Study Guide

The Brothers Karamazov Book 1, Chapter 3

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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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.

The Brothers Karamazov Book 1, Chapter 3 Study Group

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