After the non-stop, rollicking action of the last section, Dostoevsky clearly felt that he had to pull back on the throttle a little bit and give the reader a break.
In this section, Dmitry is questioned by the prosecutors who are investigating his Father’s murder. This is no easy task. It has already been established that Dmitry is impulsive and wild…crazy, most would say. Add to that the fact that he almost certainly DID kill his Father and every piece of evidence is 100% incriminating, and Dmitry’s mind is hopping around like an exposed wire.
First, he is informed by the prosecutors that he doesn’t have to answer any questions. You have to figure that they sort of wished he would take that route, because unlike many interrogations where the criminal snarls “you can’t make me talk, copper,” Dmitry is more than willing to talk and talk and talk. And talk.
You have to give the investigators credit, because they doggedly pursue their questioning. The key issue is one we noted when reading…how exactly did Dmitry go from pawning his guns for 10 roubles and then all of a sudden have 3,000 roubles to throw the party of the century? And, there’s an empty envelope in the father’s room which formerly held 3,000 roubles?
Dmitry is working all his faculties. He claims it wasn’t 3,000 roubles but was actually 1,500 roubles and that he had just been boasting about having 3,000.
This section is a little trying. We are talking a minute examination of Dmitry. There’s a section where he says he had a purse around his neck and the prosecutors are trying to catch him in a lie. And they work every detail of that purse. Where did you get the cloth? What did you do with it? Where did you get the needle and thread?
Even inside this tedium, though, the picture between these investigatory bureaucrats ridiculously trying to make sense of the ludicrous story Dmitry is making up as he goes along is pretty funny.
The outright funniest scene is when the investigators inform Dmitry that they will have to strip search him to make sure that he doesn’t have the remainder of the money on him. Dmitry is trying to present himself as an officer and a gentleman and takes great umbrage at this. He doesn’t end up totally stripped, but he is standing in front of the investigators and some average citizens in his underwear, wishing he had put a clean pair on that morning.
The second thing is really interesting. A slight diversion…in listening to the latest episodes of Serial, they mention how defendants in the court are treated differently once they have a prior arrest–it is referred to as having “the stink” on you.
Well, you can see that here. Dmitry arrives in style, in a carriage, followed by another carriage filled with champagne and fancy snacks. Now, he leaves in the equivalent of a wheelbarrow. When he arrived, he was treated…well…like a man bringing free liqour…and he leaves being treated like…well…a man who is suspected of killing his Father.
Dostoevsky is clearly a master of the human condition. One of the things he has accurately captured is how people can love you, and then something happens and they can instantly switch to “I never liked him anyway.” Dmitry is one example and the putrefying Starets is another.
On we go.