Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment Summary and Analysis of Part Two, Chapters 1-4

Chapter 1:

Raskolnikov has lain stupefied on his sofa for hours. He awakens after 2:00 a.m. and suddenly recalls everything. Seized by panic, he is astonished that he had thrown himself down without bothering to undress or even check his clothes for bloodstains; he proceeds to do so now, taking everything off and searching each piece several times over. He finds blood on a frayed trouser-cuff, and cuts it off.

He remembers suddenly that the stolen goods are still in his pockets, and again is astonished at his own irresponsibility. He stuffs everything into a hole in the wall concealed by the wallpaper, and is temporarily pleased with himself, but moments later upbraids himself with his clumsiness in merely shoving everything out of sight. Exhausted, and fearful that he is losing the ability to think clearly, he sits down on the couch once again, and slips into sleep‹but only for five minutes.

He leaps up again, having recalled the loop that is still sewn into his coat, and removes it, then tears it into strips and stuffs it under his pillow. Again he despairs that he is losing his reason, especially as the bloodstained fringe had been left on the floor in the middle of his room.

When he reasons that because there was blood on the purse, there must be some on the lining of his pocket, he is considerably cheered to find that his pocket-lining indeed has blood on it, because it indicates that he has not completely lost his mind. Then he finds that his sock also has blood (since his boots have holes in them). Holding the evidence, he tries to figure out where to hide it, and resolves to throw it away somewhere, but he sits down on the sofa . . . then lies down and covers his shivering body with his coat . . . and falls into a fitful sleep.

He is awakened by Nastasya knocking on his door. He hears the caretaker with her, and is alarmed: what could he possibly want? Without getting out of bed (his room is cramped enough to enable him to do this), he unhooks the door and lets them in.

The caretaker hands Raskolnikov a summons from the police station. Raskolnikov is frozen. Nastasya observes that he must have really been ill, and tells him not to go, then notices he's holding something. He looks at it, and finds that he has been holding the bloody cloths. Nastasya laughs nervously at him. Raskolnikov resolves to go to the station to find out what they want.

As soon as she and the caretaker leave, Raskolnikov rushes to the light to check the bloodstained scraps he had been clutching, but to his relief, they are dirty and discolored by now, so it is unlikely that Nastasya would have noticed anything. He then opens the summons; it is an ordinary summons to come down to the station at 9:30 a.m.

Bewildered, he tries to figure out what it is; kneels down to pray, but instead gets up, laughing at himself, figuring that he might as well get it over with. As he dresses, he has considerable trouble about the bloody sock, but finally leaves it on. He heads for the station, in a fever, speculating that the summons is a trap to catch him.

He enters the station and makes his way to the appropriate room. As he waits, he starts to relax, as no one appears particularly excited at his presence. He cautions himself to keep his cool and not give himself away altogether on the basis of trifling fears.

To steady his disordered thoughts, Raskolnikov examines the people in the office. A conspicuously-dressed woman, Louisa Ivanovna, and the clerk, young and foppish, interest him greatly.

After a while, the police chief's assistant, a lieutenant, comes in. He looks scornfully at the ill-dressed Raskolnikov, who stares back, thereby offending the lieutenant. As the latter begins to castigate the student, the clerk pulls out the summons and mentions that the case has to do with "the recovery of money," and Raskolnikov realizes with joyful relief that he has not been called in on account of the murders. Raskolnikov, now somewhat cocky, goads the lieutenant, enjoying the argument.

The clerk explains that Raskolnikov's landlady‹to whom Raskolnikov had given an I.O.U. for 115 roubles a while ago‹had used this note to pay a court councillor Chebarov, who is now demanding payment.

Raskolnikov's uncomprehending relief at not having been suspected is interrupted by the lieutenant blowing up at Louisa Ivanovna, a rather comic figure of German extraction who is apparently a madam. Once the lieutenant, Ilya Petrovich, dismisses her, the chief of police, Nikodim Fomich, enters.

Nikodim Fomich is an amiable man, who teases his assistant (known, he tells Raskolnikov, as "Lieutenant Gunpowder") and brings some air of cordiality to the office. Raskolnikov, suddenly seized with a desire to be very sociable and pleasant, starts to explain his poverty and the debt to his landlady. Surprisingly, he goes into very personal detail, revealing that the landlady had allowed his I.O.U. to stand indefinitely and to grant him a good deal of credit because he had been engaged to her daughter, whose death from typhus prevented the marriage.

The officials seem unwilling to hear such things‹Ilya Petrovich is rude, Nikodim Fomich is ashamed somehow, and the clerk tells Raskolnikov to take a dictation to resolve the case of the promissory note. Raskolnikov, sensing somehow that he is completely isolated and unable to talk to anyone about anything ever again, suddenly doesn't care what they think of him. The clerk notices that Raskolnikov appears ill.

Raskolnikov is suddenly seized with the desire to confess everything to Nikodim Fomich, "just to get it off [his] back." But at that moment he hears the police chief talking with Ilya Petrovich about the very case. They are arguing about suspects: Nikodim Fomich thinks it is clear that Koch and the student (Pestryakov) cannot possibly be guilty, while Ilya Petrovich disagrees.

Raskolnikov gets up and heads for the door, but passes out.

He recovers to find himself in a chair. The officials observe that he is ill, and Ilya Petrovich starts to interrogate him about his actions and whereabouts the day before. Nikodim Fomich is indignant at such suspicion. Raskolnikov is dismissed, and hears a lively conversation begin after his exit. Fearing a search of his flat, he hurries home.


The theme of disease (first touched upon in Part One, Chapter 6) starts to manifest itself through Raskolnikov. In his panic, Raskolnikov is physically feverish and mentally disoriented, continually asking himself, "What is wrong with me?" He fears the disease of losing his reason, and seems to be suffering it quite clearly. Notably, his panicked confusion after his crime is accompanied by a pronounced physical illness: he falls in and out of fitful sleep, shivering, and faints in the police station at the mention of the crime.

The building of Raskolnikov's paranoia is deftly executed through the small events which, little by little, add to his terror. He leaves his bloody fringe on the floor and then is struck that anyone could have walked in and seen it; similarly he falls asleep clutching the rags, which are then noticed by Nastasya. The caretaker's coming to his room with a summons from the police immediately makes him think that it is a "ruse" to capture him, though there does not appear any reason why they should, since nothing links Raskolnikov to the crime. Furthermore, the discussion of the case in the station seizes him with such fear that he faints, causing Ilya Petrovich to then pepper him with suspicious questions. All these certainly contribute to the claustrophobia of Raskolnikov's world.

Bound up with his psychological dilemma is his relationship with religion. Before he goes to the station, he attempts to pray but is unable to; indeed he leaps up almost immediately, laughing at himself. It seems he does not see the rational point to praying if he is doomed. On his way to the station, Raskolnikov does think about confessing: "I'll walk in, fall on my knees, and tell them everything." He also considers it after finishing up his business with the promissory note. But his desire to confess may be less out of sincere repentance than simply the need to get the weight of fear off his chest. This is borne out by the fact that he does not end up confessing at all‹if he were truly repentant of his crime, he would have.

Raskolnikov's behavior, as always, is marked by his inner schism, the perpetual split between his emotions and his reasoning. When he considers confessing to Nikodim Fomich, he tells himself, "better do it without thinking!" Strangely, Raskolnikov is aware of his personal schism. He knows that his thinking gets in the way of his (perhaps better) action. Even in his joy, Raskolnikov acts mechanically, maintaining the split between his outer comportment and his inner emotions. This thematic contrast between emotion and hyperrationalization is one that defines Raskolnikov and will recur throughout the novel. There is an implicit judgement on Dostoevsky's part that too much thinking and rationalization, and not enough attention to instinct and emotion, creates people who are cold, heartless, and inhuman.

Chapter 2:

Raskolnikov anxiously returns to his room, but no one has been there. He hurries to the corner and takes out all the stolen goods hidden behind the wallpaper. Stuffing them in his pockets, he leaves the flat, hurrying for fear of being followed or watched.

He had planned to throw it all into the canal, but when he gets to the Ekaterininsky Canal he walks up and down for so long that people start to look at him, and he reasons that the things would float anyway. At last he decides to go to a less conspicuous part of the Neva instead.

He realizes that he has wasted valuable time and that he is "becoming extremely distracted and forgetful," so he hurries off. As he walks down the prospect, he thinks that there is no particular reason why he should throw everything into the water, and that perhaps he should bury everything in the woods instead.

He happens upon a deserted courtyard, and hides everything under a stone. He leaves and is filled with joy once again at having gotten rid of the evidence. His joy is cut short, however, when he comes upon the Boulevard where, two days before, he had encountered the ravished girl and the kindly policeman. He feels full of spite towards the whole world.

He is given pause by the question that suddenly occurs to him: If he had truly been in control of his reason, and committed the crime with a definite purpose, how come he doesn't even know what he has gained through the theft? How come he hasn't even looked at the goods but had been considering throwing them into the water?

He decides that he must be very sick, and walks on, full of hatred and loathing for the world. He ends up at Razumikhin's, and decides to go up.

Razumikhin is utterly surprised to see his sullen friend, and almost immediately notes his illness and extreme poverty. Raskolnikov gets up to leave almost as soon as he arrives, astonishing Razumikhin further and hurting his feelings somewhat. Raskolnikov, frustrated, explains that he had come to see Razumikhin because he is kind and intelligent, but that he has realized that he doesn't need anything from Razumikhin, and just wants to be left alone. Razumikhin attempts to share some of his translation work with Raskolnikov, who silently accepts it, then turns around, gives it back, and leaves without a word. Razumikhin, infuriated, shouts at him but gets no satisfactory answer as Raskolnikov wordlessly goes down the stairs and out to the street.

Outside, Raskolnikov is lashed with a whip for having almost been trampled by a horse-driven carriage as he unconsciously walked along. He is enraged at the insult, and laughed at by onlookers, but almost immediately a woman gives him 20 kopecks for charity.

He walks on and stops on a bridge to look at the cathedral rising beautifully above the river. He had stopped at this place before quite often as a student. Torn, Raskolnikov wonders how it could be possible for him to ever have the same thoughts as he had had then; he feels that he is looking at his past. He throws the 20-kopeck piece into the water, and with this gesture cuts himself off from the world. . .

After hours of walking, he returns home and goes to sleep. In the middle of the night, he hears a horrible fight going on outside his door. He listens and hears, to his amazement, that Ilya Petrovich is ruthlessly beating the landlady on the stairs. A crowd gathers. Raskolnikov is paralyzed by fear and unable to latch the door. The commotion finally subsides, Ilya Petrovich leaves, the landlady returns sobbing to her quarters, and the crowd disperses. Raskolnikov is tormented by fearful questions as to why Ilya Petrovich had come.

He lies there horrified until Nastasya comes in with some food. He asks her why Ilya Petrovich had been beating the landlady, and Nastasya looks at him strangely and doesn't answer. Finally she says, "It's the blood," alarming him. She tells him that no one was beating the landlady and that his own blood is causing hallucinations. At last he asks for some water; but after one sip he falls unconscious.


Water is a recurring symbol in this novel. After the murder, he had determined to throw the stolen goods into the water during his delirium, so as to "wash away all traces, and that will be the end of it." Precisely what "it" is is not defined. But we can infer that water, the purifying element, can wash away stains, and that Raskolnikov's resolve may resonate on a deeper level than the literal, a level that speaks to Lady Macbeth's dilemma in Shakespeare's tragedy. Raskolnikov's wish to remove all traces of the crime, all physical evidence, is a manifestation of his inner desire to clean his soul and his conscience of the crime.

Additionally, in a previous chapter, Raskolnikov had dreamt of drinking clear, cool water from an oasis in the desert. Water, especially in the desert, symbolizes life. Raskolnikov has killed, but by throwing the evidence of the crime into the water he may be hoping to regain his own life, which can be seen as having been lost through the murder.

Raskolnikov, on this day after his crime, begins a trend of rejecting kindness. He rejects Razumikhin's kind offer of work, and he throws away the charitable woman's 20-kopeck piece. Though the latter is given as a sole instance of kindness among the cruelty of whipping and laughter, and though Raskolnikov is enraged by the whipping, he nevertheless rejects the money. This may seem puzzling, since it seems clear that he needs help, and he is obviously ill and disturbed. But within his own diseased reason Raskolnikov feels that he cannot bear to be around people and he proudly rejects charity. Underneath, he may quite possibly feel that he is unworthy of anyone's kindness now that he has committed such a sin.

The delusion regarding the beating of the landlady is a cross between Raskolnikov's dream of the horse, his murder of Alyona Ivanovna, and his fears. Dostoevsky has created a strangely plausible dream, by interweaving Raskolnikov's obsession with violence with the personages he has encountered, in one way or another, that day. Raskolnikov does not appear to be moved to help the landlady, nor does anyone else‹the crowd gathers to watch, as he hears it. (Again, this is testament to the lack of pity and compassion in society.) Instead, he is gripped by fear of Ilya Petrovich's coming for him. The fact that this is a delusion testifies both to his psychological terror and his physical illness.

Chapter 3:

Ill, Raskolnikov drifts in and out of consciousness and delirium. He is aware of people, including Nastasya and someone familiar whom he cannot recognize, around him. He forgets about the murder, but knows that he has forgotten something he shouldn't have forgotten.

Finally he recovers to find Nastasya and a strange man at his bedside and the landlady peeking through the door. Razumikhin enters. He introduces himself to the stranger as "Vrazumikhin" (see Analysis for explanation), and proceeds to address Raskolnikov cheerily; apparently a Dr. Zossimov has tended Rodya through his illness.

The stranger is an agent from a merchant's office, sent to give Raskolnikov 35 roubles sent by his mother. At first Rodya refuses to sign for the money, saying he doesn't need it, but Razumikhin laughs and makes him sign. The agent hands over the money and leaves.

Razumikhin, who has ingratiated himself with both Nastasya and Praskovya Pavlovna, asks "Nastasyushka" for food and proceeds to feed Raskolnikov a little and himself a good deal. Rodya watches and listens, having decided to "lie low" and learn as much as he can about what has been going on during his illness.

In his humorous, teasing prattle, Razumikhin explains that he had become so angry after Raskolnikov's strange visit that he resolved to find out where he lived, and after searching a number of neighborhoods he finally went to the address bureau, which located Rodya's address within minutes. He then proceeded to find out everything he could about Rodion's affairs, and made the acquaintance of Ilya Petrovich, Nikodim Fomich, and Alexander Grigorievich Zamyotov, the clerk in the police station.

He prattles on, delighting Nastasya and making observations on the "unexpected character" Praskovya Pavlovna, whose behavior in the matter of the promissory note he explains. Razumikhin himself went to Chebarov, the court councillor whose claim on the note had caused Rodya's summons to the police station, and vouched for Rodya's intention and ability to pay, thereby getting the note back from him.

Razumikhin at this point lays the note on the table. With only a glance, and certainly not a word of thanks, Rodya turns his face to the wall. Razumikhin winces, and drily apologizes for "having made a fool of himself again" in irritating Rodya with chatter he had meant as amusement.

Rodya asks if Razumikhin was the person he had not recognized in his delirium; he was. Razumikhin tells him that he has moved into the neighborhood. Rodya asks if he had been raving during his illness; Razumikhin replies that he had. Rodya anxiously asks what he had raved about. Razumikhin, amused, finally tells him: an odd assortment of names, objects, and places, and a strange obsession with a sock and a fringe.

Razumikhin then takes 10 of the 35 roubles, and commending Rodion to Nastasya's care, he leaves. Nastasya, unable to control her curiosity and clearly charmed by Razumikhin, follows him downstairs, leaving Rodya alone. He immediately jumps out of bed to "get down to business"‹but realizes he doesn't know what business. He wonders whether they know, and racks his brain to remember what it is he needs to do.

Suddenly he recalls, and searches all over for the sock, fringe, and pocket lining that had been stained with blood. The sock was on the bed, and the other scraps were in the stove, meaning no one had looked there and consequently no one had found them.

He starts asking himself all sorts of questions, then "remembers" that he must flee, and starts plotting how he will take the money and escape to another apartment, or possibly America . . . He thinks they know everything and that they have placed guards outside.

He then grabs the rest of his beer and drinks it. The alcohol sends him off into a pleasant sleep.

He wakes up upon hearing Razumikhin enter. Rodya is alarmed that he has slept for more than six hours, which puzzles the good-natured Razumikhin. However, he opens up the bundle he has brought with him, and takes out a complete second-hand wardrobe. He goes through the whole with great humor, and gives the final reckoning: 9 roubles 55 kopecks, so Rodya is given 45 kopecks in change from the 10 roubles Razumikhin had taken earlier. Rodya has listened with disgust to this entire speech, and feebly protests when Razumikhin and Nastasya change his shirt; they manage to anyway, but he does not speak for a full two minutes. He wishes that they would leave him alone.

He asks Razumikhin where the money had come from; Razumikhin reminds him. (This is not the first time since waking up that Rodya has had to be reminded of something.) Dr. Zossimov, whom Razumikhin has been expecting, enters the room.


The clever, kind Razumikhin enters the novel more definitively at this point, as Rodya's savior. He has restored order, cleanliness and meals, and probably indirectly Rodya's health. Despite Rodya's rudeness and ingratitude, he persists in helping him because he simply is full of love for humankind. He has made several friends from Rodion's recent history, and addresses the ladies with affection, using diminutives such as "Nastasyuskha" and "Pashenka" to refer to or address them. Clearly, they love him, which is likely no small part of why Raskolnikov's own situation has improved.

The introduction to the agent brings up an interesting point regarding Razumikhin's name (note that many of the names in this novel have some sort of significance). "Razumikhin" comes from the verb "to reason," and "Vrazumikhin" comes from "to bring to reason." Razumikhin may be joking with the agent, or it may be that his name is actually Vrazumikhin but is generally simplified to Razumikhin. In any case, to a degree, Razumikhin has brought Rodya back to reason, by watching over him through his illness and delirium until he was restored to his senses.

Razumikhin presents, as noted before, an utter contrast to Raskolnikov. Rodya is silent, sullen, suspicious; Razumikhin is talkative, cheery and open, always ready to help. Razumikhin overall is more balanced, more whole than Raskolnikov, who suffers from the internal schism which has led him to commit murder. It is intriguing that Razumikhin should be the one who represents "reason" while Rodya, who prides himself on the superiority of his reason, has clearly lost control of it (even symbolically through his illness).

Raskolnikov is impossible‹full of loathing, ungrateful, and in a hurry to escape. His fears are rasped by the unknowing Razumikhin's chatter and comment that he knows "all his innermost secrets now." Despite knowing Razumikhin has been the savior of his credit as well as his health, Rodya reacts negatively, because he hates himself. A clue to this is found in his rare interruption of Razumikhin's account of recent events: when Razumikhin mentions how Raskolnikov had reassured Praskovya Pavlovna that he would pay through his mother, Raskolnikov interrupts to say, "It was my own baseness that made me say that," and he explains that his mother is very poor as well and he had been lying. Such detail in such an unexpected and uncharacteristic interruption clearly indicates a deep self-loathing on Rodya's part. Underneath, he probably feels he is not worth saving, and resents Razumikhin's insistent attempts to do so. Symbolically, he does not even want his shirt to be changed‹he wishes to cling to his old rags, just as he clung to the bloodstained sock during his illness. His rejection of his past life, seen in the last chapter with the disposal of the 20-kopeck coin, makes him turn to the murder, the only thing he has now, and he cannot accept Razumikhin's persistent intrusions into his morbidly claustrophobic existence.

Chapter 4:

Dr. Zossimov is a man of "loose, foppish" appearance and languid pretension, but he knows his work. He checks on Raskolnikov, asking some questions. Rodya is sullen. Zossimov discusses Raskolnikov's condition with Razumikhin; then they start to discuss the housewarming party Razumikhin is holding that night. It turns out Razumikhin has invited Porfiry Petrovich, an old uncle of his and a local police investigator, as well as Zamyotov, the clerk at the police station.

Then Razumikhin mentions that he and Zamyotov have "got something started together," namely, to establish the innocence of a certain house-painter named Nikolai Dementiev, who has been accused of murdering Alyona Ivanovna and Lizaveta, her sister. Raskolnikov is paralyzed. Razumikhin gets worked up discussing the case with Zossimov. Razumikhin is greatly upset by how the authorities "lie and then worship their own lies," and passionately advocates another way to investigate cases, which admits for psychological circumstance in the interpretation of fact.

He proceeds to detail Nikolai Dementiev (Mikolai)'s story. He had been one of the painters working on the second floor of Alyona Ivanovna's stairway. He had pawned a pair of gold earrings to a man named Dushkin, who was suspicious about where they had come from and alerted the authorities. Mikolai was caught trying to hang himself, and interrogated by the authorities. When they asked why he had run away from Dushkin, he replied that he had been scared of "having the law on me," to which they demanded why he would have been scared if he had nothing to hide. This in particular infuriates Razumikhin.

He continues to relate the story. Mikolai had had a friendly skirmish with Mitrei, his fellow painter, and then returned to the room they were painting, where he discovered the box of earrings on the floor behind the door. At this point Raskolnikov rouses himself and cries out in alarm, surprising Razumikhin. But he finishes the story: Mikolai took the earrings, pawned them, and went on a drinking binge. He keeps telling the authorities, however, that he knew nothing of the murder until three days after it happened.

Razumikhin is ferociously indignant that they have dubbed Mikolai the murderer, and tries to explain how Mikolai has been telling the whole truth. He takes the incident of the skirmish with Mitrei, which was childish and occurred in the presence of other people, as evidence that Mikolai could not possibly have been in the state of mind of one who had just committed a bloody murder. Zossimov agrees, but points out that the earrings go against Mikolai, and that no one saw him while Koch and Pestryakov, the student, were upstairs at the old woman's door.

When Zossimov asks Razumikhin to explain, Razumikhin states that the real murderer must have hidden from Koch and Pestryakov in the empty apartment after Mikolai and Mitrei had left it, dropped the box, and exited the building calmly so as not to have been noticed.

Just then, a stranger enters.


Dostoevsky's keen sense of parodic humor is given some play with the comic sketching of Zossimov's character. On the outside, he is rather thick, like molasses, and portentously pretentious in both dress and manner. His speeches about Raskolnikov are not so much speeches as pauses interspersed with phrases‹and sometimes mutually contradictory phrases at that ("I wouldn't budge him tomorrow; though maybe . . . a little . . . well, we'll see"). Yet Dostoevsky also deliberately gives us the impression that Zossimov is more intelligent than he appears. It is widely acknowledged that Zossimov knows his work, and some of his own words reveal an acute mind. He says that he is interested in the murder case "for a certain reason," and he looks at Raskolnikov when Razumikhin mentions how Rodya fainted in the police station while the case was being discussed. He also knows that Raskolnikov was not "dozing," as Razumikhin suggests, when he suddenly bursts out in alarm about the earrings being behind the door of the vacant apartment. We get the sense that Zossimov is watching and putting his own ideas together regarding Raskolnikov and his interest in the murder case.

Again, Rodya is unable to escape his crime: even his friend and doctor are discussing it in his room. In what must be a chilling way for Rodya, Razumikhin uses his reason (note again the meaning of his name) and psychological facts to figure the case out correctly. In a sense, the novel is all about the psychology of crime (though it is about a number of other themes as well). Rodion's guilt and his anxiousness to escape detection close in on him as his entire world seems to begin revolving around the case.

Razumikhin is on an eternal search for understanding and truth. He cries out to Zossimov, "Eh, you progressive dimwits, you really don't understand anything! You disparage man and damage yourselves . . ." Though this comment was not inspired by the murder case, it still seems to resonate with both Dostoevsky's rejection of Western "progress" and the idea that such science and methodology, without human understanding, can cloud truth and ruin lives. Razumikhin's heat on the subject of truth versus lying suggests that he is characterized by a search for truth; being an honest and upright man, perhaps even a great man and a hero in his own way, he seeks truth and justice always. Again, he and Rodya are almost complete opposites: Rodya has sought greatness through crime, while Razumikhin has achieved it (or will) through acts of goodness and a life of kindness and compassion.