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Alosha, wrapping up his injured hand, after one involuntary scream of pain, looks affectionately at the young scoundrel, and quietly asks, "Tell me, what have I done to you?" The boy looks at him in amazement. Alosha continues: "I don't know you, but of course I must have injured you in some way since you treat me so. Tell me exactly where I have been wrong."

For Dostoevski put into it all the sum of his wisdom, all the ripe fruit of his experience, all his religious aspiration, and in Alosha he created not only the greatest of all his characters, but his personal conception of what the ideal man should be. Alosha is the Idiot, minus idiocy and epilepsy. The women in this book are not nearly so well drawn as the men.

Mitia is in many respects like his father, but it is wonderful how we love him in the closing scenes; Ivan is the sceptic, whose final conviction that he is morally responsible for his father's murder shows his inability to escape from the domination of moral ideas; Alosha, the priestly third brother, has all the family force of character, but in him it finds its only outlet in love to God and love to man.

There is no scorn and no satire in this book; it was written from an overflowing heart. One of the speeches of the spineless young Russian, Alosha, might be taken as illustrative of the life-purpose of our novelist: "I am on fire for high and noble ideals; they may be false, but the basis on which they rest is holy."