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Crime and Punishment


Part II: Chapters I–IV

Summary Part II: Chapters I–IV

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.

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.