How it happened he himself did not know, but suddenly it was as if something lifted him and flung him down at her feet. He wept and embraced her knees. For the first moment she was terribly frightened, and her whole face went numb. She jumped up and looked at him, trembling. But all at once, in that same moment, she understood everything. Infinite happiness lit up in her eyes; she understood, and for her there was no longer any doubt that he loved her, loved her infinitely, and that at last the moment had come. . . .
This quotation comes from the Epilogue, at the climactic moment in which Sonya finally realizes that Raskolnikov truly loves her. The significance is both personal and public, since by showing that he loves a particular person, Raskolnikov demonstrates that he is willing to take his place as a member of society once again. The tears that Raskolnikov sheds represent his remorse over his sins and, perhaps, his joy in realizing that Sonya, the lone individual with whom he has enjoyed a meaningful relationship, loves him. It is only when he realizes that he truly cares for another person that Raskolnikov is finally able to break his alienation from humanity and begin to sincerely repent for his crimes. This newfound love injects his life with fresh meaning and, one can argue, releases him from the bond of his destructive nihilism.