Part 6, Chapter 1 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 798

This is a strange time for Raskolnikov; it is as if a fog has wrapped him in a solitude from which there is no escape. Looking back, he sees this as a time of confusion and even imagined events and people. He is particularly worried about Svidrigailov. From the moment Svidrigailov uttered the menacing words at the time of Katerina Ivanovna’s death, Raskolnikov’s mind seems to have quit working normally. He regrets not having come to an understanding at once with the man rather than simply ignoring the fact that the exchange ever happened, which is what both men have done.

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Katerina Ivanovna’s body is still in the coffin as Svidrigailov makes arrangements for the funeral and arranges satisfactory placements for her children. When the two men do talk, Svidrigailov peers intently at Raskolnikov and apologizes for not finding time to converse with him before telling him he looks somewhat disconnected and appears to need some fresh air.

Raskolnikov stays during a requiem service for Katerina Ivanovna. Sonia, who has not spoken to Raskolnikov in two days, now comes to him and takes his hands before resting her head on his shoulder. Raskolnikov can sense no repulsion in her at all, no trace of disgust; he believes this is the “furthest limit of self-abnegation.” He presses her hand and leaves without speaking.

Though he is often alone, Raskolnikov is rarely able to escape to solitude, to feel alone. During these three days, he walks aimlessly and often senses an “uneasy presence” near him. Once he remembers his mother and Dounia in a panic, and he often feels a vague sense that there is something requiring an immediate decision from him. Finally he is home and Nastasya feeds him; it is the day of Katerina Ivanovna’s funeral, and he is glad not to go.

Razumihin finds him eating and not ill, and is obviously troubled and annoyed at his former colleague. He has come to find out, “once for all,” whether Raskolnikov is insane. He tends to believe what most everyone seems to believe—that he is mad—because only a monster or a madman would treat his own mother and sister as Raskolnikov has. Yesterday, his mother, though she was ill, came to see Raskolnikov and waited until she gave up on a son who cares more for others than for his own mother; now she is home with a fever. They had assumed Raskolnikov had been spending all his time with Sonia, so Razumihin went to see her and found the family in mourning.

Now Razumihin knows that Raskolnikov has simply been selfish and is probably mad; he has come here simply to swear at him and walk away from it all. Raskolnikov knows Razumihin is going to get drunk, a fact that again makes Razumihin exclaim that Raskolnikov is not mad. Raskolnikov tells him Dounia came to see him and that he told her Razumihin is a man worth loving; he knows they love one another already, and he knows Razumihin will care for his mother and Dounia if anything were to happen to him. This again changes Razumihin’s opinion of Raskolnikov. He agrees to quit trying to discover Raskolnikov’s secrets. As he leaves, he tells Raskolnikov two interesting things. First, Dounia received a letter today that quite upset her; second, Petrovitch told him that the painter Nikolay has made a full confession, with proof, to the old pawnbroker’s murder. Razumihin thanks Raskolnikov, says he has no need to drink for he is now drunk with happiness, and leaves. After leaving, Razumihin convinces himself that Raskolnikov is involved in some kind of political intrigue and has somehow involved Dounia, an explanation that makes sense of all the odd behavior and talk.

Raskolnikov is relieved and wonders how Petrovitch could possibly have believed Nikolay the painter’s story after their conversation, in which Petrovitch clearly indicated that he knew the truth. Even more, Razumihin said Petrovitch had explained to him all the psychological reasons to explain Nikolay’s guilt. In any case, the news creates a sense of relief in him, and he resolves to do the one thing still weighing heavily on him. Raskolnikov prepares to leave and find Svidrigailov. At that moment, there is such a rush of hate in his heart for both Svidrigailov and Petrovitch that he could easily kill either man—if not now, then later.

He opens the door and nearly stumbles over Petrovitch, who claims he has finally come to visit if Raskolnikov has five minutes to spare. Raskolnikov is suddenly calm and invites him in; he is like a man who has been held captive in mortal terror but, now that he has the knife against his throat, feels calm and fearless.

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