Study Guide

The Brothers Karamazov Book 7, Chapter 1

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Book 7, Chapter 1

The Odor of Corruption

  • Zosima's corpse is prepared and placed on display in his cell for his wake.
  • The monastery is packed with visitors, eager to witness some miracle surrounding the death of the famous elder. Father Paissy notices two faces in the crowd that bother him, though he doesn't know why: the Obdorsk monk and Rakitin.
  • Then outside he comes across Alyosha, weeping by the grave of another monk buried in a corner of the hermitage.
  • Father Paissy takes his place by Zosima's coffin and begins to read from the Gospels. In the middle of the afternoon a noticeable odor emerges from the coffin. This wouldn't be
  • so weird – Zosima is dead, after all – except that there were great expectations that Zosima's body would not decay, as saints of old did not.
  • As the news spreads, all of a sudden Father Ferapont, Zosima's nemesis, appears in Zosima's cell. He runs around, claiming to be casting devils out of the cell. Father Paissy sternly rebukes Ferapont and drives him out of the cell.
  • But the damage is done. The other monks and visitors murmur their approval of Ferapont, and Paissy is saddened to see Alyosha scurrying away with a weird expression on his face.

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