HomeLiterature Study GuidesThe Brothers KaramazovPart 3 Book 8 Chapters 45 Summary

The Brothers Karamazov | Study Guide

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Brothers Karamazov | Part 3, Book 8, Chapters 4–5 : Mitya | Summary

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Summary

Wild with jealousy, Dmitri runs to his father's house to find Grushenka (Chapter 4). He climbs over the garden fence and peeks in the window. To make sure his father is alone, he taps on the window using the signals he learned from Smerdyakov. His father leans out, calling to Grushenka, and Dmitri is overcome with loathing. Around the same time, Grigory wakes up from his treatment and checks on Karamazov's house. He sees the open window and a figure running in the darkness. As Dmitri climbs over the fence, Grigory grabs his leg, and Dmitri hits him over the head with the pestle, a heavy, blunt object used for grinding. He jumps down from the gate to check on him, not sure if he is dead or unconscious, but decides to leave him where he is.

He runs back to Grushenka's and finds out from the porter's nephew that Grushenka has gone to Mokroye. Dmitri now bursts in again on Fenya (Grushenka's maid), grabbing her by the throat and demanding information (Chapter 5). Fenya tells him that she has gone to see "her former officer." Fenya is terrified, more so because she sees blood stains on Dmitri's hands.

Dmitri returns to the official's rooms to redeem his pistols. Pyotr Ilyich Perkhotin also notices Dmitri is bloody—and that he has a pile of money—but he helps him wash up. Pyotr accompanies him to Plotnikov's shop, where he begins extravagantly tipping people and buying loads of gourmet foods and champagne to send to Mokroye. This is the same place in which he spent the first 1,500 rubles of Katerina's money the previous month. Pyotr is worried about Dmitri's erratic behavior, the blood on his clothes, and the pistols, but then thinks, "I'm not his nursemaid, am I?" After Dmitri leaves, Pyotr cannot shake his worry, so he goes to Grushenka's to question the servants.

Analysis

Dmitri's night of madness continues in these chapters, as he runs around frantically looking for Grushenka, driven by his intense jealousy. At the moment his father pokes himself out of the window, Dmitri feels visceral hatred for his physical presence: "the whole of his drooping Adam's apple, his hooked nose, smiling in sweet expectation, his lips—all was brightly lit from the left by the slanting light of the lamp shining from the room." His devilish "rival" and the "tormentor of his life" incites a "sudden, vengeful, and furious anger," but he manages to restrain himself. He stops over Grigory out of concern that he has cracked his skull, but it is too late to do anything about it. These are small, but hopeful, signs that Dmitri is not as far gone as he appears to be.

Once he learns where Grushenka is, he throws all hope to be a better man to the wind. Although readers will not find out until later in the novel, he decides to spend the remaining 1,500 rubles around his neck because he has nothing left to lose. His plan is to have one last fling with Grushenka and her fiancé before he magnanimously parts with her forever, a plan that must certainly make sense to him—a man with such a ribald father—even if it does not to the reader.

Pyotr feels like he must intervene in some way, even though he thinks three times that he is not Dmitri's nursemaid, echoing the biblical question, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Indeed, we are all brothers and sisters, by Zosima's reckoning, and Pyotr's conscience drives him to investigate further.

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