The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov

by

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Brothers Karamazov: Part 3: Book 9, Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The district police commissioner, Mikhail Makarovich Makarov, is “a retired lieutenant colonel, a redesignated state councilor…a widower and a good man.” He arrived in town and got his position three years ago. He lives with his widowed daughter who has two grown-up girls. Mikhail Makarovich isn’t a bright man and is rather uneducated, but he’s competent in his job.
Dostoevsky mentions all of this to show what kind of person has been designated to question Dmitri (and, as is his style, to present portraits of a wide variety of characters). Makarov is not a bright enough man to be aware of the scheming of someone like Smerdyakov.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Pyotr Ilyich is sure that there will be others at the police commissioner’s that evening. Varvinsky, the district doctor, and Ippolit Kirillovich, the deputy prosecutor that everyone calls the prosecutor. The young district attorney, Nikolai Parfenovich Nelyudov, is in the next room. It is by a coincidence that they all end up at the police commissioner’s at the same time and on the same night of Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov’s murder.
Pyotr Ilyich’s sense that he will not be alone at the police commissioner’s house is accurate. He knows that Dmitri is guilty of something. Dmitri’s carelessness regarding his shirt would mean that others would know something, too.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
When Pyotr Ilyich enters the police commissioner’s house, he learns that Fyodor Pavlovich really was murdered and robbed at his home. Marfa Ignatievna woke up and rushed to Smerdyakov, who was “struggling and gasping horribly.” When she called Grigory, she realized that he wasn’t in bed. She went out to the porch, called him, and got no answer, but heard some groans from the garden. The sounds reminded her of Stinking Lizaveta’s visit to the garden years before. Marfa saw that the garden gate was open. Suddenly, Grigory called out to her in a weak voice. She found her husband some distance away from the fence, covered in blood.
Pyotr Ilyich’s suspicions are confirmed. Marfa’s sense of the sounds of death and childbirth being similar reflects the notion that suffering is involved in both one’s first and last moments of life. Her thought of Stinking Lizaveta is also significant, because it is the illegitimate birth of Smerdyakov (caused by Fyodor’s own horrific act of rape) that causes all of the events that occur at the Karamazov house that night.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Suffering Theme Icon
Grigory muttered incoherently to Marfa Ignatievna. She began to scream and saw that Fyodor Pavlovich’s window was open. She called out to Fyodor. She then looked through the window and saw Fyodor lying on his back, not moving. His white shirt was soaked with blood. Marfa rushed away, horrified, and went to Maria Kondratievna’s. Maria recalled that she had heard a “piercing cry” from the Karamazov garden before nine o’clock. What she heard was Grigory crying out. Foma, a wanderer, was staying with Maria and went with her to help the women carry Grigory to the cottage. Maria then gave the alarm to everyone at the commissioner’s house, five minutes before Pyotr Ilyich’s arrival.
Everything occurs very quickly in this scene. The frenzy and horror will later contribute to the lack of clarity about what actually happened. It’s highly likely that Smerdyakov anticipated all of this as well, in addition to everyone’s inevitable prejudice to blame Dmitri and Dmitri’s blunders incriminating himself. Pyotr Ilyich’s later suspicion that everyone knows about the murder will turn out to be right because of Maria’s decision to sound the alarm.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
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The assistant police chief rounds up four witnesses. They then go to Fyodor’s house and conduct an investigation. They search near the fence and find the brass pestle on the garden path. Nothing is disorderly in Fyodor’s room, but they find a big envelope on the floor. On it is inscribed a message to Grushenka, notifying her that the envelope contains a “little treat of three thousand roubles.” They also find the pink ribbon with which the envelope was tied.
The police are collecting the evidence, and all of what they find points to Dmitri’s presumed guilt. He grabbed the pestle in a fit of rage and, in that moment, nearly killed Fenya. Everyone knows that Dmitri coveted three thousand roubles and, in his frenzy, would’ve left the envelope behind.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Pyotr Ilyich remembers that Dmitri threatened suicide and would probably kill himself before dawn. They need to hurry to Mokroye. The group is detained, however, by the investigation, so the deputy commissioner Mavriky Mavrikievich Shmertsov will go to Mokroye, “without raising any alarm,” and keep watch on the criminal until the proper authorities arrive. Only Trifon Borisich is alerted to the secret after the deputy’s arrival. This explains the sudden change in the innkeeper’s attitude toward Dmitri when they meet on the veranda.
Pyotr Ilyich thinks that Dmitri threatened to kill himself over guilt about murdering Fyodor, when really he threatened to kill himself because he thought he had killed Grigory. Here, Trifon Borisich’s awkward behavior toward Dmitri is explained as his realization that Dmitri committed murder before arriving.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
The remaining authorities arrive after four o’clock in the morning. Varvinsky stays behind at Fyodor’s home, with the object of doing an autopsy. However, he becomes more interested in Smerdyakov’s condition, noting how strange it is for “severe and protracted fits” to recur “uninterruptedly over two days.” He believes he’s discovered a rare find. The doctor adds that Smerdyakov won’t live till morning.
Smerdyakov has faked a fit. This scene reveals how epilepsy fascinated medical professionals but that the condition was also one that they understood very poorly. This lack of expertise assists Smerdyakov in convincing everyone that he’s an innocent.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon