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Literature Study GuidesThe Brothers KaramazovPart 4 Book 12 Chapters 13 14 Summary

The Brothers Karamazov | Study Guide

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Brothers Karamazov | Part 4, Book 12, Chapters 13–14 : A Judicial Error | Summary



Toward the end of his summation, Fetyukovich changes his tactics and tries to generate sympathy for Dmitri as an abused child of a monstrous father (Chapter 13). He argues that, if Dmitri did kill his father, he was no father at all, except in name only. He calls on all fathers to protect and teach their children and not make them enemies. Old Karamazov was unworthy of the name of father, and if Dmitri killed him, he deserves mercy.

At the end of the trial, Dmitri once again says he is not guilty of his father's blood (Chapter 14). He thanks everyone, and promises to become a better man if they spare him. Although the brilliant defense attorney has won the crowd over to his point of view, the jury deliberates for an hour and returns a guilty verdict with premeditation.


No doubt the experienced defense attorney knows that his client is going down for murder. In a last ditch attempt to save him, he pleads for mercy for the alleged killer of an abusive father. Dmitri forgives everyone at the end of his trial because he is genuinely changing, and part of him feels a need to suffer for his past transgressions. He does not feel resentment for getting caught in the net of his own bad behavior, although he would still like to have a second chance.

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