Crime and Punishment

Why Raskolnikov Killed the Pawnbroker

Following his confession to Sonya, Crime and Punishment's Raskolnikov attempts to explain the reasoning behind his murder. This segment of the novel illuminates the fundamental irrationality of Raskolnikov's ostensibly logical reasoning. It also portrays Raskolnikov's fragmented thought, his lack of self-awareness and understanding, and Sonya's role in bringing him to confront his crime in the hopes of achieving an emotional and intellectual honesty that will set the stage for his final redemption.

Raskolnikov moves through several explanations for the motives of his murder, each one contradicting and supplanting the previous one. His first explanation is that he simply wanted to rob the pawnbroker for her money. He then rejects this explanation by recalling that he really did not need or want the money. He did not steal out of hunger and, though he did want to help his mother, he did not steal for his family. We should also recall that he treats money quite casually, having given money to three others: a vulnerably drunken girl, Marmeladov, and Katerina Ivanovna. Moreover, he never even cared to look at the pawnbroker's purse after he stole it and does not even know if there is any money in it. Finally, he...

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