HomeLiterature Study GuidesThe Brothers KaramazovPart 4 Book 11 Chapters 12 Summary

The Brothers Karamazov | Study Guide

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Brothers Karamazov | Part 4, Book 11, Chapters 1–2 : Brother Ivan Fyodorovich | Summary

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Summary

The Karamazov story is resumed in Book 11. Several weeks have passed, and Dmitri is waiting for trial (Chapter 1). Grushenka has brought Maximov back with her from Mokroye and allowed him to stay with her because he is homeless and has nowhere to go. She gets very ill after Mokroye and is sick for five weeks; after recovering, she begins visiting Dmitri in jail. They continue to quarrel: she is jealous of Katerina, who has put up money for an expensive lawyer (along with Dmitri's brothers). Dmitri is jealous of the Pole, who is now in town and keeps begging Katerina for money. She has visited him and given him small amounts of money out of pity. When Alyosha comes to visit Grushenka, he learns that Ivan has secretly visited Dmitri twice, with some secret between them. Grushenka fears it has something to do with Katerina, but Alyosha reassures Grushenka that Dmitri loves only her.

Alyosha pays a visit to Madame Khokhlakov, specifically to see Lise after receiving an urgent note. She is walking now and has also taken back her promise to marry Alyosha. Madame begins ranting in her usual fashion, jumping from subject to subject and mixing up facts. Currently, she is upset about an article that appeared in a St. Petersburg newspaper, called Rumors, which claims that Madame asked Dmitri to run away with her to the gold mines. The Karamazov family is national news, and all kinds of stories are circulating. She also reports that Lise is hysterical again, alternating between abusing the household and then apologizing and begging forgiveness. Most recently, Ivan came to the house and talked briefly to Lise. Now she is raving against Ivan and says her mother should not receive him.

Analysis

The reader is now prepared to witness Dmitri's trial, having endured a more extreme suffering than any Dmitri will experience—the death of an innocent child. Likewise, the reader is now prepared to look not only at Dmitri's experience of suffering and redemption, but also to Alyosha and Ivan for their reactions.

Grushenka, too, is undergoing a transformation, which began when Alyosha accepted her as his sister and solidified when she accepted Dmitri's love. Her behavior has clearly improved. Grushenka exhibits Christian charity and love for her brother—an important theme in the novel. She takes in the unfortunate Maximov as a charity case, and she forgives her unscrupulous and shameless former lover, who is now living in poverty. When he begs her for money, she visits him, sees that he is in dire need, and sends him small sums.

Lise can now walk, which seems to indicate that her paralysis was a manifestation of hysteria. Her haphazard upbringing and her mother's frivolity and lack of mental discipline have perhaps had a detrimental effect on Lise, who has more depth of character than her mother (as evidenced earlier in the novel in her conversations with Alyosha). Now her hysteria is manifesting in new and more dangerous ways, as seen in the next chapter.

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