The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov

by

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Brothers Karamazov: Part 4: Book 12, Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Grigory Vasilievich testifies that Fyodor cheated Dmitri out of his settlement and owed him several thousands. When the prosecutor asks how he knows this, Grigory offers no factual evidence. He then describes the scene when Dmitri burst into the house and beat up his father. Grigory says that Dmitri also hit him in the face, but he forgave him for that a long time ago. Regarding Smerdyakov, Grigory crosses himself and says that he was “a capable fellow but stupid and oppressed by illness.” Also, he was “a godless man.” Finally, he confirms, “with stubborn insistence,” that the door to the garden was open. When Fetyukovich asks about the envelope, Grigory confirms that he never saw it. Fetyukovich asks all of the witnesses about the envelope, and they all say they haven’t seen it.
Grigory expresses some sympathy, it seems, for Dmitri’s anger and resentment toward Fyodor. By acknowledging that Dmitri was cheated out of something, he allows room for the jury to understand what could have driven a son to kill his father. Grigory’s sympathy for Dmitri, especially his willingness to forgive Dmitri for hitting him in the face, suggests that he still has some paternal affection for his former charge. However, he remains insistent on the only supposed fact that he brings to the case.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Fetyukovich gets Grigory to admit that he drank some of the balm he made to soothe his back, and that it contained vodka. This casts doubt on whether or not he was awake when the door to the garden opened. When Grigory steps down, Dmitri says that Grigory’s testimony is all true, except for the bit about the door. He confirms that Grigory has always been honest and as faithful to Fyodor “as seven hundred poodles.”
Grigory becomes less credible when Fetyukovich gets him to admit that he was drunk when he claims that he saw the garden door open. In a show of respect and possible gratitude for Grigory’s long-standing loyalty, Dmitri stands up for him. Dmitri is, as ever, concerned with honor and honesty, despite his many other failings.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Rakitin is next to take the stand. He describes Dmitri’s deeds at the Metropolis tavern and tells the story about him beating up Captain Snegiryov. Rakitin portrays Dmitri as “gloomy and fatal,” winning over the audience with his eloquence. He refers to Grushenka as “the merchant Samsonov’s kept woman.” During Fetyukovich’s round of questioning, he asks if Rakitin did not, in fact, accept twenty-five roubles from Grushenka to bring her Alexei Karamazov. Rakitin says it was only a joke, but his admission diminishes his nobility. Dmitri adds that Rakitin was always asking him for loans, even when he was in prison.
Rakitin’s talent for weaving narratives allows him to portray Dmitri as a dark and sinister character, swaying the jury against the defendant. Rakitin shows, yet again, that he is neither loyal nor trustworthy, given the supposed friendship that he formed with Dmitri while the latter was imprisoned. However, Fetyukovich completely dismantles Rakitin’s self-righteous monologue by revealing him as the unsavory character he is.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Captain Snegiryov testifies next, looking “all tattered” and dirty. When he’s asked about Dmitri’s brutality toward him, he says that Ilyusha has asked him not to speak about it. He then bursts into tears and throws himself at the judge’s feet, prompting the laughter of the crowd.
The captain is a pitiable figure, laughed at by society because he made one mistake that condemned him to a lifetime of poverty. The contempt shown toward him reveals the unforgiving nature of the fickle public.
Themes
Suffering Theme Icon
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Trifon Borisich then testifies to seeing three thousand roubles in Dmitri’s hands. When Fetyukovich accuses him of taking one hundred roubles that Dmitri dropped to the floor, the innkeeper initially dodges the question, but then says that he returned the money. The panie testify next, saying that Dmitri offered them three thousand “to buy their honor.” Fetyukovich then reveals that they cheated Dmitri out of money during a card game. The defense attorney does this with all of the “dangerous witnesses,” morally tainting them.
Like Rakitin, Trifon Borisich is another duplicitous character who has presented himself as friendly toward Dmitri while actually having ill intentions toward him. The source of Borisich’s dislike is less apparent than that of Rakitin, who envies the Karamazovs’ social influence. Fetyukovich is a skilled lawyer who is at this point concerned not with proving Dmitri’s innocence, but rather presenting his accusers as untrustworthy.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon