The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov

by

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Brothers Karamazov: Part 3: Book 9, Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Pyotr Ilyich Perkhotin knocks vigorously at the gates of the widow Morozov’s house. Fenya rushes to the porter, begging him not to open the gate, thinking it’s Dmitri. The porter asks who is at the gate. Pyotr Ilyich announces himself and says that he needs to speak to Fenya about an important matter, so the porter lets him in. Going to the kitchen with Fenya, Pyotr Ilyich questions her and learns that Dmitri took the pestle from the mortar and returned without it later, but his hands were covered with blood. When Fenya asked him about his bloody hands, Dmitri told her he had killed a man. Then, he ran out like a madman, she says. Fenya figured he would go to Mokroye to kill Grushenka. She says that she ran out to beg him not to. He was then at Plotnikov’s shop, and his hands were no longer covered in blood.
Fenya’s fear of Dmitri points to a different way he is guilty: of terrorizing those he believed stood between him and happiness with his beloved. When Pyotr Ilyich speaks to Fenya, she confirms much of what he suspected. However, her vague mention of Dmitri killing a man leads Pyotr to think that the man he was talking about was Fyodor, when it was actually Grigory. Fenya’s recollection of the fateful night confirms Pyotr’s worst suspicions and even makes Dmitri seem like a caricature of himself—a man so bent on his own needs that he'll destroy everyone else. Of course, that is exactly how he was acting on the night of the murder.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Pyotr Ilyich considers going to Fyodor’s house, but worries that the old man will later accuse him of trying to force his way into his home at midnight. So, Pyotr Ilyich decides to go to Madame Khokhlakov’s to ask if she had given Dmitri three thousand roubles. If the answer is no, Pyotr Ilyich resolves to go to the police commissioner. He arrives at her home at eleven o’clock. Her maid comes down and Pyotr Ilyich says that the matter is important; otherwise he wouldn’t have come at such an hour.
Pyotr goes to Madame Khokhlakov because she is the only other person Dmitri knows with the means to give him the money. If she didn’t give it to him, Pyotr assumes that Dmitri killed his father (thereby explaining the blood) and took the three thousand roubles from him that were originally intended for Grushenka.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Pyotr Ilyich explains that Dmitri borrowed ten roubles from him that afternoon. Then, at nine o’clock, he walked into Pyotr Ilyich’s rooms carrying a wad of money. Dmitri said that he got the three thousand roubles from Madame Khokhlakov, in exchange for agreeing to go to the gold mines. Madame Khokhlakov says that she didn’t give Dmitri any money and concludes that he must have murdered Fyodor. She claims that she “foresaw it all,” and thinks of how close she must have been to death. Pyotr Ilyich stands and says that he’ll go to the police commissioner and tell him everything. Madame Khokhlakov agrees to Pyotr Ilyich’s request to write a note, declaring that she didn’t give Dmitri any money. She crosses Pyotr Ilyich three times and invites him to return before he runs off to the police commissioner.
Madame Khokhlakov uses Pyotr Ilyich’s story as an excuse to feel sorry for herself. She then gives herself the power of clairvoyance, a trait that she normally attributes to Zosima. Madame Khokhlakov enjoys pretending to suffer, especially if it brings her attention, as it does in this case. For Pyotr Ilyich, this visit is an attempt to get at the truth about Dmitri and whatever crime he certainly committed. Here, Dostoevsky reveals the tricky nature of the truth. Pyotr Ilyich is certain that he’s gathering all the right evidence against Dmitri, and he is, but it’s for the wrong crime.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Suffering Theme Icon