Dmitri shows up and appears half-insane to Pyotr Ilyitch.
By the way, Pyotr Ilyitch, I wanted to ask you: have you ever stolen anything in your life?”
“What a question!”
“Oh, I didn’t mean anything. From somebody’s pocket, you know. I don’t mean government money, every one steals that, and no doubt you do, too….”
“You go to the devil.”
“I’m talking of other people’s money. Stealing straight out of a pocket? Out of a purse, eh?”
“I stole twenty copecks from my mother when I was nine years old. I took it off the table on the sly, and held it tight in my hand.” “Well, and what happened?” “Oh, nothing. I kept it three days, then I felt ashamed, confessed, and gave it back.”
Dmitri is a bizarre character in Brothers Karamazov. He has a strong sense of morality but it is eccentric to say the least. I find this quote hilarious because Dmitri immediately thinks of government money as not other people’s money.
What’s interesting is that Dmitri brags to his friends that he is willing to kill his father to obtain his mother’s inheritance that he believes is rightly his. Dmitri would rather be a murderer than a thief. If he believed that his father owed him 9,000 rubles. He would kill his father to take the 9,000 but he wouldn’t take a Kopec* more. Yet government money is always being stolen as if it is little concern.
It seems that Dostoevsky saw the immorality emerging out of big government money before almost anybody else.
*like a Russian nickelPublished in