The Brothers Karamazov

by: Fyodor Dostoevsky

Book XII: A Judicial Error, Chapters 1–14

Summary—Chapter 5: A Sudden Catastrophe

The next witness called is Ivan, who has been suffering from an illness that has made him nearly insane. Ivan rages and rambles, asserting that Smerdyakov killed their father. He shows the courtroom a wad of cash, which he says Smerdyakov stole from Fyodor Pavlovich. He says that he himself is also to blame, because he knew that Smerdyakov would kill Fyodor Pavlovich, and did not stop him. He says that the man who knows the truth of what he says is the devil, who visits him at night. As he becomes more and more intense and animated, he is finally removed from the courtroom.

Katerina, to defend Ivan’s honor, reverses her earlier testimony, showing the court the letter Dmitri sent her in which he said that he might kill his father. She says that Ivan has lost his sanity out of grief for his brother’s guilt, and that he only claims responsibility for the murder to take the blame from Dmitri. Grushenka furiously flings insults at Katerina, and the courtroom dissolves into chaos.

Summary—Chapter 6: The Prosecutor’s Speech. Characterizations

When order is restored, the lawyers give their closing speeches. The prosecutor, Kirrillovich, runs down the facts of the case.

Summary—Chapter 7: A Historical Survey

Kirrillovich says that Dmitri has the temperament of a man who would be capable of such a violent act, and that he is not insane.

Summary—Chapter 8: A Treatise on Smerdyakov

Kirrillovich says that unlike Smerdyakov, Dmitri had a motive to kill Fyodor Pavlovich because he hated the old man and craved his money. Given the violent sentiment of the letter Dmitri wrote to Katerina, Kirrillovich says, his guilt seems clear.

Summary—Chapter 9: Psychology at Full Steam. The Galloping Troika. The Finale of the Prosecutor’s Speech

Kirrillovich exhorts the jury to punish Dmitri to defend the cause of justice in Russia, and to annihilate the perpetrator of the most hateful crime imaginable—the murder of a father by a son.