The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov

by

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Brothers Karamazov: Part 1: Book 3, Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Alexei hurries along the road back to the monastery. As he reaches the crossroads, someone jumps up and shouts at him, pretending to be a robber. It’s Dmitri. He asks him what happened at Katerina Ivanovna’s. Alexei tells him that Grushenka was also at the house, and tells him everything that happened from the moment he entered. Dmitri’s face, which looked “angry and ferocious” as Alexei narrated the story, suddenly “[dissolves] in laughter.” He expresses admiration for Grushenka, whom he refers to as “that queen of insolence.”
It's seems that Dmitri is angry because Katerina dared to meet with Grushenka without his knowledge, which would explain why he starts with this emotion. His anger “dissolves” into amusement when he hears the trick that Grushenka has played. Dmitri seems to delight in Grushenka’s irreverence and refers to her as a “queen” because this quality distinguishes her from other women, who try to be good.
Themes
Jealousy and Envy Theme Icon
Dmitri admits that he is, indeed, “a scoundrel.” He says that he told Grushenka the story about Katerina Ivanonva in Mokroye. He was weeping on his knees and praying before Katerina’s image. Grushenka wept, too. He tells Alexei to tell Katerina that he accepts her opinion of him. Dmitri then bids his brother farewell forever, and says that he plans to go to Grushenka. He walks quickly toward town, “as though tearing himself away.” Alexei walks toward the monastery, wondering what his older brother means, and why they won’t see each other anymore. He decides to seek out Dmitri again the next day to find out what he was talking about.
Like Grushenka, who embraces her “fickle” nature, meaning that she will choose to be with whomever she pleases, Dmitri embraces his reputation as a scoundrel—an insult which is hurled at all of the Karamazovs, except for Alexei. This self-awareness coincides with his and his father’s preference for sensuality and pleasure over honor. Alexei doesn’t realize that when Dmitri says farewell, that this strongly suggests that he’s already decided to commit suicide.
Themes
Jealousy and Envy Theme Icon
Suffering Theme Icon
Alexei decides that, despite his promises to see his father, Katerina Ivanovna, the Khokhlakovs, and Ivan, he won’t leave the monastery the next day but will stay with Zosima until the very end. He goes to the sleeping elder’s small bedroom, kneels, and bows before the old man. While praying, he feels the little envelope in his pocket from Katerina’s maid. It contains a note from Lise. In it, she confesses to loving Alexei and having loved him since childhood.
Alexei’s first commitment is to his elder, who has taken on the role of both spiritual guide and father. Part of Alexei’s attraction to the monastery is that Zosima has offered him the only paternal guidance he has ever had. The note from Lise reminds him of the world of human sensuality and communion that he has eschewed in favor of asceticism.
Themes
Suffering Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon