The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov

by

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Brothers Karamazov: Part 4: Book 11, Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Alexei goes to see Grushenka at the widow Morozov’s house. Grushenka tells him that she took pirozhki (stuffed pastries) to Dmitri at the prison today and he threw them back at her. He got jealous over Samsonov, and thinks that she’s returned to her former keeper. Alexei tells her that Dmitri is worried about her. Grushenka says that she understands his worry—after all, his trial is tomorrow. She says that she’s afraid to think of what will happen and that Dmitri also still talks about “the Pole.” Maximov comments that his former wife was also jealous of the chambermaid. Grushenka takes this for a joke and tells him she’s in no mood for humor.
Grushenka’s personality begins to resemble that of Katerina Ivanovna, who also took great care to look after Dmitri because she believed it was her duty to care for him in an effort to alleviate his pain (and to feel righteous in the process). Much of Dmitri’s suffering is still caused by his incurable jealousy. Maximov’s joke may be an attempt to poke fun at the situation, but it could also be true.
Themes
Jealousy and Envy Theme Icon
Suffering Theme Icon
Grushenka mentions that her ex-fiancé, Pan Mussyalovich, sent her “an extremely long” and “flowery letter,” in which he asked for three roubles. She had already received many of these letters and, when she fell ill, the panie visited her. When the panie sent a final letter asking for one rouble, Grushenka felt sorry for them and visited their dwellings. She found them living in “abject poverty,” with no food and “in debt to their landlady.” The two hundred roubles they got out of Dmitri had disappeared.
It turns out to be true that the Polish officers only reconnected with Grushenka with the express purpose of getting her to give them money. However, when one reads about the severity of their poverty, their attempts to swindle money out of Grushenka, as well as their cheating during cards, are revealed as acts to keep them from starvation.
Themes
Suffering Theme Icon
Grushenka says that she made the mistake of telling Dmitri that she was going to send pirozhki to the panie. He got jealous. She says that Dmitri may seem to be suffering, but he gets jealous on purpose. Alexei doesn’t understand. Grushenka says that she doesn’t think Dmitri loves her, especially given how he still praises Katerina Ivanovna. She covers her eyes and bursts into tears. Alexei assures her that Dmitri doesn’t love Katerina, but Grushenka says that they’ll soon know for sure.
Grushenka begins to suspect that Dmitri’s expressions of jealousy may be an act, and that he still actually loves Katerina Ivanovna. This seems absurd, given Dmitri’s lack of interest in Katerina and his willingness to exploit her in favor of being with Grushenka. Both Dmitri and Grushenka are hopelessly jealous, and this makes their relationship so volatile.
Themes
Jealousy and Envy Theme Icon
Suffering Theme Icon
What really torments Grushenka is what will happen tomorrow at Dmitri’s trial. She’s certain that Smerdyakov killed Fyodor but bets that no one has questioned him. Alexei says that he has, in fact, been “closely questioned,” but he’s been very sick since his last falling fit. He adds that he, Ivan, and Katerina Ivanovna have put up three thousand roubles for the lawyer Fetyukovich to represent Dmitri. The lawyer would have charged more, but the Karamazov case has become known all over the country.
Grushenka believes Dmitri’s suspicion that Smerdyakov is the murderer because he is the only other person who was aware of the signals to note Grushenka’s arrival. No one is likely to question Smerdyakov, both because he’s ill and because Dmitri himself nixed the idea that Smerdyakov could ever really accomplish murder.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Suffering Theme Icon
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Grushenka then asks Alexei a question that she’s been wanting to ask for a long time: is Ivan in love with Katerina Ivanovna, as Dmitri said? Alexei says he doesn’t think Ivan loves her. Grushenka now thinks that Dmitri lied to her. Again, she cries bitter tears. Alexei rises and says that he’s sure that Dmitri loves Grushenka, and only her, more than anyone. He then says that he’s not going to try to get Dmitri’s secret out of him, but if he learns it, he’ll tell Dmitri that he’s promised to share it with Grushenka. He bids her goodbye. He’s in a hurry, and there’s much to do.
Often in the novel, Alexei assumes knowledge about people that he doesn’t actually have. Everyone relies on his counsel, because he is a respected monk, but the subjects on which he advises them are sometimes beyond his understanding because of his limited engagement with the world. This indicates that there is something comforting about Alexei that causes others to overlook this potential flaw in his advice.
Themes
Suffering Theme Icon