The Brothers Karamazov
Book VIII, Chapter Six
by Dennis Abrams
“Here I Come!” “Dmitri Fyodorovich flew over the road.” Dmitri’s road trip to see Grushenka. Grushenka as his ‘queen,’ his lack of jealousy towards this ‘officer.’ His soul was troubled, his resolve did not bring him peace. “And at moments it seemed strange to him: he had already written his own sentence with pen and paper, ‘I punish myself and my life’; and the paper was there, ready, in his pocket; the pistol was already loaded, he had already decided how he would greet the first hot ray of ‘golden-haired Phoebus’ ion the morning, and yet it was impossible to square accounts with the past, with all that stood behind him and tormented him, he felt it to the point of suffering, and the thought of it pierced his soul with despair.” Thoughts of ending everything “without waiting for dawn.” The troika “devouring space.” Dmitri’s love for Grushenka, “risen in his breast, such a new feeling, never experienced before, a feeling unexpected even to himself, tender to the point of prayer, to the point of vanishing before her. ‘And I will vanish!’ he said suddenly, in a fit of hysterical rapture.” What if they’re asleep when he arrives? Andrei informs Dmitri that there will be a lot of people at Plastunov’s inn. Andrei fears for Dmitri. “Then you know you have to make way. if you’re a coachman, what do you do, not make way for people?…You must not run anyone down, you must not spoil people’s lives; and if you have spoiled someone’s life — punish yourself…and if you’ve ever spoiled, if you’ve ever harmed someone’s life — punish yourself and go away.” Hysterics. Dmitri asks Andrei: “will Dmitri Fyodorovich Karamazov or not?” Andrei responds with the legend of hell. Will Andrei forgive Dmitri for everyone? Arriving at Mokroye. The celebrated greed of the landlord Trifon Borisch, delighted to see Dmitri arrive once again. Family photos. The two younger daughters. Who is in the room? Grushenka, her Polish officer, a friend of the officer’s, Kalganov (the nephew of Miusov), and the landowner Maximov. Dmitri calls for gypsies, but only Jews are available — will the innkeeper’s daughters do? Andrei departs. Dmitri observes the other guests unseen and then walks towards them, “Aie!” Grushenka shrieked in fear, noticing him first.”
1. A couple of reminders. Kalganov — We met him in Book Two, Chapter One — the nephew of Miusov, preparing to enter university, he attended the meeting at the monastery between Fyodor, Zosima, and Dmitri. Maximov — He was the “Tula landowner” also at the monastery, who was mocked at the luncheon by Fyodor and ended up getting shoved out of the carriage by Ivan.
2. I’m thinking that there must be a connection between Dmitri’s plea to Andrei, “will you alone, right now, this moment, here on the road, forgive me for everyone?” and the earlier idea of one man being guilty for all.
3. I marveled at how deftly Dostoevsky drew the portrait of the innkeeper. “This Trifon Borisich was a thickset and robust man of medium height, with a somewhat fleshy face, of stern and implacable appearance, especially with the Mokroye peasants, but endowed with the ability to change his expression to one of the utmost servility whenever he smelled a profit.”
4. And finally, I loved Andrei’s response when Dmitri worried about going to hell:
“I don’t know, my dear, it depends on you, because you are…You are, sir, when the Son of God was crucified on the cross and died, he went straight from the cross to hell and freed all the sinners suffering there. And hell groaned because it thought it wouldn’t have any more sinners coming. And the Lord said to hell: Do not groan, O hell, for all kinds of might ones, rulers, gread judges, and rich men will come to you from all parts, and you will be full as ever, unto ages of ages, till the time when I come again.’ That’s right, that’s what he said…”
“A popular legend — splendid!…”
“That’s who hell is meant for, sir…and you, sire are just like a little child to us…that’s how we look at you…And though you’re one to get angry, that you are, sir, the Lord will forgive you for your simple-heart.”
A comforting thought, to be sure.
Book Eight, Chapter Seven