Karamazov Brothers Book Five: 2 for 1 Post

breakfast club

I am behind on my blog posts on our Karamazov reading project. In my defence I started a new job and life generally got in the way for a couple weeks. Probably not a great excuse, but it’s the only one I’ve got.

Originally BJ and I agreed to do two posts about this part in the book. Because my husband is on top of things, he posted and followed the plan (you can see those here and here). On the other hand is me…so I am going to combine mine since you know, I like to break the rules.

What was cemented for me in this section, is that each character, especially the brothers, represent a part of humanity. And for some reason it reminds me of the Breakfast Club. (Maybe there was something about it on social media about it when I was reading this section that jogged my memory.) You know, the 80’s movie….Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald. There was the “a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal”…..and they all represented one segment of the high school population.

I am not equating John Hughes to Dostoevsky. Although…I guess I could make the argument that they both had the ear of the people in their respective times. I think both used these characters as an allegory for some bigger message. However…

The big bang for the buck part of this section is ‘The Grand Inquisitor’. Apparently this is the crux of the novel and what the book is known for. (I only knew this because BJ told me.) According to Wikipedia: “The Grand Inquisitor” is an important part of the novel and one of the best-known passages in modern literature because of its ideas about human nature and freedom, and its fundamental ambiguity.

Basically this “poem” is recited by Ivan to Aloysha. Ivan starts off by saying

‘WELL, first of all there has to be an introduction, a literary introduction, that is.’ Ivan laughed. ‘God knows, I’m no author!

This cracked me up. Obviously this is written by Dostoevsky so I feel like it’s a little wink and smirk at the reader.

So the story is basically that Christ comes back to life in Seville and performs all these cool miracles. But, the people turn on him and he gets arrested and put in jail. He is then interrogated by the ‘The Grand Inquisitor”. The Inquisitor dude basically says that people don’t need Christ anymore because they have the church and church has basically replaced him. Also, people, if left to their own devices will always make the wrong decision and it’s up to the church to guide them in the right direction.

The key to happiness, according to the Inquisitor, is for man (in the global sense) to turn over all decisions to the church. Because basically free will is the cause of suffering.

They will bring us their most tormenting problems of conscience—everything, they will bring everything to us and we shall resolve everything, and they will accept our judgement with joy, because it will spare them the great burden and terrible torment of personal and free choice that they suffer today. And everyone will be happy, all the millions of beings, except the hundred thousand who govern them.

Right. I guess I can see his point. But. This basically cements the view that Ivan is not a huge fan of organized religion. And the fact that he is talking to his brother, who happens to be a man of the cloth is what makes it….even more interesting. Aloysha interrupts once in while to give the opposing view. This is the one that struck me most:

Your Inquisitor doesn’t believe in God, that’s all there is to his secret!

And that, folks is the secret. So I guess this brings the whole Breakfast Club thing (kind of) full circle: you have the man of the cloth (Aloysha), the man of intellect (Ivan) and then the man of earthly pleasures (Dimitry).

On a side note, one of the funniest things I have read in this book so far….the father Karamazov writes a note to Grushenka and adds this:

“For my angel, Grushenka, if she comes to me,” and that two or three days later he added, “my little chicky-bird”.

Chicky-bird! I don’t know if it’s a translation thing. But I found that extremely funny.

Alright, now that I have fulfilled my blog post….onward to the next part!



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