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Crime and Punishment

by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Part 2, Chapter 3 Summary

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During the entire time he is ill, Raskolnikov is sometimes feverish, sometimes, delirious, and sometimes half-conscious. Part of the time he feels as if there are several people around him, squabbling over him and discussing what should be done with him; other times he is alone. He hears them laughing at and mocking him, but he also senses they are afraid of him and do not quite know how to handle him. Mostly he senses Nastasya and a familiar-seeming man spending time at his bedside. In this condition, he is completely unaware of how much time has passed, but he is clearly tormented and raging strongly enough about something that he has to be restrained.

At ten o’clock, it happens. Light is streaming into the room and Nastasya and a complete stranger are standing at his bedside. The landlady peeks around the half-opened door; when Raskolnikov sits straight up and asks who the stranger is, she leaves, confident her tenant has returned to his senses.

Just as Raskolnikov asks the stranger who he is, Razumihin enters the room, introducing himself as Vrazumihin (his true name), a student, gentleman, and friend of Raskolnikov’s. He tells his sick friend that he has had the doctor here, and his conclusion was that some nervous condition has caused this illness. The stranger introduces himself as the messenger of a local merchant who has business with Raskolnikov; he is the second messenger from the same merchant. Several days ago, Razumihin sent the first one away. The messenger has come to deliver thirty-five roubles sent, through the merchant, from his mother.

All Raskolnikov has to do is sign for the money, but he refuses until Razumihin prepares to hold his hand and make him sign. Razumihin keeps ten of the thirty-five roubles, saying he will account for them later. He orders food and seems to be in perfect control of everything, which frightens Raskolnikov, but he simply watches quietly as Nastasya carries out his orders. Like a starving man, Razumihin consumes the hearty soup and tells his friend he has been dining like this for days, courtesy of Pashenka the landlady who is happy to provide without his asking for it.

Raskolnikov allows his friend to coddle him and, out of some primitive cunning, decides to hide his true strength and his recovered mental facilities so he can observe and assess everything that is going on around him now. He has clean sheets and nice pillows, he notices, and his circumstances seem to have improved dramatically in every way. Razumihin explains that he found this address by going to the address bureau where they located him immediately, an alarming fact for Raskolnikov. Since then, Razumihin has met and dealt with all the people in his friend’s life, including Ilya Petrovitch, the house porter, the head clerk at the police station, and especially his landlady. He even managed to get the IOU back for his friend.

He seems to know every detail of Raskolnikov’s complicated life, but the one thing Raskolnikov wants to know he cannot determine: does anyone know he is a murderer, for in his delirium he spoke of many things. When everyone leaves for a bit, Raskolnikov observes everything in his room and wonders if this is all an elaborate trap. After a long, refreshing sleep, Raskolnikov wakes and has a much clearer head.

Razumihin has been waiting to show his friend the purchases he made with the ten roubles. He bought used, though still very nice, clothing for Raskolnikov and makes sure he changes into them so as to look more presentable. When Raskolnikov asks where his friend got the money, Razumihin tells him it is from his mother; this reminder subdues Raskolnikov into an uneasy silence. A tall, stout man appears at the door and seems vaguely familiar to Raskolnikov. Razumihin greets Zossimov with delight.

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