Study Guide

The Brothers Karamazov Book 12, Chapter 8

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Book 12, Chapter 8

A Treatise on Smerdyakov

  • Now we go into the third part of prosecutor Kirillovich's closing statement.
  • Kirillovich rejects the idea that Smerdyakov murdered Fyodor, because there is no factual evidence. He paints Smerdyakov as essentially a coward, fearful of Dmitri's strength and Ivan's newfangled ideas, unable to muster enough guts to do something as extreme as murder. In his retelling of the events of that night, Kirillovich argues that there was no point at which Smerdyakov could have murdered Fyodor.
  • Then Kirillovich turns to Smerdyakov's suicide note and argues that the absence of any confession to Fyodor's murder is further proof that Smerdyakov didn't do it. He asserts that if Smerdyakov had really confessed to Ivan the night before, as Ivan claimed, Ivan would have gone straight to the police instead of waiting for the trial. Kirillovich said he had information that Ivan had cashed two 5 percent bank notes for 5,000 roubles each a week ago.
  • Kirillovich points to Katerina's letter as further evidence for his version of events. Just as the letter had stated, Dmitri had murdered and robbed his father, leaving the envelope containing the roubles on the floor. This is just how someone who murdered in a fit of passion would act, not caring about leaving key evidence behind.
  • He also dismisses the idea that Dmitri could have checked on Grigory after he attacked him, because such an act of compassion isn't consistent with Dmitri's character.

The Brothers Karamazov Book 12, Chapter 8 Study Group

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