Enishte panics after the murderer’s revelation, wondering if he will be killed next. He tells the murderer that he’s surprised that he killed Elegant; as artists in an Islamic city, miniaturists have a difficult life, but they normally react to this by simply feeling guilty. Enishte remarks that the murderer killed Elegant “because you wanted to paint as you wished, without fear.” The murderer says that it feels like there is something within him compelling him to commit evil deeds, but Enishte is dismissive of this idea, saying that the murderer is not taking responsibility for his own thoughts. Enishte asks how he killed Elegant, and in the midst of explaining the murderer digresses into a conversation about style. Enishte tells him that style evolves organically as a compromise between different influences. The murderer asks if he has a style of his own, and Enishte replies that the murderer is the most talented artist he has ever met. However, the murderer accuses him of lying.
There is something rather comic about the way in which the murderer and Enishte’s conversation swerves between discussions of murder and of artistic style. The murderer’s insistence that Enishte speak about his talents as an artist suggests that above all, the murderer is simply egotistical and vain. Ironically, the murderer cannot even gain any satisfaction from Enishte’s assurance that he is the most talented of the miniaturists. This fact highlights the extent to which the murderer has isolated himself through his crime. As soon as people realize that he killed Elegant, they no longer relate to him as a normal person, but instead fear that he will kill them next.
The murderer forces Enishte to keep complimenting his work, and then asks why Enishte is working with Black and not him. Enishte explains that the book does not require “a miniaturist’s skill,” and adds that Black is not a murderer. They discuss the inkpot, and then Enishte explains that once the book is finished, the Sultan will lock it away and everything will continue as normal. They then discuss the appeal of the European style, and Enishte admits that Islamic art will not be able to compete with the Europeans in the long run. The books made by miniaturists will fade, rot, or be destroyed by religious zealots. He describes all the images that will disappear, and, at the end of this long speech, the murderer strikes Enishte on the head with the inkpot. Enishte howls and begs for the murderer not to kill him, but the murderer smashes the inkpot against his skull again and again.
Enishte’s discussion of the reality that Islamic miniaturist painting is doomed to disappear is in some ways a discussion about death. The fact that Enishte has accepted the inevitable disappearance of miniaturist painting indicates that he has also accepted death. The murderer, however, has not accepted death and lives in fear of God’s judgment once he dies. As a result, he kills Enishte, which is, of course, an ironically ineffective solution; while he sends Enishte to the death that Enishte is prepared to greet, he doubles his own crimes and thus reduces the likelihood of receiving mercy from God.
Enishte clarifies that “death is not the end,” but that it is beyond human understanding. He recalls an Assyrian legend where an old man is confronted by Death, refuses it, and lives on for another 20 years—however, this does not happen to him. Not wanting to look at the face of the murderer any longer, Enishte closes his eyes and meets Azrael, the Angel of Death. Although he was previously distressed and frightened, just before he finally dies, he comes to desire death. Satan appears, asking Enishte to denounce the Prophet Muhammad, but Enishte simply ignores him. Azrael asks Enishte to open his mouth so his soul can leave; Enishte resists, but eventually relents. His soul, which is “the size of a bee,” rests in Azrael’s hand. Everything is silent and Enishte feels calm. He no longer experiences time in a linear fashion, but rather as if everything is happening at once.
Like Elegant’s narration from the afterlife, Enishte’s narration of his own death confirms that the Muslim ideas about death mentioned throughout the book—such as those contained in the “Book of the Apocalypse” and “Book of the Soul”—are true in a literal way. More importantly, Enishte’s death serves as a vindication of Enishte’s character and beliefs. Although the final verdict on Enishte’s life won’t come until Judgment Day, the fact that he is greeted warmly by Azrael and feels at peace indicate that he did not commit grave sins during his life (as the Erzurumis claim).