View Full Version : Ivan's role in death of his father

12-10-2010, 12:00 AM
Hi all,

I'm curious to hear what people think about this topic:

"What, if any, responsibility does Ivan have for the death of his father?"

03-28-2011, 10:42 PM
No one answered you? Too bad, because it is a difficult and interesting question. Well, better late than never:

It has been a while since I read BK, but Smerdyakov suggested when it might be good for Ivan to absent himself and he did, knowing that trouble was going to follow. Ivan himself was tormented by guilt over this and Smerdyakov rubbed it in, right? Did Ivan know his father would be murdered? Did he wish this would happen? These questions aren't answered definitively and I don't think we can conclude that Ivan is complicit in any legal or even moral sense just based on the fact that he feels guilt about it. Many believe that the failure to clearly decide such things is a major part of Dostoyevsky's genius; Ivan himself doesn't know his own motivation with any precision so how could we or Dostoyevsky know?

03-31-2012, 11:05 AM
my answer would be "none" unless one confuses wishing someone dead with doing the deed. one problem I have with D is that one need read his stuff over and over to get the intricate psycho weaves of Brothers K. I'd have to reread that one referred to conversation with Smerdyakov-Ivan that is referred back to when this subject of Ivan's guilt came up to see whether there is any cajoling or third party murder plan. Reading through it once I fail to recall that there was. and then the Q whether the Q posed by the OP, which indeed is big in the novel, is worth the effort to go back and analyze. Same problem I had with much of BK. A little overly intricate in terms of themes unless u spend a whole lot more time than this deserves, possibly. With regard to this Q, maybe the OP can provide a quote to which she refers.

09-27-2012, 06:15 AM
Ivan developed the theory that it's ethically acceptable to murder someone, but he wasn't involved in the actual murder. So it's possiblze that he felt a moral guilt, but no actual guilt in the juridical sense.

09-27-2012, 06:33 AM
I smell a lazy student.

Read the book.

If I am wrong I offer apologies. However, long experience at drum forums has left me suspicious.

10-06-2013, 10:52 PM
Ivan is not held accountable in the legal sense, but he's held accountable in a different way. The natural inclination, I think, is for the reader to question how strong their moral code is. If one believes in God, Ivan is held accountable. If not, then Ivan is not, in any way, responsible for the death of his father. However, I believe most people would be a little hesitant to say that Ivan is not at all responsible. After all, Ivan was the one who fed these ideas to Smerdyakov, consistently. Ivan molded Smerdyakov into a monster. Like we see with the character Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, Smerdyakov couldn't handle the strains of his conscience, either.

It's all quite tragic...