The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov

by

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Brothers Karamazov: Part 4: Book 11, Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On the way to seeing Ivan, Alexei stops at the house where Katerina Ivanovna is staying. It’s been more than a week since Alexei has seen her. He thinks that Ivan may be with her. When Alexei goes in, he mentions Dmitri’s request that Katerina Ivanovna not testify about “bowing down for the money.” She asks if Dmitri is afraid for himself or for her. Alexei says he’s afraid for both of them. She says that Alexei may want to “trample” her after she testifies, but he says he’s confident that Katerina will testify honestly. She says that she’s been to see Smerdyakov, whom Ivan told her is “a parricide.” Ivan prepares to leave, but she sends Alexei after him because the doctor told her that he has “a nervous fever.” Alexei goes after his brother. Ivan irritably tells Alexei that Katerina thinks he’s crazy. Alexei knows she’s mistaken, but agrees that Ivan looks ill.
Katerina Ivanovna asks the question about what Dmitri is afraid of because she wants to see if he still has any regard for her. Alexei equivocates, admitting what Katerina may suspect—that Dmitri is worried about how the jury will regard him after such a testimony. However, Alexei also thinks that Dmitri retains respect and affection for Katerina Ivanovna. It’s unclear what Katerina Ivanovna discussed with Smerdyakov during her visit, but it’s possible that the lackey manipulated her into refusing to believe what Ivan says, something Smerdyakov warned Ivan he would do.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Suffering Theme Icon
Alexei hands Lise’s letter to Ivan. Ivan laughs, recognizes the handwriting, and calls her a “little demon.” He tells Alexei that she offered herself to Ivan, as a loose woman would. Alexei scolds him for offending a child. Ivan tells Alexei that they shouldn’t talk more about it. Ivan mentions that Katerina Ivanovna will pray all night over Dmitri. Alexei says that Katerina loves Ivan. Ivan doesn’t know, but he knows that he doesn’t “fancy her.” Alexei wonders why he gives her hope. Ivan says that he’s waiting until they pass the sentence, so that Katerina won’t take revenge against him by destroying Dmitri. He tells Alexei about the letter Katerina has, “[proving] mathematically” that Dmitri killed Fyodor.
Ivan is amused by Lise’s actions, which may either mean that he doesn’t know the severity of her suffering or doesn’t care. Ivan lies about not having any interest in Katerina Ivanovna. Perhaps he feels slightly ashamed to be in love with his brother’s fiancée, despite Dmitri’s love for Grushenka. It’s also rather contradictory of him to worry about Katerina “destroying” Dmitri in court when Ivan already knows about the letter which seems to make it apparent that Dmitri killed their father.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Jealousy and Envy Theme Icon
Suffering Theme Icon