Part 3, Chapter 3 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 741

Zossimov greets them and announces that Raskolnikov is quite well today. Although he is up and dressed better than he has been for months, Raskolnikov still looks “pale, listless, and somber.” His eyes light up for a moment when he sees them, but that only relieves his listless dejection temporarily. He still only speaks reluctantly and perfunctorily. The doctor marvels at his patient’s self-control and ability to hide his feelings when yesterday he had “fallen into a frenzy at the slightest word.”

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Raskolnikov assures his family that he is feeling much better; Zossimov adds that his complete recovery depends solely on himself. He must avoid the fundamental causes of his illness. Zossimov suggests that this condition probably began when he dropped out of school. Raskolnikov must never be left with too much idle time; a steady occupation of some kind would certainly be beneficial.

Raskolnikov agrees with his doctor’s advice, saying he will return to school and everything will be better; Zossimov is shocked to see the mockery in Raskolnikov’s face, though it only lasts for a moment. Pulcheria Alexandrovna expresses her thanks to the doctor; Raskolnikov does the same, adding that he both cannot pay him and does not understand why he is getting such specialized attention. Dounia can see that there is no trace of sentimentality when Raskolnikov talks. When Raskolnikov apologizes to his mother for worrying her and holds out his hand to his sister, Dounia sees a flash of unfeigned emotion in his smile. She feels overjoyed and thankful.

Raskolnikov apologizes stiffly for worrying them and for not coming to see them earlier this morning. He explains that he had to wait until Nastasya washed the blood out of his clothes. The women are shocked, but he explains that he discovered a wounded man last night in his delirium. Razumihin remarks that he remembers every detail so he could not have been delirious. Raskolnikov agrees, saying it he only cannot explain his reason for being where he was. Zossimov explains that it is quite typical for a madman to perform actions meticulously while his motivations for those actions are dependent on various morbid and deranged impressions.

Raskolnikov explains that the man he helped died, and he did a rash thing by giving his widow all the money his mother had sent him. He knows how much it cost her, and he asks her forgiveness. A long silence follows, and everyone in the room can feel the constraint of the forgiveness and reconciliation. To make conversation, Pulcheria Alexandrovna tells her son that Marfa Petrovna, Dounia’s former mistress, died unexpectedly the very day she wrote him the letter. It seems her husband beat her regularly. The subject makes everyone uncomfortable.

Raskolnikov asks suddenly why they are all afraid of him. After that, the conversation is awkward and disconcerting. Raskolnikov says they can speak freely later but realizes suddenly he will never be able to speak freely again. Zossimov leaves and Razumihin tries to leave when Raskolnikov embarrasses his friend by asking Dounia if she likes his friend (she does, very much).

Raskolnikov dreamily remembers the girl he intended to marry, and his mother says his dreary longings have probably contributed to his illness. In the silence, Raskolnikov remembers the one thing he has determined must be settled today. He tells Dounia that he meant what he said: it must either be him or Luzhin. He has debased himself but will not allow her to do the same. Dounia explains that he is wrong in assuming she is making some grand sacrifice for his sake; she has decided to marry because her life is hard. Raskolnikov does not believe her and says he knows she cannot respect Luzhin.

Finally Dounia scolds him for being so tyrannical and says that if she ruins anyone, it is only herself; she is not, after all, committing murder. At those words, Raskolnikov grows faint. They show him the letter from Luzhin, and Raskolnikov notes the legal language and barely concealed threat that if Luzhin does not get his way he will abandon them—a likely precursor of what will happen in his marriage. Dounia has already thought of this and wants both Raskolnikov and Razumihin at tonight’s meeting. Pulcheria Alexandrovna is glad that all will be decided soon because she dislikes deception and concealment. It is better to have the whole truth, and he can be angry or not.

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