Summary: Chapter I

[I]t was no longer possible for him to address these people . . . in any way at all.

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After a night of restless sleep, Raskolnikov frantically searches his clothes for traces of blood. In a pocket he discovers the pawned items that he stole and tries to hide them. He imagines that his judgment is escaping him. “Can this be the punishment already beginning? Indeed it is,” he exclaims to himself. Around noon, Nastasya and the porter enter the room and hand Raskolnikov a summons to the police station. Although he is worried, Raskolnikov figures that the summons cannot be related to the murders. He proceeds to the police station, where he finds that his landlady has reported him as a debtor. He is semi-delirious and argumentative. After overhearing a detective discuss the killing of the pawnbroker and her sister, Raskolnikov passes out. When he comes to, the detective, Ilya Petrovich, asks him what he was doing the previous day. Raskolnikov leaves the station deeply shaken and worried that the police suspect him of the murders.

Summary: Chapter II

Raskolnikov returns to his room, gathers the stolen goods from the hole in the wall where he hid them, and goes for a walk. He considers dumping the items in the river but ends up burying them under a large stone in a courtyard. He walks around in an angry mood, wondering about his motives for the crime. On a whim, he visits his friend Razumikhin. The friendly Razumikhin worries about Raskolnikov’s health and offers him work doing translations. Raskolnikov refuses and leaves in a huff. He wanders the streets listlessly and returns home at eight in the evening. He falls into a deep sleep, during which he dreams that the police detective is beating his landlady. He is sure it is reality and not a dream. Nastasya wakes him and brings him food the next day. She tells him that he has imagined the scene between the landlady and the detective.

Summary: Chapter III

Raskolnikov starts to experience hallucinations and becomes extremely weak. He wakes one morning surrounded by Nastasya, his landlady, Razumikhin, and a stranger. The stranger brings Raskolnikov thirty-five rubles from Pulcheria Alexandrovna. Raskolnikov learns that he hasn’t been fully conscious in four days, and that Razumikhin, Nastasya, and the landlady have been taking care of him. Zossimov, a doctor, and Zamyotov, a detective, have also been to visit during this time. Razumikhin has managed to keep Raskolnikov’s creditors—his landlady, in particular—at bay. Razumikhin is very concerned about his friend and has brought him some new clothes, which only annoys Raskolnikov. Zossimov then enters.

Summary: Chapter IV

Zossimov, a punctilious, well-dressed man, accepts Razumikhin’s invitation to a housewarming party that evening at which Zamyotov and others will be present. Zossimov, Razumikhin, and Nastasya discuss the murder of the pawnbroker and her sister. Razumikhin has been working to clear the name of a painter who was working in the vacant apartment next to the pawnbroker’s and who has been charged with the murders. Apparently, the painter was found to be in possession of some earrings that had been pawned to the old woman. Razumikhin argues that the earrings could have been dropped by the real murderer on his way out of the building and then found by the painter. As Razumikhin finishes this explanation, a strange face appears in the doorway.

Analysis: Chapters I–IV

Whereas Part I of Crime and Punishment was devoted to the crime, the remaining six parts of the novel are concerned with the punishment. At the beginning of Part II, less than a day after the crime is committed, Raskolnikov’s punishment begins to unfold. As he himself notes, his punishment is to suffer emotionally and, though he would hesitate to use the word, spiritually. He becomes paranoid, worried that his senses will betray him and that he will forget some crucial detail in disposing of the stolen goods or overlook a spot of blood on his clothes. At this point, his main concern is with being caught, and he has not yet begun to worry about atoning for the crime. It is already clear that the feelings of superiority and accomplishment that he hoped would accompany the completion of the crime are nowhere to be found. Instead, he is weak, anxious, and delirious.

The main drama of the novel, the struggle between Raskolnikov’s desire to confess and his desire to remain free, commences in Part II. Raskolnikov’s fainting spell in the police station evidences the pressure that he feels to navigate these conflicting desires and his inability to do so. This tension and the feelings of alienation from society that Raskolnikov experiences are key elements of one of the main themes of the novel—that the individual who commits such a crime begins to feel estranged from the rest of humanity and that this suffering constitutes his true punishment.

Read more about alienation and punishment as themes.

Raskolnikov’s attempt to get rid of the stolen goods, evidence of his guilt, parallels his attempt to suppress the feelings of guilt in his own mind. He opts not to dispose of the goods in the river for fear they will float to the surface, visible to all; similarly, he must stamp out any acknowledgment of guilt lest he unwittingly exhibit signs of this guilt. His burying of the goods under a heavy stone represents the smothering of his conscience.

Read important quotes about nihilism.

These chapters develop the character of Razumikhin. He is a kind, caring person, willing to go out of his way to help even a surly and ungrateful friend. He is a foil to Raskolnikov—his cheerful, friendly, and relaxed manner accentuates Raskolnikov’s disgruntled, antisocial, and agitated state of mind. While Raskolnikov is proudly aloof and suffers the torment brought on by his pride, Razumikhin is outgoing and seems to enjoy life. Razumikhin’s accommodating qualities help to show that by engaging with humanity, one can avoid the pains of alienation from society. These qualities also help to confirm that circumstances alone do not cause Raskolnikov to commit his crime: Razumikhin, like his friend, is a poor student, but he manages to support himself without even contemplating, let alone putting into action, Raskolnikov’s extreme measures.

Read more about Raskolnikov’s increasing estrangement from his family and friends.