Five days after Dmitri’s trial, before nine o’clock, Alexei goes to see Katerina Ivanovna. She talks with him in the same room in which she once received Grushenka. Ivan lies in the next room, feverish and unconscious. He’s being treated by Varvinksy and Herzenstube, both of whom are unable to give any hope that Ivan will recover. Katerina says that Ivan already made contacts to arrange for Dmitri’s escape. She says that she’ll show Alexei the plan “in detail.”
Ivan is suffering from brain fever and his mind, which is his most precious possession, is deteriorating. Ivan’s end is tragic because he was neither able to save his brother nor able to save himself from descending into madness and guilt.
Katerina Ivanovna says that, when Ivan first revealed the plan to her, they quarreled because she got “furious” at the idea of Dmitri fleeing abroad with “that creature”—Grushenka. Then, Ivan came again and brought Katerina a sealed envelope containing the details of the escape. She says that Ivan seemed to foresee his illness. He left Katerina ten thousand roubles with the instructions.
Initially, Katerina Ivanovna allowed jealousy to get the best of her, blinding her to the fact that the most important thing is to do what’s best for Dmitri. In this instance, the envelope recurs as a symbol containing something secret.
Katerina Ivanovna condemns her own character and says that Ivan, too, will probably leave her for “someone easier to live with, as Dmitri did.” She confesses that she was the one who tried to convince Ivan that Dmitri was the murderer due to her rage and jealousy. She says that she is “the cause of it all” and is “guilty.” Alexei notices that Katerina is suffering over her betrayal of Dmitri. She’s sure, however, that Dmitri will agree to escape. Ivan will be well by then and will handle the arrangements.
Katerina Ivanovna feels regret for her second testimony in court and only obsesses over Dmitri leaving her for Grushenka because she feels unworthy. To keep from wallowing, she remains focused on plans for Dmitri’s escape, which can redeem her. She’s also optimistic about Ivan getting better, though the doctors seemed less hopeful.
Alexei tells Katerina Ivanovna that Dmitri has asked to see her. She resists, but he tells her that she must go. She says that she can’t leave Ivan, but Alexei assures her that it’ll only take a moment. He says that he’ll tell Dmitri she’s coming. She agrees to go, but doesn’t want him to know beforehand. Alexei says they’ll be waiting for her, and leaves the room.
Katerina Ivanovna feels too guilty to go to Dmitri. She makes the excuse of needing to stay and take care of Ivan to avoid her responsibility of apologizing to Dmitri. She may want the visit to be a surprise so that Dmitri doesn’t have a chance to reject the even the idea of it.