Study Guide

The Brothers Karamazov Book 11, Chapter 10

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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.

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