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Literature Study GuidesThe Brothers KaramazovPart 3 Book 9 Chapters 4 6 Summary

The Brothers Karamazov | Study Guide

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Brothers Karamazov | Part 3, Book 9, Chapters 4–6 : The Preliminary Investigation | Summary



Dmitri provides the prosecutor and district attorney with a history of his attempts to get 3,000 rubles (Chapter 4). He even tells them he was in despair and thought he might have to "put a knife in someone" to get the money. When they show him the pestle, he admits to taking it, but says he had no purpose in doing so. Dmitri claims that the door to the garden was closed when he left his father's (Chapter 5). The two interrogators tell him the murderer went in and out through the open door. Dmitri further incriminates himself by telling them about the signals his father and Smerdyakov used. At first, Dmitri will not name Smerdyakov as the killer, because he is a "sickly, epileptic, feebleminded chicken." The interrogators tell him that they found Smerdyakov in his bed in an epileptic coma, and Dmitri says, "in that case the devil killed my father!" When they ask him where he got the money to throw a party in Mokroye, he refuses to answer because it is too disgraceful. The interrogators have figured out that he had about 1,500 rubles, so they want to know where the rest of the money went.

The interrogators humiliate Dmitri by asking him to take off all his clothes in front of onlookers, and they search for the missing money and collect his garments for evidence. He is further embarrassed because Kalganov loans him clothes that are too tight. They question him further about his father's missing money and show him the torn envelope, which he says he only heard about but never saw. Dmitri suddenly seems convinced that Smerdyakov, who was the only one who knew where the money was hidden, is the killer, and ran away while Grigory was unconscious. He also agrees to reveal where he got the money for the spree in Mokroye.


In his grief over his father's death, and his sudden recognition that he was not unlike his father and therefore could have shared his fate, Dmitri determines to tell the entire truth without thinking about the consequences to himself. Still, he remains sinful, holding back his worst shame, which for him is stealing Katerina's money. Dmitri cannot at first imagine that Smerdyakov is the killer, because he has been able to bully him easily, so it is hard to imagine his committing a violent act that takes daring. Dmitri himself is so forthright, he cannot imagine others being duplicitous. The whiff of dishonesty will combine with his naïveté, his reputation, and circumstantial evidence to damn him.

Dmitri's period of trial has begun, and part of his chastisement is humiliation. The formerly proud and arrogant officer, who has spent so much time humiliating others, is now subject to undressing in front of a crowd and forced to wear another's clothes. Readers should remember that although Christ was without sin, he was born a man. Therefore, according to the doctrine of original sin, he was not "innocent." Although Dmitri obviously cannot be compared with Christ in his earlier behavior, many aspects of his trial are reminiscent of Christ's trial before the Romans. Like Christ, Dmitri will be humiliated, betrayed, and punished for a crime he did not commit.

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