Summary and Analysis
Part 4: Epilogue
After Dmitri's trial, Alyosha goes to Katerina's, where Ivan is ill, unconscious, and burning with high fever; in spite of gossip, Katerina has ordered that he be brought to her house. When Alyosha arrives, she confesses her deep regret over what she revealed during the trial but says that Dmitri's escape is already being planned. She explains further that more help is needed; Alyosha must aid his brother and bribe the appropriate officials. Alyosha agrees but forces Katerina to promise that she will visit Dmitri in prison.
Alyosha then goes to his brother and tells him that Katerina also will come, but Dmitri has weightier problems troubling him. He explains his desire to repent and, through suffering, to become a new human being. He fears only one thing: that he will be unable to carry out his intentions if the authorities do not let Grushenka accompany him. Alyosha explains the plans that have been made for the escape, and Dmitri reluctantly agrees to them. He makes one stipulation, however; he escapes only for the present. Someday he must return to Mother Russia.
Katerina then enters, and she and Dmitri ask each other for forgiveness. Peace is not so easy, though, even now, for Grushenka unexpectedly arrives. Although Katerina begs her for forgiveness, Grushenka still feels too bitter toward her former rival to acknowledge any pleas.
In the meantime, little Ilusha has died, and Alyosha leaves Dmitri to go to the young boy's funeral. After the burial, Alyosha talks with Ilusha's many school friends and asks them to remember forever their friendship at the present moment. He, in turn, promises that he will never forget any one of them. The boys are deeply affected by Alyosha's sincerity and all cheer, "Hurrah for Karamazov."
In a sense, the epilogue conforms to the nineteenth-century custom of tidying up the end of a novel. Here the final fates of all the characters are revealed, and the reader is relieved from speculating. Dmitri accepts Ivan's plan for escape, but only after he has Alyosha's sanction. As for Alyosha, he conforms to the directives of the late Father Zossima. He does not condemn his brother, nor does he object to the escape. In short, he refuses to judge Dmitri.
Even in his escape, it is important to note that Dmitri feels that he will suffer immensely. He has been depicted as being closely attached to Russia and to be exiled to America — to be separated from the soil from which he takes his strength — is an extreme form of punishment for him. His plans are to return to his country as soon as possible and then to live anonymously in some remote region. This lasting love for Russian soil, of course, reflects Dostoevsky's passion for his native land.
In the novel's final pages, all concern is with Alyosha and Ilusha's young school friends. The ex-monk has had little success with adults in Russian society, but with children he is unexcelled. The boys eagerly gather around Alyosha and are openly responsive to his speech about love and devotion — a message quite clear: Dostoevsky believes that youth, nurtured on the wisdom of Father Zossima, will be the salvation of Russia.