The stranger, a prim and peevish-looking man, looks with stern astonishment at Raskolnikov's unkempt appearance and his lowly quarters. After some time of silent disdainful observation, the stranger politely addresses Zossimov (the most gentlemanly-looking man in the room) and asks for Rodion Romanych Raskolnikov.
Raskolnikov fears he may be an investigator or policeman, but it turns out that the man is Pyotr Petrovich Luzhin, his sister's fiancé.
As usual Rodya is rude in his silence, and Razumikhin invites Luzhin in and explains that Rodya has been ill. Luzhin begins to explain who he is, but Rodya rudely cuts him off, then observes him carefully and without a word goes back to staring at the ceiling.
Luzhin attempts conversation once again. He mentions that he has found rooms for Pulcheria Alexandrovna and Avdotya Romanovna (Rodya's mother and sister) in what turns out to be a dreadful and ill-reputed place; and also that he has taken a room with one Andrei Semyonych Lebeznyatikov, whose guardian Luzhin had used to be. The name is familiar to Raskolnikov.
Luzhin begins to discuss new theories and ideas with Razumikhin, extolling "useful" ideas and books, and "progress." Razumikhin, disgusted, finally cuts Luzhin off and returns to discussing the murder with Zossimov, arguing that the murderer must have been a first-time killer and not at all cunning. Luzhin again attempts to enter the conversation, and mentions that he is disturbed by the rise in crime among the upper classes.
Raskolnikov breaks in, and soon diverts the discussion from the murder to Luzhin's own dubious behavior toward his sister and mother. Luzhin bristles and claims that Rodya's mother must have distorted the truth. Rodya, enraged, tells him that if he ever mentions his mother again he will throw him down the stairs. Luzhin abandons all pretense of civility and Rodya kicks him out.
Shortly afterwards, Rodyadesperate to be left alonekicks out Razumikhin and Zossimov as well. On the stairs, Zossimov tells Razumikhin that Rodya should not be vexed and that he apparently has something preying on his mind. Zossimov also notes that the only thing Rodya responds to is the murder, and they agree to discuss it in further detail that night.
Nastasya is the last person to be kicked out, and at last Rodya is left alone.
Luzhin is perhaps the definition of Razumikhin's "progressive dimwit." He is a proponent of theories and sciences which "have cut [Russians] off irrevocably from the past, and that in itself, I think, is already something." He believes in "useful" books as opposed to "the former dreamy and romantic ones"perhaps, interestingly, a sharp foreshadowing on Dostoevsky's part of the utilitarian propaganda adopted by the Russian Communists decades later. Luzhin also specifically rejects religious values. "Love thy neighbor" gets him nowhere; to love himself, however, as science preaches, seems correct and less wasteful.
The rest of the men in the room are disgusted. Razumikhin cuts Luzhin off, sharply telling him he is merely reciting commonplaces and disgusting ones at that. Raskolnikov also scoffs that he is reciting everything "by rote," and indeed Luzhin has informed them that he has been attempting to learn as much as possible about the new theories by spending his time in the company of the "younger generations." Through his lampooning of Luzhin and his blunt exposure of the self-serving nature of such dangerous ideas, Dostoevsky once again makes his case for traditional values over scientific theory.
Strangely, however, it appears that Raskolnikov, though he rejects Luzhin's ideas in theory (or perhaps simply because he loathes the man), has accepted a certain version of them. He has not loved his neighbor, and does not; he has also killed, another rejection of the commandments and, in general, religious values. He has spent too much time theorizing and rationalizing his crime in a scientific way. Indeed, his crime is a manifestation (almost literal) of Luzhin's creed of self-interest: he has killed in order to prove his own theory and justified it by thinking that he can use the money he has stolen to better his neighbor. Yet the money lies unused under a rock, and no one is the better for the crime.
Razumikhin and Zossimov are a foil to Raskolnikov and Luzhin in that they see clearly. Razumikhin quite aptly deduces the correct sequence of events in the crime, and that the murderer is inexperienced. Zossimov has been observing Rodya's agitation over the murder, and seems to be putting two and two together, telling Razumikhin, "He interests me, very much so!" It does not seem unlikely that by putting their heads together, they may arrive at the correct solution to the case.
As soon as Nastasya has left, Raskolnikov gets up and gets dressed. He is resolved to do something this day, and is somehow quite calm. He takes all of the money on the table, and slips out of the building unnoticed.
He does not know where he is going, but is somehow resolved that "all this must be ended today, at once, right now . . . because he did not want to live like that." He must make some sort of a change.
He goes to the Haymarket, where he sees a street singer and accompanist. He gives them some money, then starts to talk to a surprised fellow-listener, who hastens away. He goes to the spot where the tradesman and his wife had been talking to Lizaveta the day before the murder, and talks briefly with another man.
He wanders about and comes to an area of taverns and whorehouses. He stops to listen to a singer and talks briefly with a prostitute among a group of her colleagues. She asks for money for a drink; he gives it; an older woman in the group, covered with bruises, remarks how shameful such brazenness is, without seeming to note the irony in her comment.
Rodya walks on, thinking of something he had once read: a man condemned to death said or thought that if he had to live on a cramped square foot of space forever, it would be better than to die. He believes this is true.
He enters a tavern called the Crystal Palace, which Razumikhin had mentioned taking him to, with the purpose of reading the newspapers to learn about the murder investigation. He is busy searching among the papers when Zamyotov suddenly sits down next to him.
Zamyotov is astonished to see him. Raskolnikov is somehow possessed with a strange excitement, and talks to Zamyotov with a combination of friendly condescension and demonic taunting. He tells Zamyotov that he has been reading about the murder, and eggs him on to voice a suspicion that he is the murderer.
They start to discuss a recent case where a ring of counterfeiters was caught in Moscow. Zamyotov is of the opinion that it is only natural for one of them to have been betrayed by his own hands, i.e. his own fearful and thus suspicious actions. Raskolnikov tells him that he would do it differently, and details exactly how. Zamyotov laughs, saying that Rodya is just talking but if he had to do it he would "be sure to make a slip."
The conversation comes back to the murder case, as Zamyotov claims that even there, the murderer's hands betrayed him because he wasn't even able to steal. Rodya then tells him exactly how he would act in that case, as well, detailing the very stone under which he would hide the stolen goods. Zamyotov tells him he is mad. On the verge of confessing, Rodya whispers, "And what if it was I who killed the old woman and Lizaveta?" Zamyotov goes pale, but Rodya then brings him up short, acting as though he meant to trick Zamyotov into believing him. To Zamyotov's protests, Rodya makes a sharp remark or two that if he didn't suspect him, why was Rodya interrogated at the station and what exactly did they talk about after he left? Strangely excited, he leaves. Zamyotov, left in the tavern, decides that Rodya cannot possibly be guilty.
As he is leaving, Rodya bumps into Razumikhin. Razumikhin is enraged to find him here after he had gone missing from his room, and yells at him to "confess" what it is all about. Rodya calmly replies that he just wants to be left alone. They argue. Razumikhin still invites him to the party; though Rodya refuses, Razumikhin predicts that he will come, and shouts out his address to Rodya a few times as he leaves. After some hesitation, Razumikhin thinks that perhaps Rodya might try to drown himself, and rushes back to find him but cannot. Frustrated, he goes into the tavern to question Zamyotov.
Rodya goes to a bridge, and a woman nearby suddenly jumps off it. She is rescued. Rodya is disgusted by the scene, and mutters things to himself which indicate that he had indeed been considering drowning himself.
He decides to turn himself in to the police, but on his way to the station he passes by Alyona Ivanovna's house. He is inexplicably and inexorably impelled to go in and look at the apartment. There are two workmen there, and the place is unfurnished; somehow he had been expecting it to remain unchanged since the murder. He enters and sits down for a little while. Then he goes into the other room and looks around. When he comes back out, the older workman asks him what he is doing. He goes out to the landing and rings the bell, over and over again, getting a strange thrill out of it.
The workman is by now rather scared at this wild man, and demands to know what he wants. Rodya says he wishes to rent the apartment, and asks about the blood that had been on the floor. The workman is terrified and confused. Rodya taunts them to take him to the police.
He himself goes outside, where a group of people is standing in front of the building, and addresses them. He asks about the police. The workman tells them what Rodya had done and said in the apartment. There are suggestions, seconded by Rodya himself, that he be taken to the police; but after a while he is pronounced a "scofflaw" and kicked off the premises.
He stops in the middle of a street and once again asks himself whether or not he should go to the police. Suddenly he notices a commotion down the street and approaches it.
At the start of the chapter, Rodya exhibits a strange and sudden desire to talk to people, perhaps because he plans to kill himself and wants some sort of human contact before he does so. However, he seeks people who do not want to talk to him, because they don't know him and/or are turned off by his strange eagerness to talk. This phase seems to echo the episode in the police station, where he is possessed by a desire to talk in detail about his personal life with complete strangers. It is as if, having committed such a crime as he has, he wishes to make sure he is still somehow part of the human race, although he has nominally rejected this.
In a typical contradiction, Rodya (who has evidently been considering suicide) leaves the group of prostitutes with the feeling that he, like the man on death row, wants to live, if only on a square foot of space. As usual, Rodya is torn between his two selves, one of which seeks life and the other death. After a full month of morbid seclusion, it appears that his life-seeking side has been awakened only after he has killed.
His split is very pronounced in this chapter. Rodya's strange attempt to confess to Zamyotov is not fully a confession attempt, because it is more like he wants Zamyotov to figure it out on his own so that he, Rodya, does not need to confess. Yet the attempt can double as a way to deflect suspicion. Raskolnikov is desperately trying to distance himself from the crime while attempting to confess it and get it off his chest; again, we see the clash between his reason and his emotion/instinct.
This pattern repeats itself when he goes to the apartment and languidly suggests that the people there take him to the police; it seems he wants to go, but only if he is taken. However, he is thwarted; nobody is going to do it for him and no one is going to answer his questions. His decision, at the end of the chapter, seems ambiguous: "It was as if he were snatching at anything, and he grinned coldly as he thought of it, because he had firmly decided about the police and knew for certain that now it was all going to end." It appears from the latter part of the sentence that he plans to turn himself in and "end it all," but then again he is "snatching at anything"and for what reason? To avoid having to turn himself in?
Once again, Razumikhin appears as his Christ or savior, even to the point where Raskolnikov scoffs at his kindness the same way Christ's deeds were scoffed at. "Who wants to do good deeds for someone who . . . spits on them?" Rodya demands. "Why did you seek me out at the start of my illness? Maybe I would have been quite happy to die!" Rodya symbolizes ungrateful humanity rejecting redemption. Sin and death are equated throughout the Bible, and Dostoevsky draws the same equation in Raskolnikov's case over and over again. In the New Testament, Jesus died for the sake of the world, taking humanity's sins on his own shoulders and through his struggle with death bringing about the possibility of eternal life.
In addition, Razumikhin's invitation to his party symbolizes the banquet mentioned several times in the Bible, the feast which represents the eternal life granted to those who embrace God's Word. Raskolnikov declines the invitation, but Razumikhin shouts at him, "How can you tell? You can't answer for yourself!" This intriguing response can be read both as a literal comment on Rodya's delirium and illness, and as a deeper remark on the idea that Rodya's life is not his ownhe is one of God's children and he, like everyone else, has a calling or is a vessel for some greater purpose.
Razumikhin also has a strange ability to predict Raskolnikov's behavior. In this chapter, he guesses that Rodya may try to drown himself; and that is exactly what Rodya plans to do, though we don't find it out until after the woman's suicide attempt convinces Rodya otherwise. This uncanny ability to see clearly, which seems to characterize the good Razumikhin, also lends him an aura of divinity.
Finally, one last note: the grim situation of women is once again hinted at in this chapter. Aside from the unhappy woman's suicide attemptwhich, we discover, is not her firstwe also encounter a group of prostitutes with black eyes and bruises, as a singer plaintively asks in song why her "soldier-boy" keeps beating her. There is not a little irony in the older prostitute's reproach of Duklida's lack of conscience in asking for money for a drink. Yet it seems to indicate that even among the thoroughly downtrodden, there is some attempt to keep conscience and perhaps even dignity.
The scene upon which Rodya happens turns out to be an accident: a carriage has run over a drunken man. The man turns out to be the unfortunate Marmeladov, Rodya's acquaintance from the tavern. Excited, Rodya manages to get help transporting Marmeladov to his lodgings, which are not far away.
Katerina Ivanovna is pacing the tiny room, talking to Polenka, her oldest daughter, about her splendid past, when the crowd brings her husband into the room. They lay him on the sofa. Though she is shocked and the children are scared, Katerina Ivanovna keeps her presence of mind and goes to her husband. Rodya tries to reassure her, and sends for a doctor. He realizes that Katerina Ivanovna herself needs help, and that perhaps it was not the best idea to bring Marmeladov here.
Katerina Ivanovna sends Polenka to get Sonya. She then turns on the public and the other tenants who have started crowding into the room. The landlady, Amalia Lippewechsel, comes in and she and Katerina Ivanovna start to argue, but they are interrupted by Marmeladov groaning. He asks for a priest. Katerina Ivanovna is nearly beside herself.
At last the doctor arrives, and tells Rodya that Marmeladov will die shortly. A priest comes in and ministers confession and communion to Marmeladov. Sonya enters, in her gaudy street garb, and stands timidly by the door as her family kneels by her dying father.
Katerina Ivanovna irritably tells both the priest and her husband that she has already forgiven him. Marmeladov calls to Sonya and asks her forgiveness, then slips and falls to the floor, and dies in Sonya's arms.
Rodya goes to Katerina Ivanovna and gives her 20 or 25 roubles for the funeral, then leaves quickly.
He feels suddenly full of life. Polenka chases after him to ask his name and where he lives. He is happy to talk to her. Both Sonya and Katerina Ivanovna, he is told, sent her. He enjoys looking at Polenka and talking to her, and asks her all sorts of questions, and in the end, asks her to pray for him.
He returns to the bridge where he had stood before, and reflects that he will live, that he did not die with Alyona Ivanovna. Feeling weak but no longer ill, he stops by Razumikhin's. Razumikhin, though a large man and usually not susceptible to getting really drunk, is tipsy. He walks Rodya home, blurting out that Zossimov thinks Rodya is mad and that Zamyotov told them everything.
Rodya, weak and starting to wander, tells Razumikhin about the money he had given to the Marmeladovs. On the stairs they notice that there is a light on in Rodya's room. Rodya thinks it must be the police. Razumikhin goes up the stairs with him and they open the door . . .
There sit Rodya's mother and sister. When they leap up to embrace him, he faints. Razumikhin picks him up and puts him to bed, hastily trying to reassure the women. They, having been informed of his devotion to their Rodya by Nastasya, are already grateful to him for more than he realizes.
Forgiveness plays an important part in this chapter. It is clearest in Marmeladov, who begs Sonya's forgiveness and wants to ask his wife for hers. She shouts at him not to say anything, as she knows what he is about to ask and has already granted it; she tells the priest in no uncertain terms that she forgave her husband long ago, and that this can be read in her acts. Marmeladov begs forgiveness from the women who have sacrificed themselves for him, again setting up a religious scene where they are Christ-figures and he is a sinner, perhaps even the thief on the cross who asked Jesus to "remember him in His kingdom."
Less directly, Rodya asks Polenka's forgiveness. He actually asks her if she will love him, and pray for him; she answers most affirmatively for both. Polenka, an innocent child, may represent the least threatening person in his world, and therefore the one from whom he can most easily ask forgiveness.
There is also a hint that he has been impressed by Sonya. Not only had he known that Sonya would send Polenka after him, but he tells Razumikhin later that he saw two "beings" at Marmeladov's: Polenka, who would still love him even if he killed someone (though he does not finish saying so), and Sonya, "another being there . . . with a flame-colored feather . . ." While this is an actual accoutrement of Sonya's dress, it also seems to indicate that she is some sort of angel, as angels are associated both with fire and wings.
Marmeladov's death, or more precisely the noble act that was enabled by it, gives Rodya life. He seems to be able to pray and can ask Polenka to pray for him now. "Now is the kingdom of reason and light . . . and will and strength," he thinks. He even prays for the soul of the woman he has murdered. He realizes that he "hasn't died with the old crone," an important realization which resonates especially with the themes of sin and death in the previous chapter. Yet perhaps significantly, he does not totally take himself seriously: he laughs when he recalls how he had asked Polenka to pray for him.