“Love her? Of course!” said Sonia with plaintive emphasis, and she clasped her hands in distress.
Sonia possesses an enormous capacity to love even those who wrong her. Sonia’s stepmother Katerina has behaved poorly towards Sonia and Sonia’s father, but yet, Sonia still loves Katerina, as she emotionally declares to Raskolnikov. Sonia’s religious faith and nature doesn’t allow her to feel anything but love for the people around her.
She has such faith that there must be righteousness everywhere and she expects it … And if you were to torture her, she wouldn’t do wrong. She doesn’t see that it’s impossible for people to be righteous and she is angry at it. Like a child, like a child. She is good!
Sonia defends Katerina to Raskolnikov, claiming Katerina’s selfishness is more childlike than corrupt. Sonia’s stepmother Katerina, clearly a flawed character, acts shamefully at the family’s most tragic moment, when their father dies. Sonia always tries to see the good in people, but she might be defending Katerina from a deeper fear of losing Katerina to consumption.
“Oh, no … God will not let it be!” broke at last from Sonia’s overburdened body.
Sonia, horrified to think what will happen to her family now as her stepmother Katerina is dying, exclaims these words. Sonia can’t even entertain the idea Raskolnikov suggests, that she and her family will be forced on the streets once Katerina dies. Sonia desperately clings to her faith and the belief that God would never let her suffer.
“What would I be without God?” she whispered rapidly, forcibly, glancing at him with suddenly flashing eyes, and squeezing his hand.
Sonia feels terrified of Raskolnikov, who acts more strangely by the second, as they continue to discuss what will happen to Sonia once Katerina dies. Raskolnikov taunts Sonia, asking her if she really believes in God. Raskolnikov’s questions are a test to her faith. Sonia, frenzied, says she is nothing without God. Sonia’s religious faith is passionate.
“Why, do you know who killed her?” she asked, chilled with horror, looking wildly at him.
Sonia begins to intuit that Raskolnikov had something to do with Lizaveta’s murder. His obvious torment, his bizarre command to read the Gospels, and all-around crazed behavior have not so far penetrated her trust. Not even for a moment does the thought enter Sonia’s head that Raskolnikov might have been the one to kill Lizaveta. Only when Raskolnikov cryptically tells her she will know soon who killed Lizaveta, does Sonia suspect him. Sonia’s virtuousness can make her somewhat naïve.
“What have you done—what have you done to yourself!” she said in despair, and, jumping up, she flung herself on his neck, threw her arms round him, and held him tight.
After Raskolnikov confesses the murders to Sonia, her first response isn’t to recoil from him, but to worry about the state of his soul. Even more surprisingly, she instinctively embraces him. Sonia displays an exemplary capacity for compassion, stemming from her devout religious nature.
“There is no-one, no-one in the whole world now who is as unhappy as you!” she cried in a frenzy, not hearing what he said, and she suddenly broke into violent hysterical weeping.
Now that he has confessed to the murders, Sonia’s compassion and deep knowledge of the human heart leads her to pity Raskolnikov, as reflected in her words here. Sonia understands the deep inner torment Raskolnikov must feel and will feel for the rest of his life. Her empathy pours out as tears at the thought of the misery Raskolnikov has condemned himself to.
The thought flashed through Sonia’s mind: wasn’t he mad? But she dismissed it at once. “No, it was something else.” She could make nothing of it, nothing.
Sonia debates with herself as she tries to come to terms with Raskolnikov’s killings. Sonia had assumed he committed the murders out of poverty. After all, poverty drove Sonia to prostitution. When Raskolnikov suggests that money wasn’t his motive, she briefly wonders whether he is mad. Sonia’s blossoming love for Raskolnikov won’t allow her to accept this consideration.
Go at once, this minute, stand at the crossroads, bow down, first kiss the earth which you have defiled and then bow down to all the world and say to all men aloud, ‘I am a murderer!’ Then God will send you life again.
Sonia urges Raskolnikov to immediately perform a public act of repentance to atone for his sin. In committing murder, he has turned his back on God and killed his soul. The path to recover inner life lies through confessing the crime, a crossroads from which he can’t turn back. The idea that public repentance reconnects a sinner’s soul with God represents a traditional idea found in many religions.
“But how will you go on living? What will you live for?” cried Sonia[.]
To Sonia, the resolution to Raskolnikov’s crime remains clear: He must turn himself in to authorities. She believes that if he doesn’t, Raskolnikov will never be able to live a full life. He will always suffer from inner torment knowing what he did and remaining unreconciled with God. To live a life without God, to Sonia, equals not living at all.