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

Crime and Punishment

by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Part 3, Chapter 4 Summary

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Suddenly the door opens softly, and a pretty but poor girl walks into the room and looks timidly around her. It is Sonia, Marmeladov’s daughter, but Raskolnikov does not recognize her at first, as she is dressed as any other poor girl and he had only seen her once. Seeing everyone gathered, the girl is about to retreat when Raskolnikov collects himself and finds her a seat, and she stammers out a request from her mother that he attend the funeral tomorrow before she rises to leave again. Asking her to stay, Raskolnikov introduces her to his mother and sister and the girl is even more embarrassed at the attention.

Sonia again asks him, as a favor to her mother, to attend the funeral in the morning and come afterwards to a simple funeral meal. Katerina Ivanovna expresses her thankfulness, for without his generosity there would have been no funeral at all. Sonia’s chin quivers slightly as she speaks, clearly grieving at her loss. When she looks around the room, Raskolnikov apologizes for its condition; however, she cannot believe that he obviously has so little yet he gave them everything yesterday. Everyone in the room is moved by this girl’s simple, truthful speaking.

Pulcheria Alexandrovna invites Raskolnikov and Razumihin to join her and Dounia for dinner; her son says he will join them shortly. Once they leave, Raskolnikov says the dead are at peace but the living still have to live, and Sonia is surprised at the sudden brightness in his face. He looks at her silently for several moments, and her father’s whole history floats before his memory.

Pulcheria Alexandrovna is relieved to leave her son’s room but scolds Dounia for being so much like her brother: melancholy, morose, hot-tempered, haughty, and generous. She is worried about Luzhin walking away after the meeting tonight, and Dounia says he is not worth much if he does leave. Pulcheria Alexandrovna is also worried about Sonia, for she had a presentiment that somehow this girl is the cause of all her son’s troubles. Dounia tells her she is being ridiculous and Luzhin is a slanderer for writing that this girl is a woman of low reputation.

Raskolnikov asks Razumihin if he will talk to his friend, Porfiry Petrovitch, who is head of the old pawnbroker’s murder investigation; he had pawned several inexpensive family heirlooms and is worried now that his mother will want to see them. Razumihin is ecstatic and says they should go see his friend immediately. As they prepare to leave, Raskolnikov asks for Sonia’s address so he can visit her later, though he is embarrassed to ask; she is also embarrassed but tells him. She leaves and thinks that never has she felt anything like what she feels right now: “Dimly and unconsciously a whole new world was opening before her.” Then her heart sinks, for she is not prepared for a visitor.

She does not notice a gentleman following her, a well preserved and well dressed man of about fifty who is surprised to hear talking to Raskolnikov. He follows her all the way to her building, and she finally notices him as she is walking up the stairs. She stops and knocks at the tailor’s apartment, and the stranger notices the coincidence that his destination is just next door to the tailor’s, remarking to the girl that they are neighbors.

Razumihin is nearly delirious with joy as Raskolnikov explains that he pawned his items several days before the old woman’s death, which explains to his friend why he was ranting about jewelry while delirious. Razumihin says Petrovitch is quite anxious to meet Raskolnikov, which makes him nervous. He must strive to act naturally. Instead he begins teasing his tall friend about his newly awakened feelings of love, and so they enter Petrovitch’s house laughing, which is what Raskolnikov wanted Petrovitch to hear. 

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