Illustration of a person's lower extremeties wearing a pair of bloody socks

Crime and Punishment

by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Part 1, Chapter 5 Summary

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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....

(This entire section contains 1039 words.)

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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 accomplish. Although his planning and calculations are as “true as arithmetic,” he knows he cannot bring himself to do it.

As he walks toward the bridge, Raskolnikov looks awful but he feels relieved, as if a huge burden has been lifted from his shoulders. He can breathe easily once again, and there is peace in his soul; he asks God to help him and to show him the path he is to take. Raskolnikov renounces his “accursed dream” as he stares at the water flowing under the bridge below him. He is finally free from “that spell, that sorcery, that obsession.”

Later, looking back at this time in his life, Raskolnikov wonders what prompted him to walk home by such an indirect route and then through Hay Market where his entire destiny was changed. As he gets close to home, the sights and smells intensify, and Raskolnikov’s ragged condition goes virtually unnoticed. Suddenly he sees Lizaveta, the submissive and “almost idiotic” younger sister of the old pawnbroker, Alyona Ivanovna. She is arguing with a husband-and-wife huckster team.

The couple tells Lizaveta she is too afraid of Ivanovna, who is only her stepsister, after all, and she should come to them tomorrow ready to deal for herself instead of for her sister; they will make it worth her trouble, the couple says. Just as Raskolnikov passes by, the three make an appointment for seven o’clock tomorrow, and he is immediately accosted by an unwelcome thought. He has just unexpectedly learned that tomorrow at seven o’clock, Alyona Ivanovna will certainly be alone in her apartment.

He is only a few steps from his apartment, and he enters the building like a man condemned to death. Now, it seems to him as if he has no will of his own, and everything has been decided. It might have been a year before he could have known this information, and it might have come at a great risk and with less certainty: The woman he has contemplated killing will be at home alone tomorrow.


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