Until the moment he was asked to leave, Luzhin had never imagined that the meeting would end this way. In his conceit and vanity, he had been certain he could manipulate and control the two defenseless and destitute women. His self-admiration has grown into foolishness as he believes his money has made him an equal to everyone who had been his superiors.
He had just insinuated that perhaps all the malicious gossip about Dounia was true, though when he made her the offer of marriage he was well aware that the gossip was groundless. Despite that, he still looked at his offer as being benevolent and his raising her to his level as heroic. He had called on Raskolnikov expecting to be flattered and had left feeling “undeservedly injured and unrecognized.”
Having Dounia is essential to his happiness. He has long dreamed of being married but had amassed money instead. His vision of a subservient wife who is dependent on him and humbled by his accomplishment is perfected in Dounia; she is even more than he had ever hoped for, for she is also a woman of great education and fine character. Along with this personal accomplishment, he has planned to advance his career by coming to Petersburg to “try his fortune.” He is well aware that having the right woman would be a significant advantage in this endeavor, and now all his hopes are in ruins. Luzhin determines that all must be set right tomorrow. He must first “crush that conceited milksop who was the cause of it all.” He gives a passing thought to Razumihin but dismisses him as too inferior to think about; he knows his real threat is Svidrigailov.
Back in the little apartment there is much relief. Dounia takes responsibility for sending Luzhin away, admitting that she really did not know until now what a base man he is. Pulcheria Alexandrovna is surprised at how relieved she feels, and Razumihin is in a feverish excitement, feeling as if a giant weight has fallen off his heart. Raskolnikov, who had been the most adamant about ending the match, is sullen and indifferent.
Dounia asks Raskolnikov what Svidrigailov wanted from him, and he told her the man wants to give her ten thousand roubles and meet with her one time in Raskolnikov’s presence. He relates their conversation (minus the talk of ghosts) and says Svidrigailov’s infatuation with her has passed. Raskolnikov does not understand it all, since the man wants to give her money though he is not well off and is already considering marriage to another girl. He probably has a motive, but it is probably not an evil one. Dounia quietly considers the request.
Razumihin begins talking about the future, and he assumes the two women will not want to go back to the country now that they are here. He has long dreamt of creating his own publishing company; with some money his uncle has offered to loan him and one thousand of the three thousand roubles Dounia will have, they can start a business. He knows three languages and has spent two years learning everything about the business; this is his passion. Dounia is considering it and asks her brother what he thinks.
Raskolnikov is non-committal, agreeing that Razumihin is capable of such a venture but wants to discuss it later. Razumihin suggests the entire family can live together in a nice apartment in this building, but Raskolnikov prepares to leave without a word. Dounia looks at him with incredulous wonder, and he says it is as if she is burying him or...
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will never see him again—which might be true.
Raskolnikov tells them he is not well and must stay away from them. He loves them and might come to them after it is all over, but whether he comes to ruin or not he must be alone. If they do not let him go he will come to hate them. All three of them are disturbed by his words and his leaving.
Razumihin says Raskolnikov is not heartless, so he must be mad. He races to catch his friend, and Raskolnikov is waiting for him at the end of the hallway. He tells Razumihin he will come back if he can but admonishes him to stay with the women. They look at one another in silence for a long moment, a moment Razumihin will always remember. Something in Raskolnikov’s eyes pierces Razumihin’s soul, and he sees something hideous and awful; both sides understand the truth without speaking and Razumihin turns pale.
Razumihin understands and goes back. He encourages the women’s hopes that Raskolnikov will get better, and from this night he takes his place with them as brother and son.