Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 655
The extravagant funeral meal Katerina Ivanovna hosts is probably a result of several things, including a desire to honor her dead husband, an opportunity for her to show that she is still a refined woman, and her overstrained mind which thinks it is a reasonable thing to do. She has a naturally peace-loving and lively disposition; however, because of the continual failures and disappointments of the past few years, the slightest impediment to her joy nearly throws her into a frenzy.
Now Katerina Ivanovna is upset that none of the important lodgers she invited to the memorial dinner decided to attend; she had invited them simply to show that she is not the kind of woman they think she is. Instead, the table is full of ruffians, drunks, and people in worse condition than she. Though the landlady provided invaluable help in the meal preparations, Katerina Ivanovna assumes it is she who caused all the more noble guests to decline; accordingly, she treats the woman with haughty contempt. It is an inauspicious beginning and a bad omen for the dinner.
Raskolnikov arrives just as the group is returning from the cemetery. Katerina Ivanovna seats him in a place of honor and spends the entire meal ensuring all forms of etiquette are observed while mocking all of her other guests and laughing hysterically at their expense—which inevitably turns into uncontrollable coughing. She scolds Sonia for coming to the table late and seats her next to Raskolnikov. Sonia respectfully explains that Luzhin detained her to talk over some business for her future, an offer to help her family financially. She is shy and does not look at Raskolnikov for the rest of the meal.
Katerina Ivanovna talks loudly about her late husband’s virtues, despite his one great failing, and the other members of the dinner party begin mocking his memory. One man, in particular, derides Marmeladov; he does so as he drinks shot after shot of vodka, and soon the discussion is loud and nearly out of control. Katerina Ivanovna is offended most on behalf of her children, particularly Sonia; and when someone from the other end of the table passes Sonia a plate with two hearts formed out of black bread with arrows piercing them, she denounces whoever did it as “an ass.”
When the landlady relates what she thinks is an amusing anecdote, Katerina Ivanovna mocks her for how she talks, what she says, and how awful she looks when she is offended. Once again in a good humor, Katerina Ivanovna begins to tell Raskolnikov about her dream to open a boarding school for the daughters of noblemen. She even has a certificate to prove that she is qualified to open such a school and is the daughter of a major. The certificate is passed around the table, and her drunken guests are silent as she expounds her specific plans. Katerina Ivanovna is only momentarily deterred when someone guffaws and assures them Sonia will be most helpful at the school.
Sonia will be a perfect help in the boarding school because of her “gentleness, patience, devotion, generosity, and good education.” The landlady has been left out of the conversation long enough and offers what she thinks is sensible advice for someone who is going to open a boarding school, but Katerina Ivanovna dismisses her soundly. At that, the landlady announces that Katerina Ivanovna does not pay her rent and the battle of words begins.
Each woman accuses the other of having questionable parentage and the crowd spurs them on in hopes of seeing a fight. When the landlady finally resorts to insulting Sonia by referencing the yellow ticket, Katerina Ivanovna rushes the other woman, threatening to tear off her cap and trample it under her foot. Just then, Luzhin appears at the threshold of the dining room and scans the rather wild scene. When the hostess sees him, she rushes to him immediately.
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