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

Crime and Punishment

by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Part 2, Chapter 1 Summary

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After a long while, Raskolnikov wakes from his recent oblivion, sitting up with a start as the memory of what he has done washes over him. Violently shivering, he discovers he had not even latched his door when he came home and now tries to discern if his clothes bear any trace of the murder. His efforts are ineffectual, so he takes off his clothes and finds only a few drops of congealed blood “clinging to the frayed edge of his trousers.” He cuts them off and then remembers the purse and the trinkets still in his pockets.

Raskolnikov empties his pockets and hides the loot in the wall behind some loose wallpaper. He remembers the sling in his overcoat used to hold the axe and cuts it up before wondering if he is, indeed, going crazy and his clothes are actually covered with blood he simply cannot see. When he looks at the inside of one pocket, he discovers bloodstains and immediately cuts it out of the pants.

Now that the sun is shining into the room, he sees blood all over his clothing and does not know what to do with the offending bits which he cuts off. Raskolnikov falls asleep again until he hears Nastasya and the porter talking loudly outside his door. They have come to deliver a summons from the police office. Nastasya laughs derisively at Raskolnikov when she notices that he had fallen asleep with bits of rag clutched in his hand. She believes he is unwell, but both she and the porter leave Raskolnikov alone.

He discovers the summons is quite ordinary, though he does wonder at the timing of its delivery. He begins to dress, putting on one bloody sock with loathing and then shaking with fear that this is some kind of elaborate trap to lure him into the police station. He leaves the stolen goods in the wall and goes to the station in a feverish state. There he is directed to the head clerk and soon gains courage and confidence at the ordinariness of his treatment.

A woman, Luise Ivanovna, is in front of the assistant superintendent because of some apparent disgraceful behavior the night before; but the woman calmly explains that any bad behavior originated from one of her patrons, an “ungentlemanly visitor,” for she keeps an “honorable house.” Ilya Petrovitch, the assistant superintendent, scolds her but lets her go with a stern warning that he will be watching her and her business.

Raskolnikov is accused of not paying his debt to his landlady; suddenly he is incensed at Ilya Petrovitch and they argue. When the superintendent arrives, tempers cool and Raskolnikov even feels compelled to say something pleasant. He explains that he began living in his landlady’s house three years ago when he had verbally promised to marry her daughter. Because of that relationship and promise, he was given credit freely until a year ago, when the daughter died of typhus. Then the landlady made him sign an IOU but promised never to use it until he could pay it.

The head clerk dictates a letter to Raskolnikov, who writes a document stating that he is unable to pay but promises not to leave town or sell his property. He can barely hold the pen steady as he writes and signs the document. Raskolnikov suddenly drops his head into his hands on the table and has a sudden urge to confess everything until he hears the two men discussing last night’s murder of the old pawnbroker and the two men who witnessed the murderer leaving the building.

Raskolnikov picks up his hat and heads for the door, but he does not make it. When he recovers consciousness, he is sitting in a chair as the men discuss his condition. They ask how long he has been ill and Ilya Petrovitch looks at him peculiarly; there is a sudden strange silence before Raskolnikov is dismissed. Outside, Raskolnikov’s faintness is gone, and he is certain there will be a search of his apartment because they suspect the truth. Once again, his terror masters him.

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Part 1, Chapter 7 Summary


Part 2, Chapter 2 Summary