Two days after the verdict, Dmitri succumbed to nervous fever. He was sent to the town hospital’s section for convicts but, at Alexei’s request, Dr. Varvinsky arranged for him to be placed apart from the convicts. He is in the same room Smerdyakov occupied. Alexei walks in and finds Dmitri sitting on a cot, wearing a hospital robe. Dmitri is certain that Katerina Ivanovna won’t come, but he also feels that it’s impossible for her not to come. Alexei understands how he feels. Alexei says that she will come; he just doesn’t know when. He reports that Katerina has also said that, if Ivan doesn’t recover, she’ll make arrangements for the escape herself.
“Nervous fever” is another illness common to nineteenth-century literature. More scientifically, Dmitri has either come down with a psychosomatic illness due to stress or he has typhoid fever, which was often referred to as “nervous fever.” Dmitri believes that Katerina Ivanovna owes him a visit, though she will probably be too embarrassed and ashamed over her actions to come (which is true). Still, her sense of duty ensures that she will help with the escape.
Alexei asks if Grushenka knows about the escape. Dmitri says she does, but she won’t come this morning. She seems fine with Katerina Ivanovna making all of the arrangements, however, and knows that she loves Ivan and not Dmitri. Dmitri expresses his love for Grushenka and how desperate he is to be with her.
It seems that the former love triangle has reached some sort of compromise. Dmitri and Grushenka are a couple, but Grushenka will tolerate Katerina Ivanovna’s presence as essential to helping Dmitri.
Dmitri tells Alexei that, if he does run away, he won’t be running with joy or happiness in his heart. He loves Russia and knows that Grushenka won’t fare particularly well abroad either. His plan is that, when they arrive, they’ll “set to work, digging the land.” They’ll go to the West. They’ll learn English and, as soon as they do, they’ll return to Russia—but not to Skotoprigonyevsk—as American citizens. He asks if Alexei approves, and Alexei says that he does.
Like so many Europeans who became outcasts in their home countries, Dmitri dreams of going to America and starting over, becoming someone new. He asserts that he will return to Russia, but he will return as something different—an American citizen—which will distract everyone from his criminal past.
Suddenly, Katerina Ivanovna appears in the doorway. She rushes toward Dmitri and seizes hold of his hands. She says that she’s come to embrace him. Though their love is gone, she says, and they both love other people, she wants to be sure that they’ll care for each for eternity. Dmitri asks Katerina if she believes that he killed his father. She says that she doesn’t, but persuaded herself that she did, out of hatred. She rises suddenly, gives a loud cry, and steps back. Grushenka comes into the room.
Katerina Ivanovna and Dmitri have their last tender moment together. It’s important to her that Dmitri not forget her—otherwise, she will feel insignificant, which is a thought that Katerina cannot stand. It’s uncertain how much either of them means what they say. There are certainly strong feelings between them, but they’ve hurt each other too much for it to be love.
Grushenka stares at Katerina Ivanovna and says that they’re both “wicked.” Dmitri reproaches Grushenka for not forgiving Katerina, and Alexei scolds him for this. Grushenka insists that it was just Katerina’s “proud lips speaking, not her heart.” She then runs out. Dmitri tells Alexei to go after her. Katerina also leaves. Alexei tells her that Dmitri didn’t know that Grushenka would come. She asks him to drop the subject and says she can’t go to Ilyusha’s funeral, though she sent flowers and promises to assist the family financially in the future.
Grushenka insists on retaining her bitterness toward Katerina Ivanovna, whom she blames for Dmitri’s imprisonment. This is a kind of internalized misogyny, as women are frequently blamed or blame themselves for situations they neither actually caused nor exacerbated. Though Katerina may have contributed to Dmitri’s imprisonment, the stack of evidence against him probably would have led to his sentence anyway.