Plot Summary

Part II

Chapter 1:

Part II begins with Versilov’s first visit to Arkady in his room beginning a pattern of such visits over the next two months until the fifteenth of November. During this time Arkady becomes what he calls a “fop”, borrowing money from Prince Seryozha, wearing a suit, going around in a sledge and gambling. During Versilov’s visits to Arkady, Arkady asks many questions, and Versilov offers very contradicting and elusive advice. He suggests to Arkady to read the Apocalypse, to read the Ten Commandments, to try loving some one, to be occupied with some real and serious business through the university, to turn stones into bread. He advocates silence as a good, safe and beautiful thing, he also says “heroism is higher than any happiness”. Versilov concludes after all these paradoxes that he doesn’t want to indoctrinate Arkady because he respects Arkady’s ‘idea’. During this time they become closer as father and son, realizing they love each other. In a final visit, Versilov suggests belief in God, immediately followed by praise of Atheism, and argues that to love one’s neighbor is impossible.


During this two month period, Versilov also meets with Prince Seryozha. In the particular visit Arkady is present; Versilov speaks of a true noble state being unified under a ‘binding thought’ or ‘higher idea’. The Prince responds defensively, and thinks Versilov a hypocrite. Versilov leaves. Just then two guests arrive in succession and speak privately with the Prince about sketchy monetary arrangements. After they leave, Arkady tries to refuse the three hundred the Prince has ‘paid’ him, but the Prince insists.

Chapter 3:

Versilov leaves with the money out of love for the Prince and goes to Stebelkov. Stebelkov reveals the Prince’s debt and his possible marriage to Anna Andreevna. He tries to employ Arkady to spy on the Prince, Anna’s father, (the old prince) and Anna to see whether they want and receive her dowry. Stebelkov pointedly says that the Prince’s reception of such money would “provide for everybody”, the subtlety of which Arkady doesn’t understand, and so refuses to do anything for Stebelkov.

Arkady then goes to visit Anna Andreevna, where he finds both her and his sister Liza. The three have ostensibly pleasant conversation though we learn an intrigue is afoot, and that Arkady has been meeting with Katerina. Yet Arkady is still naively happy and thinks the two women close friends. As he is leaving, Liza warns him of Anna and leaves in a hurry, inviting him to dinner. Arkady leaves hurriedly as well, late for a ‘rendezvous’.

Chapter 4:

Arkady goes to meet Katerina, where, taken in a spell of love, he begins to babble, confessing his infatuation with her. He asks her if she’s been using him to spy, he says he knows about the document, but tells her he received it from Kraft and burned it. He asks Katerina if she seduced him to acquire the document. She admits to it and asks his forgiveness to which he responds with horror, entreating her not to humiliate herself before him. Katerina reveals a bit of the history of the relationship she has with Arkady. Versilov is mentioned, but Arkady skips over him at a negative reaction from Katerina, praises her further and finally leaves in rapture.

Chapter 5:

Arkady then goes to his mother’s for dinner where the air is tense, but Arkady, trying to be “casual”, speaks without regard to his tongue, offending them all and evoking Tatyana’s scorn upon himself. He finally offers the 300 to Katerina to return to the Prince, but at the offense, Katerina rushes crying out of the room, followed soon by her mother and then Tatyana. Versilov also leaves, going on a stroll. Arkady goes up to apologize to his mother and sister, then goes out looking for Versilov who he finds and talks to about his day. He recalls his meetings with Anna and with Katerina, but just when Versilov suddenly becomes most interested, the pair is interrupted by a lieutenant beggar. Versilov is extremely offended at first, but soon laughs, gives the man forty kopecks for food, then guides Arkady to a tavern where Arkady tells of his rendezvous in greater detail. Versilov reacts particularly when Arkady mentions the ‘document’, but is assured (falsely) that Arkady burnt it. Versilov then informs Arkady that Tatyana eavesdropped on Arkady’s rendezvous, and Arkady is horrified. The father and son part with a kiss.

Chapter 6:

Though he is “tempted”, Arkady decides to not to visit Katerina. He goes home, where Darya Onisimovna comes and breaks down before Arkady, weeping and embracing him in grief over her Olya. Arkady drives her home on the way to gamble. Before telling of his gambling, Arkady admits that he is “decidedly not created for any society whatever”, and reveals he has become addicted to gambling, calling himself “corrupted” and mourning his state in failure in respect to his ‘idea’. At the table Arkady initially neither loses or wins, but a Yid steals from him, so he leaves that table and goes to play roulette, staking on zero. He miraculously starts to win, becoming careless, and at a dispute about possession of some of his winnings, leaves the table, trying to catch up with the prince and Darzan, who leave Arkady in the snow. Arkady rushes after them to the Prince’s house. The Prince has lost from the night’s gambling and refuses Arkady’s offer to share, indignant at Arkady and Versilov for their “catchy phrases” about honor, and scornful of Arkady for taking money from him. The prince finally reveals to Arkady that Liza is carrying his child, Arkady is deeply shocked and falls asleep after weeping and reflecting.

Chapter 7:

Liza comes to visit Arkady in the morning, Arkady asks about her relationship with the Prince, discovers they love each other. The Prince has told Liza that he has proposed and turned down Anna Andreevna. The siblings part with a kiss, and Arkady stays at home until evening when he resolves to visit the Prince. On Arkady’s way to the Prince, he runs into Versilov, who he tells everything to, and hears that Anna Andreevna is to marry Nikolai Ivanovich, the old prince. At the Prince’s, the Prince tells of how he met Liza. He apparently wronged an innocent man in the regiment who consequently resigned, then the Prince left the regiment as well, becoming depressed and worrying whether he should right the matter. During this time he met Liza, who advised him not to send the letter, and resurrected him to a new life. The Prince then admits to Arkady that he deceived Liza in telling her he turned down Anna Andreevna -- in fact, she turned him down. The Prince then admits to Arkady his “soul’s secret”, that he was involved in counterfeiting (under Stebelkov), over which he is deeply ashamed and agrieved. He is also in terrible debt to the swindlers he worked for. He has not told Liza this, and all he wants is to find redemption and closure. Arkady suggests the Prince borrow ten thousand from Nikolai Ivanovich to pay back his debt and be done with it. The Prince says he will.

Chapter 8:

After dreaming of gambling all night, Arkady is visited briefly and accusingly by Tatyana Pavlovna, leaving Arkady anxious. Arkady goes to visit Stebelkov, who wants to persuade the Prince to go to Nikolai Ivanovich, and promises Arkady money. On his way to Prince Nikolai, Arkady encounters Vasin, who mentions Versilov visited him the other day, asking Vasin if he would be Versilov’s second in a duel. Arkady is alarmed, and hurries to Nikolai. Nikolai speaks of his romance with Anna and says it’s a family matter, and mentions that Katerina Nikolaevna has told him not to see Arkady anymore. Katerina then appears, but at the sight of Arkady, she leaves quickly. Arkady rushes after her and discovers Bjoring is with her. With the help of Bjoring, Katerina hurriedly boards a carriage, Arkady tries to follow, but in the process, injures Bjoring, who throws him aside. Having missed Katerina, Arkady runs off to Tatyana Pavlovna’s apartment, weeping and deeply insulted by Bjoring in front of Katerina. Tatyana shows Arkady a letter Versilov wrote to Katerina, scorning her for seducing Arkady. Tatyana is angry at Arkady for having told Versilov of his rendezvous, implying that Versilov’s letter was written in jealousy. Arkady runs to Versilov who is speaking with Baron R (sent by Baron Bjoring concerning the letter). Versilov takes back the words of his letter, praising Katerina instead, and admitting to certain ‘fits’. Versilov is now teasing Baron R., who leaves in a fury. Arkady then tells Versilov that he’s been disgraced before  Katerina, but Versilov just laughs at him. Arkady runs off again, wanting to be alone. He goes to Prince Sergei Petrovich’s (who’s not there), sits in a corner and thinks things through. Eventually the Prince returns, not having been to Prince Nikolai’s, instead proposing he and Arkady make the ten thousand by gambling, Arkady enthusiastically agrees and they go out. At the roulette table, a thief takes a hundred-rouble note from Arkady, who reacts very violently, almost causing a riot. Amidst the confusion, Arkady is accused of being the real thief. Arkady appeals to the prince to testify for him, but the Prince denies him and leaves. Arkady is then dragged away and forcibly searched to no avail. They put him out on the street.

Chapter 9:

Arkady runs the streets in delirium, thinking he cannot prove his innocence. He runs into a back alley and plots to start a fire, but while climbing over a wall, he falls and lands on his back, knocked unconscious. Arkady experiences a flashback of his time at Touchard’s house. His mother visited him there, but Arkady responded with embarrassment and awkwardness. She gave him treats and money (which the schoolmaster later revoked) and at her departure, she bowed to him (for which he felt ashamed) and left. We learn that Arkady was a lackey to a boy named Lambert, who beat him but who Arkady served. Arkady starts speaking to his mother (though he is alone), confessing he did actually love her and that his heart ached when she visited. In a transition from his flashback to the present, Lambert (now grown up and in Petersburg) is trying to revive Arkady, who he takes for a ‘drunken mug’. Lambert takes him to his home to recover. Arkady slowly recovers there, in the process of which he babbles, not remembering what he says. Lambert and his girlfriend Alphonsine (who really hates Lambert) slowly nurse him back to health. In a moment of clarity, Arkady jumps up suddenly and goes home. There he falls into oblivion again, and is nursed by his mother, sister and Versilov and debriefed of the events of the catastrophic gambling episode. Apparently, after Arkady had been shown the door, Zershchikov discovered the supposedly stolen money, and the Prince testified to Arkady’s innocence. The situation is cleanly remedied. That same night, we are told the Prince wrote two letters, one to Arkady and one to his former regiment. He also wrote a report to his superiors, confessing his part in the counterfeiting. In all these documents, the Prince confesses his guilt and blame and accepts the consequences. He perceives himself as a dead man, and in his letter to Arkady, he says he confessed to Liza that he had initially gone to Anna to propose, but had been rejected. He says Liza forgave him, but he does not believe her because he would not forgive in her position.