The Idiot: Hippolite’s Attempted Suicide

Was Hippolite’s attempted suicide just for show? An attempt to make his mark on this world before his short life ended of natural causes?

This morning I caught up with the plot and breathed a sigh of relief. For a while there, I thought maybe I’d finish the book wondering what exactly I had read.

I just calculated how much longer I’ll be with these people. I’m worried I’m boring the crud out of everyone, but it can’t be helped. Only a few more days it looks like. By this weekend, I’ll be combing the TBR shelf for a new read, and hopefully not completely forgetting this one.

Any suggestions?

Here’s something to chew on for bit… There are “spoilers” here, I suppose, but it’s a classic, like I said in my first post.

Hippolite, the young man I told you about yesterday, attempted suicide in front of everyone after reading a long statement about why.

“Perhaps I really did force his hand – by not saying anything. Perhaps he thought I too was doubting he would shoot himself. What do you think, Yevgeny Pavlovitch?”

“Nothing of the sort. You keep worrying because you’re too good and kind. I’ve heard of such things, but I’ve never seen in real life how a man could deliberately shoot himself to win praise, or out of anger because he did not receive it. Above all, I could not have believed such an authentic expression of a feeble will. Still you should chase him off tomorrow.”

“Do you think he will shoot himself again?”

“No, he won’t now. But beware these home-grown Lacenaires of ours. I say it again, crime is all too often the haven of these mediocre, impatient, and greedy nonentities.”

“Is he a Lacenaire?”

“Essentially the same – though their activities may be different. But you see whether this young gentleman isn’t capable of murdering ten people just for the sake of ‘performance’; just as he himself read to us in his ‘statement.’ Now those words of his won’t let me sleep.”

“Perhaps your fears are exaggerated?”

“You’re amazing, Prince. You don’t believe he is capable of killing ten people now.”

“I’m afraid to answer you. It’s all very strange, but – “

Interesting… I had to look up what a “Lacenaire” is. He was referring to a French criminal that did terrible things, seemingly, for fame and fortune. I found an article about Lacenaire here. And there’s a movie that is now added to my watchlist.

But was that what Hippolite was doing, trying to get attention? It did seem that way. If you were uninterested in living out the rest of your days, understandable given his circumstances, then why not just say your goodbyes quietly and go? Why torture the people you care about by making a performance of it and making them watch?

Those men were not his family and friends, so I’m leaning toward the idea that he was making a show and had no real intention of killing himself. He was very young and believes he is dying. Maybe this was his immature way of trying to make a mark on this world.

But does that make him capable of murder in the future? Possibly, but I think the prince is right in thinking that his friend is exaggerating a bit.

And the prince, once again, does well by withholding his opinions and questions. He’s a good man, honest and sincere. In this instance, I think he does more good by risking his personal safety in the interest of giving Hippolite the benefit of the doubt. He may even come to a better understanding of the boy than anyone else, and prove to Hippolite there are better ways to leave your mark.

Want to read more? Start from my first post New CLASSIC Read: The Idiot.

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