Plot Summary

Part III

Chapter 1:

Arkady comes to consciousness after 9 days, and fully resolves to leave his family as soon as he has gathered his energy.  As he recuperates, he hears mysterious noises coming from a downstairs room.  He investigates, only to find a sick Makar Ivanovich (his legal father) living in the care of his parents.  In a feverish discussion, Makar and Arkady immediately become close, sharing impressions on the mysteries of life and faith. 

Chapter 2:

Arkady’s attention is suddenly directed towards Liza, who stubbornly refuses to speak about Prince Sokolsky’s arrest.    A visit from Nastasya Egorovna (Darya Onisimovna in parts I and II) enhances the plot and reveals major developments in the story:  She explains that she has been caring for Andrei Petrovich’s baby, that Tatyana Pavlovna and Anna Andreevna have become great friends, Lambert has become acquainted with Versilov and Anna Andreevna, Prince Nikolai Ivanovich is sick in Tsarkoe Selo, and finally, that Anna Andreevna and Katerina Akhmakov, who have also become friends, visit the Old Prince frequently.  Arkady, though he feigns indifference, is greatly tormented by these developments, and grows increasingly frustrated with this new life.

Seeking consolation, he again visits Makar’s room.  Makar, in a passionate religious tirade, proves the need for God, and becomes the religious voice of the novel.  He explains that most who reject God are idolaters,  and simply find replacements to bow down to.  He, like Dostoevsky himself, most fears the “godless men” who have rejected God but “come with God’s name on their lips.” (374)  They conclude that, though they have never met any, the type must exist.

Later, in a relapse of his illness, Arkady shares a dream that he believes in premonitory.  In it, Katerina comes to him, fawns over him, trying to charm the document into her hands.  Arkady flings it to her, but, as he angrily storms out, is grabbed by Lambert and Anna Andreevna in the stairway.  Arkady then witnesses Katerina being held for ransom, and, with loathing, is seized by the shamelessness of her character.  Although Arkady remembers the dream as a base memory, he recognizes in Katerina the “soul of a spider” (378) and considers the images prophetic.

Chapter 3:

In a series of profound conversations, Makar and Arkady discuss topics ranging from Communism to God.  Arkady provides readers with an example of Makar’s spiritual tales.  In it, a heartless Maxim Ivanovich, after ruining the life of a poor woman, marries her and devotes himself to God.

Chapter 4:

Arkady begins the chapter by jumping out of chronological order and revealing Lambert’s past.  Lambert  had taken part in the dealings of a Moscow gang, who, after digging up the secrets of important and wealthy members of society, would hold them for ransom.  Lambert, Arkady reveals, now feels capable of pursuing the same business alone, and has rested his hopes in Arkady’s hidden document.  (He collected the details thanks to Arkady’s delirious fit in part II.)

After giving this sufficient background information, Arkady again focuses on his family.  He discovers that Vasin has offered Liza his hand. Insulted, she angrily rejected him.  The family convenes in Makar’s room for his last words and good tidings.  His parting words offer guidance to Arkady (“whatever you intend to do, do it for God” (410)) and forgiveness to Versilov and Sofya (“your whole sin is mine” (410)).  Concerning Liza, Makar aids her in the decision to marry the Prince.

The next day, Arkady visits Prince Sergei Petrovich in prison.  The conversation is mostly incoherent, but Arkady does learn that the Prince has denounced Vasin and considers him a rival for Liza.  When Arkady returns home, he remains unsure as to whether he has broken the ties with his family, and is now on his own.

Chapter 5:

Obviously still drawn into the drama, Arkady visits Anna Andreevna who welcomes him with warm concern.  She requests to be given the document, in order to save the Old Prince (her future husband) from being taken away.  Arkady unknowingly admits that the document is still in his possession, and realizes that Anna Andreevna and Lambert are in cahoots.

With this realization, Arkady proceeds to visit Lambert.  At the doorway he meets to suspicious looking men (later called Andreev and Trishatov.)  Lambert urges Arkady to accompany them to dinner.  Arkady slightly sympathizes with Trishatov, but despises the other two, who seem to have some mysterious control over Lambert, and force money from him.

Chapter 6:

Arkady is finally left alone drinking with Lambert.  Lambert, trying to tempt him for the document, first offers 30,000 rubles, and, when Arkady refuses, offers to design a marriage between Arkady and Katerina.  Although Arkady realizes that such a marriage would be impossible, he can’t help but fantasize at Lambert’s words.  Disgusted, Arkady jumps into a cab to escape.  On his way home, he dreams of marriage, and arrives home a minute after Makar dies.  Versilov immediately dispatches him to Tatyana Pavlovna’s where he unexpectedly finds Katerina Nikolaevna.  Left alone with each other, they make mutual apologies.  Katerina confesses that she wants everyone to be happy, Versilov most of all.
Chapter 7:

Arkady leaves, relieved, and runs into Versilov in the street.  Versilov invites him back to his home for the first time.  There, father and son look at portraits of Sofya Andreevna and Katerina’s stepdaughter Lydia.  Arkady senses that the doors to Versilov’s world have been opened, and finds his father more sincere than ever before.  Animated by newfound intimacy, they have a passionate discussion about life and love.

Chapter 8:

The conversation slowly grows more universal, with Versilov revealing his view of the “Russian” in Europe.  With a philosophic approach to nationality, he notes that “Russia alone lives not for herself, but for thought” (469)  Versilov, it seems, has long struggled with his belief in God, because he can also envision a godless society.  He fluctuates between these two extremes, unable to commit to one opinion. 
In these revelatory moments, he also explains to Arkady his love for Sofya.  While his love for her was the original feeling, his passion for Katerina was, as he puts it “a fatum.”  However, on page 480 he claims that the “two year long enchantment” has disappeared.  He, in the end, pulls out a letter from Katerina, requesting that he leave her alone.  This letter, he promises Arkady, marks his resurrection.

Chapter 9:

Arkady wakes up happy and relieved.  When Nastasya asks him to visit Anna Andreevna, he refuses and instead goes to his family.  There, he finds everyone mysteriously depressed, and his father missing.  After an agitated but untelling conversation with Tatyana, he heads home.  As he walks in he finds young Versilov, his brother, just leaving.  This chance encounter stirs a memory which he then recounts as he sits in a tavern.  His first meeting with his brother occurred in Moscow,  when Arkady was sent to pick up money given to him for travel expenses.  Greeted rudely as nothing but a stranger, Arkady flew out of the house, screaming “scoundrel!” to his brother.  When Arkady returns home after immersing himself in these bitter memories, he finds Alphonsinka and Pyotr Ippolitovich in his room and, frantic with suspicion, kicks them out.

Chapter 10:

Again Arkady must jump ahead of himself to explain Anna Andreevna’s plan to clarify later events.  Her strategy was to tell the Prince everything, including his daughter’s letter, in order to frighten him and demonstrate the threat to their impending marriage.  She would then take the frightened Prince to Petersburg, directly into Arkady’s apartment.  She then hoped that Arkady, finding them there, would reveal the hidden letter.  Lambert, although working closely with Anna Andreevna, hoped all along that he could lure Arkady away from her, and sell the document to Mme. Akhmakov.

The story continues:  Arkady attends Makar’s funeral then returns home with his family.  Versilov, who did not attend the funeral, suddenly walks in with a bouquet, and expresses that he has been divided in two, and that he is reading to begin his wanderings again.  As if metaphorically, he snatches the icon left to him by Makar, and splits it into two pieces, only then hurrying off despite the desperate entreaties of his family.  Arkady chases after him, contemplating the allegory of the split icon, and now sure that his father has a “double.”

Arkady rushes to Anna Andreevna’s hoping for information.  She is able to inform him that, after receiving Katerina’s letter, Versilov made her a formal proposal.  Arkady discovers that, at that very moment, Versilov and Katerina are due to meet for a final rendez-vous.  Arkady dashes to Katerina’s and is able to eavesdrop on their touching conversation.  He overhears that Katerina did, once, love Versilov.  Versilov in turn acknowledges that he is but a beggar for love, but asks her not to marry.  Although no concessions are made, and there is no resurrection of her love, they both leave in a fit of the same madness.

Chapter 11:

Arkady visits Lambert all but delirious over all that he has witnessed.  In a delirium, he explains all to Lambert, hoping for help in saving his father.  He then falls asleep, only to wake up ashamed at the previous night’s discussion.  Arkady then notes that it was this night that was fatal, for in his drunken sleep, Lambert steals the document from his coat.

Still confident that he still possesses the document, Arkady returns home only to find the Old Prince and Anna Andreevna who has brought him to Arkady’s apartment.  Arkady senses that Prince Nikolai Ivanovich is willing to avoid the truth of the document, and they hold a cheerful, though tense, trivial conversation.  In a moment alone, Anna Andreevna proposes her plan to Arkady, but he adamantly refuses in view of the Prince’s unstable health.  In response, Anna Andreevna goes in search of Lambert for help, with Arkady is left with the hysterical prince.

Chapter 12:

Arkady finds Tatyana Pavlovna, admitting to all he faces.  She immediately goes in search of Katerina, assured by Arkady that he will return the document if a meeting is arranged.  When Arkady returns to his home, he finds Bjoring kidnapping the Old Prince.  Arkady protests, fighting them in the street, until he is arrested.  Tatyana Pavlovna, however, is able to have him released the next morning.

Alphonsinka, that same morning finding them together, confesses hysterically that Lambert has planned to shoot Katerina and is about to carry out the murder.  Arkady agrees immediately to accompany Alphonsinka.  But Tatyana Pavlovna, slightly suspicious, decides to first rush to Katerina’s, in hopes of finding her there.  Arkady and Alphonsinka are soon overtaken by Trishatov, who demands that Arkady turn back, warning him that Alphonsinka’s confession is but a distraction.  In fact, Versilov and Lambert worked together with Versilov to distract Arkady and Tatyana while Lambert confronted Katerina with the document.  Demanding money, Lambert holds up a revolver to Katerina.  Versilov, shocked at this turn of events, jumps out as Arkady hurries in.  Versilov, finding himself with the revolver, aims at Katerina, then tries to kill himself.  Trishatov and Arkady stop him and Tatyana Pavlovna arrives.  She finds Versilov unconscious on the carpet.

Chapter 13:  Conclusion

Writing six months from that fateful day, Arkady reflects on his father’s “whirlwind of feelings” (552) at the time.  He announces that Versilov no longer leaves his mother’s side, and has become quite sincere.  The Old Prince has died, and though both Katerina and Anna Andreevna receive inheritance, Anna Andreevna declines the offer. Bjoring has abandoned Katerina, Trishatov has disappeared.  Arkady himself considers himself re-educated after recalling these memories.  He writes that though he has the same “idea” as previously, it is “under a totally different guise, so that it’s no longer recognizable.” (559)  He sends his manuscript, of this very novel, to his former tutor in Moscow: Nikolai Semyonovich.  This tutor sends back a complimentary letter with which Arkady ends the story.  Nikolai Semyonovich points out for Arkady, as well as readers, that “youth is pure if only because it is youth,” (560), that youth seeks order and truth, and that Arkady has presented a sincere portrayal of past disorder and chaos.  His account will preserve, “faithful features” that “may have been hidden in the soul of some adolescent of that troubled time.” (564)