Olive notices the three men watching him and quickly finishes his prayers. He embraces Butterfly, asking: “What do they want from us? Why are they killing us?” Black states that the murderer may perhaps be among them, and Olive says he has heard rumors to the same effect. Black asks about the illustrations Olive drew for the book, and Olive describes Satan and the two dervishes, insisting “that’s all.” After Olive repeatedly denies drawing the horse, Black tells him that a stylistic clue identifies him as the horse’s creator. Olive claims to have no style, but Black explains the whole story of how they discovered the clue in the horse’s nostrils. Olive passionately and proudly insists it was not him who drew the horse, but Black says they will now search the dervish lodge for the portrait of the Sultan stolen at the time of Enishte’s murder. Olive accompanies them, even giving them a key to help their search.
Olive’s initial words to Butterfly have a possible double meaning. On the surface, he is referring to the Erzurumi’s persecution of the miniaturists as a group. However, his use of the word “us” arguably also speaks to his fragmented identity. By this point in the novel, it is becoming increasingly clear that Olive will be identified as the murderer. Perhaps he senses that this is near, and his concerns about “us” refer to his two identities: the murderer and Olive. On the other hand, in the rest of the passage Olive behaves calmly, giving no indication that he is guilty. He is also markedly less hostile than both Butterfly and Stork.
Olive feels that Black’s desire to capture the murderer is not only rooted in his willingness to please Shekure or avoid being tortured; he suspects that it is part of a larger scheme to encourage the miniaturists to adopt the European style. He thinks that Stork, meanwhile, hopes to “get rid” of all of them, including Master Osman, so that he can become Head Illuminator. Stork and Black seize one of Olive’s leather pouches and find within it all manner of secret things, such as stolen money and “indecent pictures”—but not the portrait of the Sultan. Olive senses that this puts the two men at ease, and he asks the reader: “Have I gained your trust as well?” Black says that they will now all have to decide what to say when they are put under torture. Stork asks: “Could the blind and seeing ever be equal?” and the men each respond with a different view. Olive shudders, feeling frightened.
It is rather ironic that Olive spends this passage silently accusing Black and Stork of having selfish, sinister ulterior motives, when it is Olive himself who has acted in the most selfish, sinister, and duplicitous way throughout the novel. At the same time, Olive’s thoughts point out that, although he is the murderer, none of the miniaturists are completely innocent. Olive’s direct address to the reader creates narrative suspense surrounding the eventual revelation of the murderer’s identity. Although the reader may now suspect that Olive is indeed the murderer, nothing has been proven definitively yet.
When it is Olive’s turn to speak, he panics, having not read the Koran in a while. In the end, he simply mentions a passage which implores God to “treat us with mercy.” He begins to cry, and Black comforts him, which makes him sob even harder. The miniaturists then sit down and warmly recall memories of their youth and training together. Olive concludes: “Time doesn’t flow if you don’t dream.”
In the end, Olive’s cool exterior crumbles and he breaks down in tears. However, note the fact that it is not the threat of violence or punishment that makes Olive cry—rather, it is the love and support of the other miniaturists, a marked contrast to Olive’s suffocating loneliness.