Study Guide

The Brothers Karamazov Book 12, Chapter 2

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Book 12, Chapter 2

Dangerous Witnesses

  • At this point the witnesses for the prosecution give testimony. The prosecutor seems particularly interested in Dmitri's dispute with his father over his inheritance, while the defense lawyer seems particularly focused on whether anyone has ever actually seen the envelope or not.
  • First to give witness is Grigory, who describes his version of the events of that night. Grigory claims to have forgiven Dmitri for attacking him and even calls his father's treatment of him unfair.
  • When the defense lawyer asks Grigory if he's ever seen the envelope, Grigory admits he's never seen it.
  • The defense lawyer then asks Grigory about the ingredients in the medicinal balm he had used the night of Fyodor's murder, and Grigory reveals that the main ingredient is – vodka. After establishing that Grigory must have been quite drunk and not quite a credible witness on the night of the murder, the defense lawyer rests.
  • Dmitri loudly thanks Grigory for being such a great servant, and the judge reprimands him again for his outburst.
  • Next is Rakitin, who is allowed to digress from his testimony into eloquent monologues on the evils of serfdom and a Russia in disorder. He even gets applause for his impressive speeches. But the defense lawyer brings up the fact of Rakitin's intimacy with Grushenka, and their bet over Alyosha (Book 7, Chapter 3). Rakitin cannot deny that he never returned the betting money to Grushenka, so he too is discredited.
  • The next witness is Captain Snegiryov, who is an utter drunken mess bewailing the imminent death of his young son. He is quickly dismissed.
  • After Snegiryov, the innkeeper Trifon Borisovich is called up. Trifon is quite smug on the stand, but the defense lawyer undercuts Trifon by getting him to confess that he stole money from Dmitri on his drunken spree.
  • The Poles are next on the list, and they too act noble and superior under the prosecutor's questioning. But Fetyukovich challenges them on cheating at cards, and Kalganov is called up to confirm this. The Poles leave the stand amid general laughter.

The Brothers Karamazov Book 12, Chapter 2 Study Group

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