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 4: Book 11, Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Alexei first goes to Madame Khokhlakov’s house. She says that she’s preparing to go to Dmitri’s trial. She’ll be carried there in a chair, as one of the witnesses. but she doesn’t know what she’ll say. She’s dismayed with the publicity around the case, too. She shows Alexei an article from a paper that identifies her as Dmitri’s “dear friend.” Madame Khokhlakov isn’t really upset, just confused by this. The article, however, does describe her as “a bored widow” and “rather girlish,” though she already has a grown daughter. It mentions that two hours before Fyodor’s murder, she offered him three thousand roubles to go to the gold mines in Siberia. She’s certain that the article is about her and that it was written by Rakitin who, she says, has fallen in love with her.
The fact that Madame Khokhlakov will be carried into court on a chair is rather amusing and a testament to her lofty sense of self. In her view, she’s too delicate to walk. She doesn’t like that an article has identified her as Dmitri’s friend, due to the harm that this could do to her reputation. It is possible that Rakitin wrote the article in a jealous rage. It’s also possible that Rakitin hasn’t fallen in love with Madame Khokhlakov at all and is merely using her, as he does so many people, because of her social position. Madame Khokhlakov likes the idea of young men fancying her.
Themes
Jealousy and Envy Theme Icon
Alexei says that he needs to leave to get to Dmitri in time. Madame Khokhlakov asks Alexei what a “fit of passion” is. He isn’t sure how to respond. She says that she thinks that Dmitri killed in a fit of passion. If Dmitri says that he didn’t kill Fyodor, Madame Khokhlakov thinks that it's probably because he just doesn’t remember. She thinks that Dmitri should be forgiven and that, after the trial, he should come to her home for dinner. She doesn’t think Dmitri is dangerous, and even thinks that later he can maybe become a justice of the peace, because the best judges are those who’ve suffered some misfortune.
Madame Khokhlakov cannot help but to give her assessment of why Dmitri committed the murder, though she isn’t quite sure of what she’s saying. She assumes that he did it out of jealousy over Grushenka, as everyone else does. Madame Khokhlakov’s wealth and social prestige lead her to believe that she is smarter and more knowledgeable about things than she really is, but as usual she is a rather farcical character.
Themes
Jealousy and Envy Theme Icon
Madame Khokhlakov then tells Alexei that she thinks Lise has gone mad. Though she trusts Alexei with her daughter, she doesn’t trust Ivan, who visited Lise without Madame Khokhlakov’s knowledge. She says that, six nights ago, he visited Lise for five minutes and then left. A couple of days later, Lise went into hysterics and demanded that her mother not receive Ivan again. She asks Alexei to go to Lise and find out what happened.
It's never made clear what occurred during Ivan’s brief visit. The reader later learns that Lise offers herself sexually to Ivan, much to the latter’s surprise. It’s possible that she went into hysterics after being rejected by Ivan. Ivan also likely visited at Lise’s invitation.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Suffering Theme Icon