges from the room.
  • Book 10, Chapter 7


    • OK, this is maybe the saddest part of the whole book, so get your Kleenex ready.
    • The famous doctor, who obviously thinks he is way too important to visit a poor family like the Snegiryovs, condescendingly states that the only way the family can be saved is if they move – Ilyusha to Sicily, the daughter and the mother to the Caucasus, and the mother to Paris.
    • His contempt angers Kolya, who threatens the doctor with an attack from Perezvon, but Alyosha calms Kolya down. Kolya returns to the room and the doctor leaves in a huff.
    • Snegiryov tries to reassure Ilyusha, but Ilyusha already knows that nothing can be done and that there's no cure. He pulls both Kolya and Snegiryov to his tiny, consumptive body in a hug.
    • Everybody is crying at this point. He tells Snegiryov that when he dies – sniff – Snegiryov should find another boy to be friends with – sniff – and just please don't ever forget him – sniff – just visit his grave once in a while.
    • Sob.
    • Kolya can't fight the tears, so he leaves the room. Kolya heads home, and Alyosha leaves as well.
  • Book 11, Chapter 1

    At Grushenka's

    • Alyosha heads off to visit Grushenka, who is in quite a state. After Mitya's (Mitya is a nickname for Dmitri) arrest, Grushenka was sick for almost five weeks. Now, two months later, she's doing better, although she's lost some weight.
    • Incidentally, she has let the old man Maximov stay on with her out of charity, and he entertains her with funny stories.
    • We learn that the trial is the next day.
    • Grushenka has just returned from a visit to Mitya, where they had a terrible argument over Grushenka's former Polish lover. It seems that now the Poles are living in incredible poverty, and Grushenka sends them small sums of money from time to time out of pity. Right before she went to visit Mitya that day, she had stopped by the Poles', where her former lover had tried to seduce her with music. Grushenka thought it was funny; Mitya did not.
    • Grushenka has her own cause for jealousy. She believes Mitya is back in love with Katerina, who's hired a fancy Moscow doctor to diagnose Mitya as insane. The thinking here is that since the whole town thinks Mitya is guilty, it might be better to argue that he's insane.
    • Ivan, to Alyosha's surprise, has also visited Dmitri, who has told Grushenka that he and Ivan have a secret.
    • Alyosha promises to find out their secret for Grushenka, and leaves.
  • Book 11, Chapter 2

    An Ailing Little Foot

    • When Alyosha arrives at Madame Khokhlakov's at Lise's urgent request, Madame Khokhlakov is a nervous wreck. She's been immobilized by swollen foot for the past three weeks, but that hasn't stopped her from getting all dressed up.
    • Madame Khokhlakov's latest tizzy is over an anonymous article that's appeared in a newspaper called Rumors, which sounds a bit like a 19th-century version of PeopleUS Weekly.
    • or
    • Someone has written horrible things about events in their town – which the narrator finally names as Skotoprigonyevsk. (Try saying that 5 times fast.) This anonymous author has claimed that Dmitri has flirted with a certain unnamed society lady – i.e., Madame Khokhlakov – who has gone so far as to offer him 3,000 roubles two hours before the murder to run away with her. He spurned her, however, and it is implied that he preferred to kill his father rather than spend his life in Siberia with this unnamed society lady.
    • Madame Khokhlakov is convinced that it's about her, and that it's by Rakitin. Rakitin is jealous because she rejected him and is pursuing a flirtation with Perkhotin, the young official to whom Dmitri pawned his pistols. Rakitin had written a silly little poem about her foot, and she and Perkhotin had laughed over it.
    • Madame Khokhlakov also informs Alyosha, to his surprise, that Ivan has visited Lise. After Ivan's visit, Lise has been terribly upset.
    • Their conversation is interrupted when Perkhotin enters, and Alyosha leaves for Lise's room.
  • Book 11, Chapter 3

    A Little Demon

    • When Alyosha arrives, Lise is also a nervous wreck. She tells him that she craves "disorder," that she wants to suffer. She also tells him that Kalganov has even proposed to her.
    • Lise tells him that she has horrible dreams involving tiny devils infesting her closets. Alyosha admits that he has had the same dream. (Whoa.)
    • She also dreams that a – prepare yourself for ugly anti-Semitism here – Jew is torturing a small child while she eats pineapple compote.
    • Alyosha is surprised to learn that Lise actually invited Ivan and talked to him about her dream. Ivan had laughed at her and left.
    • Lise passes Alyosha a note to give to Ivan. When he leaves, she slams the door on her own finger.
  • Book 11, Chapter 4

    A Hymn and a Secret

    • It's already getting quite late when Alyosha finally visits Dmitri in his cell. Rakitin is just on his way out and seems irritated with Alyosha for some reason and can barely look him in the face.
    • Dmitri is amused by Rakitin, who wants to make a name for himself by writing an article about Dmitri's trial. Rakitin apparently had big plans for a journalistic career in Petersburg, all funded by Madame Khokhlakov's money. Rakitin wrote that catty article for Rumors because Khokhlakov had rejected him and all his career plans had fallen apart.
    • Dmitri believes that over the past two months, sitting in prison, he has felt a "new man" arise within himself, and some possibility for redemption is available to him through suffering. Even miserable sinners like himself, stuck in prison, can assume the guilt of everyone else in the world and sing God's praises in a "tragic hymn."
    • Dmitri tells Alyosha about how annoyed he is at Katerina, who has hired a doctor to prove him mentally ill. He doesn't want her to testify about their humiliating past together, fearing that she will humiliate not only him, but herself.
    • But Dmitri is also tempted by a huge "secret," which he finally reveals to be Ivan's plan for his escape. Ivan wants desperately for Dmitri to escape prison and go to America.
    • Then all of a sudden Dmitri asks Alyosha if he thinks he killed their father. Alyosha swears that he believes Dmitri to be innocent.
    • Saddened that his brother could distrust him, Alyosha leaves to find Ivan.
  • Book 11, Chapter 5

    Not You! Not You!

    • On his way to look for Ivan, Alyosha notes that the lights are on at Katerina's, and figures Ivan must be visiting her. Sure enough, he meets Ivan just as he's leaving Katerina's. They both go up to see her.
    • Alyosha tells Katerina that Dmitri doesn't want her to testify, but Katerina scoffs at him. She reveals that she's been to visit Smerdyakov because Ivan has told her that Smerdyakov is the real killer, but she still seems unconvinced.
    • When Ivan leaves, Alyosha chases after him and gives him Lise's note. Ivan tears up the letter.
    • Ivan then tells Alyosha that he's only staying friendly with Katerina because he doesn't want her to ruin Dmitri's chances at the trial. Ivan claims he's no longer in love with Katerina, but he also believes that Katerina has a document that "mathematically" proves that Dmitri killed their father, an idea that Alyosha rejects.
    • When Ivan asks Alyosha who he thinks killed their father, Alyosha insists that he doesn't think it was Dmitri. Ivan is strangely disturbed, then accuses Alyosha of spying on him in his room when he was visited by an unnamed man.
    • Alyosha is completely mystified and denies spying on his brother.
    • Ivan tells Alyosha to leave him alone, and they go their separate ways.
    • Instead of going home, Ivan decides on impulse to go to Smerdyakov's.
  • Book 11, Chapter 6

    The First Meeting with Smerdyakov

    • At this point, the novel backtracks a couple months to the time of Dmitri's arrest. Ivan, you might remember, was far from the fray in Moscow and only got the message about his father's death four days after it all happened. On his first day back in town, he met with Dmitri, then he went to visit Smerdyakov.
    • Smerdyakov was laid up in the hospital, very ill after a series of epileptic seizures. Ivan confronted him about a number of things Smerdyakov had said before Ivan left for Moscow. Did Smerdyakov fake a seizure? Why did he want Ivan to go to Chermashnya?
    • In his usual sly way, Smerdyakov seems to have an explanation for everything, but he still implies that they're somehow complicit in their father's death – or at least that's what Ivan reads into Smerdyakov's promise that he won't tell the police about their conversation.
    • On his return Ivan had also become madly in love with Katerina, although he denied it to Alyosha.
    • Two weeks after his return, he confronted Alyosha about whether he thinks he might have wished their father dead. Alyosha reluctantly agrees. After this conversation, Ivan decides to visit Smerdyakov again.
  • Book 11, Chapter 7

    The Second Visit to Smerdyakov

    • By the time of Ivan's second visit, Smerdyakov is holed up with Maria Kondratievna, who is now his fiancée. In contrast to the first visit, Smerdyakov seems quite well, and he seems to be studying when Ivan walks in on him.
    • Ivan again confronts Smerdyakov, this time about Smerdyakov's suggestion that he won't tell the authorities about the "whole" of their conversation.
    • This time Smerdyakov is at his most direct and accuses Ivan of being as good as responsible for their father's murder. If Ivan suspected Smerdyakov of planning their father's murder, he did nothing to prevent it or to protect him, making him indirectly guilty.
    • Ivan goes so far as to punch Smerdyakov in the shoulder, but when he leaves, he's crazed with doubt and guilt.
    • He goes straight to Katerina's and tells her about his conversation with Smerdyakov. She pulls out a letter from Dmitri, which Dmitri had written after Katerina's encounter with Grushenka (Book 3, Chapter 10). In this letter Dmitri vowed that if he was unable to find someone to loan him 3,000 roubles, he would kill his father and steal the money from him.
    • This letter reassures Ivan and calms his fears. And yet, perhaps because he sees some truth in Smerdyakov's sly suggestion that he wants Dmitri convicted so he can have more of his father's inheritance, he visits Dmitri ten days before his trial and offers him 30,000 roubles toward his escape.
    • Finally the novel catches up to the present moment. Surprised that Katerina had been to visit Smerdyakov, Ivan decides to visit him a third time.
  • Book 11, Chapter 8

    The Third and Last Meeting with Smerdyakov

    • A blizzard starts up as Ivan heads over to Smerdyakov's. On the way he bumps into a peasant and shoves him violently out of the way. The peasant lies on the ground, unconscious, but Ivan doesn't help – nor does he seem to care that the peasant is dead.
    • At Smerdyakov's, Maria informs Ivan that Smerdyakov is quite ill. When Ivan enters, Smerdyakov is laid up in bed, and Ivan notices that his eyes are yellow (a sign of jaundice, perhaps?). Smerdyakov taunts Ivan with the suggestion that they killed Fyodor together.
    • When Ivan calls him on it, Smerdyakov pulls out from his sock – bam! – a wad of 3,000 roubles.
    • Ivan is flabbergasted by the sight of the incriminating evidence.
    • Smerdyakov admits that he faked his epileptic fit on the day of the murder. And the money was never under Fyodor's mattress, as everyone, including Dmitri, thought; Smerdyakov had convinced Fyodor to hide it behind the icons.
    • Smerdyakov slyly suggests that Ivan is actually the real murderer because he is just a simple servant, while Ivan is the mastermind. Ivan rejects this point and tells Smerdyakov that he's a lot smarter than people give him credit for.
    • Smerdyakov had predicted that Dmitri would come out and try to steal the money that night, so when Dmitri finally left after hitting Grigory, Smerdyakov had gone up to Fyodor's window.
    • Fyodor had been terrified by Dmitri's visit, so Smerdyakov tricked him into believing that Grushenka was outside, waiting to visit him. When Fyodor opened his window to look, Smerdyakov grabbed a cast-iron inkstand and clopped Fyodor over the head with it. Then he stole the money, leaving the envelope on the floor as if Dmitri had opened it up in a frenzy, and hid the money in the hollow of an apple tree in the yard.
    • When Ivan asks Smerdyakov about the gate that Grigory had insisted was open, Smerdyakov smiles and confirms that it was closed; Grigory was simply confused.
    • Ivan denounces Smerdyakov and tells him that the two of them are going to reveal everything at Dmitri's trial tomorrow. To Ivan's surprise, Smerdyakov offers him the 3,000 roubles. Ivan tells him this money doesn't change his mind and leaves.
    • On the way back, Ivan comes across the unconscious peasant in the road. This time he picks him up and carries him on his back to get some help at a nearby cottage.
    • Ivan thinks he might go directly to the commissioner to reveal everything, but then decides to wait until Dmitri's trial for the great revelation.
    • Back in his own room, Ivan feels irritable and can't help staring at the empty sofa across from him.
  • Book 11, Chapter 9

    The Devil. Ivan Fyodorovich's Nightmare

    • Poof! The devil!
    • Well, not with the horns and pitchfork and flames and all that.
    • Ivan's Satan appears in the manner of a mild-mannered, impoverished, elderly gentleman sitting amiably on his sofa.
    • Ivan sternly tells the nice old man that he's just a figment of everything that's base and, above all, stupid in his imagination, but the devil insists on his reality.
    • The devil reminds him that he had gone to see Smerdyakov to find out what he had told Katerina, which he still doesn't know. But Ivan tells the devil that this is no proof of the devil's existence: the devil only remembers this point because Ivan was about to.
    • Ivan then decides to wet a towel and place it on his head. Of course – wouldn't you if you were sitting across from the devil?
    • The devil then reminds Ivan that he had once accused Alyosha of spying on their conversations (of which they seem to have had several). Ivan admits that this was a momentary lapse, but insists that the devil is still a hallucination.
    • The devil goes on to tell some silly stories about himself and his adventures incarnated on earth. He wants nothing more than to be a simple "fat, 250-pound merchant's wife" and light candles to God, but instead he ends up with rheumatism.
    • Ivan decides the wet towel is useless and throws it away.
    • The devil complains about catching a cold while flying through the freezing heavens. But he was fortunately cured by Hoff's extract of malt.
    • Ivan rejects all of these anecdotes as stupid. The devil justifies his existence by claiming he exists only to "negate," to create doubt, because if everything was meaningful, there would be no more events.
    • He tells the story of a philosopher who all his life denied the existence of an afterlife. Upon his death, he discovered there was an afterlife, but he refused to go to heaven because it went against his convictions. He was then sentenced to walk a quadrillion kilometers as punishment, but since this also went against his convictions, he refused to walk. After a thousand years, he decided, oh heck, I'll walk. Once he got to heaven he sang its praises enthusiastically.
    • Ivan again rejects the devil – the anecdote wasn't his, it was a story Ivan made up when he was 17.
    • The devil tells another couple of stories: the first is about a man who lost his nose to some dreadful disease. The man complained to his priest that he wanted his nose back, but the priest told him that, hey, at least without your nose you won't have to worry about your nose being "out of joint" (i.e., bothered) about its being out of joint (as in, literally broken) ever again.
    • Pretty punny.
    • The second story is about a young floozy who confesses to her priest that she has slept with a man. After her confession, the priest and the floozy set up a booty call.
    • Ivan just becomes more and more infuriated by the devil's stupid stories (as are you, no doubt). The devil continues to mock his philosophy and his writings to his face, including the one about the Grand Inquisitor.
    • At his wit's end, Ivan throws an inkstand at the devil.
    • Their conversation is interrupted by a knock at the window. Suddenly Ivan feels as if he's been tied to his chair. He breaks free from what seem to be imaginary bonds and opens the window.
    • It's Alyosha, and Ivan lets him in. Alyosha announces that Smerdyakov has hanged himself.
  • Book 11, Chapter 10

    "He Said That!"

    • Alyosha explains to his brother that Maria Kondratievna had rushed over an hour ago to tell him that Smerdyakov had hanged himself. Alyosha had hurried back to her cottage to discover Smerdyakov still hanging, and a brief suicide note left on the table. Alyosha then went straight to the police commissioner to tell him the news, before arriving at Ivan's.
    • Alyosha remarks that Ivan looks ill, and Ivan mysteriously states that he already knew that Smerdyakov had hanged himself. Ivan seems to think it's very significant that the wet towel he had wrapped around his head in the previous chapter is lying folded and unused next to his dressing table.
    • Ivan then raves to Alyosha that "he" (i.e., the devil of the previous chapter) was here. They had even talked about Smerdyakov's suicide and Ivan's plan to confess his dealings with Smerdyakov at the trial the next day. The devil had scoffed at Ivan's plan as being born of pride, a need for praise for his noble defense of Dmitri.
    • Ivan continues to rave about how everyone – Katerina, Lise, even Alyosha – despises him. Over the next two hours he becomes more and more delirious and falls asleep on the couch.
    • Alyosha lies next to him and prays.
  • Book 12, Chapter 1

    The Fatal Day

    • The chapter opens at 10 in the morning the next day, in the courtroom just before Dmitri's trial begins.
    • The narrator tells us that the trial has attracted such nationwide attention that the court has made the unprecedented arrangement of setting up a row of chairs for dignitaries by the judges. Women seem in general to favor the romantic Dmitri, whose love triangle with Grushenka and Katerina seems to have struck a chord, and men seem to favor punishing him.
    • The famous lawyer Fetyukovich has been brought in to defend Dmitri, while the prosecutor Kirillovich will present the case against him.
    • Into the packed courtroom arrives the presiding judge, a second judge, then an honorary justice of the peace, followed immediately by Kirillovich. The jurors are already settled in, although the narrator seems to frown on their composition: four low-ranking officials, two merchants, and six local peasants and townsmen.
    • The presiding judge announces the trial of Dmitri Karamazov, and Dmitri appears, followed by his lawyer. A list of witnesses is read, including four who are unable to appear: Miusov, who is in Paris; Madame Khokhlakov and Maximov, who are ill; and finally Smerdyakov, who killed himself the night before.
    • It's the first that Dmitri, and the general public, have heard of Smerdyakov's death. Dmitri shouts, "The dog died like a dog!" for which the judge quickly reprimands him.
    • The judge asks Dmitri how he'll plead, and Dmitri theatrically professes his innocence. The judge again orders Dmitri to cool it.
    • The judge orders the trial to begin. The witnesses are led away to their seating area, after being lectured by the priest and the presiding judge.
  • Book 12, Chapter 2

    Dangerous Witnesses

    • At this point the witnesses for the prosecution give testimony. The prosecutor seems particularly interested in Dmitri's dispute with his father over his inheritance, while the defense lawyer seems particularly focused on whether anyone has ever actually seen the envelope or not.
    • First to give witness is Grigory, who describes his version of the events of that night. Grigory claims to have forgiven Dmitri for attacking him and even calls his father's treatment of him unfair.
    • When the defense lawyer asks Grigory if he's ever seen the envelope, Grigory admits he's never seen it.
    • The defense lawyer then asks Grigory about the ingredients in the medicinal balm he had used the night of Fyodor's murder, and Grigory reveals that the main ingredient is – vodka. After establishing that Grigory must have been quite drunk and not quite a credible witness on the night of the murder, the defense lawyer rests.
    • Dmitri loudly thanks Grigory for being such a great servant, and the judge reprimands him again for his outburst.
    • Next is Rakitin, who is allowed to digress from his testimony into eloquent monologues on the evils of serfdom and a Russia in disorder. He even gets applause for his impressive speeches. But the defense lawyer brings up the fact of Rakitin's intimacy with Grushenka, and their bet over Alyosha (Book 7, Chapter 3). Rakitin cannot deny that he never returned the betting money to Grushenka, so he too is discredited.
    • The next witness is Captain Snegiryov, who is an utter drunken mess bewailing the imminent death of his young son. He is quickly dismissed.
    • After Snegiryov, the innkeeper Trifon Borisovich is called up. Trifon is quite smug on the stand, but the defense lawyer undercuts Trifon by getting him to confess that he stole money from Dmitri on his drunken spree.
    • The Poles are next on the list, and they too act noble and superior under the prosecutor's questioning. But Fetyukovich challenges them on cheating at cards, and Kalganov is called up to confirm this. The Poles leave the stand amid general laughter.
  • Book 12, Chapter 3

    Medical Expertise and One Pound of Nuts

    • Next three medical experts are called in to weigh in on Dmitri's state of mind: Dr. Herzenstube, the unnamed famous doctor from Moscow, and the young Dr. Varvinsky.
    • Herzenstube goes first. He testifies that he finds Dmitri to be of an "abnormal" state of mind. As confirmation, he oddly states that when Dmitri walked into the courtroom, he should have looked to the left where the women were sitting, since he has a thing for the ladies. Instead he looked straight ahead. That's a convincing argument (not).
    • Next up is the famous doctor. He agrees with Dr. Herzenstube that Dmitri is "abnormal," but he adds that Dmitri has "mania" and is prone to act in a "fit of passion." As if to one-up Herzenstube, the famous doctor claims that Dmitri should have looked to the right when he walked into the courtroom, because that's where his defense attorney was sitting.
    • Finally comes Dr. Varvinsky. He testifies that he believes Dmitri to be completely sane and that it was quite natural for him to look straight ahead as he walked, because that's where the judges were sitting.
    • Dmitri loudly agrees with Dr. Varvinsky.
    • Then Dr. Herzenstube is called up again by the defense and surprises everyone with a sympathetic story about Dmitri. Herzenstube remembers coming across Dmitri as a young child, neglected by his father. He had bought Dmitri a pound of nuts out of charity. Years later, when Dmitri returned to town as a young man, he visited Herzenstube and reminded him of his kindness. Dmitri loudly insists again on his gratitude, and everyone in the court seems impressed.
  • Book 12, Chapter 4

    Fortune Smiles on Mitya

    • Alyosha then takes the stand, and the prosecutor grills him about his brother's state of mind. Alyosha strongly insists on his belief in Dmitri's innocence and points to Smerdyakov as the real murderer. When the prosecutor asks for proof, Alyosha can only say that he can tell by the look on his brother's face that he's innocent.
    • As Fetyukovich questions Alyosha, Alyosha suddenly remembers Dmitri's unusual gesture of pointing to his chest well above his heart in a conversation they had on their last meeting before their father's murder. Alyosha realizes that Dmitri must have been pointing to the amulet with the 1,500 roubles – an important memory that might support Dmitri's contention that he had had 1,500 roubles all along.
    • Next up is Katerina. She explains that she understood Dmitri needed money when she entrusted him with the 3,000 roubles and that she viewed this as a kind of indirect loan. Then, much to Dmitri's dismay, she tells the entire court about the time when she went to borrow money from Dmitri to save her father's honor.
    • After Katerina comes Grushenka, who, in the course of her testimony, reveals that Rakitin is her cousin. This destroys Rakitin's credibility – another score for the defense.
    • Finally Ivan is called to the stand.
  • Book 12, Chapter 5

    A Sudden Catastrophe

    • The narrator tells us that Ivan was originally supposed to testify before Alyosha, but his testimony was delayed because of his illness. Ivan doesn't seem much better now as he walks to the stand, and for some reason, Alyosha jumps up at this point and says, "Aaah, I remember it." No one notices Alyosha.
    • Ivan answers a couple of questions vaguely, and the judge says that it's OK for him to go home if he's sick. He steps off the stand, then returns. Suddenly he pulls out a wad of bills and announces that Smerdyakov is the murderer.
    • Katerina interrupts his testimony and tells everyone to ignore him. But Ivan keeps raving and has to be hauled away by the marshal.
    • Hysterical, Katerina rushes to the stand and waves around the incriminating letter Dmitri had written her. Like Ivan, she seems to be on the brink of a nervous breakdown as she furiously explains the story behind the document. She is whisked away to be attended by the famous doctor from Moscow, who's also treating Ivan.
    • Grushenka denounces Katerina's actions and has to be taken out of the courtroom as well. Dmitri has to be restrained, and his defense lawyer isn't too thrilled about the new evidence.
    • At 8 o'clock in the evening, Kirillovich begins the closing statement for the prosecution.
  • Book 12, Chapter 6

    The Prosecutor's Speech. Characterizations.

    • There isn't a whole lot of action over the next four chapters, which are devoted entirely to the prosecutor's speech. The narrator informs us that he seems to be nervous and feverish, and actually dies nine months later of consumption (d'oh). But we'll give you the broad strokes of his argument here.
    • First, the prosecutor doesn't address the crime itself, but instead goes on about how Russian morality has declined to the point that society is used to something like the Karamazov affair. He cites a quote from famous Russian writer Nikolai Gogol's novel Dead Souls, a book everyone there is sure to recognize: "Ah, troika, bird-troika, who invented you!" The troika, or carriage, serves as a metaphor for Russia as a whole, and he suggests that this Russia-troika is being pulled into insanity by people like the Karamazovs. (Scattered applause here.)
    • Next the prosecutor paints his own psychological profile of all of the Karamazovs, starting with the father, then on to Ivan, Alyosha, and finally Dmitri. Yup, even goody-two-shoes Alyosha is depicted as clutching onto the monastic life as an escape from his deep Karamazovian corruption. A line about Alyosha perhaps sinking either into "mysticism" or "chauvinism" draws some applause.
    • Then the prosecutor goes back to the theme of Russia and states that, actually, "we are all Karamazovs," capable of both high idealism (as seen in Alyosha) and total degradation (as seen in Fyodor). Interestingly, he cites a quote from Rakitin on this point.
    • Then Kirillovich suddenly seems to remember that there is a crime to prosecute and says, "incidentally," that he thinks it goes against Dmitri's unstable nature to save and sew up 1,500 roubles in an amulet.
    • After dismissing the dispute over Dmitri's inheritance as irrelevant, the prosecutor goes on to the medical opinions about Dmitri's state of mind.
  • Book 12, Chapter 7

    A Historical Survey

    • As in Chapter 6, we just have more of the prosecutor's closing statement in this chapter and not much action.
    • The prosecutor rejects the insanity defense. He argues that Dmitri was just deeply resentful of his father, over his inheritance and over their romantic rivalry for Grushenka. (Kirillovich again cites Rakitin to support his depiction of Dmitri's "Karamazovian" passion for Grushenka.)
    • As evidence of premeditation, he brings up the fact that Dmitri had shouted about his plans to kill and rob his father for months.
    • The prosecutor finally turns to the events of the night of the murder, in which he paints a decidedly more sympathetic picture of Madame Khokhlakov's behavior. He points to Dmitri's grabbing the brass pestle as a further indication of premeditation. He then mocks the idea that Dmitri could have peeked in on his father and turned away without robbing and murdering him in the way that he had raved about for months, especially since he knew about those "signals."
    • At this point, the prosecutor turns to the topic of Smerdyakov.
  • Book 12, Chapter 8

    A Treatise on Smerdyakov

    • Now we go into the third part of prosecutor Kirillovich's closing statement.
    • Kirillovich rejects the idea that Smerdyakov murdered Fyodor, because there is no factual evidence. He paints Smerdyakov as essentially a coward, fearful of Dmitri's strength and Ivan's newfangled ideas, unable to muster enough guts to do something as extreme as murder. In his retelling of the events of that night, Kirillovich argues that there was no point at which Smerdyakov could have murdered Fyodor.
    • Then Kirillovich turns to Smerdyakov's suicide note and argues that the absence of any confession to Fyodor's murder is further proof that Smerdyakov didn't do it. He asserts that if Smerdyakov had really confessed to Ivan the night before, as Ivan claimed, Ivan would have gone straight to the police instead of waiting for the trial. Kirillovich said he had information that Ivan had cashed two 5 percent bank notes for 5,000 roubles each a week ago.
    • Kirillovich points to Katerina's letter as further evidence for his version of events. Just as the letter had stated, Dmitri had murdered and robbed his father, leaving the envelope containing the roubles on the floor. This is just how someone who murdered in a fit of passion would act, not caring about leaving key evidence behind.
    • He also dismisses the idea that Dmitri could have checked on Grigory after he attacked him, because such an act of compassion isn't consistent with Dmitri's character.
  • Book 12, Chapter 9

    Psychology at Full Steam. The Galloping Troika. The Finale of the Prosecutor's Speech

    • Phew. Now you've made it through Chapters 6 through 8 and have finally arrived at the final part of the prosecutor's closing statement.
    • Kirillovich describes the events at Mokroye. He depicts Dmitri as someone who thought his world had ended and his romantic hopes were dashed until he arrived at Mokroye. There, according to Kirillovich, he realized that he still had a chance with Grushenka. Reunited with her, his desire to live is rekindled. The reason the investigators found only 1,500 roubles on him is that he stashed the rest of the money in some secret hole at the inn.
    • Kirillovich claims that Dmitri's desire to live fuels his absurd stories during his interrogation at Mokroye. When confronted with the seemingly trivial but (to Kirillovich) damning detail that the gate to his father's house was open, Dmitri desperately came up with the fiction of the amulet and Smerdyakov's murdering his father.
    • Kirillovich then begs the jury to save Russia and convict Dmitri for the murder of his father.
    • His speech (finally) over, Kirillovich leaves the courtroom immediately and nearly faints in the next room. The chapter ends with chatter in the courtroom during a brief, twenty-minute break, before the defense attorney begins his speech.
  • Book 12, Chapter 10

    The Defense Attorney's Speech. A Stick with Two Ends.

    • Like Chapters 6-9, Chapters 10-13 consist entirely in the defense attorney's speech, with little action, if any. We give you the basic rundown of the speech over the next four chapters.
    • In contrast to the prosecutor, Fetyukovich is quite calm, and everyone in the courtroom is impressed with his eloquence.
    • Fetyukovich puts forward his argument that while all of the details the prosecutor presented seem convincing when taken as a whole, not one of the details can be held up as a concrete, indisputable fact. Every detail can be questioned or challenged in some way.
    • Fetyukovich describes the prosecutor's use of psychology as a "stick with two ends": psychology can justify two contradictory explanations of the same thing. So on one hand the prosecutor says Dmitri recklessly left an envelope on his father's bedroom floor in his mad rush. On the other hand, he says Dmitri was methodical in making sure that Grigory was dead. Psychology paints Dmitri as both reckless and methodical at the same time. How can that be, Fetyukovich asks?
    • Fetyukovich gets a few chuckles from the courtroom here, then he moves on.
  • Book 12, Chapter 11

    There Was No Money. There Was No Robbery.

    • Fetyukovich next tackles the question of the money. To put it bluntly, where is it? No one, Fetyukovich points out, can confirm actually having seen Fyodor Karamazov put the money in the so-called envelope. If the money never existed, then Dmitri couldn't have stolen it. Fetyukovich dismisses Kirillovich's conjecture that Dmitri hid it in some secret crevice in the inn as pure fantasy.
    • Fetyukovich then explains Katerina's conflicting testimony as the impulsive utterances of a vengeful woman. This is kind of clever, because if someone as well-respected as Katerina can be both lofty and petty at the same time, Dmitri, too, can have contradictory impulses toward both honor and utter disgracefulness.
    • On the question of Katerina's letter, Fetyukovich points out how closely Dmitri's words about the envelope echo the way that Smerdyakov talks about the letter, suggesting that Dmitri, like everyone else, only knew about the money secondhand, from Smerdyakov.
  • Book 12, Chapter 12

    And There Was No Murder Either

    • In this portion of his speech, Fetyukovich sets out to establish a plausible explanation for Smerdyakov as Fyodor's murderer.
    • After dismissing Grigory's testimony (a little too much vodka), Fetyukovich proceeds to tell the court about his own impressions on meeting Smerdyakov. In contrast to the prosecutor's description of Smerdyakov as a weak, bullied man, Fetyukovich paints a picture of him as a wily, spiteful man who knew exactly what he was doing when he set up Dmitri.
    • Fetyukovich then points out that Smerdyakov had plenty of time to commit Fyodor's murder between the time Dmitri attacked Grigory and the time Grigory fully recovered consciousness.
    • At this point Fetyukovich takes on a "heartfelt" voice, in contrast to the calm, sensible way he had proceeded thus far.
  • Book 12, Chapter 13

    An Adulterer of Thought

    • Now Fetyukovich entertains the idea that Dmitri might have killed Fyodor. Even if he had, according to Fetyukovich, it wouldn't even count as parricide because of what a miserable father Fyodor was. Not only did Fyodor's awful parenting result in the mess that Dmitri is today, but Fyodor so completely abandoned his obligations as a father that he doesn't deserve to be called a father at all.
    • Fetyukovich then digresses into a general discussion of how the future of society depends on good fathers. Citing the Gospel, he asks the jury to have mercy on Dmitri and declare him innocent. By this show of mercy, they will be giving Dmitri a chance at redemption and at living a good life, a chance his father never gave him.
    • Fetyukovich is frequently interrupted by applause. He ends his speech not with a runaway troika, as Kirillovich did, but with the image of a magnificent Russian chariot.
  • Book 12, Chapter 14

    Our Peasants Stood Up For Themselves

    • The end of Fetyukovich's speech is greeted with loud applause from the courtroom. But Kirillovich is indignant and in his hurried response takes Fetyukovich to task for invoking the Gospel, for insulting Kirillovich's use of psychology, and for inventing fantastic and unbelievable explanations for Dmitri's and Smerdyakov's behavior.
    • Fetyukovich responds to these accusations in a calm and reasonable way.
    • The judge then asks Dmitri if he has anything to say. Dmitri again stresses his innocence and asks for the mercy of the court.
    • The judge then briefly lectures the jury, the jury retires, and the audience in the courtroom discusses the speeches.
    • After exactly an hour, the jury returns with a verdict: guilty of all charges, with no extenuating circumstances.
    • Dmitri cries out and Grushenka screams. Dmitri is taken away. The sentencing is to take place the next day.
  • Epilogue, Book 12, Chapter 1

    Plans to Save Mitya

    • But wait, the novel isn't over yet!
    • It's now five days after Dmitri's trial. Alyosha arrives at the home of Katerina Ivanovna, who is caring for Ivan as he recuperates from his illness.
    • Katerina can't help confessing her deepest feelings to Alyosha. She reveals that she and Ivan had argued for three days straight before the trial about Ivan's plans to help his brother to escape. Ivan had left her with an envelope with the escape plans just in case something happened to him. She also talks about her feelings of intense guilt over her vengeful outburst at Dmitri's trial.
    • Alyosha then tells Katerina that he has a special request from Dmitri: he would like to see her before he goes off to serve his sentence in Siberia. Katerina is undecided and Alyosha leaves her.
  • Epilogue, Book 12, Chapter 2

    For A Moment the Lie Became Truth

    • Alyosha then heads straight to the hospital, where Dmitri, who had come down with a fever after the trial, is being kept in a special area.
    • Alyosha tells Dmitri not to feel bad about trying to escape – after all, he is innocent. He admonishes Dmitri just to remember his promise to reform his ways and become a new man.
    • Dmitri tells Alyosha about his plans to escape with Grushenka to America, learn English, and return to Russia disguised as an American.
    • Suddenly Katerina appears in the doorway. She rushes to Dmitri and clasps his hands, and they seem to come to a reconciliation over everything that's happened between them. Although they are both involved with other people now, they promise to love each other forever. Katerina also affirms that she too believes in Dmitri's innocence; she only revealed his letter at the trial out of petty jealousy.
    • As Katerina leaves, she encounters Grushenka and asks her forgiveness, which Grushenka will give only if Katerina pulls off Dmitri's escape.
    • Alyosha follows Katerina out the door, then heads over to a funeral.
  • Epilogue, Book 12, Chapter 3

    Ilyushechka's Funeral. The Speech at the Stone.

    • The funeral is Ilyusha's. That's right, that angelic little boy from Book 10 died just a couple days after Dmitri was sentenced.
    • All the boys have collected around Ilyusha's coffin, including Kolya.
    • The narrator notes that Ilyusha's corpse doesn't smell. His body is covered in flowers donated by Lise Khokhlakov and Katerina Ivanovna.
    • Captain Snegiryov is sober but still a mess. Mrs. Snegiryov and Ninochka are also at the coffin. Mrs. Snegiryov wants a white rose that has been placed in Ilyusha's hands, but the captain refuses to give it to her.
    • The boys and Alyosha carry Ilyusha's coffin out a few hundred paces away to the church, accompanied by Snegiryov, who fusses over trivial details such as a crust of bread he had promised to crumble over his son's grave so that the swallows would visit it.
    • The coffin is placed in the middle of the church, and everyone surrounds it as the funeral service is read. The coffin is then buried, and the children have to withhold Snegiryov from the open grave.
    • On the way back, Snegiryov starts for the grave again and the children have to persuade him to follow them home.
    • When they return Snegiryov gives his wife some flowers from the funeral, then breaks down in tears, as does the rest of the family, over the sight of his son's boots.
    • Unable to bear it, Kolya suddenly leaves, along with the rest of the children and Alyosha. As they walk slowly down the path, they come upon Ilyusha's favorite stone.
    • Overcome with emotion, Alyosha makes a little speech to the children about how he would like them to remember this moment as a time when they were all good and kind. The children declare their love for Alyosha.
    • Kolya asks Alyosha about the afterlife, and Alyosha affirms that there is an afterlife where they will see Ilyusha again.
    • Then they go back to the Snegiryovs' to eat pancakes. Really. (Hey, it's a Russian funeral tradition, OK?) The boys all cheer for Karamazov.