Study Guide

The Idiot Part 3, Chapter 6

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Part 3, Chapter 6

  • This chapter is part 2 of Ippolit's, um, story? Confession? Monologue? Insane ranting? Yeah, that.
  • So, as soon as Ippolit's diagnosis and prognosis really sink in, he starts being a full out jerky ass to his family and the tenant in his building. And by "jerk" we mean basically making fun of the guy's recently dead baby.
  • But one day, when he goes out for a walk, he sees a man dressed in a way that shows he's struggling financially. The man drops his man-purse, and Ippolit picks it up and chases the guy all the way to his house before he returns it.
  • Turns out that this bag has all the documents and important info for this guy and his wife and two little kids. They've fallen on hard times, and are in the city to try to petition for the guy to get his old doctoring job back—a job he lost because of some misunderstanding.
  • After he tells Ippolit his life story, Ippolit tells the family that he will soon die from consumption. The doctor tries to do something about it, but Ippolit is all, no, it's going to be fatal.
  • It's all a pretty sad situation, and they are super-duper grateful to Ippolit for finding and returning the documents.
  • But Ippolit realizes that he can do them one better. A kid he went to school with (and has kind of love/hate feelings for) is the nephew of the man who runs the government department that can get the guy's job back for him. So Ippolit volunteers to try to put in a word on the guy's behalf, and goes to see this old classmate.
  • The classmate is floored to see Ippolit, but immediately agrees to try to help the jobless doctor. Everyone is in luck because he is his uncle's favorite nephew.
  • Ippolit and his classmate go for a walk, and Ippolit describes another scenario of doing a good deed for someone—and how the effects of altruism are vast and far-reaching and hard to foresee. So, looks like there was a time when Ippolit was a pretty optimistic guy, huh?
  • But then, Ippolit says that he has only three months to live—and really, what's the point? Why not just jump into the river and end it all right now?
  • And even more depressingly—say another good-deed situation came up, a good deed that would need some energy invested to really make it happen. Why would a guy who is about to die bother?
  • Ippolit goes home and thinks more and more seriously of killing himself, until finally something happens that makes him decide to really do it.
  • (Okay, kids, this is an important piece of the puzzle to keep in mind. This was a way bigger deal back in the day because of the huge religious taboo about suicide. Not that Ippolit is religious, but still, it was culturally an even bigger deal than today. Like, this might actually be the reason that he feels the need to make this confession to Myshkin and the gang in the first place.)
  • What happens? Well, Rogozhin comes to see him, looking for some info.
  • The next day, Ippolit is still fixating on him and goes to see Rogozhin at home, where they have a weird encounter comparing life and death.
  • That day Ippolit has a fever and is delirious. He dreams that his tenant has found a huge pile of gold and that Ippolit convinces him to melt it into a golden coffin for his dead baby.
  • When he comes to, he remembers Rogozhin's painting of the dead Christ that Myshkin had earlier seen in his house. What is really startling about it is that the artist didn't try to make Christ look good, but instead really painted him as a three day old corpse. The reason it's so startling is that it makes it harder and harder to imagine that somehow this mangled body was really resurrected.
  • Suddenly, the door to Ippolit's room opens and in comes Rogozhin. He silently sits in the corner of the room for a while, and then leaves. It's sort of crazy-sounding, and it's not clear if this really happened or if it's another hallucination.
  • This is the moment when Ippolit decides to kill himself—life is too tormenting.

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