The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov

by

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Brothers Karamazov can help.

The Brothers Karamazov: Part 3: Book 7, Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Contrary to Father Paissy’s suspicion, Alexei isn’t becoming one of little faith. He’s running away in dismay because his faith is so great. Long thereafter, Alexei would consider this day “one of the most painful and fatal days of his life.” Alexei was expecting a “higher justice” that would take the form of a miracle. Everyone in the monastery, in fact, had expected this. It hurt Alexei that Zosima, the one who “was to have been exalted higher than anyone in the whole world” was being disgraced. Alexei loves God, but he murmurs against Him. He feels “some vague but tormenting and evil impression” left over from his conversation with Ivan the day before.
Alexei’s dismay comes partly from not witnessing the miracle that he expected. He’s in pain because Zosima was insulted by the other monk and because a part of Alexei may suspect that there is some truth in the others’ suspicion that Zosima was merely ordinary. Alexei is also angry with God because he feels that he’s been cheated. He then begins to wonder if there’s some validity to Ivan’s conversation from the day before. In all, he is disillusioned.
Themes
Faith vs. Reason Theme Icon
Suffering Theme Icon
It’s already quite dark when Rakitin passes through a pine grove and notices Alexei “lying face down on the ground under a tree, motionless and as if asleep.” Rakitin calls him by name. He says that he’s been looking for Alexei for two hours and asks what he’s doing. Alexei raises his head and leans back against the tree. He isn’t crying, but he wears “an expression of suffering.” Rakitin notes the change in his look and asks if he’s angry with someone. Alexei snaps at him, telling Rakitin to leave him alone. Rakitin asks if his dismay has been caused by the stink from Zosima’s corpse. Alexei cries out about how much he wants to believe, while Rakitin points out that even “thirteen-year-old schoolboys” no longer believe in such things.
When Alexei is disappointed by monastic life, he takes solace in nature. In this regard, he and Zosima are very similar because the elder also found comfort in nature’s beauty. Rakitin envies the favoritism that has been shown to Alexei and the Karamazovs at the monastery, so he delights in taunting his naivete in revenge. Rakitin’s reference to thirteen-year-old schoolboys prepares the reader for Kolya Krasotkin, who is thirteen and remarkably cynical.
Themes
Faith vs. Reason Theme Icon
Suffering Theme Icon
Alexei gives Rakitin a long look, but it’s not a look of anger. He then says that he’s not rebelling against God, he just doesn’t accept his world. Rakitin doesn’t understand what he means, and Alexei doesn’t clarify. Rakitin changes the subject by offering him a hunk of sausage. He then invites Alexei back to his place and even offers a shot of vodka, which Alexei surprises him by accepting.
Alexei quotes Ivan, thereby acknowledging that he was deeply affected by his brother’s speech the day before. Rakitin’s offer of sausage is his first temptation of Alexei. He wants to dissuade the monk from his fast. The next temptation will be getting Grushenka to seduce him.
Themes
Faith vs. Reason Theme Icon
Rakitin asks Alexei if he knows that Ivan has left for Moscow, and Alexei says he does. He mentions that he has to stop off to see Madame Khokhlakov to give her the requested report. Rakitin then stops suddenly, takes Alexei by the shoulder, and suggests that they go to Grushenka’s instead. Alexei agrees. Rakitin is delighted. There are two benefits for him—one is material and the other is “vengeful.” He’s eager to see Alexei fall “from the saints to the sinners.”
Rakitin is envious of Alexei. Part of his resentment is related to Alexei’s higher social class; another part is jealousy for the way he’s idealized as an angel by Madame Khokhlakov and the favoritism that Zosima expressed toward him. Rakitin feels inferior to Alexei, so he wants to bring him down to his level.
Themes
Faith vs. Reason Theme Icon
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Jealousy and Envy Theme Icon
Get the entire The Brothers Karamazov LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Brothers Karamazov PDF