The Brothers Karamazov
by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Brothers Karamazov Book 11, Chapter 8 Summary
The Third and Last Meeting with Smerdyakov
- A blizzard starts up as Ivan heads over to Smerdyakov's. On the way he bumps into a peasant and shoves him violently out of the way. The peasant lies on the ground, unconscious, but Ivan doesn't help – nor does he seem to care that the peasant is dead.
- At Smerdyakov's, Maria informs Ivan that Smerdyakov is quite ill. When Ivan enters, Smerdyakov is laid up in bed, and Ivan notices that his eyes are yellow (a sign of jaundice, perhaps?). Smerdyakov taunts Ivan with the suggestion that they killed Fyodor together.
- When Ivan calls him on it, Smerdyakov pulls out from his sock – bam! – a wad of 3,000 roubles.
- Ivan is flabbergasted by the sight of the incriminating evidence.
- Smerdyakov admits that he faked his epileptic fit on the day of the murder. And the money was never under Fyodor's mattress, as everyone, including Dmitri, thought; Smerdyakov had convinced Fyodor to hide it behind the icons.
- Smerdyakov slyly suggests that Ivan is actually the real murderer because he is just a simple servant, while Ivan is the mastermind. Ivan rejects this point and tells Smerdyakov that he's a lot smarter than people give him credit for.
- Smerdyakov had predicted that Dmitri would come out and try to steal the money that night, so when Dmitri finally left after hitting Grigory, Smerdyakov had gone up to Fyodor's window.
- Fyodor had been terrified by Dmitri's visit, so Smerdyakov tricked him into believing that Grushenka was outside, waiting to visit him. When Fyodor opened his window to look, Smerdyakov grabbed a cast-iron inkstand and clopped Fyodor over the head with it. Then he stole the money, leaving the envelope on the floor as if Dmitri had opened it up in a frenzy, and hid the money in the hollow of an apple tree in the yard.
- When Ivan asks Smerdyakov about the gate that Grigory had insisted was open, Smerdyakov smiles and confirms that it was closed; Grigory was simply confused.
- Ivan denounces Smerdyakov and tells him that the two of them are going to reveal everything at Dmitri's trial tomorrow. To Ivan's surprise, Smerdyakov offers him the 3,000 roubles. Ivan tells him this money doesn't change his mind and leaves.
- On the way back, Ivan comes across the unconscious peasant in the road. This time he picks him up and carries him on his back to get some help at a nearby cottage.
- Ivan thinks he might go directly to the commissioner to reveal everything, but then decides to wait until Dmitri's trial for the great revelation.
- Back in his own room, Ivan feels irritable and can't help staring at the empty sofa across from him.
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