As dirt is thrown on Elegant’s grave, the murderer cries out that he wants to die with Elegant, before realizing that people might think he and Elegant were in love and thus choosing to calm himself down. He spends the rest of the funeral hiding behind a tree. The murderer recalls that in his youth, he and all the other apprentices loved Master Osman. It was Osman who gave the apprentices their nicknames, and the murderer feels emotional thinking back on how Master Osman loved and supported them. Ever since killing Elegant, the murderer has been tormented by internal conflict. He has even had to invent a new voice to speak in when discussing Elegant’s death in order to keep his identity as a miniaturist separate from the reality of his status as a murderer. This means that the reader has no way of knowing whether he is Butterfly, Olive, or Stork, although the murderer challenges the reader to recognize him through his style of language.
Although the murderer expresses little regret over killing Elegant, he is simultaneously desperate to preserve his old life which existed before he committed the murder. All of his actions, from his fake performance of grief at Elegant’s funeral to the caution with which he guards his true identity, show that he is able to completely dissociate the two sides of his life. The murderer may not be able to put aside thoughts about Elegant’s death, but he is able to insist that this act does not define him as a person and even has little to do with his other life as an ordinary, seemingly-innocent miniaturist.
The murderer knows that if his identity is discovered it will bring peace to Elegant’s soul. He admits that as soon as Elegant joined the Erzurumis he stopped liking him, forsaking their 25 years of friendship. When Elegant’s body was discovered, his body had been lying in the well for four days and his face was disfigured. When Elegant’s brother cried out asking who could have murdered him, the murderer tried to make a mental list of Elegant’s enemies. There were some people who resented Elegant’s faithful commitment to the style of the old masters and his tendency to point out flaws in other people’s work.
This passage reveals that the murderer’s grave act arose from a fairly ordinary set of circumstances. The murderer was annoyed by Elegant’s rigid fidelity to the old styles and the seemingly careless way in which he threw out their friendship. These reasons are somewhat convincing, but they seem to not tell the whole story. Could this really account for why the murderer felt compelled to kill his lifelong friend?
The murderer was not “at all bothered” to hear Enishte announce that he would stop working on the book; Enishte must know that one of the miniaturists working on the book is the murderer, and understandably he does not want a murderer coming to his house at night. The murderer is confident that Enishte will find him the most talented miniaturist, refuse to be believe that he could be a murderer, and continue working with him alone. After the funeral, the murderer follows Black and Enishte down to the quay and gets in a boat behind them. He thinks about how easy it is to end someone’s life, and how this one decision changes a person forever such that they will henceforth never be able to shake off the identity of a murderer. The murderer gazes at Istanbul, reflecting on how much crime is hidden within its colorful streets. He watches Black and Enishte walk up to Enishte’s house, where “the most beautiful woman in the world” lives. However, the murderer then stops himself, resolving not to drive himself mad.
Above anything else, the murderer is highly self-centered and arrogant. He has complete confidence that Enishte thinks he is the best miniaturist and will select him as the only one to continue work on the book in secret. When he reflects on the ease with which it is possible to end someone’s life, he considers only how the act of murder has changed his own life, rather than giving any thought to the dead Elegant or his grief-stricken family. The murderer’s thoughts about the amount of crime in Istanbul indicate that he considers his deed to have been nothing exceptional, but rather one of many crimes committed in the city. At the same time, he maintains a self-centered, even boastful attitude about his “achievement.”