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 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Dmitri goes to his father’s house, assuming that Grushenka ran straight to Fyodor. He jumps over the wattle fence and into Fyodor’s garden. He sees a light on in Fyodor’s bedroom and assumes that Grushenka is there. He sees his father through the window, wearing a “new striped silk dressing gown” and “a fine Dutch shirt with gold studs.” Fyodor stands near the window, then jerks his head up, as though to listen to something. Hearing nothing more, he goes to pour himself a glass of cognac. Dmitri realizes that he’s likely alone. When Fyodor turns to look out the window, Dmitri jumps back into the shadows.
It is jealous rage that causes Dmitri to spy on his father. Fyodor, like Smerdyakov, takes great care, when he wants to, over how he looks. He chooses clothing that displays his good taste and discernment, as well as his wealth, hoping to further interest Grushenka in being with him. Normally, Fyodor cares little about presentation, as even his home remains in a state of some disrepair.
Themes
Jealousy and Envy Theme Icon
Dmitri makes up his mind. He reaches out and taps out the signal agreed upon between Fyodor and Smerdyakov: twice slowly and three more times, quickly. This signal means that Grushenka has arrived. Fyodor opens the window and sticks his head all the way out, calling for Grushenka. Dmitri realizes that he’s alone for sure. Fyodor says that he has a present, and Dmitri thinks that his father is referring to the envelope with the three thousand roubles. Dmitri watches Fyodor from the side, feeling loathing for the sight of his profile. Dmitri is suddenly beside himself and takes the brass pestle out of his pocket.
Dmitri decides that he’s going to pretend to be Smerdyakov to put his father at ease, so that the old man will then open the window. These details make it apparent that Dmitri initially intended to kill or at least attack his father. This was also the reason for his grabbing the pestle—for a bludgeoning weapon. Dmitri’s loathing for Fyodor at the sight of him reveals a degree of personal contempt. It’s also a bit ironic, since Fyodor is very proud of his “Roman” profile.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Jealousy and Envy Theme Icon
Just then, Grigory wakes up, feeling a pain in the small of his back. Smerdyakov “lay in the next room without moving” and Marfa Ignatievna is also still. Grigory remembers that he didn’t lock the garden gate that evening. He limps down the porch steps, wincing with pain, and sees that the gate is open. He hears a noise and sees that his master’s window is open. He wonders why it’s open; it’s not summer. Grigory sees a figure running in the darkness and goes after him. He reaches the fence just as the intruder does, and clutches his leg with both hands. Suddenly, Grigory recognizes the man—the “monster” and “parricide.” He shouts, “Parricide!” Then, he falls “as if struck by a thunderbolt.” Dmitri throws the brass pestle in the grass. Grigory’s head is covered with blood.
The only person Dmitri is guilty of harming on this fateful evening is Grigory, whom he nearly killed. One could read this as another form of parricide, given that Grigory helped to raise Dmitri, while Fyodor did not. It also seems to be a truer one, because Grigory demonstrates some love toward Dmitri, while Fyodor never has. Grigory’s strong sense of loyalty, despite his foolishness, contrasts with the disloyalty that is often shown among the Karamazovs, both among each other and toward others.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Jealousy and Envy Theme Icon
Dmitri takes out a white handkerchief and puts it to Grigory’s head. He then wonders why he’s bothering. If he killed Grigory, there’s nothing more to do. Dmitri stuffs the blood-soaked handkerchief back into his pocket and runs into the street. He goes back to the widow Morozov’s and knocks at the gate. The head porter, Nazar Ivanovich, opens the gate and lets him in. He tells Dmitri that Grushenka left about two hours ago for Mokroye to see an officer. Dmitri leaves and runs to see Fenya.
It is Dmitri’s underlying love for Grigory, who raised him, and his sense of loyalty, which cause him to reach down to ensure that the old man is all right. However, the white handkerchief is then stained red, in a potent image of the fatal actions of this night.
Themes
Suffering Theme Icon
Get the entire The Brothers Karamazov LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Brothers Karamazov PDF