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Literature Study GuidesThe Brothers KaramazovPart 3 Book 8 Chapters 1 3 Summary

The Brothers Karamazov | Study Guide

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Brothers Karamazov | Part 3, Book 8, Chapters 1–3 : Mitya | Summary



For the past two days, Dmitri has been trying to raise the cash he needs to repay Katerina (Chapter 1). Dmitri visits Samsonov, thinking he will be well disposed toward him as the superior choice for Grushenka, now that he is no longer in the mix. Dmitri says the village of Chermashnya belongs to him as part of his mother's legacy, and he can get at least 6,000 or 7,000 rubles for it through court action against his father. He asks Samsonov to give him 3,000 rubles in exchange for his claims. Samsonov spitefully advises Dmitri to make an offer to the man who is arranging to buy the woodlot from his father, sending him on a wild-goose chase.

When he arrives in Chermashnya, he finds the man drunk, and repeatedly and unsuccessfully tries to wake him. Dmitri finally gives up and dozes off, waking to a room full of fumes. He saves the man, who sleeps through the commotion. In the morning, the man accuses Dmitri of being a cheat. It dawns on Dmitri that he has been tricked, and he returns to town and Grushenka's.

Grushenka tells Dmitri she had to do some accounting with Samsonov and asks him to take her there. Actually, she is just trying to get rid of him while she waits for a message to join her old lover. After dropping her off, he visits an official of his acquaintance to temporarily exchange his prize dueling pistols for some ready cash. He then travels to his father's place to check in with Smerdyakov and learns of his epileptic seizure.

His next stop is Madame Khokhlakov, from whom he tries to borrow 3,000 rubles (Chapter 3). Madame has her own idea for solving Dmitri's problems: make his fortune by prospecting for gold mines. The two of them talk at cross-purposes, and when he realizes she will not give him any money, he spits and walks out. He accidentally bumps into Samsonov serving woman in the square and asks about Grushenka, who says she left almost immediately after she came. Now he runs to Grushenka's, but she is gone. He grabs a brass pestle from a mortar that is sitting on the table before he leaves.


These three chapters, which show Dmitri in his worst light, make readers both laugh and wince as the same time. Dmitri Karamazov has lived a violent, debauched existence for several years, drinking too much, taking advantage of women, and carelessly wasting whatever inheritance he has managed to squeeze out of his father. He has no qualms about physically abusing anyone who gets in his way, and even Grushenka fears him. The only good thing he has done so far is not take advantage of Katerina when she came to him for money for her father.

Dmitri has an attitude of entitlement and expects the world to give him his necessary handouts. He has taken 3,000 rubles from Katerina, spending half of it to impress Grushenka and proving himself to be an irresponsible wastrel. He needs 3,000 to pay her back, and any leftover money to cover expenses, should Grushenka have a change of heart and decide to run away with him. He has no thought of the future and simply lives from moment to moment, acting like a spoiled child.

As he runs around from place to place, he concocts ludicrous schemes, expecting strangers and enemies to help him. He does not consider how inappropriate it is to ask Grushenka's former lover for help. As for Madame Khokhlakov, he has insulted her in the past, and she does not like him, and especially does not like him for Katerina. Madame is a comic character herself; she speaks wildly, entertains silly schemes, and misunderstands everything. The scene in which she tries to convince him to go to the gold mines, as he tries to get some money out of her, is both hilarious and pathetic.

But the serious side of Dmitri's dilemma is that he is mad with desperation and worry, driven by jealousy, and trapped in a web of his own making. He is clearly on the verge of doing violence, either to himself or to another person, because of his desperate need to get what he wants: freedom from Katerina and life with Grushenka.

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