Crime and Punishment Part 4, Chapter 6 Summary
by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Part 4, Chapter 6 Summary

Later, Raskolnikov remembers the scene this way: the noise behind Petrovitch’s door increases until suddenly the door is slightly opened. Petrovitch says he gave orders and this is too soon, but there is silence and it is clear several people are trying to keep someone from entering. Someone says it is the prisoner Nikolay and Petrovitch is angry and wants the man taken away immediately. After a two-second struggle, Nikolay shoves himself into the room. The man has a determined gleam in his eyes though he sees nothing; that and his deathly pallor make it seem as if he is a man headed for the gallows.

A crowd has gathered at the doorway, and an extremely annoyed Petrovitch warns them away, saying they have brought the prisoner too soon. Nikolay suddenly drops to the floor and confesses to the murders of the old pawnbroker and her sister Lizabeta. Petrovitch waves his hand and the spectators instantly vanish; then he looks at Raskolnikov, standing in the corner and staring wildly at the prisoner. Petrovitch looks at them both and finally moves to Nikolay and begins questioning him about the specifics of the murders.

Nikolay’s answers are weak and rather contradictory because, of course, he did not commit the murders—and Petrovitch knows almost immediately that “it is not his own tale he is telling.” Suddenly remembering Raskolnikov, Petrovitch tells him he must leave. Raskolnikov says this is finally good-bye, but Petrovitch says that is in God’s hands and is still playing the wit with Raskolnikov. He heard Petrovitch tell Nikolay that he was not telling his own tale, and Raskolnikov says there must be many amusing moments ahead for Petrovitch as he questions the prisoner.

Raskolnikov walks straight home and is still so amazed that he sits for fifteen minutes just trying to collect his thoughts. Raskolnikov is stupefied at Nikolay’s confession and thinks the man must be under tremendous strain to confess to a crime he did not commit. Until the lie is discovered, Raskolnikov is free to do something for himself, though the danger is imminent. After just a little more time spent with Petrovitch, Raskolnikov knows he would probably have given himself away completely. Though he has been compromised, Raskolnikov is certain there are no facts to connect him to the murders—unless he is mistaken.

Finally he gets up to leave; he has some kind of presentiment that for today, at least, he is safe. Raskolnikov feels what might almost be called joy and is suddenly anxious to go to the funeral. He will be late, but he will arrive in time to attend the memorial dinner and he will get to see Sonia again....

(The entire section is 692 words.)