Study Guide

The Brothers Karamazov Book 3, Chapter 2

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Book 3, Chapter 2

Stinking Lizaveta

  • Stinking Lizaveta was just 20 years old when she gave birth to her son. Her father was an unemployed drunkard who beat her whenever she came home, but generally Stinking Lizaveta wandered around town dressed only in a simple shift, despite the best efforts of the townspeople to clothe her. Simple-minded and mute, Stinking Lizaveta would often sleep outside in random gardens.
  • One night, or so the rumors went, Fyodor and some other drunken gentlemen were headed home from the club and found Stinking Lizaveta. One of them asked whether she could ever be considered a woman, and they all laughed, except for Fyodor. The gentlemen encouraged Fyodor to have sex with her, but he refused.
  • A few months after this incident, everyone noticed to their shock that Lizaveta was pregnant. While Fyodor denied it, everyone assumed he was the father, a rumor that only seemed confirmed with Lizaveta gave birth in his kitchen garden.
  • Grigory and Marfa raised the child as their own, and Fyodor even took a liking to him, naming him Smerdyakov, after his mother's last name. Smerdyakov grew to be a cook in Fyodor's household.

The Brothers Karamazov Book 3, Chapter 2 Study Group

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