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The Brothers Karamazov

  • Study Guide

Book IX: The Preliminary Investigation, Chapters 1–9

Summary Book IX: The Preliminary Investigation, Chapters 1–9

Summary—Chapter 7: Mitya’s Great Secret. Met with Hisses

Dmitri finally reveals the source of the money. He says that when he borrowed the 3,000 rubles from Katerina, he only spent 1,500 rubles on Grushenka. He wore the other 1,500 in a locket around his neck. But once he decided to kill himself, he decided there was no reason to hold onto the 1,500 rubles, so he spent some of it on wine and food for his last meeting with Grushenka.

Summary—Chapter 8: The Evidence of the Witnesses. The Wee One

The problem is that Dmitri has always told people that he spent the entire 3,000 rubles on Grushenka, and the prosecution is now able to produce several witnesses who say that he told them he needed the full 3,000 rubles to repay Katerina.

Summary—Chapter 9: Mitya Is Taken Away

Grushenka is called in to testify. Dmitri swears to her that he did not kill his father, and she believes him. But the officers nevertheless decide to keep him in prison to await a trial. Dmitri says good-bye to Grushenka, asking her to forgive him for everything he has done. Grushenka delivers an impassioned promise to love and remain loyal to Dmitri forever.

Analysis—Book IX: The Preliminary Investigation, Chapters 1–9

This book is devoted to a description of the circumstantial evidence that makes Dmitri appear guilty of Fyodor Pavlovich’s murder. The question of whether Dmitri is guilty symbolically represents the greater question of whether human nature is fundamentally good or sinful, so the legal proceedings against Dmitri represent the trial of the human spirit. Just as Book V, especially in the Grand Inquisitor chapter, presents the novel’s indictment of God, Book IX begins its indictment of humanity. This book recounts Dmitri’s past in detail, and the stories of his innumerable sins are retold, as though to summarize the moral failings that lie at the heart of the case. Dmitri has lied to everyone, stolen from and cheated Katerina, turned to violence against Grigory, and been unable to control his passions for Grushenka. In short, he has committed the most common and universal sins of mankind.

Dmitri’s bizarre, almost gleeful reaction to this list of sins reveals the seeds of his redemption. In Zosima’s anecdote of the murder in Book VI, Dostoevsky has drawn our attention to a peculiar psychological phenomenon: the desire of a guilty man to confess his guilt. The murderer in this anecdote had gotten away with his crime, but he could never find happiness because he was desperate to confess his guilt. As Zosima indicates in his argument with Ivan over ecclesiastical courts in Book II, conscience is the sternest judge of all. Even a criminal who has gotten away with his crime can be judged by his conscience. Like the murderer in Zosima’s anecdote, Dmitri has a conscience that judges him harshly, and also like the murderer, Dmitri is guilty, not of the charge of killing his father, but of all the lies, acts of violence, and other sins of his past. Like the murderer, part of Dmitri longs for his crimes to be known and judged, so he can find redemption in the suffering of his punishment. Dmitri’s glee throughout this passage is due in part to Grushenka’s declaration of love for him. But he also experiences relief to be in the hands of the police and to hear his crimes discussed openly and critically. This review of his past sins may seem like a damning indictment of humanity, but it is actually the first step in Dmitri’s transformation from a tormented and sinful man into a faithful and loving one.