Crime and Punishment | Study Guide

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Crime and Punishment | Part 3, Chapters 3–4 | Summary

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Summary

Part 3, Chapter 3

Dounia, Pulcheria, and Razumihin visit Raskolnikov. Zossimov pronounces him improved. Raskolnikov expresses overdue gratitude and regret. He has acted so rudely, he is surprised that Zossimov and Razumihin helped him, and he apologizes for upsetting his mother. Only Dounia notices that her brother is reciting these words mechanically instead of speaking from the heart. The only time he seems sincere is when he reconciles with her.

He becomes more irritable and confused as the conversation progresses. Pulcheria tells of Marfa Petrovna's death, for which her husband, Svidrigaïlov, may be responsible. Raskolnikov suddenly realizes that, because of his crime, "he would never now be able to speak freely of everything—that he would never again be able to speak of anything to anyone." As they discuss Dounia's engagement, Raskolnikov recalls his fiancée, his landlady's daughter, who was "sickly" and died. He tries to downplay how much he cared for her, but Dounia is unconvinced.

Raskolnikov renews his ultimatum that his sister choose between him and Luzhin. Dounia claims that she will not marry Luzhin if he doesn't respect and value her. She argues that the decision is hers alone and that her brother is overbearing. "If I ruin anyone, it is only myself. ... I am not committing a murder." Dounia lets him see Luzhin's letter. Raskolnikov thinks it is poorly written and sounds like a legal document. He points out that Luzhin lied about Sonia receiving money from Raskolnikov, but he still agrees to attend the meeting with Luzhin that evening.

Part 3, Chapter 4

Sonia arrives unexpectedly at Raskolnikov's room. She feels timid around Dounia and Pulcheria. When Raskolnikov introduces Sonia to her, his mother feels awkward because she knows Sonia is a prostitute. Sonia is shocked that Raskolnikov gave Katerina Ivanovna all his money when she sees how poor he is himself. Sonia invites him to Marmeladov's funeral. She thanks him so sweetly for giving money to Katarina Ivanovna that everyone is moved, and Dounia treats her with newfound respect. Dounia and Pulcheria leave.

Raskolnikov asks Razumihin to accompany him to see Porfiry, a police investigator. Hoping to allay suspicion, Raskolnikov wants to report that he pawned items with Alyona. He tells Sonia he will visit her later in the day. Sonia goes home, overwhelmed by her visit to Raskolnikov. She feels that "a whole new world was opening before her." An older man with a distinctive white-blond beard follows her. They both enter Sonia's boardinghouse. It turns out he lives next door to her there. Sonia feels uneasy.

Razumihin and Porfiry are relatives. On the way to Porfiry's, Razumihin describes him as an excellent detective who recently solved a murder. Razumihin has told Porfiry about Raskolnikov, and now Porfiry is eager to meet him. As they arrive at the police station, Raskolnikov is alarmed. He jokes with Razumihin as they arrive at the station so they will enter laughing and he will avoid suspicion.

Analysis

Raskolnikov arrives at a terrible conclusion in Part 3, Chapter 3. After assuring his mother that they will "speak freely of everything," he realizes he can no longer do so—hiding his crime forces him to lead a double life, alienating him from everyone. He is horrified when Dounia points out that her engagement is not a crime like murder.

This does not make him any less manipulative, however. In Chapter 3 Raskolnikov may mean well, but, by giving Dounia an ultimatum about Luzhin, he is trying to control her life. In Chapter 4 he remains laser focused on covering his tracks. He wants to appear to cooperate with the police to avoid suspicion. As they enter the police station, he jokes with Razumihin. He believes that, if he is laughing, the police will assume he is a man with no worries, which could not be farther from the truth.

Chapter 4 develops Sonia's character considerably. Although embarrassed by her profession, her kindness and empathy shine through, prompting Raskolnikov and Dounia to accept her. Sonia's presence also seems to bring Raskolnikov back to life. He lights up, acts more warmly toward Dounia and Pulcheria, and declares "the living have still to live." He understands that the work Sonia has been forced into does not compromise the purity of her soul. Her social status may be low, but Sonia's kindness and empathy are of the highest caliber.

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