In part 3 of the book, the focus changes quite dramatically to the conflict between Mitya and his father. In particular, Dostoevsky dwells in detail on Mitya’s state of mind and actions in the time immediately prior to his father’s murder.
In my previous post, I had mentioned that Mitya was someone who seemed very cliched and ordinary. After reading part 3, my thoughts on him have taken a complete about turn. In part 1, I only knew that he was promiscuous and a spendthrift, cheating on his fiancee with another woman.
In this part, I read about his anguish and his guilt and my heart bled for him. And the more desperate his attempts became to get the money he needed to run away with Grushenka, the more sorry I felt for him. He is obviously very sincere in his feelings for her, and desperate to be able to start a new life with her.
Unfortunately, he does not have the financial (and may I say emotional fortitude) to be able to manage his situation well. When his father is eventually found murdered, he is the obvious suspect simply because he has openly told the world about his feelings for his father.
When he is grilled by the prosecutor and the inspector, he openly confesses to his most terrible thoughts to the unsympathetic people and I felt terrible for the invasion of his privacy. Now, when I read books, I normally don’t have too many sympathies for the accused. But Dostoevsky has really written this section well. I guess I also feel bad for Mitya’s predicament because I am pretty sure that he is not the murderer anyway. He is too much an obvious suspect.
In many ways, the way he is written reminds me of Raskolnikov (from Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment). In that book too, Dostoevsky takes us through a detailed tour of the thoughts and actions of the protagonist upto the moment he commits murder and afterwards. The difference here of course is that at the last moment Mitya decides against the murder.
So far, I have to admit that this is my favorite section in the book.
I have already embarked on the fourth and final part of the book, but in some ways it is a little disappointing. I was hoping that the tension of the third part would continue, but unfortunately it has not, at least not for me.
I am a little puzzled by all the accounts of the school boys gathering around Ilyusha’s sickbed, and his reunion with an old friend, and Alyosha’s hand in it. So far, this does not seem to have any bearing at all on the actual story. But I am hoping that later on in the book, this section is integrated sensibly with the main plot.
Right now, it is just sticking out like a sore thumb from the rest of the novel.