The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov

by

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Brothers Karamazov: Part 3: Book 9, Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Dmitri tells the authorities that he pawned his pistols for ten roubles after he got back to town. They are surprised to learn that he went thirty miles out of town. He tells them he went to Samsonov to borrow three thousand roubles from him “on the best security.” Ippolit Kirillovich asks why he needed that amount. Dmitri calls this detail a trifle and doesn’t answer. He then tells him that they should unlearn and then adjust their “official method of interrogation.” Ippolit Kirillovich expresses appreciation for Dmitri’s “sensible advice,” and then says that they must still know why he needed three thousand roubles.
The authorities are surprised because they don’t know about Dmitri’s farcical trip to Sukhoy Possyolok to convince Lyagavy to buy a tract of land that Dmitri may or may not have the authority to sell, in exchange for the fateful three thousand roubles. Dmitri initially remains vague on the matter, perhaps not wanting to embarrass himself. He also avoids explaining why he needs three thousand in particular for the same reason. As will become a pattern, his very specific but strict sense of honor regarding smaller issues only leads him to seem guilty of the greatest dishonor of all—murdering his father.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Dmitri says that he needed it to repay a debt, but he won’t say to whom. They tell him to write down that he won’t reveal the name of his debtor. However, they tell him that he could be doing himself harm by refusing to answer the question. He does offer to tell them about how Samsonov "hoodwinked” him two days earlier, now recognizing that he had been made a fool. He also describes his trip to see Lyagavy and his “jealous torments over Grushenka.” Everyone listens attentively. He talks, too, about the despair he felt when he left Madame Khokhlakov’s. He says that he had the thought of putting a knife into someone just to get the three thousand roubles.
Dmitri decides to relinquish a bit of information, perhaps realizing that it could help him. If the authorities understand him, maybe they’ll understand why he isn’t guilty. He gives a testimony in which he constructs himself as an innocent victim of others—of Samsonov’s dishonesty, of Lyagavy’s insufferable drunkenness, of Grushenka’s sensual torments, and of Madame Khokhlakov’s uselessness. At the same time, his talk of murderous rage and greed only hurt his testimony.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Suffering Theme Icon
Dmitri then gets to the point in the story when he learns about Grushenka deceiving him and leaving Samsonov’s, though she told him that she would be there until midnight. He talks about wanting to kill Fenya but not having time. The district attorney stops him and takes the brass pestle out of his briefcase. He asks Dmitri if he recognizes the object. Dmitri says that he does. The district attorney asks how Dmitri got hold of it. Dmitri tells them how he took it from the mortar on Fenya’s table and ran. They ask him what his purpose was, and Dmitri says that he had no purpose. He then says that he grabbed it to “keep off the dogs” or “because it was dark.” The district attorney asks him if he always grabs a weapon because it’s dark. Dmitri then cries out in annoyance, saying it’s impossible to talk to these men.
Dmitri believed that Grushenka had left Samsonov’s to go to his father. This is why he went to his father’s house with the intent to kill Fyodor. Dmitri also cavalierly mentions killing Fenya, though the maid had no control over Grushenka’s actions. This is yet another example in the novel of how members of higher social classes believe that they are permitted to take out their frustrations on servants. Though serfdom ended, the attitudes associated with it persisted, and Dmitri in particular acts without restraint around people of a class lower than himself. Dmitri’s explanation about why he took the pestle sounds like a hasty lie.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Jealousy and Envy Theme Icon
Annoyed, Dmitri tells them that they can go ahead and record that he took the pestle to kill his father, if that’ll please them. Ippolit Kirillovich expresses understanding but tells him that it’s essential that they hear the story. Dmitri repeats that he doesn’t know why he took it. He says that he often dreams that someone is chasing him in the dark, but he doesn’t want to record this. He says that now, it's happening in real life: he’s the wolf and they’re the hunters.
Dmitri’s feeling of being chased arises from his own conscience. He feels guilty for his actions, though not for the murder of his father, which he didn’t commit. He likely feels guilty about deceiving Katerina, about nearly murdering Grigory, and now about the possibility of leaving Grushenka alone.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Suffering Theme Icon
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