The Murderer (Kuprin)

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The Murderer
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man recounted his haunting experience of killing a wounded cat, describing the dark, evil force that took over him and the lasting impact it had on his soul.

A group of people were discussing the current state of violence in their society, noting how it had become alarmingly common and how people seemed to have become desensitized to it. One man in the group, clearly emotional, shared a story from his past that haunted him to this day.

About ten years ago, the man had encountered a wounded cat on his estate. The cat had lost a leg, likely from a wolf trap, and was in obvious pain. The man decided to put the cat out of its misery and asked a workman to bring him his rifle. He shot at the cat, but instead of killing it, he only injured it further. The cat ran away, and the man followed it, determined to end its suffering.

The Narrator — narrator; emotionally disturbed by his past actions; haunted by the memory of killing a cat.

But to my last hour I shall remember how all of a sudden, from the depths of my soul, a sort of dark, evil, but, at the same time, invincible, unknown, and awful force took possession of it, blinding it, overflowing from it.

The man continued to shoot at the cat, but each time he did, the cat would only become more injured and more enraged. The man felt a strange, dark force taking over him, compelling him to continue shooting at the cat even though he knew it was wrong. Eventually, the workman intervened and killed the cat by smashing its head against a log.

Iazykant — old workman; compassionate towards the wounded cat; disgusted by the narrator's actions.

The man was haunted by this experience for the rest of his life, not because he felt sorry for the cat, but because he had been overtaken by a dark, evil force that had driven him to commit such a senseless act of violence. He wondered about others who had been driven to kill, and how they must be tormented by their actions for the rest of their lives. He imagined the sleepless nights and horrible dreams that would plague these people, and how they would never be able to escape the darkness that had taken hold of their souls.