HomeLiterature Study GuidesThe Brothers KaramazovPart 3 Book 9 Chapters 79 Summary

The Brothers Karamazov | Study Guide

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Brothers Karamazov | Part 3, Book 9, Chapters 7–9 : The Preliminary Investigation | Summary

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Summary

Dmitri tells the interrogators about appropriating the 3,000 rubles from Katerina and squandering half of it the previous month (Chapter 7). He explains that, by keeping back the 1,500 with the possibility of returning it, he could deem himself a scoundrel, but not a thief. He has been in a rage for a month, he says, because of his guilty conscience about the money he was carrying around. He decided to spend the second portion of the money, only because he had also made up his mind to take his life, so his honor would no longer be an issue. When a new possibility of life opened up for him with Grushenka, the thing that bothered him more than killing Grigory or going to Siberia for the crime was the thought that he was now finally a thief.

Nikolai Parfenovich and Ippolit Kirillovich move on to questioning the witnesses in Chapter 8. The innkeeper testifies that Dmitri indeed spent 3,000 rubles last month and bragged of spending 6,000 altogether, and all the subsequent witnesses corroborate this story. When Grushenka is questioned, she admits Dmitri said he would take his father's life several times, but always in a fit of anger. She believes he is innocent.

Dmitri falls asleep while the prosecutor and district attorney prepare the transcript and has a dream about driving in a cart at a brisk pace and seeing a number of "burnt-out mothers" with starving children. He asks the driver why the people are poor and in misery. Dmitri experiences a feeling of camaraderie with them in the dream and promises not to leave them. When he is taken to prison in Chapter 9, Dmitri says all his life he has been promising to reform, but he is such a man who needs a blow from fate. He accepts his torment and disgrace, and wants to suffer and be purified by suffering. Grushenka says, "I will go with you forever, wherever they doom you to go."

Analysis

In his revelations about the money, Dmitri shows his weakness and depravity (he is a scoundrel), but also his outsized ego (he is concerned about his honor and does not want to be called a thief). His need to be humbled is also seen in the fact that he was more concerned about stealing from Katerina than killing the man who took care of him as a child. On the other hand, the first glimmer of true remorse is shown in his willingness to admit his preference for honor over Grigory's life.

Clearly, Dmitri's ego and braggadocio are the reason everyone thinks he spent 6,000 rubles and not 3,000, a "fact" that can no longer be disputed. Moreover, his repeated threats of violence, verbal abuse, and physical abuse of others seem to confirm that he is a murderer. Dmitri's dream of the poor and disenfranchised, and his willingness to share their misery, is a sign that Dmitri feels sorry for his bad behavior and has the ability to change. The dream signals his nascent ability to feel the pain of others and the possibility that he can put others before his own pride and needs. When he leaves, he says he is willing to take on his torment to make up for his past sins.

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