The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov

by

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Brothers Karamazov: Part 4: Book 12, Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Fetyukovich says that Dmitri is “ruined” because they are arguing over the corpse of his father. If it were “simply” homicide, the jury would reject the accusation due to the “unsubstantiated” and “fantastic nature” of the facts. But because it is a “parricide,” they might find it too hard to acquit the defendant. Fetyukovich then discourses on the nature of fatherhood, and recalls how Dr. Herzenstube testified that Fyodor left Dmitri running around barefoot and in tattered clothes when he was a boy. Later, Fyodor stole Dmitri’s mistress from him, abd this same old man complained about his son’s “irreverence and cruelty.” Fetyukovich concludes that Fyodor was an unworthy father, unworthy of his son’s love. At this, fathers and mothers applaud.
Fetyukovich, like his opponent, also gives the jury an account of Dmitri’s history. He admits that the public is particularly appalled by a son murdering his father. Then, he goes on to question what kind of father Fyodor really was to Dmitri, who, we are reminded, was left in dirty, tattered undershirts in the servants’ quarters while his father conducted drunken orgies in the main house. It is no wonder that Dmitri grew up with bad habits and contempt for his father.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Jealousy and Envy Theme Icon
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Fetyukovich goes on to say that Dmitri didn’t break into the house to kill Fyodor. If that were the case, Dmitri would’ve already arranged for a weapon. Instead, he instinctively grabbed the pestle. If some other man had been Dmitri’s offender, perhaps he wouldn’t have thought of grabbing the pestle to kill him. However, the “offender” was his father, who seemed to hate him from childhood. This caused a “natural fit of passion” in Dmitri, who was overcome by rage but still didn’t kill. He “merely swung the pestle in disgusted indignation,” then ran away. This, the prosecutor says, can’t be labeled as a true murder or parricide. Fetyukovich then returns to Ippolit Kirrilovich’s image of Russia as a “mad troika,” and says that instead the country is a “stately Russian chariot,” and it is in the hands of the jury to preserve the “fate of our Russian truth.”
Here, Fetyukovich allows for the possibility that Dmitri did cast a blow to Fyodor’s skull instead of focusing on Smerdyakov as the culprit. His statements offer the jury with several possibilities that point either to innocence or, in this case, manslaughter. Fetyukovich overwhelms his audience with hypotheses instead of sticking to a single story, as the prosecutor did. Fetyukovich also returns to the image of Russia as a troika, again making the trial into a larger statement about the fate of the country.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon