Throughout the Japanese novel, Bullet Train, the insolent main character is searching for the answer to one question: “Why is it wrong to kill people?” Even though I was telling him throughout the pages, he never arrived at the correct answer. He didn’t know as much as the coachman, driving Dmitri, knows.
No coachman, do not run them down! You must not run anyone down, you must not spoil people’s lives; and if you have spoiled someone’s life – punish yourself…if you’ve ever spoiled, if you’ve ever harmed someone’s life – punish yourself and go away.
That’s true, dear Dmitri Fyodorovich, you’re right there, one mustn’t run a man down, or torment him, or any other creatures either, for every creature has been created…(p. 412)
How ironic that Dimitri says “you must not spoil people’s lives,” this after he has attacked Grigory in the garden, and is hastening to get Grushenka before anyone else takes her for his own.
There seems to be a rather wild, chaotic party when he arrives at the inn where Grushenka is entertaining; no amount of wine, or conversation, or song can give them any peace. Worse yet, at the end of the evening, just as Dmitri and Grushenka were professing their love for one another, Mitya is arrested for the death of his father.
“My version, gentlemen, my version is this,” he began softly. “Whether it was someone’s tears, or God heard my mother’s prayers, or a bright spirit kissed me at that moment, I don’t know – but the devil was overcome. I dashed away from the window and ran to the fence…Father got frightened. He caught sight of me then for the first time, cried out, and jumped back from the window – I remember that very well. And I ran through the garden to the fence…(p. 473)
While Mitya vociferously denies anything to do with the death of his father, I wonder how exactly it is that he died. At whose hand? The fact that Mitya has three thousand roubles, fifteen of which he claims to have sewn into a sort of “amulet” around his neck, also makes him suspicious to the authorities.
Because his story rambles, because he has no proof for his innocence, Dmitri is arrested and tried for his father’s murder. He goes unresisting, because even though he insists he has not killed his father, he wanted to kill him in his heart.
I read Part III in one day, yesterday afternoon, as it became ever more interesting. I’m enjoying it more than the first time I read it over a decade ago, and I can see how rereading it again for a third time would shed even more illumination on what Dostoevsky has to say. Certainly it is not limited to the plot alone, for far deeper than that are his explorations into morality, humanity, and why it is that we do the things we do.
I cannot wait to finish Part IV and be reminded of how he ties it all up. Thank you, Arti, for this most wonderful read-along.
Find Arti’s post here.