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The Brothers Karamazov: Novel Summary: Part III Book IX - The Preliminary Investigation (Chapters 1-9)

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Part III Book IX - The Preliminary Investigation (Chapters 1-9)

Chapter 1: The start of the official Perkhotin's career
After his encounter with Dmitri, Perkhotin is suspicious about the bloodstains on Dmitri's clothing and his sudden acquisition of a large sum of money. He goes to question Fenya. She reports that Dmitri, when looking for Grushenka, had snatched the pestle and returned without it but dripping blood. Perkhotin then goes to Madame Khokhlakov's to question her. Madame Khokhlakov hysterically accuses Dmitri of having come there to murder her. Perkhotin says that Dmitri told him that he got the three thousand roubles as a loan from Madame Khokhlakov, to go to the gold mines. Madame Khokhlakov says that she did not loan any money to Dmitri, and leaps to the conclusion that he must have murdered his father for the money. Perkhotin says he will go to the police commissioner and tell him all that he has learned.
After Perkhotin leaves, Madame Khokhlakov reflects that she feels enchanted by him.
Chapter 2: The alarm
Perkhotin goes to the house of the district commissioner of police, Mikhail Makarovich Makarov, to report what he has learned. Also present at Makarov's house are the district doctor Varvinsky, the deputy prosecutor Ippolit Kirillovich, and the district attorney Nikolai Parfenovich Nelyudov.
When Perkhotin arrives, he finds that everyone there already knows that Fyodor Pavlovich has been robbed and murdered. Marfa has given a report. She had been woken by a terrible epileptic scream from Smerdyakov. She had heard groans from the garden and had found Grigory lying near the place where Dmitri had struck him down. Witnesses are immediately sought and the investigation is launched. The doctor goes to examine Smerdyakov, and remarks that such long attacks of epilepsy are rare.
Chapter 3: The soul's journey through torments. The first torment
The narrative turns to the interrogation of Dmitri, who has been arrested for the murder of his father. He proclaims that he is not guilty, but at that moment, Grushenka collapses at the feet of the police commissioner and cries that she drove Dmitri to kill his father by tormenting both men, and that she is the guilty one. During the interrogation of Dmitri, he readily owns up to killing "another old man," meaning Grigory, as he does not know that Grigory survived his attack. He complicates the issue by referring to Grigory as "my own father," as Grigory had brought Dmitri up (making it sound as if the man he attacked was his own father), and by admitting that he wanted to kill Fyodor Pavlovich. He also tells them that he viewed the three thousand roubles that Fyodor Pavlovich had set aside for Grushenka as rightfully his. It is clear that the men think Dmitri is guilty.
Dmitri tells the men that Grushenka is now his fianc�e.
Chapter 4: The second torment
The men proceed with the interrogation of Dmitri. Dmitri is eager to answer all questions fully, except that he refuses to tell them why he needed exactly three thousand roubles. He openly tells them that on leaving Madame Khokhlakov's, he "wanted to put a knife into someone." He says that he has no idea why he armed himself with the pestle before going to his father's.
Chapter 5: The third torment
Dmitri describes what happened immediately after he saw his father lean out of the window, hatred boiled up in him, and he snatched the pestle. He says that "the devil was overcome," perhaps by his mother's prayers or the intervention of some spirit. He ran from the window towards the fence, and then his father saw him for the first time and jumped back from the window in fear. At the fence, Grigory caught up with him. Dmitri sees that his interrogators do not believe him. The prosecutor asks him whether, when he ran from the window, the door to the garden at the other end of the house was open or shut. Dmitri says it was shut. The prosecutor says it was open, and that the murderer definitely went in and exited through that door. Dmitri says this is impossible, as only he, his father and Smerdyakov knew the signals, and without the signals, his father would never have opened the door. Dmitri says he briefly suspected Smerdyakov, but cannot believe he was the murderer because he is a coward and does not care about money.
The men say they found Smerdyakov lying unconscious in bed and that he was not expected to live till morning. Then they ask Dmitri why he jumped down from the fence to examine Grigory after he struck him. Dmitri says he wanted to know if Grigory was alive, but the men believe he was cold-bloodedly checking that his victim was properly dead.
Dmitri tells the men about Grushenka and his intention to shoot himself, an intention which he later abandons, but he refuses to tell them where he got the money that Perkhotin saw him carrying, because he is too ashamed. The men add up the money that Dmitri spent and the remainder that he now has on him, and it comes to around fifteen hundred roubles. They ask why everyone, including Dmitri, claimed that he had much more, but Dmitri can offer no proper explanation.
Chapter 6: The prosecutor catches Mitya
The men strip-search Dmitri and find that his clothes are heavily bloodstained. They take his clothes as evidence and allow him to borrow clothes from Kalganov. They tell Dmitri that it was Grigory who, at the same time that he saw Dmitri running from his father's house, noticed that the door to the garden was open. The men then produce Fyodor Pavlovich's envelope, torn open and empty. Dmitri, with a flash of realization, cries that Smerdyakov is the murderer, as he was the only one who knew where the envelope was hidden. Dmitri insists that he himself never knew where it was, only that it existed. The men point out that Dmitri previously said it was under the pillow, but Dmitri replies that he only guessed it was there.
Dmitri repeats that the murderer was Smerdyakov, because he alone knew the signals to make Fyodor Pavlovich open the door. The prosecutor points out that there was no need to give any signals as, according to Grigory, the door was already open when Dmitri ran from his father's window. The prosecutor does not believe Dmitri. He tells him that the matter of the door, and the fact that he will not tell where he got the large sum of money, are incontrovertible evidence against him. Realizing that things are not going well for him, Dmitri agrees to tell the prosecutor where he got the money.
Chapter 7: Mitya's great secret. Met with hisses
Dmitri tells the men that he got the money from an amulet that had been hanging around his neck for a month. He stole it from Katerina, who had given him three thousand roubles to send to her sister. He had spent half the money on a previous debauch with Grushenka, and had kept the other half in the amulet.
Dmitri had been far more ashamed of separating the fifteen hundred from the three thousand and keep it to one side, than he had been about squandering the initial fifteen hundred with Grushenka. This is because he saw it as a cold-bloodedly calculating theft. He feels it would have been morally better to have squandered the whole three thousand: that would have made him a scoundrel, but keeping the fifteen hundred makes him a thief. He was carrying it around with him as he was undecided what to do, whether to return it to Katerina or to keep it. The argument urging him to keep it was that Grushenka might ask him to take her away with him. Dmitri thought she wanted money and would not accept him if he were poor. The argument urging him to return it to Katerina was that then he would not be a thief. On his way from Fenya to Perkhotin, as he was intending to kill himself, he had finally decided to take the amulet off and become "a final and indisputable thief" and spend the money on a last evening with Grushenka.
The prosecutor points out that Dmitri told many people that on his last evening with Grushenka, he spent three thousand roubles, not fifteen hundred. Dmitri says that he lied. By now, Dmitri despairs of being set free.
Chapter 8: The evidence of witnesses. The wee one
The prosecutor interrogates the witnesses. The innkeeper testifies that at Dmitri's previous debauch with Grushenka, he spent at least three thousand roubles. This means he could not have kept fifteen hundred back. At Dmitri's second visit, he had told the innkeeper that he had another three thousand.
The Poles also give evidence. Pan Mussyalovich tells how Dmitri tried to bribe him to leave Grushenka with three thousand roubles, and that he had offered seven hundred roubles then and the remaining two thousand three hundred tomorrow, swearing that he had so much money in town. Grushenka testifies that on their previous debauch, Dmitri had told her that he spent three thousand roubles. Dmitri interrupts her testimony to swear to her that he did not kill his father, and she believes him.
Dmitri falls asleep and dreams that a coachman is driving him through a village where peasants are starving. A baby is crying, and Dmitri asks the coachman why. The coachman points out that the baby is frozen and that the people are poor. Dmitri persists with his question: why? He feels a wave of tenderness and wants to do something for them all, so that these people will no longer suffer. At that moment, he is conscious of Grushenka's voice telling him that she will stay with him for the rest of his life, and he feels himself hurrying towards a beckoning light.
Chapter 9: Mitya is taken away
The prosecutor decides that Dmitri must remain in prison to await trial. Dmitri delivers an impassioned speech in which he confesses that he is guilty of many sins, and has always wanted to reform but has been too weak. This current disgrace is the blow that will force him to change. His reform will take place through suffering. He repeats, however, that he is not guilty of his father's blood, though he admits again that he wanted to kill him.
Grushenka is brought in so that she and Dmitri can say goodbye. She bows to Dmitri and vows to be faithful to him forever. Dmitri asks her forgiveness.
Dmitri is driven away.
This Book presents the overwhelming circumstantial evidence suggesting that Dmitri killed his father. In an ironic contrast with the philanthropist's case, in which the philanthropist escaped detection for his murder because he kept quiet about his love for the murdered woman, Dmitri arouses strong suspicion because he keeps quiet about the money he stole from Katerina and kept around his neck. On the other hand, he did talk to many witnesses in the time leading up to the murder, and what he said to these people conspires to make him seem guilty. For example, he boasted to many people that he had three thousand roubles to spend on the night of the murder, which people assume he stole from his father, when the truth is that he had fifteen hundred left over from the three thousand he stole from Katerina.
While Dmitri is not guilty of the murder, he is guilty of a great many sins, which are enumerated in this section. He has lied, stolen from Katerina, and assaulted and almost killed Grigory. Moreoever, as he himself points out in his final speech before being taken away, he wanted to kill his father and could well have done so. Most of these sins are the kind commonly committed by most of humanity, and there is a sense in which Dmitri is on trial for the rest of sinning humanity. Dmitri accepts his disgrace with joy, as he recognizes that his guilt is great and that his coming suffering will purify and redeem him.
Dmitri's final speech comes as part of a highly significant sequence. First, after his interrogation, Dmitri falls asleep and has a dream about starving, cold peasants. He feels a wave of tenderness and wants to do something for them, so that there will be no more suffering. Instantly, he hears Grushenka vowing to be with him forever. It is no accident that her words follow Dmitri's heartfelt wave of love for suffering humanity and a desire to help. Then, this vision of his own redemption comes to him. Giving love, he receives love (from Grushenka) and is set upon a path of redemption leading to the "beckoning" light of God. Finally, Dmitri gives his speech, remarkable for its spirit of acceptance of responsibility for his sins and his determination to reform. Worthy of note too is his final farewell, "Saying farewell to you, I say it to all men . . . !" This is a sign that Dmitri recognizes the oneness of all mankind and points towards his status as a symbol for all of humanity, vacillating between sin and redemption. (It is clear that not all his accusers share this sense of oneness from Nikolai Parfenovich's refusal to shake Dmitri's offered hand, recalling Zosima's teaching that no one should be a judge until he can love the criminal.)
The entire episode shows the power of active love. The flow of love is initiated by Dmitri's dream of suffering and desire to help, is strengthened by Grushenka's vow of love, and culminates in Dmitri's joyful acceptance of his punishment and determination to purify himself through suffering.


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