The Brothers Karamazov

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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Please respond to following question after reading the selected passage from The Brothers Karamazov.

Conversations and Exhortations of Father Zosima

Chapter 3

The monastic way is very different. Obedience, fasting and prayer are laughed at, yet only through them lies the way to real, true freedom. I cut off my superfluous and unnecessary desires, I subdue my proud and wanton will and chastise it with obedience, and with God’s help I attain freedom of spirit and with it spiritual joy. Who is more capable of conceiving a great idea and serving it – the rich man in his isolation or the man who has freed himself from the tyranny of material things and habits? The monk is reproached for his solitude, “You have secluded yourself within the walls of the monastery for your own salvation, and have forgotten the brotherly service of humanity!” But we shall see which will be most zealous in the cause of brotherly love. For it is not we, but they, who are in isolation, though they don’t see that. Of old, leaders of the people came from among us, and why should they not again? The same meek and humble ascetics will rise up and go out to work for the great cause. The salvation of Russia comes from the people. And the Russian monk has always been on the side of the people. We are isolated only if the people are isolated. The people believe as we do, and unbelieving reformer will never do anything in Russia, even if he is sincere in heart and a genius. Remember that! The people will meet the atheist and overcome him, and Russia will be one and the orthodox. Take care of the people and guard their hearts. Go on educating them quietly. That’s your duty as monks, for this is a godbearing people.


Essay Question

What is isolation? Can a man who possesses everything actually have nothing when compared to a monk who left material possessions be hind? If so, then how could it be? Is mental happiness and peace worth more than material possession? Father Zosima believes that Russia’s fate lies within its people. Would you agree that people make a difference? If they do then should there be someone, like a monk, to quietly teach to them? Do you agree or disagree with Father Zosima’s opinion of a monk and a monk’s duty? Father Zosima goes further in saying that he does not fear the people becoming atheist? Is this an opinion that you agree with? Should there be reason for Father Zosima to fear atheism?

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