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Literature Study GuidesThe Brothers KaramazovPart 4 Book 12 Chapters 10 12 Summary

The Brothers Karamazov | Study Guide

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Brothers Karamazov | Part 4, Book 12, Chapters 10–12 : A Judicial Error | Summary



In Fetyukovich's closing argument, he stresses that, while the evidence seems conclusive, each "fact," when looked at separately, is suspect. For example, Dmitri jumped down from the fence to check on Grigory and then flung the pestle away in disgust and remorse, and these were not the actions of a murderer running for his life (Chapter 10). He then argues that if Dmitri had murdered his father and taken the money, he would have left behind blood evidence in the bedroom (Chapter 11). Fetyukovich reviews additional evidence and discredits it, saying the law has accused Dmitri because they have excluded Smerdyakov, but there is evidence that he could have been the killer (Chapter 12). He mentions his convenient falling fit at the time of the murder, the fact that Ivan has accused him in court, and his own suicide. He also says that when he interviewed Smerdyakov, he realized that everyone else had grossly underestimated his abilities, and he had good reason to kill the father that never acknowledged him.


Fetyukovich seems to be alone in his ability as an outsider to see Smerdyakov clearly. He does not see the servant as a stupid and scared lackey. Rather, he can imagine him masterminding a murder. He is also the only one to mention that, as the illegitimate offspring of Fyodor Karamazov, he has much reason to hate the old man. Here is a child born of the village idiot and the village rapist. He is raised by Grigory, a devout but rigid Christian, who beats him periodically for his bad behavior and calls him slime. He knows who his real father is, but this man accepts him only as a servant and has him wait on himself and his other sons—Smerdyakov's brothers. Thus, Karamazov rubs salt in the wound of their inequality. Dmitri disrespects and bullies him. Alyosha ignores him. And Ivan initially makes friends with him but then rejects him. No one in the family has acknowledged his blood connection. Is it surprising he would want to kill Fyodor Karamazov?

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