Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 820
Raskolnikov cannot stop laughing at Razumihin’s embarrassment, even when they enter the room to meet Porfiry Petrovitch. Raskolnikov notices Zametov sitting in a corner, an unpleasant discovery. Razumihin finally recovers himself and introduces his two friends, and Petrovitch listens to Raskolnikov’s request regarding his pawned items.
Petrovitch listens intently and then tells Raskolnikov he must write a request for his items, saying that he knows about the murder and wants to claim his property. Raskolnikov gets the impression that Petrovitch is amused at his naiveté and then comes to the awful conclusion that the man must know the truth. He continues talking, trying to sound “normal” as he explains his mother’s arrival and his desire to retrieve his possessions.
Petrovitch suddenly turns cold and says he has been expecting Raskolnikov for some time, and Razumihin is stunned to know that Petrovitch was aware of the pawned items, and he says so. Petrovitch addresses himself to Raskolnikov, describing exactly his pawned items, and Raskolnikov does his best to respond normally and make eye contact; however, he is not particularly successful. Petrovitch knows because Raskolnikov is the only person who had pledges with the old lady who did not come forward after the murder.
Raskolnikov explains that he has been ill; Petrovitch says he heard Raskolnikov has been greatly distressed about something, and he still looks pale. Now Raskolnikov is getting angry and struggling to hide it; he must regain control so he will not betray himself. Razumihin confirms his friend’s delirium and explains that Raskolnikov slipped out in that condition last night; however, suddenly he turns on his friend and asks why he left and whether he was in his right mind when he left. Raskolnikov claims he was “sick” of his family and took his money to go find other lodgings. Then he asks Zametov if he thinks Raskolnikov was in his right mind when he saw him last night.
Zametov gives him a direct look of hatred and claims Raskolnikov seemed quite sensible and even artful in his conversation. Raskolnikov’s thoughts are “in a whirl” and he cannot determine whether they have been tracking his moves and know the truth or whether he is imagining their knowing looks. Either way, he regrets coming here. The men discuss the socialist theory of crime, that all crime is simply a “protest against the abnormality of the social organization,” as well as the influence of the environment on men and their behavior.
Petrovitch mentions Raskolnikov’s article called “On Crime” which he read in a magazine several months earlier. Raskolnikov is stunned, as he did not know his article had been published; Petrovitch was interested enough in the article to find out who wrote it. Raskolnikov asserts that the perpetration of a crime is generally accompanied by illness and that there are certain extraordinary people who feel they have the perfect right to “commit breaches of morality” and crimes because they feel laws do not apply to them as they do to ordinary people. Razumihin cannot believe that Raskolnikov believes such an idea, and Raskolnikov smiles, knowing he is being lured into a trap but accepting the challenge.
Raskolnikov believes that most men are ordinary, following the law and living only for the present; a very few are extraordinary, flaunting the law but moving mankind forward. These extraordinary men are generally revered by future generations, and what they have to contribute to mankind is worth any cost, even the deaths of many. They seek the destruction of the present for the sake of the better. Razumihin is appalled at this philosophy and even wonders if it is all a joke, but it is not. Raskolnikov qualifies his beliefs by noting that extraordinary men are not bound to commit such acts, but he believes they have the right to a breach of morals and both groups of men have the right to exist.
Petrovitch attempts to get Raskolnikov to explain how to distinguish between these two groups of men and asks how many of them there are. Raskolnikov is unsure, but he is convinced that these two groups are a “definite part of nature.” Petrovitch wonders what happens when an ordinary man imagines himself to be extraordinary; Zametov guffaws, but Raskolnikov says the vain and foolish are likely to fall victim to this kind of confusion and will suffer both in prison and in their consciences.
Petrovitch asks two final questions. He wonders if, when Raskolnikov was writing his article, he ever imagined himself to be an extraordinary man. The answer is no. He also wonders if Raskolnikov saw an empty apartment or several painters when he was at the old pawnbroker’s between seven and eight the night of the murder. It is a trick question and the answer is no. Raskolnikov and Razumihin leave after Petrovitch tells Raskolnikov to see him tomorrow about his pawned items.
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