Literature Study GuidesThe Brothers KaramazovPart 4 Book 10 Chapters 1 3 Summary

The Brothers Karamazov | Study Guide

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Brothers Karamazov | Part 4, Book 10, Chapters 1–3 : Boys | Summary



The next seven chapters return to the story of Ilyusha, Alyosha (now out of the monastery and dressing in secular fashion), and the boys. Chapter 1 introduces Kolya Krasotkin, the 14-year-old whom Ilyusha stabbed in the leg. Kolya is an only child of a widow, brave, intelligent, and strong. He becomes notorious in the town for lying down in a depression on the train track and allowing the train to pass over him. Kolya is the strongest student in his class and a leader among the boys.

Kolya likes children and babysits two youngsters who live in the house where he and his mother rent, and plays games with them (Chapter 2). The "squirts," as he calls them, adore him, but he is in a big hurry to get out of the house one morning. Kolya has recently taken possession of a stray dog and has taught him all sorts of tricks. He takes his dog along on an errand.

Kolya meets Smurov, an 11-year-old and one of the pack of boys who taunted Ilyusha (Chapter 3). They are on their way to Captain Snegiryov's house, where he will also meet Alyosha. Smurov reports that Ilyusha is very ill with consumption (tuberculosis) and getting worse. Thanks to Alyosha, the boys from school—about 10 of them from Ilyusha's class and his former enemies—are now visiting him on a daily basis. Smurov, at the urging of Alyosha, has asked Kolya to visit too, although he has held back until now. He will see Ilyusha for the first time since the stabbing incident.


Kolya is about three years older than Ilyusha and the boys who have been taunting him, and is a role model—although he has lately gotten into trouble because of the railroad prank. Kolya himself is looking for a role model, because he does not have a father. He has heard a lot about Alyosha from the younger boys, who have put their quarrels aside as a result of Alyosha's interventions, but he has held back from meeting Alyosha out of pride. He has an excess of egotism as well, which is why he has not visited Ilyusha yet. He wants people to know that the timing for a visit to his old friend has not been influenced by Alyosha. He also has another reason, which becomes apparent in the next chapters.

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