When Katrina Ivanovna asks Luzhin to tell her landlady that she has no right to demand payment for rent at this time of grieving, Luzhin denies ever having met her father and says he wants to talk to Sonia. The room laughs at his speech, for their hostess had already assured them that Luzhin was a friend of her father’s; she is stunned at his denial. The clamor subsides at Luzhin’s presence, and Raskolnikov moves silently aside as Luzhin approaches Sonia. Lebeziatnikov has come out of his apartment, as well.
Luzhin apologizes for disrupting the party but is glad to have witnesses for what he is about to say. In a clear, loud voice, Luzhin tells a surprised and alarmed Sonia that after her visit to his room, he discovered that he is missing a hundred-rouble note from his table. He assures her, in front of these witnesses, that if she knows where it is and tells him, nothing more will happen to her. If not, he will be forced to take serious action against her.
Complete silence dominates the room. Sonia seems not to understand what he has just said, and Luzhin persists for her answer. When she faintly claims she did not take the money, Luzhin admonishes her and tells that he brought home a certain sum of money and counted it, putting all but five hundred roubles on the table before asking his friend Lebeziatnikov to call for Sonia. When she arrived, he offered to help her family financially. During their discussion, Sonia was extremely embarrassed and three times got up to leave the room before he called her back to finish their conversation. She had even been in tears, at times. He gave her ten roubles out of kindness and sent her on her way; Lebeziatnikov was a witness to all of this.
Just a few minutes after she left, Lebeziatnikov left, as well. When Luzhin discovered the missing note, he could not suspect his friend, but Sonia’s embarrassment and persistent desire to leave make her the only possible suspect. Luzhin knows that making such a public accusation is a risk in case he has made a false claim, but he cannot overlook it because of Sonia’s “black ingratitude.” If she persists in claiming her innocence, he will be forced to teach her a lesson.
Sonia is terrified but asserts her innocence; when she does, Luzhin asks the landlady to send for the police. The landlady is ecstatic and claims that Sonia must be the thief who has been stealing from her lodgers. At this, Katerina becomes unhinged and throws her bony arms around Sonia for protection, scolding her for taking any money at all from the man. She takes the ten-rouble note and throws it at Luzhin’s face, demanding that Sonia be searched; since she came directly to the dinner, the money would have to be on her person. In a frenzy, she drags Luzhin over to Sonia and turns the girl’s pockets inside out. From one of them, a tiny paper flies out; it is a hundred-rouble note folded into a tiny packet.
Raskolnikov has been standing silently, glowering at Sonia; he remains silent despite the uproar around him. Sonia protests her innocence and her mother wails helplessly. Luzhin scolds her and says he is still willing to overlook the incident, but when he meets Raskolnikov’s eyes, Luzhin is nearly reduced to ashes. Suddenly, Lebeziatnikov calls Luzhin out as a liar and a vile scoundrel, for he saw Luzhin slip the note into the girl’s pocket as she was leaving but thought he was...
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just doing her a kindness and did not want to have it known.
His speech is impassioned and everyone believes him. Raskolnikov finally speaks and adds his story: Luzhin is using this incident to prove to his betrothed and her mother that he was right about Sonia’s character and to estrange them from himself. This was all done out of bitterness and revenge, and Lebeziatnikov agrees, remembering that Luzhin asked him specifically if Raskolnikov was at the dinner before inviting Sonia into their rooms.
Now the raucous crowd turns on Luzhin; he is not intimidated and pushes his way through the crowd with his insults. Half an hour later he leaves the building with his belongings. Sonia is devastated and rushes out as things grow violent behind her. The landlady finally demands that Katerina Ivanovna leave, and she does. Her children huddle, terrified, on a trunk in the corner awaiting her return while Raskolnikov goes directly to Sonia’s lodgings.