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The Brothers Karamazov

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Epilogue, Chapters 1–3

Book XII: A Judicial Error, Chapters 1–14

Important Quotations Explained

Summary—Chapter 1: Plans to Save Mitya

Katerina has brought the raving Ivan back to her house, and Alyosha visits them there after the trial. Katerina is torn with regret over her betrayal of Dmitri at the trial, but she says an ironclad plan is in place for his escape. In order to free him, however, Alyosha will have to play a part. Alyosha agrees to do whatever is necessary to secure Dmitri’s freedom.

Summary—Chapter 2: For a Moment the Lie Became the Truth

Alyosha visits Dmitri in prison and tells him about the plan for his escape. Though Dmitri longs to be redeemed by suffering, and has, in a sense, accepted the idea of his punishment, he agrees to the escape plan so that he will be able to remain with Grushenka. He will have to flee to America, but he says he will not spend his entire life away from Russia. One day, he will return.

Katerina arrives. She and Dmitri reconcile, and Katerina tells him that she never truly believed him to be guilty. Grushenka arrives, and when Katerina begs for her forgiveness as well, Grushenka refuses to forgive her. Katerina runs from the room. Dmitri reproaches Grushenka, and Alyosha tells him sternly that he has no right to be critical of her. Alyosha then runs after Katerina. She says that she cannot blame Grushenka for not forgiving her.

Summary—Chapter 3: Ilyushechka’s Funeral. The Speech at the Stone

Ilyusha is dead, and Alyosha must now attend his funeral. He discusses Dmitri’s case with Kolya and some of Ilyusha’s other friends. He asks them earnestly always to hang on to the feeling of closeness, love, and companionship that they now share. The crowd of schoolboys cheers Alyosha adoringly.

Analysis—Epilogue, Chapters 1–3

The epilogue of the novel discusses the redemption of the main characters. The first part of the novel’s short epilogue completes the redemption of Katerina, which begins at the trial when she cries out to save Ivan. In bringing Ivan back to her house to recover from his illness, Katerina has finally become capable of seeking her own happiness in the world honestly and without choosing to suffer merely to point out the guilt of those who make her suffer. She and Dmitri are now fully capable of forgiving one another because they have both been purged of the sins that have plagued them for so long. Though Dmitri has not lost the desire to repent for his sins through suffering—a desire very different from Katerina’s urge to suffer in order to draw attention to the sins of others—he is willing to accept the escape plan because he has come to the mature realization that there is more to goodness and faith than suffering. His spirit will be stronger if he can be with Grushenka. Grushenka’s inability to forgive Katerina shows that her own redemption is incomplete. She is still proud, but, as Alyosha realizes when he scolds Dmitri for criticizing her, she is on the right path.

The novel ends, paradoxically, on notes of warmth, hope, and optimism in the middle of a funeral. Alyosha’s words to the schoolboys again emphasize his influence with children and the promise that influence holds for the future. As in Book X, Alyosha emerges as a natural teacher, capable of continuing Zosima’s legacy of faith, love, and forgiveness throughout his life. The novel’s last words are very hopeful: Kolya leads the schoolboys in chanting, “Hurrah for Karamazov!” The use of the family surname is significant here, since throughout the novel, characters have discussed “the Karamazov quality” and “the Karamazov legacy” as being defined by Fyodor Pavlovich’s violence, uncontrolled passion, and lust. The final words of the novel imply that the Karamazov legacy has changed: it is no longer defined by Fyodor Pavlovich, but by Alyosha. The Karamazov family has been redeemed.

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