The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov

by

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Brothers Karamazov: Part 3: Book 8, Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
That morning, in the horse-drawn wagon, Dmitri decides to lend his “pair of fine dueling pistols” to a young official for ten roubles. Dmitri then goes to Fyodor’s gazebo, looking for Smerdyakov. Finally, he goes next door to Maria Kondratievna’s, where he hears about Smerdyakov’s illness. He also learns that Ivan left for Moscow on the same morning as Smerdyakov’s falling fit. He’s only worried about Smerdyakov because, with him ill, there will be no one to keep watch. He decides to go to Samsonov’s house to see if Grushenka is there.
In his latest money-making scheme, Dmitri decides to pawn his pistols. He doesn’t intend to sell them outright, however. Dmitri, like Ivan, dislikes Smerdyakov and takes no interest in his well-being. However, he needs Smerdyakov in order to know if Grushenka will visit Fyodor or not.
Themes
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Before heading to Samsonov’s, Dmitri goes back to his room, washes up, combs his hair, brushes his clothes, gets dressed, and goes to Madame Khokhlakov’s. His plan is to borrow the three thousand roubles from her. The reason he didn’t go to Madame Khokhlakov first, given that he knows her and she is of his social station, is because “he had almost broken off relations” with her and had only been slightly acquainted with her before. More importantly, Dmitri knows that she can’t stand him. She wanted Katerina Ivanovna to drop him and marry “the dear, chivalrously educated Ivan Fyodorovich, who has such beautiful manners.” She detests Dmitri’s manners.
Dmitri wants to make himself presentable to Madame Khokhlakov, who prefers men to be well-tailored, neat, and attractive. However, Madame Khokhlakov dislikes Dmitri, which will be her motive for offering him the supposed opportunity in the mines. Her assessment of Ivan is based only on his superficial behavior. For her, that’s sufficient; Madame Khokhlakov is a superficial woman, which is why Dmitri prepares to appeal to this sensibility to get money from her.
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Dmitri figures that, being so against his marrying Katerina Ivanovna, Madame Khokhlakov will give him the three thousand roubles to be rid of him. When he enters Madame Khokhlakov’s home, she receives him promptly—a good sign. She tells him that she was expecting him. He discusses his business with her and mentions that he’s in a hurry. She asks him if he’s heard that the elder Zosima has died, and he says that he hasn’t.
Dmitri is willing to use Madame Khokhlakov’s hatred to serve him. Madame Khokhlakov doesn’t usually receive visitors right away—usually, they go through her maid for initial approval. This occurs when Pyotr Ilyich visits regarding Dmitri.
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Madame Khokhlakov says that she knows that Dmitri is “in a fever,” but she can help him. She mentions how she helped her cousin’s husband who was financially ruined, but she rescued him by sending him into horse-breeding. She asks Dmitri if he knows anything about horse-breeding. He says he doesn’t, and implores her to listen to him; he’s in despair. Madame Khokhlakov waves her hand at him and says he can tell her about that later. She knows that he needs three thousand roubles, but she’s prepared to give him much more.
Madame Khokhlakov is referring to Dmitri’s fever of passion and his general ill temper. She is trying to sell Dmitri on the idea of going to the gold mines so that Katerina can be rid of him. She may sympathize with Katerina’s pain, but it’s more likely, given Madame Khokhlakov’s meddlesome nature, that she’s trying to arrange for the coupling she would like to see.
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Dmitri is overwhelmed by Madame Khokhlakov’s words. He then assures her that, though she has his “eternal gratitude,” he only needs three thousand roubles. Madame Khokhlakov asks him what he thinks about gold mines. Dmitri says he’s never thought anything about them. She says that, by his gait, she can tell that he’d “find many mines.” He asks her again about the three thousand, but she returns to the subject of mines, saying that he can make millions and help the poor.
Dmitri thinks that Madame Khokhlakov will offer him a substantial portion of her own money. She remarks on his gait—a feature he is very proud of—to appeal to his vanity and convince him that he would make a great prospector. Dmitri is being set up for grave disappointment as Madame Khokhlakov prattles on.
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Dmitri implores Madame Khokhlakov once again to give the three thousand roubles, but she seems not to know what he’s talking about. She then says that she hasn’t got three thousand. Dmitri becomes confused. When she said that it was as good as in his pocket, she was referring to the money he could make in the gold mines. She says that, at the moment, she has no money with her at all. Even if she did, she says, she wouldn’t give it to Dmitri—or to anyone. Lending money leads to quarrels, she says. Dmitri roars in anger and bangs his fist on the table. He leaves the house, beating his chest like a madman. Tears begin to run down his cheeks. He resolves that, if he can’t obtain the money, he’ll kill himself.
Madame Khokhlakov has gotten so carried away with her sales pitch that she remained oblivious to what Dmitri came to her for in the first place. Madame Khokhlakov's philosophy about money is in keeping with her attention to manners. Dmitri’s outburst is then contrary to Madame Khokhlakov’s ideas about propriety, as is his general demeanor, which is why she prefers Ivan. She’s typically oblivious to Dmitri’s obvious suffering. Dmitri beating his chest is not just a sign of passion, but also later revealed to be significant—he was perhaps striking the small pouch of money he kept around his neck.
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Dmitri enters the square and bumps into a little old woman whom he almost knocks over. He recognizes her as Samsonov’s serving woman. He asks her if Grushenka is now at Samsonov’s. She tells him that Grushenka left some time ago. Dmitri yells at her and accuses her of lying. The little old woman is frightened, but he quickly leaves her and goes to the widow Morozov’s house. Fenya is there, sitting in the kitchen. Dmitri runs in, causing Fenya to scream. She tells him that Grushenka hasn’t returned, but Dmitri also accuses her of lying before rushing out. Before leaving, he grabs a brass pestle off the table.
Dmitri’s suffering makes him appallingly indifferent toward others, even those who are vulnerable and who play no role in causing his distress. He has become so obsessed with Grushenka and with ensuring that she doesn’t marry his father that he abuses those who may be privy to information that he doesn’t have. He’s also angry because Grushenka promised him that she would remain at Samsonov’s.
Themes
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