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 4 Summary

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Zossimov is a huge, haughty doctor who presents himself well; even his friends think he is tedious, but they all agree he does his work well. When he is solicitous and asks how Raskolnikov is feeling, the sick man answers tersely before turning away. As the two men talk (while Nastasya listens from the doorway) about inconsequential things, Raskolnikov examines the flowers on the dingy wallpaper. Soon their conversation turns to something meaningful for him: the old pawnbroker’s murder.

Immediately after the incident, the two men who saw the body first were the primary suspects. Now the painter is the chief suspect and Razumihin tells the story. Three days after the murder, the authorities were still trying to pin the crime on Koch and Pestryakov when an unexpected fact became known. A peasant named Dushkin, who keeps a shop facing the house where the murders occurred, brought a jeweler’s case with some gold earrings to the police station and told a rather far-fetched story.

Dushkin claims a housepainter named Nikolay, who was working in the house with a man named Dmitri, brought him the box of stones and asked two roubles for them, claiming he simply picked them up in the street. Dushkin gave him one rouble, figuring the painter would sell the goods to someone to get drinking money, so it may as well be him. He immediately took the money and went to the tavern for a few drinks. When Razumihin heard about the murders he suspected the painter and tried to find Nikolay, but Dmitri told him Nikolay had gone off on a drinking spree and had to finish the painting job alone.

On the third day after the murders, Razumihin saw Nikolay in a drunken state and asked him where he got the earrings. Nikolay claimed again that he found them in the street, but he would not maintain eye contact. When he asked if Nikolay had heard about the murders, the painter said he had heard nothing; but when Razumihin offered to buy him a drink, Nikolay took off running. This confirmed Razumihin’s suspicions and the search began. Both Dmitri and Dushkin were arrested immediately, and Nikolay was finally apprehended the day before yesterday as he was attempting to hang himself. The police questioned him mercilessly, and Nikolay finally confessed to having found the box of jewelry behind the door of the apartment he was painting.

At these words, Raskolnikov sits up in obvious distress, staring at the wall with a blank gaze of terror. There is a long silence in the room before Razumihin resumes his narrative. Nikolay confessed everything, but he continued to insist that he knew nothing of the murders; his only guilt came from stealing the jewelry and then lying about it. While the murders were happening, he and Dmitri were wrestling good-naturedly and quite obviously in front of the building, and his only crime was theft. Razumihin then announces that, based on this testimony, the police have now determined that Nikolay is the murderer.

Zossimov believes Nikolay is a likely suspect, but Razumihin is adamant that the painter is telling the truth both because the box had to have gotten to the floor somehow and because the two painters were tussling with each other in public view and could not have been in two places at once. The police, on the other hand, assume that a man who tried to kill himself must be guilty. Razumihin is convinced that everything happened as Nikolay said and that the murderer dropped the box—which has been proven to come from the old pawnbroker’s home—when he hid in the empty apartment.

Just as Zossimov is congratulating Razumihin on his reasoning skills, a man unfamiliar to any of them walks into Raskolnikov’s apartment.

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