The strange man who appears in Raskolnikov’s doorway introduces himself as Luzhin, Dunya’s fiancé. He is pompous and affected and immediately seems to resent Razumikhin’s friendly familiarity. He makes a show of interest in progressive ideas and reforms in an unsuccessful attempt to impress the younger men. Both Raskolnikov and Razumikhin treat him coldly. As Luzhin gets up to leave, Razumikhin and Zossimov return to discussing the murders. Razumikhin argues that an amateur must have committed the crime, since only a few trinkets but not the fifteen hundred rubles in the apartment were stolen. Luzhin breaks in with another attempt to make a display of his intelligence, and Razumikhin uses the opportunity to criticize his ideas. The feverish Raskolnikov then enters the conversation, denouncing Luzhin for wanting to be a benefactor to his impoverished sister. Luzhin takes great offense and storms out. Razumikhin and Zossimov are shocked at Raskolnikov’s behavior. Raskolnikov angrily throws them and Nastasya out of the room. On the way out, Zossimov remarks to Razumikhin that the mere mention of the murders seems to cause Raskolnikov great irritation.
Raskolnikov, feeling suddenly clearheaded and resolute, throws on the clothes that Razumikhin bought for him and goes out. Wandering the streets, he wildly interrogates passing strangers. He enters a café, the Crystal Palace, and orders tea and a newspaper. There he meets the police inspector Zamyotov. The visibly ill Raskolnikov begins to tease the inspector about the murders and crime in general, claiming to know a great deal about both. He starts a crazed conversation in which he nearly confesses to the crime and seems to arouse Zamyotov’s suspicions, but he finishes on a note that leaves Zamyotov convinced that he is merely a bit eccentric. Raskolnikov leaves hastily, bumping into Razumikhin on the stairs on his way out. They have a heated exchange, in which Razumikhin chastises his friend for going out by himself and then invites him to his party. Raskolnikov declines and walks on alone. Crossing a bridge, he is disgusted by the sight of a suicide attempt. He continues to wander and soon finds himself outside Alyona Ivanovna’s home. He impulsively enters her apartment and sees two workmen redecorating it. In a daze, he asks them why the blood has been removed. He then fails to respond to their questions and is thrown out by the porter. Walking along, he notices a crowd gathered in the middle of the street.
Raskolnikov sees the drunken Marmeladov lying injured in the street, having been trampled by a horse-drawn carriage. He takes the dying man to his home nearby. There, Katerina Ivanovna tearfully tries to care for him. A doctor declares that Marmeladov is dying. Marmeladov calls for a priest, who tells Katerina to forgive, but she rejects the priest’s shallow ideas, tending to her husband even as she curses him as worthless. Marmeladov dies in Sonya’s arms. Raskolnikov leaves twenty rubles for the family and promises his future support. Another of Katerina’s daughters, Polenka, runs after him as he leaves and asks his name on behalf of Sonya and her mother. She hugs him and he asks her to pray for him.
Full of self-satisfaction, Raskolnikov considers himself partially redeemed. He goes to visit Razumikhin, who is rather tipsy from his party. Razumikhin confides that Zossimov believes Raskolnikov to be mad, a belief reinforced by the knowledge of Raskolnikov’s conversation with Zamyotov. Raskolnikov is quite faint and can barely stand up straight. Together, he and Razumikhin return to Raskolnikov’s room, where they are surprised to find Pulcheria Alexandrovna and Dunya awaiting him. The two are grief-stricken, having heard of Raskolnikov’s condition from Nastasya. Once inside his room, Raskolnikov collapses and Razumikhin takes charge of caring for him.
Luzhin is convincingly depicted as a pompous boor. This opinion is strengthened by the fact that the good-natured and tolerant Razumikhin, with whose sentiments the reader feels comfortable aligning him- or herself, shares it. Indeed, Dostoevsky purposely gives Luzhin an unwelcome introduction, making him appear ominously at the end of the preceding chapter. Neither his identity nor his intentions are clear. His attempts to show off his knowledge further estrange him from Raskolnikov and Razumikhin. Raskolnikov’s uncontrollable pride manifests itself when he deliberately offends Luzhin; although he has good reason to dislike the man, it hardly seems appropriate for him to insult his sister’s fiancé.
In Chapter VI, Raskolnikov displays an apparent desire to be found out that rivals the intensity of his desire to escape suspicion. This internal conflict becomes visible in the scene in the Crystal Palace, in which, under the influence of a wild impulse, he nearly confesses to Zamyotov. He again nearly confesses during his visit to the scene of the crime. In later chapters, Porfiry Petrovich reveals that both incidents aroused suspicion among the police. In very definite ways, Raskolnikov’s impulsive and dangerous actions make him an instrument of his own downfall and his own worst enemy.
In the following chapter, Raskolnikov is shown to be capable of compassion, or at least desirous to atone for his crime, when he offers his support to the Marmeladov family. Unlike Razumikhin, who helps Raskolnikov out of nothing but kindness and a genuine sense of humanity, Raskolnikov clearly acts out of an unavoidable sense of guilt. After donating money to the Marmeladovs, he experiences “a feeling akin to that of a dead man upon suddenly receiving his pardon.” Dostoevsky himself had exactly this experience, having been subjected to a mock execution after his conviction for being a member of an illegal socialist group, and he refers to it frequently in his fiction. But Raskolnikov’s rebirth or resurrection does not last. He is “simply catching at a straw,” according to the narrator, and it takes a much deeper repentance for him to experience peace. Nonetheless, he appears to have taken the first, minuscule step on the road to reconciliation.
Dostoevsky continues to employ the narrative device of coincidence to propel the plot forward. Here, coincidence brings Raskolnikov back into contact with the Marmeladov family, thereby uniting the main plot and a subplot, as Raskolnikov implausibly happens upon the scene just after Marmeladov is injured. This type of coincidence gives the novel a quick, almost frantic pace, as Dostoevsky forces his characters to act within the confines of the world that he has established for them.