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Crime and Punishment

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Part V: Chapters I–IV

Part IV: Chapters IV–VI

Part VI: Chapters I–V

Summary: Chapter I

Luzhin is in his room with Lebezyatnikov, a younger man who is his roommate. Luzhin now realizes that his engagement with Dunya is irrecoverably broken. He nurses a deep hatred for Raskolnikov, and shivers to think of the money that he lost on deposits for their newlywed home and furnishings. He fantasizes that if he had given his fiancée and her mother more presents, they would not have broken the engagement. Meanwhile, he and Lebezyatnikov have been invited to the memorial dinner that Katerina Ivanovna, who lives in the same building, is holding for Marmeladov. Lebezyatnikov is a pompous fool, though Luzhin initially thought of him as a thoughtful young man who could help him navigate the new political waves of liberalism, radicalism, and nihilism washing over Russia. Luzhin invites Sonya to his room and gives the embarrassed girl a ten-ruble note.

Summary: Chapter II

The narrator considers Katerina Ivanovna’s reasons for spending more than half of the money given to them by Raskolnikov on the memorial banquet and concludes that it is probably because of her pride. Only Raskolnikov and the lowliest of the tenants, who behave rudely, attend the affair. Katerina, who claims repeatedly to be of a “noble, if not aristocratic,” family, hurls insults at her low-class guests. Meanwhile, she appears increasingly unwell, coughing up blood during the meal. She ends up fighting with her landlady while her guests egg her on. In the middle of the fight, Luzhin appears in the doorway and Katerina rushes to him.

Summary: Chapter III

Luzhin insultingly brushes Katerina aside as she implores his protection from the landlady. Turning to Sonya, he accuses her of stealing a one-hundred-ruble note. Sonya denies the theft. Katerina becomes incensed at the insult to her stepdaughter and starts raving against Luzhin and the landlady. To prove Sonya’s innocence, she defiantly turns the girl’s pockets out and is shocked when a one-hundred-ruble note falls out. Luzhin magnanimously agrees not to press charges. To Luzhin’s horror, however, Lebezyatnikov appears and declares that he saw Luzhin place the note in Sonya’s pocket earlier. Raskolnikov then explains that Luzhin was probably trying to embarrass him about his association with Sonya. Luzhin, faced with the complete ruin of his plan, tries to extricate himself by maintaining his innocence and insulting Lebezyatnikov and Raskolnikov. After Luzhin leaves, the fight between Katerina and the landlady continues. In the end, the Marmeladovs are evicted.

Summary: Chapter IV

Raskolnikov visits Sonya in her room. He tells her that her family has been turned out of their building but urges her not to go to help them. He confesses the murders to her. Sonya responds with immense pity and promises to support Raskolnikov and not abandon him. She is astonished when he tells her that his poverty was not the motive. Rather, he says, “I was ambitious to become another Napoleon; that was why I committed a murder.” He also confesses that he feels detached from other people and believed, and perhaps still believes, in his superiority over most other people. Sonya tells him that he has been punished for turning away from God. He reiterates that self-absorption fueled his actions, that he wished to prove that he was somehow extraordinary and able to transgress the moral codes that bind ordinary people. Sonya tells him that he must confess his sins publicly for God to give him peace. At first he resists, but he soon consents. Sonya promises to come to see him in prison and support him. She gives him a pendant cross to wear, similar to the one that she wears, saying that they will both bear their crosses. Just then, Lebezyatnikov knocks at the door.

Analysis: Chapters I–IV

Luzhin’s profoundly materialistic and self-serving nature is brought to the fore in this section. Obsessed with money and material objects, he blames Dunya’s rejection of him on entirely material motives, thinking that once she had the inheritance from Marfa Petrovna, she and her mother no longer needed him. His plan to frame Sonya solidifies his status as one of the novel’s villains. His ploy is clumsy and mean-spirited, and, although he tries to maintain his pride, it is clear that he will never regain Dunya’s favor. After this scene, Luzhin disappears from the narrative, never to return again, since he has played his last cards and been beaten. Dunya is now completely free to turn her attention to Razumikhin, the man whose rightness for her has been clear from the start.

Lebezyatnikov functions as a humorous and sarcastic caricature of the pompous but stupid intellectual, a proverbial emperor with no clothes. Even as he rushes to Sonya’s defense, Lebezyatnikov feels the need to make little speeches about the ethics of private charity. In depicting Lebezyatnikov as obsessed with intellectual fads and unrealistic utopias, Dostoevsky criticizes the actual intellectual currents that were sweeping Russia in the 1860s, such as nihilism, and emphasizes how much more profound, albeit equally misguided, Raskolnikov’s theories are.

Katerina Ivanovna appears as a tragic figure, portrayed in vivid images of coughed-up blood and inflamed cheeks. Her pride, unlike Raskolnikov’s, is deeply pathetic and intertwined with her poverty. She rails against a world that she believes has unjustly punished her. Her pride motivates her to spend too much money on Marmeladov’s memorial dinner, even though, with his death, the family is certain to starve. She sees the dinner as one last chance to pretend that she truly is “noble, even aristocratic.” Instead, the event proves to be only one more illustration of the impossibility of escaping the poverty that surrounds her. The subplot of the Marmeladovs’ unrelenting misfortune provides the reader a broader context for Raskolnikov’s struggle against a society filled with injustice, poverty, anonymity, and hopelessness.

Raskolnikov’s confession to Sonya and his promise to confess to the police are major developments. At the end of this section, Raskolnikov seems finally to have started on the path to resolving the torment that he has felt since the murders. His pride has given way to the realization that he is not the “superman” that he once fantasized himself to be. Still, it is important to note that his return to humanity is not happy; he still thinks of the people around him as despicable creatures and, understanding himself as part of humanity, views himself as necessarily despicable. This realization that he is only human constitutes the first big step toward confession and redemption. Though true remorse stands a long way off, the simple act of confessing to Sonya and receiving her sympathy—his first meaningful connection with another person—helps him break through his alienation from all of humanity.

These developments occur in tandem with a shift for Raskolnikov from a theoretical to a realistic understanding of matters. Whereas he initially justifies the murder of Alyona Ivanovna on the nihilist grounds of ridding humanity of a parasite, he now admits that his actions were based less in philosophy than in emotional insecurity: “All I wanted was to do some daring thing, Sonya; that was my sole motive!” By committing an exceptional act, by stepping over the normal bounds of human behavior, he had hoped to prove that he himself was exceptional. The self-serving nature of his actions, however, contradicts and undermines the utilitarian and nihilist motives that he originally professes.

In some editions, the fifth chapter of Part V is set as a chapter-long Part VI. In such editions, Crime and Punishment is divided into seven parts plus an epilogue, rather than the six parts plus an epilogue into which this SparkNote divides the text.

Summary: Chapter V

Lebezyatnikov informs Sonya that Katerina Ivanovna has apparently gone mad. Katerina has visited the homes of well-to-do people, demanding their assistance, and has been violently thrown out. She has now resolved to become an organ-grinder, is tearing up her children’s clothes, and has sent her children to dance in the street and beg for charity. She hopes to perform in front of one of the houses from which she was turned out to shame its inhabitants and the public. Lebezyatnikov reports that she cries, “People shall see the children of a noble family beg in the public streets!”

Sonya rushes out to find Katerina. Raskolnikov goes to his room, where Dunya soon comes to see him. She says that she has heard from Razumikhin of her brother’s “persecution” by the police and pledges her support. Raskolnikov tells her that he thinks highly of Razumikhin. After she leaves, Raskolnikov goes out into the street, where Lebezyatnikov catches up with him and tells him that Katerina has truly gone mad and may soon be taken by the police. Lebezyatnikov leads Raskolnikov to Katerina and the children, around whom a crowd has formed. Katerina looks ghastly. She is obviously in the throes of her disease; she is animated by a mad energy, singing, dancing, and beating her children. She tries to appeal to the sympathies of well-dressed passersby, explaining that her children are of “noble, nay, even aristocratic family.” She and the children are all crying. Katerina refuses Sonya’s pleas that she return home. She has a confrontation with a policeman and coughs up a great deal of blood. She is taken back to their home, where she is laid on a couch. The policeman, Lebezyatnikov, Raskolnikov, Sonya, the children, the landlord, the landlady, and some strangers crowd around her as she dies. She refuses the services of a priest, saying she has no need for them. She starts having hallucinations. She calls for Sonya and, in a fit of convulsions, dies. Sonya, sobbing, throws herself onto the corpse.

Svidrigailov appears and tells Raskolnikov that he will use a portion of the money that he had promised Dunya to pay for a funeral and to provide for the children, who will be sent to an orphanage. He then reveals that he overheard Raskolnikov confessing the murders to Sonya.

Analysis: Chapter V

This chapter centers on the climax of the Marmeladov subplot, with the frenzied death of Katerina Ivanovna. The combination of Luzhin’s accusation of Sonya with the family’s eviction by their landlady pushes Katerina over the edge, and she explodes in a frenzy of activity that culminates in her death. She desperately turns to illusions of her nobility and fantasies of the rich offering her support. When the rich treat her as badly as everyone else, however, it is more than her defenses can take, and she breaks down. In contrast to Raskolnikov, who accepts the deconstruction of the “superman” identity that he has envisioned for himself, Katerina defiantly plows through the reality that her proclaimed nobility is meaningless.

Although Katerina is delusional about the world around her, her sense of dignity is very real and quite strong. When her dignity bears the brunt of an intolerable attack, she responds by singing, dancing, and screaming her outrage against the world. Even her death, marked by sighs and convulsions, comes in a burst of activity. The juxtaposition of her grotesque behavior and repeated claims to nobility accentuates her obstinate refusal to alter her perception of herself in response to circumstances. Her pathetic claim to nobility becomes an increasingly angry assertion. On her deathbed, Katerina irritably refuses the services of a priest, declaring, “A priest? I am not in need of one. My conscience is free from sin! And, even were it not, God must forgive me. He knows how I have suffered!” Believing that her unending and highly visible tribulations have rendered her a martyr, Katerina believes that not even God can legitimately find fault with her.

This final portrait of Katerina Ivanovna completes the picture of the ruined Marmeladovs, a family that includes a drunk husband trampled to death in the streets, a proud but consumptive mother reduced to beating her children and begging, and an older daughter forced into prostitution. Sonya’s suffering and devotion to her family stands out remarkably against this backdrop of utter despair. She has long understood and accepted her identity and role, despite the cruel and crushing reality of her life.

Svidrigailov’s appearance at Katerina’s deathbed moves the plot in two important directions. First, by offering to pay for the funeral and provide for Katerina’s children, he frees Sonya from the overwhelming burden of caring for them, just as Razumikhin’s willingness to care for Pulcheria Alexandrovna and Dunya enables Raskolnikov to separate himself from them without feeling that he is abandoning them. Second, Svidrigailov draws Raskolnikov into his web by revealing that he has overheard Raskolnikov’s confession of the murders. He, Sonya, and Raskolnikov himself are now the only three people who know without a doubt that Raskolnikov is the murderer. While Sonya uses this knowledge for good—to try to persuade Raskolnikov to confess—it is unclear what Svidrigailov intends to do with it, but it is certain to be something much less honorable. Raskolnikov is losing control of his secret, and his control over events is about to unravel rapidly as well.

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Raskolnikov's reaction

by Jojo1618, July 25, 2012

When Raskolnikov decides not to let his sister's marriage happen, he takes on the role of a typical big brother. He thinks no one is good for his sister, in addition to feeling that she is doing it for him. He is egocentric and his reaction really mirrors what any big brother would do who does not want his baby sister to marry an idiot.

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Pulcheria's Letter

by taylor197, August 09, 2012

When Raskolnikov (Rask) gets his mother's letter, she explains that her pension is small but may be just enough to help out her son. Next, she tells him that his sister, Dounia, is getting married to a slightly arrogant business man, Pyotr.

Rask despises what's happening to his family. He doesn't take a "big brother" stance, but is simply angry that Pyotr is using the family's poverty to get a "legal concubine". Raskhas a large amount of pride in himself seeing that he won't accept any of Pulcheria's pension and later gives money... Read more

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82 out of 94 people found this helpful

Marmeladov's Monologue

by Rero37, September 03, 2012

(Starting from Part 1, Page 12 of the last paragraph)

- Marmeladov's Monologue is a very important part of the story, simply because it helps set the pace for the rest of the story.

Raskolnikov had just come into a bar, regardless of how crowded it was, and the first person to talk to him is this drunk, strange man, named Marmeladov and he's the first person he's actually wanted to talk with in a long time. A drunkard is known to speak his mind and he began to give this long monologue about how he resembles a beast, how he 'lus... Read more

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