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Crime and Punishment | Study Guide

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Part 1, Chapter 7

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Part 1, Chapter 7 of Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel Crime and Punishment.

Crime and Punishment | Part 1, Chapter 7 | Summary



Raskolnikov arrives at Alyona's apartment and gives her his fake item to pawn. As she struggles to open it, he strikes her with the axe three times and kills her. He initially feels in control; however, when he tries to unlock the dresser drawer where she keeps the money, illogical fears overtake him, and he returns to make sure she is still dead. Raskolnikov cuts a purse from around her neck. He steals some jewelry from a chest under her bed but never tries to open the dresser again. Raskolnikov hears noises in the next room—it is Lizaveta. She is too shocked to defend herself, and he kills her with one blow.

Raskolnikov carefully washes the axe and checks his clothing for blood, still so nervous he fears he might be missing other things that could give him away. He struggles to think straight. Rushing to leave, he discovers the apartment door is open. Panicked, he listens to make sure no one is on the stairs, but he hears footsteps approaching. He barely latches the door before two men arrive looking for Alyona. They are puzzled that no one answers because the door is latched from inside. Suspicious, one man goes to fetch the porter. The other waits, then grows impatient and leaves, allowing Raskolnikov to exit the apartment.

Halfway down the stairs, Raskolnikov hears two men's footsteps below him, then someone else's coming back up. He miraculously finds a second-floor apartment open and empty—the two men whose footsteps he heard had been painting it. He hides behind a door and later exits the building unseen. Exhausted and agitated, he tries to remain inconspicuous on his way home. When he arrives, however, he almost forgets to return the axe to the porter's room. When he does return it, he forgets to check first to make sure the porter is out. Luckily for Raskolnikov, he is. Replacing the axe, Raskolnikov goes back to his garret, unseen.


After six chapters of indecision, Raskolnikov finally murders Alyona. However, the deed and its aftermath are far from what he has imagined. After killing her, he feels in control for a short time, but Raskolnikov's plan is completely derailed by the arrival of Lizaveta. The only reason for him to kill Lizaveta is to cover up the first murder; her death serves no greater good as he believes Alyona's does. Lizaveta's murder destroys Raskolnikov's rationalization for robbing and killing Alyona. However, he does not hesitate for even a moment to kill Lizaveta to protect himself, acting no differently than a common criminal.

The suspense, far from decreasing once the deed is done, increases. Things continue to go wrong, and it seems more and more likely that Raskolnikov will be caught, but, for better or worse, he is not. After killing Lizaveta, Raskolnikov's logic completely fails him. He focuses intently on small details, such as blood spatters, but is blind to larger ones, such as the door being left open. A large part of both his motivation and justification for the crime was to take all of Alyona's money, but he only manages to steal one purse. He has not escaped the "disease" of the criminal after all, and, by the time he returns home, he feels "not fully conscious."

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