Last summer, I tried ” Brothers Karamazov,” and as a typical, normal, naive high school student, I did not get Dostoevsky’s literal strength at first. I tried hard to finish the novel, but to be honest, I found it very difficult and harsh by its basis of the nature. Nature that brothers Karamazov is sharing has unique perspective of human being, but it was too violent for me to read all-English that summer.
This fall, I started reading the Crime and Punishment, a bulky novel written by the exact same author. (I hoped that the harshness of the nature would be less than the previous try.) At this moment, where I finished the entire novel, I would say the nature of the novel is nothing lighter and purer comparing to the Brothers Karamazov; although the setting by itself contains common crime with 2 female victims. However it is true that the justice and the message that Dostoevsky is trying to share with his readers are lot clear than that of Brothers Karamazov’s. All three parts of the novel follows Raskolnikov, the main character and the murderer, like a camera, hinting social questions and sharing the weakness of the shared justices. Interesting part is that it never argues about one specific kind of justice, but rather gives the readers a choice of their own to survive and be righteous. In my opinion, (though I barely know about his writing style except the Crime and Punishment,) such illustration comes from his background, especially from his late childhood. Dostoevsky had to leave his hometown at his early childhood, along with his siblings. He went straight to the army school, and spent his teenage years there, serving and surviving in such restricting area of Russia. According to his biography, his set of justice could be divided into two parts. After his mother and father’s deaths. Early years of his life, his view was rather towards Christianity, due to his kind mother, who always taught him to sacrifice and give love. Few scholars mention that this is the basis of his Christian characteristic in his novels. After his mother died with severe disease, Dostoevsky and his brothers had to move in to the army school, leaving his father’s hands. Though Dostoevsky found himself misfit in the school society, he kept his early idea of justice, and kept on developing his literature lessons. Years passed by, he received the news that his father got murdered by his beloved servants for his injustice. For Dostoevsky, such news was more than to be furious, questioning the justness of the justice he believed and kept sincerely. Moreover, this event is known as the impression of Dostoevsky to change his justice and the mean of crime, where in farther future, that he used greatly in his novels, especially in Crime and Punishment. Thus, it seems that more than other authors, Dostoevsky himself greatly applied his own life experiences to observe human being and its justices. For me, he is the first author to actually not argue one specific justice/idea, but rather to observe and suggest various/double edged characteristics of humans, the righteous and the evils.
Talking of his writing method, all the backgrounds, characters, settings, events, and even the quoting are tightly set too. For example:
[“Beat me? How can you! Beat me-Lord! and even if she did beat me, what of it! Well, what of it! You know nothing, nothing…. She’s so unhappy; ah, how unhappy she is! And sick… She wants justice…She’s pure. She believes so much that there should be justice in everything, and she demands it… ….”
Regardless to what Sonja does for her livings, she is the character who is neat and calm about mostly everything. However, this quote shows her character bursting out for the first time, towards Rodya’s insult of her step mother. Although the readers all know that Katrina Ivanovna beats her regularly, Sonja is trying to defend her, and is reasoning with Katrina’s issue and personality. But because she is so angry and nervous, Dostoevsky intentionally put exclamation points, various ands, and ‘…’to express her emotion towards Rodya’s insult. These devices automatically put the readers in her shoes, and lead the readers to how Sonja is trying hard to love her and to protect her. Thus, the use of ” -Lord!” or “Ah,” from the first half not only show her offended feelings directly in her character, (especially of her religious character,) but also give real and humane tone of her voice.] Overall, it is not so hard to find his genius tricks like that throughout the novel. As a writer myself, I know how hard is to control over the right timings and right incidents of any events. Such arrangement shows how he thoroughly went over his writings.
Nonetheless, why is it so hard to understand his justices and ideal society in the novel? Shouldn’t it be easier for one to understand if it was studied and explained thoroughly? My answer would be that it is because we are trained too frequently to find one specific lucid answer from each novel. Especially the readers whose first language is not English, have that desire to analyze whole connotation and to receive one definite answer. Well, is that right? Maybe what Dostoevsky wanted suggest to his readers is to stop looking for one right justice, but to actually find the righteous point of each belief and to keep it with steadfast attitude.