Study Guide

The Brothers Karamazov Book 3, Chapter 11

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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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.

The Brothers Karamazov Book 3, Chapter 11 Study Group

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