Secondary Character Sketches
Katerina Ivanovna Verkhovtseva (Katya) is the woman to whom Dmitri is engaged throughout the novel. She and Dmitri were first acquainted when she came to him in hopes of obtaining enough money from him to save her father from shame. She knows about Dmitri's love or desire for Grushenka, but is unwilling to give him up for much of the book. There is some question about how a woman like Katerina could possibly love a man like Dmitri, and the possibility that she is in fact in love with Ivan is mentioned early on. It is from Katerina that Dmitri obtained the 3000 roubles that later come into question. During his trial, she produces a letter that he wrote to her that Dmitri wrote to her stating that he might be forced to kill his father. It is no secret that he has made this threat before, but the document is very damaging. Finally, at Alyosha's request on Dmitri's behalf, she visits Dmitri while he is in prison, and they make amends. They agree that they both love other people now, but what was will never be forgotten.
Lise is a young woman whom Alyosha knew as a child and who writes Alyosha a love letter. She visits the Starets and makes Alyosha uncomfortable with her attention towards him. She is currently unable to walk under her own power, but seems to be improving in strength. She has tendencies to be very childish towards Alyosha, telling him that the letter was just a joke, later saying that it was not. She admits that she is in love with Alyosha, and they plan to be married. Alyosha kisses her while in his monk garb and she finds this ridiculous. At the end of the novel, after Dmitri's conviction, we again see Alyosha visiting her, and she admits to liking physical pain and suffering, and after Alyosha
The father of the young Ilyusha, Captain Snegiryov's appearance in the
novel is preceded by rumors of his humiliating encounter with Dmitri Karamazov,
who dragged him down the street by his beard in a drunken rage. Thus, he
already emerges as a symbol of wounded human pride, and is paralleled to
Katerina, who has also, in a sense, suffered humiliation at the hands of
Dmitri. Though he partially functions as a vehicle for introducing Ilyusha
into the text, a character symbolizing the ultimate Dostoevskian ideal of
universal suffering and complete faith, the captain himself embodies several
important traits in the novel as well. Despite his lowly and downtrodden
position, reminiscent of Crime and Punishment's Marmeladov, he maintains
a profound sense of dignity, as evidenced by his rejection of the two hundred
rubles delivered by Alyosha. Despite his shortcomings, he cares deeply for
his family, and most especially for little Ilyusha, for whom he is willing
to do anything.
We first encounter Ilyusha as the subject of scorn and mockery: the other boys are throwing rocks at him, and when Alyosha approaches him, he bites his hand and runs away. His reaction, of course, is not against the gentle Alexei specifically, but rather against his Karamazov heritage, for Dmitri has beaten and humiliated the boy's father, Captain Snegiryov, in a recent fit of drunkenness. The boy, who remains sick throughout the novel and eventually dies, ultimately grows close to Alyosha, and he functions in the novel as that against which Ivan's intellectual rationale rails: though perfectly innocent, he will suffer and die. Though Ivan fails to see purpose or justification, Dostoevsky's religious agenda makes Ilyusha a central component of the novel's system of belief: his suffering is an act of sacrafice and atonement for others, reminiscent of Christ, and one through which guilt is universalized. This is the central idea in the novel, in which the guilt for any and all things (such as Fyodor's murder) are removed from an individual context, ultimately forging human unity and a more congenial and shared form of human conscience.
A vain 14 year old boy who dominates his doting widow mother. A superior
student and intellectual, he gained fame by letting a train run over him
as he lay on the tracks. He is a socialist and he defines his belief as
equality, common property, absence of marriage and religion, and laws that
reflect whatever the people desire. He befriends Ilyusha and seeks to learn
Adelaida Ivanovna's first cousin. A liberal, free thinker, and atheist
like those of the 1840's and 1850's, he is well educated and has lived in
Europe for many years. Upon hearing of the death of his cousin, he wants
to assume Dmitry's upbringing and succeeds in getting permission.