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 7 Summary

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The door is opened a tiny crack. When Raskolnikov sees a pair of suspicious eyes peering through it, he nearly makes a great mistake. He grabs the door handle and pulls it toward him so she cannot close it on him, and he nearly drags her into the hallway with him. He enters the room uninvited, and the old pawnbroker looks distrustfully at his eyes rather than examining the pledge he brought her to pawn.

Raskolnikov thinks he sees a kind of sneer in her eyes, as if she can see everything in his eyes. He feels so frightened that if she had continued to look at him in such a way for another thirty seconds he would have run away from her. Instead he turns on her and maliciously threatens to take his business away; this prods the old woman into action. He tells her the pledge is a silver cigarette case, and the woman is puzzled about why it is so tightly wrapped. When she walks away for a moment, Raskolnikov makes his move and, almost against his will, bashes the woman in the head with the blunt side of the axe. When she cries out feebly and crumples to the floor, he hits her again and again until she is dead.

He takes the keys from her pocket, assiduously avoiding getting any blood on himself, and goes immediately to her bedroom. The room makes him shudder and he is tempted to just walk away, but he does not. As he is wrestling with the drawer and the lock, he panics and wonders if perhaps the woman is not really dead. He goes back to the body and is reassured that she could not possibly be alive with her skull cracked open; while he is there, he sees a string around the old woman’s neck. In his efforts to retrieve what turns out to be a coin purse full of coins and several crosses, Raskolnikov gets his hands covered with her blood. He keeps the purse and flings the crosses back down on the body, then he grabs the axe and runs back into the bedroom.

None of the keys fits the bureau drawer, so he looks around nervously for something else. Under the bed he finds a chest, and in it are hidden various pieces of gold jewelry that he pockets after wiping his hands on some red silk in the box (thinking blood would be less noticeable on it). He hears a faint sound in the other room and hurriedly grabs his things. A he runs toward the door, he sees Lizaveta “gaping in stupefaction” at her step-sister’s bloodied body, a big bundle of something in her arms.

Raskolnikov rushes at her with an axe, but the simple woman has been so abused that she neither runs nor tries to defend herself. He buries the axe in her skull, grabs the bundle from her arms—and suddenly feels afraid. Once he conquers his self-loathing, he deliberately washes his hands and the axe and puts it back in his coat. As he prepares to leave, he is stunned to see that the door is open about six inches—it had been open the entire time. As he again prepares to leave, he hears footsteps coming up the stairs and latches himself into the apartment.

When the man outside the door rings the bell numerous times and gets no answer, he curses the women and rattles the bell. He nearly breaks the doorknob before a younger man joins him, also claiming to have business with the old pawnbroker. One of...

(This entire section contains 728 words.)

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them realizes the door is not locked but hooked from the inside, and the men assume there must be something wrong. When first one man and then the other runs downstairs to get the porter, Raskolnikov runs and hides in an empty apartment on another floor until he can finally race out of the building and get lost in a crowd.

He takes a circuitous route home and he barely makes it, for he is utterly exhausted. After putting the axe back in the porter’s room, Raskolnikov collapses onto his couch without having seen anyone on the way to his room. He sinks onto the couch and into a “blank forgetfulness.” His thoughts are swarming and uncatchable, though he tries to focus them.


Part 1, Chapter 6 Summary


Part 2, Chapter 1 Summary