The Brothers Karamazov
Book IX, Chapters Six and Seven
by Dennis Abrams
“The Prosecutor Catches Mitya” “There began something quite unexpected and astonishing for Mitya.” The strip search begins. “‘What, must I take my shirt off, too?’ he asked sharply.” Dmitri’s clothes are closely inspected. Blood on the tucked-under right-cuff of Mitya’s right shirt sleeve. How did it get there? Dmitri is told to take off his socks. “He felt unbearably awkward: everyone else was dressed, and he was undressed, and — strangely — undressed, he himself seemed to feel guilty before them, and above all, he was almost ready to agree that he had indeed suddenly become lower than all of them, and that they now had every right to despise him.” His embarrassment and shame over his feet, “especially the right one with its crude, flat toenail, somehow curved under, and now they would all see it.” Wrapped in nothing more than a blanket, Dmitri is left on his own, with only the peasants remaining to stare at him. Nikolai Parfenovich returned with clothes donated by Kalganov, “You may keep your underwear and socks.” Dmitri’s anger, “I don’t want other people’s clothes!” He calms down and wears Kalganov’s clothes, although they barely fit him. What’s left — will he be flogged with a birch? The prosecutor’s ring. Would Dmitri lie about killing his own father? “…if I were guilty, I sear. I wouldn’t have waited for you to come here, or for the sun to rise, as I originally intended, I’d have destroyed myself even before, without waiting for dawn.” What Dmitri has learned about himself. His fear of being disgraced. Dmitri is told that Grigory has sworn that the door to the garden was open — is he mistaken? Confused? Lying? Dmitri is shown the empty envelope in which his father had kept the 3,000 roubles for Grushenka and told it had been found behind the screen. Dmitri declares that Smerdyakov must have robbed him, “He’s the only one who knew where the old man hid the envelope…It’s him, it’s clear now.” Dmitri is reminded that earlier [MY NOTE: Chapter 3, “The First Torment,” pg. 462 in the paperback) he had stated that he knew that Fyodor had kept the envelop under his pillow. Was it just a “random guess” And what about the door? “Yes, the door…! It’s a phantom! God is against me!” The prosecutor imposingly states that the evidence of the open door and his “inexplicable, persistent and almost obdurate silence with regard to the source of the money that suddenly appeared in [his] hands, makes it impossible to believe in Dmitri’s innocence. Dmitri says that he will reveal the secret of where he got the money. “Mitya’s Great Secret. Met With Hisses.” “‘Gentlemen,’ he began in the same agitation, ‘the money…I want to confess completely…the money was mine.'” Dmitri tells the investigators that despite his own boasts and the word about town, he had not spent the entire 3,000 rouble on Grushenka — he had spent half, the rest he had kept sewn up in a rag hanging from his neck. Why had he boasted of spending it all? Why hadn’t he told anyone that he hadn’t spent it all? “It is incredible that such a secret should cost you such torment in confessing it…” “‘The disgrace lay not in the fifteen hundred, but in my separating that fifteen hundred from the three thousand,’ Mitya spoke firmly.” The baseness of it all. Dmitri’s inability to go to Katerina Ivanovna, return the 1500 roubles he still had and promise to repay the other 1500. The differences between being a scoundrel and a thief. Dmitri’s inability to decide. Dmitri’s need to hold on to the other 1500 roubles, in case Grushenka should tire of the old man, of tormenting him and say “I love you and not him, take me away to the end of the earth…I thought she wanted money, and that she’d never forgive me my poverty. And so I slyly counted out half of the three thousand and sewed it up with a needle and thread, in clod blood.” Dmitri’s conviction that he’s stolen the money — that was the reason for his rage, why he fought in the tavern, why he beat his father, “Because I felt I was a thief.” His desire to go to Katya and be able to say, “I am a scoundrel, but not a thief.” Dmitri’s great torment? Not his belief that he had killed Grigory, or the possibility of going to Siberia, “it was “the cursed awareness that I had finally torn that cursed money off my chest and spent it, and therefore was now a final thief!” How could Dmitri have told Katerina Ivanovna that he needed to borrow the money from her so that he could run off with another woman? Do Dmitri’s questioners respect him? “…if this, too, goes past your souls, then it means you really do not expect me, gentlemen, I tell you that, and I will die of shame at having confessed to such man as you!” What happened to the amulet? How large was it? How did he cut open? What did he do with it when he had taken the money out? Where did he learn to sew? Dmitri remembers he made tit from his landlady’s old bonnet, a rag. Would she notice it was missing? Where in the square did he drop it? Is Dmitri allowed to look out the window? “Just under the window a muddy road could be seen, and further off, in the rainy dimness, rows of black, poor, unsightly cottages, which seemed to have turned even blacker and poorer in the rain. Mitya remembered ‘golden-haired Phoebus’ and how he had wanted to shoot himself at his first ray.” Dmitri is assured that they have no suspeciions regarding Grushenka. Tea is served. Dmitri is completely worn out.
So…where is everybody standing in regards to the book? Keeping up? Enjoying it? Is it what you thought it would be? Leave a note about your reading experience so far…
Book IX, Chapters Eight and Nine