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 8, Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
For two days, Dmitri has been in “an unimaginable state.” He’s sure that Fyodor will propose to Grushenka, if he hasn’t already. He figures that Grushenka’s “torment” comes from not knowing which of them to choose, whether father or son would be more profitable to her. He didn’t think at all of her Polish officer. She had shown Dmitri the officer’s letter, but he placed little value in it, figuring that the man would never really turn up. After that, Grushenka stopped talking about the officer.
Grushenka has the adoration of both Fyodor and Dmitri (she will choose the latter for reasons that may not be unrelated to her wounded pride), but she remains devoted to a man who chose another woman over her. In many of the novel’s relationships, Dostoevsky seems to imply that we often love those who don’t love us back—that people tend to want what they can’t have.
Themes
Jealousy and Envy Theme Icon
Ironically, Dmitri was just as worried about Grushenka offering herself to him as he was about her marrying his father. He didn’t know how he would get the money to care for her. He knows that Grushenka has money, but he wants them to start a new life with his money, not hers. He becomes desperate to find the “fatal money” that will help him take her away. What he knows now is that it’s first necessary to return the three thousand roubles that he took from Katerina Ivanovna. He doesn’t want to start anew as “a scoundrel.”
Despite the rather dishonorable circumstances around Grushenka and Dmitri’s relationship, it’s very important to him that they marry as honorably as possible. In accordance with the traditions of the time, he insists on looking after her in the way most husbands would, as opposed to relying on her income. The thought of sponging off of Grushenka aggrieves him.
Themes
Suffering Theme Icon
When Dmitri arrives at Samsonov’s, his visit is announced by a young servant. Samsonov twice refuses to admit him. Dmitri then writes on a piece of paper that he has important business to address, regarding Grushenka. Samsonov tells the servant to ask Dmitri to wait in the drawing room. Dmitri sits and awaits his fate with “nervous impatience.” When Samsonov appears, Dmitri jumps up and walks toward him “with his long, firm, military stride.”
Samsonov doesn’t want to see Dmitri, and will later both fool him and condemn him, because if Grushenka leaves with Dmitri, Samsonov will lose any remaining hold that he has on her. Dmitri walks with his “military stride” both out of habit and to impress the merchant with his strength and resolve.
Themes
Jealousy and Envy Theme Icon
Samsonov asks Dmitri what he wants. Dmitri sits again and repeats the story Samsonov already knows about how his father cheated him of his inheritance. Dmitri says that a lawyer told him that he has land in Chermashnya that he inherited from his mother. He says that it would be possible to start a court action to take the land from Fyodor, which couldn’t be worth “less then twenty-five thousand,” maybe thirty. Because he can’t deal with a lawsuit or the possibility of a countersuit, he offers Samsonov to take over all of his claims on the land and just give Dmitri three thousand roubles. He promises Samsonov that he can’t lose in this case. He’ll supply all of the documents if Samsonov pays him three thousand now.
Dmitri proceeds to make a very stupid offer, though one that could have been very beneficial to Samsonov, had he accepted. As the reader learned earlier, the woodlot is worth at least ten thousand roubles. In his haste and recklessness, Dmitri is willing to sell it for a fraction of its proper worth. However, he also overestimates the cost of the lot, revealing his poor sense for business and a general tendency to assume that he has more than he actually does.
Themes
Suffering Theme Icon
Get the entire The Brothers Karamazov LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Brothers Karamazov PDF
Samsonov tells Dmitri that he doesn’t engage in that kind of business. Dmitri suddenly feels weak, not knowing what to do next. Samsonov suggests that Dmitri go to a local man named Lyagavy who “trades in timber.” He tells Dmitri that this same trader has been “bargaining for a year with Fyodor Pavlovich” over a woodlot, but they can’t agree on a price for it. He says that, if Dmitri were to get to him before Fyodor and make him the same offer that Dmitri made Samsonov, he might take an interest. Lyagavy is currently staying in Ilyinskoye with a priest.
Samsonov makes it clear that he doesn’t engage in land dealings, though it’s unclear what kind of business exactly he is engaged in. The reader knows that he’s an old shopkeeper, but the source of his wealth, beyond his miserliness, remains unclear. It’s possible that Grushenka is Samsonov’s main source of wealth—that is, acting as her procurer, which would explain his hostility to Dmitri.
Themes
Suffering Theme Icon
Dmitri is excited by Samsonov’s “brilliant idea.” He thanks Samsonov effusively, saying that it’s all “for her.” Dmitri then goes back to his lodgings. He isn’t sure if the old man has given him good business advice or if he was laughing at him. The second of his thoughts turned out to be true. Later, after the Karamazov “catastrophe,” Samsonov would recall how he had made a fool of the captain.
Dmitri is excited by the idea, believing that it’ll rescue him from his father’s financial clutches and will grant him the life that he wants with Grushenka. Samsonov would’ve been averse to this because, if Grushenka went off with Dmitri, he’d no longer have control over her.
Themes
Jealousy and Envy Theme Icon