Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 723
The gentleman is “no longer young,” rather portly, with a stiff and sour countenance. He hesitates after he walks in, as if the apartment is somehow offensive to the pompous man. First he stares at Raskolnikov, lying disheveled and unwashed on his sofa; then his gaze turns to the unkempt and unshaven Razumihin, who stares boldly back at the unknown man. A constrained silence lasts for several moments, and the stranger changes his approach when he realizes who he must deal with. He is civil as he carefully articulates his words and directs his first question toward Zossimov, asking if he is Raskolnikov.
Razumihin points out that the man he seeks is lying on the couch. Raskolnikov has turned away from the wall and stares at his visitor with silent intensity. His cadaverous face looks full of anguish, as if he has just been tortured and left for dead. Soon, though, Raskolnikov feels some wonder, followed by suspicion and finally alarm. Quickly he jumps up and, with a weak but defiant voice, affirms his identity and asks what the stranger wants.
The man announces himself as Pyotr Petrovitch Luzhin and says he thinks he may be expected. Raskolnikov had anticipated something different and he once again fades into a haze of insensibility, acting as if he had never heard the name before now. After another awkward silence, Luzhin shows his dismay and asks if Raskolnikov received a letter; Razumihin hastily interrupts and asks the visitor to enter and sit.
Luzhin relaxes a bit and explains that his future mother-in-law was supposed to have sent her son a letter of explanation about him. Raskolnikov finally speaks, observing with great vexation that he must be the fiancé. The visitor is clearly offended at the remark and the tone, but he stays silent. Raskolnikov raises his head from his pillow to consider the man whom he finds displeasing, though it is clear that the man has used his few days in the city to dress nicely and make himself most presentable for his upcoming wedding. He looks younger than forty-five, but Raskolnikov is not impressed and drops his head back onto the pillow.
After another strained silence, Luzhin announces that he is expecting Raskolnikov’s sister and mother and has arranged rooms for them in a nearby boarding house; when he mentions the name of the house, Razumihin notes that it is a cheap, filthy building. Luzhin insists the rooms he rented are clean and, anyway, the women will not be there for long since he is remodeling their future home. In the meantime, he is living with a friend, Lebeziatnikov, who is a clerk of the ministry.
When Raskolnikov hears the name, he responds but then denies knowing Lebeziatnikov. The men engage in a philosophical discussion of practicality and idealism until Razumihin exclaims that he has had enough banter of commonplace thoughts and distorted, self-serving ideas. The discussion returns to the murders, where the next step in the investigation will be to interview everyone who had a pledge with the old pawnbroker. Raskolnikov is immediately nervous again as Razumihin posits that the murderer must have been inexperienced. Luzhin is ready to go but wants to leave with a good impression, observing that more high-class people have been turning to crime in recent years because it is the common desire of the people to want something for nothing.
Suddenly Raskolnikov attacks Luzhin for a comment he had made earlier, that what pleased him most about his new fiancée was that she was poor and thus he could better control her. The older man stammers that his words were misunderstood, but Raskolnikov does not accept the explanation and further insults the man. Luzhin finally says he was willing to overlook Raskolnikov’s awful personal and living conditions because he was sick and for the sake of his future wife, but he will never overlook these insults. Raskolnikov tells him to go to hell.
After Luhzin storms off, Raskolnikov sends everyone away, and the doctor insists that they obey the invalid’s wishes so as not to upset him. Outside the room, Zossimov is puzzled that his patient responds with excitement only when there is a reference to the murders. He finds this to be a most interesting case and plans to visit his patient again soon.
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