Study Guide

The Brothers Karamazov Book 4, Chapter 5

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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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.

The Brothers Karamazov Book 4, Chapter 5 Study Group

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