Rodya recovers from his faint to find his mother, Pulcheria Alexandrovna, and his sister Dunya (Avdotya Romanovna), gazing at him with fear and anxiety. He tells them to go home with Razumikhin and come back tomorrow. Naturally they are upset. Rodya tells them of his meeting with Luzhin, how he kicked him out, and that Dunya must choose between them.
Razumikhin yells at him, but Rodya doesn't answer. Razumikhin coaxes the women outside. He had not felt the effects of the alcohol earlier, when walking home with Rodya, but now he feels twice as drunk as he should because of Dunya's striking beauty. The women are slightly afraid of his eager arguments, bone-crushing hand-grip, and wild look, but they are soon assured of his good sense and intentions.
Razumikhin promises to escort them home, check back in on Rodya, and report to them within 15 minutes of doing so; after which he will drag Zossimov away from the party, get his diagnosis, and bring him back to the ladies to give his report as well. Dunya helps him to convince her mother, for which he is rapturously grateful, and he takes them out, predicting how Pulcheria Alexandrovna is concerned with his state and pouring out his soul with all frankness.
He then goes on a tangent about lying and how it is good because eventually it will get you to the truth, and comically demands, "Right? Am I right? Am I right?" Dunya has been following the arguments and responds that he is right, though she doesn't agree with him about everything, eliciting another rapturous burst of gratitude from Razumikhin, who kneels before her right then and there to kiss her hands.
They arrive at the rooms Luzhin has booked for the ladies, and Razumikhin indignantly starts to castigate Luzhin, is checked by Pulcheria Alexandrovna, but again ends up concluding that Luzhin "is not on a noble path." Prattling on, he escorts the ladies to their room, then takes off on his errands.
Pulcheria Alexandrovna worries about Razumikhin's ability to carry out these errands, and about Rodya's illness and strangely irritable personality. Dunya tries to reassure her, though she knows that Rodya will not change his mind about Luzhin.
After 20 minutes, Razumikhin reports that Rodya is asleep, and then takes off to get Zossimov. The women are somewhat reassured. After about another hour, Razumikhin returns with Zossimov, who gives his report and tries to reassure them about Rodya's health and recovery.
As the two men leave, Zossimov comments on "what a ravishing girl" Dunya is, and is rewarded with Razumikhin immediately flying at his throat in a fury. Zossimov fights him off, looks at him and then laughs heartily.
Razumikhin tells Zossimov he knows he is a "dirty philanderer" and tells him to spend some quality time with Praskovya Pavlovna and make her feel specialso as to extricate himself, Razumikhin, from Praskovya Pavlovna's dependence on having someone to "sit next to her and sigh." The two of them spend the night in Raskolnikov's building.
Once again, Razumikhin displays his preternatural ability to read people's thoughts when he guesses that Pulcheria Alexandrovna is wondering whether he will be able to carry out all he promises, seeing how drunk he is. In addition, there is the unexplained "presentiment" he has had: when begging the ladies to be his friend, he says, "I want it that way . . . I had a presentiment . . . last year, there was a certain moment . . . Not a presentiment at all, however, because it's as if you fell from the sky." He is already set up to be "Providence" for both her and Dunya, given what they know of his care of their beloved Rodya; and his eagerness to take care of them as well, even disregarding his sudden falling for Dunya, will only strengthen this role. He is their savior as well as Rodya's, especially now that Rodya is in such an unexpected state and must be dealt with cautiously.
Razumikhin is no stranger to openness, but his sudden vulnerability to Dunya makes him appealingly adorable, especially in contrast to his physical enormity. His "incoherent and ardent consolations" bring him swervingly close to admitting his attraction to Dunya; indeed, his "drunken" clumsiness outright declares it, so careful is he trying to be. His speech and reactions to her are comical, especially when she agrees with him on sometimes very obvious points (such as that the ladies should leave Rodya to his care for the night): "So you . . . you . . . you understand me, because you're an angel!" Calling her an "angel" and saying she has descended "from the sky" indicate that while Razumikhin is, unawares, a saving figure to othersperhaps something of a guardian angel himselfhe sees Dunya as a sort of salvation for him. "I'm not worthy to love you," he tells her, "but to worship you is every man's duty. . ."
Among the tangential subjects he touches upon in his wild flight, Razumikhin again brings up his favorite theme: lies versus truth. His words on lying are scattered and seem contradictory to his earlier fight for truth; somehow he argues that through lies truth is eventually discovered. "Lying is what makes me a man," he shouts, but we know that Razumikhin is as honest as can be, with the exception of the little white lies he tells to help people or get them to accept his help. The crux of his argument lies in that other Dostoevskian theme, progress. The people at Razumikhin's party, he says, "insist on total impersonality," meaning they aim "to be least of all like [themselves]." Lying imparts individuality to each person: "lying in one's own way is almost better than telling the truth in someone else's way." It seems that Razumikhin's main argument is with the idea of people blindly accepting what they are told. This is in character; but much of what he says is not. It is not clear whether he is being sarcastic or is really too intoxicated by both Dunya and the wine to make a coherent argument. Ultimately the effect is to highlight how far Razumikhin has been thrown off by Dunya's beauty.
Razumikhin awakens the next morning feeling awful both because his dream of marrying Dunya is impossible, and because he is ashamed of having berated her fiancé in front of her and otherwise acted foolish in his inebriation.
Though he decides glumly that he can never wipe out what he had said, he dresses and washes himself carefully. He feels how coarse and unrefined he is, and thinks that even if he were a decent man, that would not be enough for Dunya.
Zossimov comes in and they discuss Raskolnikov's condition. Zossimov characterizes him as a monomaniac and a hypochondriac. He reveals that Zamyotov told Porfiry Petrovich, Razumikhin's uncle, about his encounter with Raskolnikov.
Razumikhin goes to Pulcheria Alexandrovna and Dunya, and enters with dark shame plastered all over him. But the ladies welcome him with such gratitude and esteem that he is embarrassed, but pleasantly so. He makes his report on Rodya, and they sit down to have tea.
The ladies pepper him with questions about Rodya's life over the past year, and he answers them omitting what he thinks should be omitted. Pulcheria Alexandrovna establishes familiarity by finding out Razumikhin's full name, Dmitri Prokofych, then fires a barrage of anxious questions at him, worried because of Rodya's unexpected character and appearance. Razumikhin gives an honest and quite apt assessment of his character (which pains his mother). When Dunya opines that Rodya should have someone to love, Razumikhin tells her darkly that "he doesn't love anyone, and maybe he never will."
They briefly discuss Rodya's dead former fiancée, who apparently was not very good-looking or healthy, and Razumikhin concludes that the whole affair did not make much sense. Pulcheria Alexandrovna asks about the scene between Rodya and Luzhin; Razumikhin speaks carefully about Luzhin and even accuses Rodya of insulting the man on purpose. When the mother asks Razumikhin's opinion of Luzhin, Razumikhin replies that he must be worthy since Dunya had chosen him. He stops, ashamed of his conduct from the previous day; Dunya blushes as well.
The mother then shows Razumikhin a note sent to them that morning by Luzhin. Luzhin requests a meeting with them at 8:00 p.m., and insists that Rodya not be there, or else he will leave. He adds that Rodya had seemed so ill when he visited, but then had gone out, as he knows because he had encountered him at Marmeladov's apartment; there, he writes, Rodya had given 25 roublesPulcheria Alexandrovna's hard-obtained moneyto the daughter, "a girl of notorious behavior . . . on the pretext of a funeral."
Pulcheria Alexandrovna begs Razumikhin's opinion on what to do. He tells her to follow Dunya's decision, which is to have both men come that night at 8:00.
They all get ready and go to Rodya's apartment to see him. Pulcheria Alexandrovna, actually scared of seeing her own son, asks Razumikhinwhom, she tells him, she considers a part of the family, to his joyhow to behave with Rodya, and he tries to counsel her. When they arrive, he goes ahead to see whether Rodya is awake.
Razumikhin's description of Raskolnikov's character is, as noted, remarkably apt. While Rodya is "gloomy and arrogant" he is also "magnanimous and kind"we have seen all such aspects of his character in places Razumikhin cannot possibly know about (e.g. Rodya's kindness to the Marmeladovs). Razumikhin's back-and-forth description highlights and directly references the schism in Raskolnikov: sometimes it is "as if there really were two opposite characters in him, changing places with each other." We have seen this quite clearly; that Razumikhin, who is constantly subjected to Rodya's rudeness and ingratitude and who had not seen Rodya for months, can see it as well is testament to his remarkable clarity of vision.
Dunya's character, while in certain respects similar to her brother's (both are proud, intelligent, arrogant to some degree), is more grounded and thus more honorable. Razumikhin has feared that she would look on him with mocking contempt after his drunken behavior the night before; such behavior would be expected of the grim Rodya. But Dunya has more perspective, not having locked herself away to brood on fruitless questions and develop monomania. Being compassionate and giving of herself, Dunya can easily recognize kindness in others and can accept it with gratitude.
Similarly, Razumikhin again presents a striking contrast to Rodya. Rodya is arrogant to the point of monomania. Razumikhin, on the other hand, spends the first part of the chapter berating himself for having behaved so ill to Dunya, though in fact nothing he said or did was rude (at worst it was improper, but never cruel or intentionally rude). His ruminations on how low he is compared with her also serve to show us his true humility, even though he himself attempts to belie it by gruffly refusing to shave and pretending to himself that he doesn't care if he is boorish.
For not appearing in the chapter at all, Rodya certainly gets a good deal of analysis. Aside from Razumikhin's description of his character to his mother and sister, Zossimov gives his personal opinion to Razumikhin as to Rodya's condition. The good doctor, though he does not suspect Rodya of being the murderer, does put his finger on the cause of his illness: "The whole starting point of the illness may well have been sitting right there!" He knows that Rodya has been suffering monomania, and that this has destroyed his perspective completely; he also notes Rodya's "rabid, exceptional vanity," which of course have contributed to his monomania, illness, and crime.
The end of the chapter presents a small but interesting parallel with a previous episode. Pulcheria Alexandrovna and Dunya arrive on the fourth floor of Rodya's building, and see the landlady's "two quick black eyes . . . examining them both from the darkness." While this is likely because, as Razumikhin has noted, Praskovya Pavlovna is jealous of the other women who could take Razumikhin's attention, the incident mirrors Rodya's encounter with Alyona Ivanovna at the very start of the book.
When the ladies and their guide enter, they are greeted by a cheery and optimistic Zossimov, and the sight of a newly-washed and -dressed Rodya. Physically he is almost recovered, but he looks troubled and speaks only reluctantly.
He does light up to greet his family, but this does not last long, and Zossimov notices with surprise that Rodya appears to be resigning himself to some torture. Zossimov tries to talk with Rodya about his recovery, but Rodya is cold and contemptuous.
Rodion speaks to his mother and friends as though he is reciting something by rote, though he does take Dunya's hand with a genuine smile, which makes everyone somehow inordinately happy. Still, Pulcheria Alexandrovna feels that she is afraid of something, though she doesn't know what. Dunya notices the lack of true emotion in Rodya's words.
Rodya tells them about how he gave his money to Katerina Ivanovna. He apologizes, saying he had no right to give it away, and says, "Before helping people, one must first have the right . . . Right, Dunya?" But Dunya disagrees, and he looks at her with derision and almost hatred.
The entire conversation has been strangely tense and everyone feels it. Pulcheria Alexandrovna fills an awkward silence with the news that Marfa Petrovna Svidrigailov died. Rodya irritably cuts his mother short, and Dunya reproaches him, saying that they are all afraid of him. This pains him, as does the recollection that he will never really be able to talk with them or anyone else. He nearly leaves, but is caught.
Zossimov leaves shortly thereafter. Rodya teases Razumikhin by asking Dunya if she likes him. Razumikhin gets up to go, but Rodya makes him stay. They discuss Rodya's fiancée. Again, conversation is strained. Rodya repeats to Dunya that she must choose between him or Luzhin. Dunya tells him he is wrong to think she is marrying Luzhin because she wishes to sacrifice herself for someone else, but he does not believe her. They get into an argument and exchange some sharp words, and Rodya is shown Luzhin's letter.
After commenting on the style of the letter, Raskolnikov points out that Luzhin has threatened to abandon the ladies if Rodya is present at their meeting, and rebuts the "slander" regarding Rodya himself giving his money supposedly to Sonya.
Though Dunya does not say so, she has already made up her mind. She asks Rodya and Razumikhin both to be present at the meeting at 8:00.
Dunya and Rodya have a couple of significant, character-revealing disagreements in this chapter. The first regards doing good deeds. Rodya says that he did something "unpardonable" in giving away the money his mother had scraped together for him, explaining significantly, "Before helping people, one must first have the right . . . Right, Dunya?" We have seen this before: in earlier chapters, Rodya had been prompted to help the ravished drunk girl and not to allow Dunya to marry Luzhin; but in both cases he pulled himself up short by demanding of himself whether he had the right to do so.
Naturally, Dunya disagrees because "having the right to help someone" is completely irrelevant. Yet Rodya is contemptuous of her disagreement, muttering, "So you, too . . . have your notions! I should have realized it . . ." He does not see the bitter irony that his own "notions" have led him to murder and psychological trauma.
The second disagreement is over Dunya's engagement to Luzhin. The climax of the argument is her angry speech where she points out Rodya's own assumptions and behaviors. "Why do you demand a heroism of me that you may not even have in yourself?" she cries, more accurately than she realizes. It once again underscores the double standard of self-sacrifice: men expect women to sacrifice themselves, but are never expected to do so. Dunya's next thrust"If I ruin anyone, it will only be myself . . . I haven't gone and put a knife into anyone yet!"demonstrates the dividing line between the men and women in this novel, and falls terribly on her brother. The women ruin themselves; the men (or at least, Rodya) ruin and even kill others. The implication is that it takes far more courage to ruin oneself than to destroy another; and therefore most of the women in this novel, indeed all the important ones, are braver than the men.
Rodya is pained by his lie that he and his family will be able to talk as much as they like in future, not because of the separation from his loved ones, but because it once again hits him that he will never be able to talk to anyone about anything ever again. This sensation first hit him in the police station the day after the murder. Having cut himself off from everyone, especially his family (who he doubts could ever forgive him), he is more pained by his own isolation than by the loss of his family.
The door opens, and a girl enters. It is Sonya (Sofya Semyonovna Marmeladov). She is dressed modestly and poorly, and almost leaves upon seeing so many people. Rodya addresses her, and suddenly feels embarrassed also.
He looks at her, recalling that his mother and sister heard of her as "a girl of notorious behavior," and pities her. He asks her to sit down, and she does so, but after a few moments of increasing confusion she gets up again and asks Rodya to attend Marmeladov's funeral service and memorial meal the next morning. He says he will try, then asks her to sit down again, as he wishes to speak with her.
He deliberately introduces her to his mother and sister. She is embarrassed, but he tries to make conversation by asking about the funeral arrangements. He examines her. She is innocent and looks like a child.
Sonya lets slip that Rodya gave them everything he had, causing Dunya and Pulcheria Alexandrovna to brighten up somewhat. The mother then gets up so that she and Dunya can go. Rodya asks Razumikhin to stay a moment; Pulcheria Alexandrovna invites him to dinner, with Dunya's second.
Pulcheria Alexandrovna doesn't quite bow to Sonya, though she means to, and hurries out. Dunya bows fully and politely to the girl, who responds with extreme embarrassment. Rodya takes Dunya's hand once more, and his family leaves. He returns to Sonya looking refreshed and cheerful.
Pulcheria Alexandrovna and Dunya talk as soon as they have left about the visit, and about Rodya and his condition. Pulcheria Alexandrovna worries about Sonya, which vexes Dunya. When the mother puzzles over the difference between Luzhin's account of Sonya and Rodya's treatment of her, Dunya snaps that Luzhin "is a worthless gossip," ending the conversation.
In the apartment, Rodya asks Razumikhin about his uncle Porfiry Petrovich, who has been assigned to the murder case. He tells Razumikhin that he needs to get back his father's watch, which he had pawned, before dinner. They agree to go see Porfiry.
Rodya introduces Sonya and Razumikhin, and tells Sonya he will call on her that day. He asks for her address. Both of them are somehow embarrassed or self-conscious; Rodya wants to look into her calm, clear eyes but can't quite seem to. They part on the street.
Sonya hurries along, reflecting deeply on all that has passed. She is feeling something she has never felt before. Her heart sinks as she thinks of Rodya going to her room and seeing what she does for a living.
Sonya is being followed by a stranger who has exhibited deep interest in the little group upon hearing her address Rodya as "Mr. Raskolnikov." This man notes Rodya's house and, thinking that Sonya looks familiar, follows her home. It turns out they live in the same building, almost next door to one another. He greets her cheerfully and informs her he is a newcomer to Petersburg.
Razumikhin is, in the meantime, very excited that he and Rodya are going to Porfiry. Rodya is watching him carefully and suspiciously, while responding lightly to Razumikhin's inquiries regarding his dealings with the pawnbroker. Razumikhin lets slip that Porfiry, who "likes hoodwinking people," has been very interested in meeting Rodya, and that he had solved a murder case the previous year where "all the traces were lost." Rodya is nervous. He masks it by teasing Razumikhin about Dunya, and enters Porfiry's apartment laughing boisterously . . . exactly as he has wished to.
Sonya's innocence is a remarkable irony given her life and circumstances. Though she has been brought up in destitution, with an alcoholic father and a consumptive, sometimes abusive stepmother, and despite the fact that she has become a prostitute, Sonya is over and over again described as a child. Physically she is slight; her eyes are quiet and clear; she is somehow attractive because of this strangely preserved innocence. She is remarkably timid and thinks herself below everyone; her pain at Dunya's kind bow reflects this awkwardness. It also mirrors Raskolnikov's pain at Razumikhin's insistent kindness, which is also born, we may conjecture, of a feeling of unworthiness.
Rodya is clearly drawn to Sonya for reasons he himself may not understand just yet. Quite likely she presents salvation to his particular case: he is besmirched with sin and misery, and while she is also steeped in sin and misery she somehow has retained purity of soul. He wishes to look into her eyes, but cannot; this would seem to indicate that he is attracted to her both romantically and because she presents a saving angel to him. This parallels Razumikhin's view of Dunya. In fact, when Rodya says, "Right? Right? Isn't that right?" to Sonya, his words echo Razumikhin's eager entreaties of the previous evening.
The last section of the chapter, where Rodya and Razumikhin head for Porfiry's, is a remarkable portrait of the game Raskolnikov is playing. Once again, what is on the outside does not match what is going on inside; Raskolnikov's thoughts are a third, albeit parenthetical, voice in the dialogue between him and Razumikhin. He pretends to be well, and for once conversational, while actually imperceptibly squeezing information from Razumikhin and interpreting his every word. We see Rodya's intelligence in the lightning speed with which he contrives his teasing maneuver, designed not to irk Razumikhin so much as to introduce him to Porfiry as a laughing, carefree, psychologically clear man.
Raskolnikov and Razumikhin enter Porfiry's apartment, the former trying to restrain his laughter, the latter making it difficult through his comical appearance. Despite the naturalness of the scene, Rodya is jolted to see Zamyotov in the room as well as Porfiry.
He introduces himself to Porfiry. Razumikhin expresses surprise that Zamyotov is there, asking how long they have known each other. Rodya picks up on this, as well as on Zamyotov's evident unease in answering.
They sit down to business. Porfiry and Rodya observe one another carefully. At one point, Porfiry gives Rodya a look and a possible wink, sending the thought "He knows!" through Rodya.
He attempts to keep his composure. Razumikhin enters the conversation, clumsily attempting to drop very obvious hints that Rodya has had various reasons for his noted reactions to anything involving the murder case.
Porfiry coldly announces that he has been waiting for Rodya . . . because his things had been wrapped up in paper and labeled with his name. Rodya starts to slip, losing confidence in his conversational cunning. He loses his temper and then control over some of what he says, venturing insolent and daring comments.
As Porfiry goes to send for tea, Rodya tries to calm his thoughts, but they are flying thick and fast through the paranoia in his mind.
Porfiry returns, somehow more cheery, and a discussion begins on yesterday evening's discussion topic: Is there such a thing as crime? Razumikhin gets worked up, as usual, and taunted by Porfiry, he tells Rodya that Porfiry likes to play jokes on people and disorient them psychologically.
Porfiry tells Rodya that he has read an article Rodya had written, "On Crime," which had been published in a magazine called Periodical Discourse. Rodya is surprised, having never submitted it to that magazine; it turns out that the magazine to which he had submitted it, merged with the magazine where it was published. It had been published two months ago, and Rodya had not known anything of it.
Porfiry gives his interpretation of the article, which Rodya sees as a purposely twisted version of what he had meant to say. He understands that Porfiry is attempting to trap him, and takes the challenge. He explains his article, which mainly deals with the criminal's psychological state before, during and after the crime, but also opens up an idea that humanity is divided into "ordinary" and "extraordinary" people. The latter, he theorizes, have an inherent right to "step over" any obstacles to the realization of their ideas. Because throughout history, all great founders and leaders have shed remarkable quantities of blood in pursuit of their goals, Raskolnikov postulates that anyone in the "extraordinary" categorythose who, he says, can "say something new"must be a criminal, a destroyer of the old. If the fulfillment of this "new word" relies upon bloodshed, the person, in his conscience, has the right to shed this blood.
Rodya pleasantly assures Porfiry and company that there is nothing to worry about, since "the masses" punish those who think they have this right. Porfiry questions him. Razumikhin is disturbed at the idea of shedding blood "in all conscience." Rodya points out that the criminal (theoretically) can choose to suffer as much as he wishes.
Just as Rodya is about to leave, Porfiry asks him whether he thought he was one of those "extraordinary" people when he was writing the article. Rodya answers his questions coldly and calmly, except the last. After a silence, he turns to leave. Porfiry invites him to his office for the next day. He then tries to catch Rodya with one last question, but Rodya figures out the trap and successfully dodges it. He and Razumikhin leave.
The discussion about Raskolnikov's article on crime is central to understanding why, after all, he committed the murders. His arrogance and disdain for others, his monomania and suspected egoism, have all pointed to a sense of superiority. Though he does not fully admit it to Porfiry, Rodya has thought himself one of those "extraordinary" ones who think new thoughts and therefore have the right to step over bodies in their way. This reveals that he thinks or has thought himself to be naturally a criminal, as well as a man of superior abilities. He is, therefore, not only isolated from everyone because of his crime, but through the logical process that led him to it.
Once again Dostoevsky manages to slip in some social commentary through Razumikhin's arguments about socialism and crime. Socialists, he says, assume that once their system is adopted, crime will disappear. But the fundamental problem with this, he argues, is that socialism does not take nature or history into account. It will "at once organize the whole of mankind and instantly make it righteous and sinless, sooner than any living process, without any historical and living way!" In other words, it is all words and theories, and no practicability. Dostoevsky is subtly pointing out once again that the danger of the new social sciences is that they reject the lessons of the past and therefore make promises that are impossible to keep. (And yet again, he seems to be borne out by the failure of the Soviet experiment in Russia.)
It is strange that Porfiry is branded a liar, and is a relation of Razumikhin's. But it does not take long to see that Porfiry is in many ways completely opposite to Razumikhin. Razumikhin is clumsy, always blurting things out, because of his excessive honesty and frankness. Porfiry, on the other hand, is cunning, not open at all, and his moods change subtly and inexplicably. At the end of the chapter he attempts one last time to catch Raskolnikov, by asking whether he saw the painters when he last went to the pawnbroker'sthough Rodya's last known visit was two days before the painters would have been there. Rodya figures it out and innocently answers; Razumikhin loudly exclaims at Porfiry's mistake"what's the matter with you!"not suspecting that his relation would be deliberately twisting facts to catch his friend in a lie. When Porfiry slaps his forehead and apologizes for getting things confused, Razumikhin still does not read him, but tells him to "be more careful." The young man is so honest himself that he cannot comprehend dishonesty in others.
Rodya's paranoia comes through with great force in the inner monologue that takes place while Porfiry is out getting tea. In wonderful contrast to his outer demeanor, his thoughts are wild, disordered, frenzied. His thought that he will confess "and then you'll see how I despise you" is quite strange but reveals his feeling of being an animal in a trap; in desperate self-preservation he even attempts to endow a confession with arrogant pride. He understands it might be paranoia, however, and tries to calm himself, to balance his perceptions. Yet he cannot help second-guessing himself. He still senses something in their tone, and he wildly tries to figure out why Porfiry would have winked at him. He rants about Zamyotov and wonders feverishly whether Porfiry knows about his visit to the apartment the previous day. Questions and exclamations tumble over one another, made the more urgent by their unrelenting rush.
On their way to Dunya and her mother, Rodya tries to point out to Razumikhin that Porfiry and Zamyotov suspect him of the murders and are trying to catch him in a ruse. Razumikhin does not wish to believe it, although he admits to having seen this suspicion in them for some time.
Though he has felt animated during this discussion, Rodya pales as they approach Bakaleev's, the rooming house where his family is staying. He suddenly tells Razumikhin to go on, and that he has something to do and will return in a half hour.
Rodya goes back to his flat, and hastily checks behind the wallpaper to see if he has left anything behind. He finds nothing. Disoriented, he goes back out again to head for Bakaleev's.
At the gate, the caretaker loudly points Rodya out to a certain tradesman, who looks at him before wordlessly going out into the street. Alarmed, Rodya asks what he wanted; the caretaker tells him that the man was asking about him.
Rodya rushes to the man, catches up with him, and they walk side by side for a while without speaking. Then Rodya asks what the man wants. No answer; he asks again, faltering, uncomprehending.
The man then looks at him and says softly but distinctly, "Murderer!"
Rodya, terrified, tries to ask him who he means, but the man insists that Raskolnikov is a murderer, and walks away.
Weak, Rodya returns to his tiny room and lies down. He closes his eyes and does not really think about anything, just lets his thoughts drift through him.
He hears Razumikhin come in and pretends to be asleep. Razumikhin leaves.
Rodya wonders frantically who this man is, and guesses that he knows everything. He then bitterly turns on himself for having dared to kill when he "knew beforehand" that some trifle would undo him. He has an awful moment of clarity when he compares Napoleon's exploits with his ridiculously low and meaningless crime.
This is followed by more harshly clear reflection on what he has done and what he has not done. He has killed, he says, but has not "stepped over"; and he hasn't even really managed to kill. He calls himself a louse, with some relish. He wonders why he hates his mother and sister now; he hates Alyona Ivanovna; but he regrets Lizaveta and then starts thinking about "gentle Sonya."
He slips into oblivion, and is uncertain how he ends up in the street. He walks along with a feeling that he has to do something quickly, but he doesn't know what. He sees a man across the street waving to him, but as he approaches the man, the man suddenly turns and walks on as though he had not waved to Raskolnikov. Rodya follows him, and when he comes nearer he realizes that the man is the tradesman who called him a murderer. Rodya falls back but continues to follow him.
He follows him into a house and up the stairsand realizes that it is the house of Alyona Ivanovna. Her apartment is wide open and he goes in. He stands and waits for a long time before he sees what looks like a shawl in the corner. He approaches it and finds someone behind it: it is Alyona Ivanovna sitting in a chair hunched over. He goes to her, and she does not look up. He takes out "the axe" from his coat and hits her on the head; but she does not respond to his blows. He tries to look at her faceand finds that she is laughing at him. He seems to hear laughter and whispering from the bedroom as well. Enraged, he hits her over and over, but with no effect; the laughing and whispering grow. People crowd into the entryway, watching silently. He can no longer move.
He wakes up. A strange man is at his door, watching him. Rodya pretends to be asleep. The man comes in, closing the door behind him, and sits by him. Finally Rodya cannot stand it, and sits up and asks the man's business. The man introduces himself: he is Arkady Ivanovich Svidrigailov.
There is a strange irony in Rodya explaining to Razumikhin exactly what he did (interacting with Porfiry and fielding his questions) under the guise of what he would do. He did this with Zamyotov before, thereby creating an additional level of irony, since he is using this technique while talking to Razumikhin about the offensive suspicion Zamyotov and Porfiry evidently hold. The difference between the situations is that Zamyotov took Rodya's words to Porfiry as possible psychological evidence, while Razumikhin, loyal and simple-hearted as always, takes Rodya's word for it.
Napoleon is Rodya's role model. He has mentioned Napoleon more than once, and it is clear that he holds some sort of "Napoleonic complex," though not in the sense that we understand it today. He admires Napoleon's ability to have shed so much blood and then been worshipped as a great and widely influential leader in other countries as well as his own. Clearly Rodya had hoped that he was of the same stamp as General Bonaparte; but over the course of his delirious, highly revealing self-analysis, it becomes equally clear that he knows he has failed. His crime stands out in all its ugly pettiness, and he berates himself (significantly) for not having been able to do more than kill, and not even that. He says to himself that he killed "a principle"; but what could this principle possibly be, other than an excuse to try and see whether he himself is a Napoleon? Apparently, even in his attempts to be brutally honest with himself, Rodya still hides behind some excuses.
It does not take the reader long to see that Rodya's strange experience toward the end of the chapter is really a dream. The style becomes abstractly fluid, with a very straightforward acceptance of impossibilities (such as Alyona Ivanovna being alive and impervious to axe-blows). Indeed, Rodya's hitting her is remarkably matter-of-fact: he takes out "the axe," i.e. the axe that he is not surprised to have under his arm, and strikes her.
Clearly the dream symbolizes Rodya's psychological state. He tries to hit the old crone even before he knows she is laughing at him; this can be interpreted as signifying that he is trying to kill the idea of her, the disconcerting recurrence of the murder case in his everyday interactions. Once he sees her laughing, however, the blows become less mechanical and more emotive. The laughter attacks his pride and symbolizes his humiliation in not having achieved Napoleonic greatness. He has recognized that his crime is petty, and despises himself for it; but to be despised by the world, as he must when he is caught, is the ultimate humiliation and he cannot stand it.
Rodya is by now sure he will be caught, because of the appearance of the strange man who called him a murderer. There is no hint as to who this man can be. Rodya assumes that he witnessed the crime somehow (a rather paranoid conclusion), and immediately knows (as he should) that he is done for. But this man has appeared out of nowhere and disappears into nowhere, so we are not quite sure whether he is real or a dream. The answer lies in later chapters.