The events of the night have been unnerving. Back at the monastery, Alyosha receives more bad news: Zossima's condition has worsened; he has only a short time to live. Deeply saddened by his family's sorrows, Alyosha nevertheless decides to remain close to the elder, for this man is also his father. Having made his decision, he begins to prepare for bed, and then remembers Lise's letter and reads it. It is a love letter; she says that she loves Alyosha very much and hopes to marry him when she is old enough. She apologizes sincerely for making fun of the young priest and implores him to come visit her. Dostoevsky carefully details in this book the special sort of characterization needed for the enigmatic Smerdyakov, the son who will murder Karamazov. We learn, for example, that he "seemed to despise everybody," including his real father and also his foster father. It is clear that he could
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