Crime and Punishment Questions and Answers
by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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How does the title fit the story for Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky?

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The novel is centrally concerned with Raskolnikov's crime of murder: the long buildup to it, the murder itself, and the aftermath. Raskolnikov kills Alonya—a miserly and horrible old woman—and Alonya's sister Lizaveta. These are his overt crimes. But the novel is concerned with far more than their deaths. There is the deeper crime of Raskolnikov's anger and alienation, which is what leads him to plan a murder. There is the moral crime of plotting a cold-blooded murder, and the additional moral crime of feeling no remorse. Readers are potentially complicit in the moral crime as well, because, to the extent they identify with Raskolnikov, they too will despise Alonya and perhaps, while feeling horror over the fact of the murder, not experience much horror over her death.

At the end of the novel, Raskolnikov fulfills his sentence in the work camp in Siberia in order to pay for his crimes. This is punishment for the act of murder. However, Raskolnikov, who does have a conscience, also...

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