Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 806
Razumihin is still incredulous that Raskolnikov could hold such views about men and murder, and he is confused and excited to finally be talking openly about it. Raskolnikov believes that if the authorities really had any hard evidence, they would not have been baiting him for information and trying to trick him with psychological games as Petrovitch had just done.
Razumihin agrees, listing the coincidences which seem to be working against Raskolnikov: he is a poor student, “unhinged by poverty and hypochondria” and on the verge of a severe delirious illness, who has been a recluse for six months and is wearing rags and is faced with an unexpected debt at the crowded police station where all the talk is of murder—and all on an empty stomach. Anyone in those circumstances might have acted outrageously and seemed guilty. Razumihin understands the trap the authorities are trying to set for his friend, asking if he saw the painters during the fateful hour in which the old pawnbroker was murdered. Raskolnikov suggests that clever people are usually caught by simple things.
As they reach the entrance to his mother’s boarding house for dinner, Raskolnikov feels a steadily increasing uneasiness and asks his friend to tell his family he will return in half an hour and storms off toward his lodgings. When Raskolnikov arrives at his apartment, he is sweaty and out of breath. He closes the latch behind him and goes immediately to the hole behind the wallpaper where he had hidden the stolen goods. He feels around but does not find anything and is relieved. He panics again as he imagines there may be some small bit of evidence dropped somewhere in his apartment that would conclusively link him to the old pawnbroker’s murder and goes back to his home.
The porter is standing at the door and pointing him out to a short stranger who looks like an oddly dressed artisan. Raskolnikov asks the strange man his name, but the man just slowly and deliberately looks at him before walking away. Raskolnikov runs after the strange man and then walks behind him for some time after overtaking him. Finally he moves on a level with the man and they walk silently for a moment before Raskolnikov asks him quietly why he was looking for him. Both are silent for a moment until Raskolnikov repeats the question. Suddenly the stranger gives him a sinister look and exclaims “Murderer!” in a clear, distinct voice. Raskolnikov is terrified but keeps walking. When Raskolnikov finally asks what the man means, the stranger gives him a look of triumphant hatred and says, “You are a murderer.” At the crossroads, the stranger turns left without looking behind him, and Raskolnikov walks back to his apartment with shaking knees and faltering steps.
He sinks onto his sofa and into oblivion once more, as images whirl through his brain. Razumihin enters but does not disturb him as he continues his delirious thinking. The feverish man wonders if an infinitesimal clue will turn into a “pyramid of evidence.” In his delirium, he realizes he is probably not one of those extraordinary men, for Napoleon would never have crept around under an old woman’s bed.
Raskolnikov killed the old woman because he wants to live for himself or not at all. Nevertheless, he is “certainly a louse,” for he is perhaps even more vile and loathsome than the louse he killed—and he knew before he did it that he would feel this way after he killed her. Raskolnikov sweats and stares at the ceiling in his delirium; he used to love his family but now hates them. As he raves about killing the innocent Lizaveta and compares her to Sonia, he finally loses consciousness.
It is late now, and he is in the street. He feels as if he is walking with a purpose, but he cannot think what it is. Suddenly he stands still as the strange man from earlier in the day beckons to him from across the street. Raskolnikov follows him to a big house, goes inside, and walks up to the fourth floor where the old pawnbroker’s apartment is almost exactly as it was that night. The old woman is huddled in a corner, and when he looks more closely he sees that she is laughing hilariously. As he begins clobbering her with the axe, people are suddenly everywhere, watching him in silence and expectation.
He wakes but his dream seems to continue, as there is an unknown man in his doorway, watching Raskolnikov before coming quietly in and sitting in a chair next to the sofa. He is prepared to wait as long as it takes. Finally it is unbearable, and Raskolnikov asks what the man wants. Arkady Ivonovitch Svidrigailov laughs calmly and introduces himself.
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