Crime and Punishment Part 1, Chapter 5 Summary
by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Part 1, Chapter 5 Summary

Even as Raskolnikov walks to find his colleague Razumihin, he wonders how the unemployed former student will be able to help Raskolnikov obtain some lessons in his current condition; even if he does get some work, Raskolnikov knows a few coins will not come close to meeting his needs. These thoughts are disturbing to him, and he suddenly decides not to visit Razumihin until “[i]t is done.” Then he can start over, and everything will “begin afresh.”

The thought is shocking to Raskolnikov when he suddenly realizes what he is thinking. At the frantic thought, he takes off running and wonders if “It” will really happen. The thought of going back to his “awful little cupboard” of a home is now abhorrent to him, and he begins to walk. He shivers, even in the heat; he tries to find something to distract his mind from these thoughts but is unable to do so. He begins wandering aimlessly. Soon he is in a part of town which does not stink and is, in fact, quite lovely. He looks at his surroundings with disdain. Raskolnikov spends his remaining few coins on some vodka and a meat pie. Though he drank only a very little, he suddenly finds himself extraordinarily sleepy; he stops behind some bushes, instantly falls asleep, and has a fearful dream.

Raskolnikov is a young boy walking with his father through the village in which Raskolnikov  grew up. As they pass the tavern on their way to the church graveyard, young Raskolnikov is frightened by the boisterous revelers. As a boy, Raskolnikov loved the old-fashioned church and the old priest who presided over services. Near his grandmother’s grave is the grave of his younger brother who had died at six months of age, something Raskolnikov does not remember. Just as they are passing the tavern, some large, drunken patrons leave the bar and go to a cart being pulled by an overstrained horse, the kind who is not able to pull her heavy load and will be beaten mercilessly for not doing her job.

After dismissing the others’ protests, the owner of the cart encourages all his passengers to gather a whip so that they can help spur the nag to a gallop—something she has not been able to do for years. Six large men and one woman are in the cart, and the horse is barely able to move it. That does not stop the riders from mercilessly beating the horse. As the abuse continues and even worsens, Raskolnikov the boy is appalled; he asks his father why the horse is being beaten. His father tries to dismiss the incident and keep them walking, but the boy will not have it.

He runs to the horse and sees she is “in a bad way.” The abuse continues; onlookers have now joined in. Suddenly laughter breaks out because the mare has begun kicking in defiance. Someone gets out of the cart and begins whipping her in the face and eyes; young Raskolnikov is running beside her, crying at the outrage. One of the men whips the boy in the face, but he does not feel it. The drunken horse owner is so outraged that the mare will not gallop that he determines to beat her to death. He hits her hard, but when the horse does not fall, the man loses all control. Soon he strikes her with a crowbar until she finally dies. Several onlookers scold the owner for his behavior, but he insists she is his property, and it is his right to treat her as he wishes. The young boy breaks out of the crowd and offers belated comfort to the creature until his father carries him away from the scene.

Raskolnikov wakes up, gasping for breath and sweating in his terror, thankful it was only a dream. He asks himself if he could really take an axe to the old pawnbroker as he planned, and he knows he could not do it, despite yesterday’s experiment when he visited the woman. Even as he left her house, he knew it was too vile an act for him to...

(The entire section is 1,038 words.)