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 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Dmitri sets out on a back road from Volovya station and goes to Ilyinskoye. The priest isn’t home but in a neighboring village. The priest tells Dmitri that Lyagavy is now in Sukhoy Possyolok. He’s spending the night in the forester’s hut because he’s buying timber there, too. The priest agrees to go with Dmitri to Sukhoy Possyolok on foot. The priest struggles to keep up with Dmitri’s “long strides” and, on the way, Dmitri talks about his plans concerning Lyagavy. When Dmitri talks about his disputes with his father over his inheritance, the priest seems frightened. He has “some sort of dependent relation to Fyodor.” The priest does, however, make a point of telling Dmitri that Lyagavy prefers to be called “Gorstkin” and takes great offense at being called Lyagavy.
It's rather ironic that Dmitri takes the journey to Ilyinskoye with a priest. The juxtaposition of a clergyman and a moral reprobate, temporarily united by a common purpose, reinforces the sense that, however different on the surface, people can share mundane things in common. However, the priest is frightened by Dmitri’s talk about Fyodor due to the violence of his speech. Interestingly, in that speech, it never becomes clear to the priest that they are father and son, revealing the perverted nature of their relationship.
Themes
Suffering Theme Icon
When they get to Sukhoy Possyolok, they go into Lyagavy’s room in his hut. He’s in there, “stretched out on a bench…snoring heavily.” Dmitri is briefly unsure of what to do. He starts shaking Lyagavy, but he won’t wake up. Dmitri realizes that he’s drunk. He then tugs the sleeping man’s arms and legs and lifts him up, only getting Lyagavy to mumble at him. The priest tells Dmitri that it might be best for him to wait until morning to talk to Lyagavy. The forester is also present and says that the trader has been drinking all day. Dmitri says that he can’t wait till morning. Instead, he’ll stay and try to catch the right moment. He offers to pay the forester for the night’s lodging.
Dmitri’s trip to Sukhoy Possyolok ends up being a farce and a pointless exercise. Lygavy is the person he must go through to sell the deed to his property and get the money he believes he so desperately needs, but Lyagavy is semi-conscious much of the time and disinterested in any business deal. Samsonov sent Dmitri on this fool’s errand knowing that it would not amount to anything.
Themes
Suffering Theme Icon
The priest leaves and wonders if he should inform Fyodor Pavlovich, his benefactor, of this strange incident. The forester goes back to his room. Dmitri sits on a bench, waiting “to catch the right moment.” He goes over to look at the sleeping man’s face. Lyagavy is lean and “not yet old, with a very oblong face.” Dmitri regards him with hatred. He hates that so much depends upon this man who lies snoring. His head begins to ache.
The reader learns here that Fyodor’s power and influence stretches rather far. The priest is in his employ, probably as a timber buyer. The priest likely doesn’t inform Fyodor of the incident because nothing comes of it. Dmitri’s headache is the result of frustration, as all his attempts to improve his life (foolish though they might be) have derailed.
Themes
Suffering Theme Icon
Dmitri dozes off and then falls asleep, sitting up.  He’s awakened by “an unbearable pain in his head.” It takes a while for him to regain full consciousness and to understand what is happening: the room is full of fumes from the candle. The forester wakes up. They open the door and fling the windows open. Dmitri assumes that Lyagavy is dead. He gets a bucket, dips it in water, finds a rag, and puts it to Lyagavy’s head. Dmitri fusses over him for about half an hour, then falls asleep. He wakes up at nine o’clock in the morning and sees that Lyagavy is already drunk again.
Dmitri doesn’t realize it, but he and the others may have nearly died. The paraffin wax in candles release toxins that are carcinogens. The prospect of dying to make a terrible land deal, in addition to Lyagavy’s perpetual drunkenness, further contributes to the absurdity of what Dmitri is doing.
Themes
Suffering Theme Icon
Get the entire The Brothers Karamazov LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Brothers Karamazov PDF
Despite Lyagavy’s drunkenness, Dmitri introduces himself and states his business with the woodlot. However, Lyagavy accuses Dmitri of lying and says that he doesn’t know “any Fyodor Pavlovich of [his].” He then begins to stroke his beard and narrows his eyes “slyly.” Dmitri is dumbfounded. He wonders how he, “an intelligent man after all,” could’ve been suckered so easily. Lyagavy is a drunk who’ll go on drinking. Did Samsonov send him here on purpose? Lyagavy watches Dmitri and chuckles. At any other time, Dmitri might have killed a man like this in a fit of rage. However, this time, he just puts on his coat and leaves the room. He takes fifty kopecks out of his pocket and leaves them on the table to pay for his lodging.
Dmitri isn’t aware of Lyagavy’s “signs,” one of which is that he strokes his beard when he’s lying. Dmitri, like Ivan, also overestimates his intelligence. He certainly isn’t a dimwitted man, but he tends to assume knowledge that he doesn’t have, which feeds into his sense that everything will ultimately work out in his favor. Lyagavy is amusing himself with his lie and Dmitri knows it, but he doesn’t have time to indulge in his anger.
Themes
Suffering Theme Icon
When Dmitri steps out of his hut, he sees nothing but forest. Some passersby—a coachman taking an old merchant to Volovya—see Dmitri and offer to take him along with them. They arrive at Volovya station three hours later. Dmitri orders horses and, while they’re being harnessed, he eats breakfast and washes it all down with three glasses of vodka. He thinks up a new plan for getting that “accursed money before evening.” His thoughts are only spoiled by others about Grushenka, which “[stab] his soul…like a sharp knife.”
Dmitri feels disoriented when he leaves the hut. He doesn’t know what to do next, and he barely understands where he is. Dmitri’s recent existence is defined by trying to invent schemes to come up with the money he has convinced himself he needs to “earn” Grushenka’s love and to buy his way out of his engagement to Katerina. He feels as though he’s being stabbed because he is anguished by potential failure.
Themes
Suffering Theme Icon