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Crime and Punishment

by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Part 6, Chapter 6 Summary

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Svidrigailov spends his evening in disreputable places before making his way home through a storm. In his apartment, he takes his money, tears up several papers, and goes next door to see Sonia. She listens to him timidly but earnestly as he tells her he may be going to America and will probably never see her again. He asks whether she was offered a job while she was at the orphanage today (she blushes) and gives her the receipts for the money he has already paid for her siblings to remain in the orphanage “in case anything happens.”

He then gives her a bond for three thousand roubles, which she does not want to take because she can now earn her own living, but he insists she accept it and tell no one of it. He warns her that the life she has been living is a bad one. Sonia tells him she is grateful for all he has done for her family, but she will not need it. Svidrigailov insists she will want it soon, for Raskolnikov will soon end up either with a bullet to the head or in prison for murder. Sonia is stunned, but he assures her he knows the secret but will not tell. If Raskolnikov goes to Siberia, he knows she will follow, so she is to think of it as money for Raskolnikov. Plus, he had heard her promise to repay her family’s debt to their former landlady, something she was under no obligation to do.

Before leaving, Svidrigailov asks her to give his regards to Raskolnikov and suggests she take the bonds to Razumihin for safekeeping tomorrow—or when the time comes. Sonia longs to ask questions but refrains, and Svidrigailov walks out into the storm. Later, it will be discovered that Svidrigailov made another “eccentric and unexpected” stop late that night in the rain. He went to the home of his betrothed, eventually explained that he would be gone for a time, and presented her with a gift of fifteen thousand roubles. He kisses the innocent girl good-bye and is saddened at the knowledge that her careful mother would never give her the money; the family is amazed at their connection to such a generous and gracious, if eccentric, man.

At exactly midnight, Svidrigailov walks back over the bridge and finds a hotel. He takes a tiny room at the end of a dark hall and orders tea and dinner. He hears a thunderous voice in the room next door and peeps through a crack in the wall to see a big man thumping his chest and berating a smaller man for being poor and depraved. The object of reproach does not seem to understand anything about the scolding. Svidrigailov gets his food but can only drink the tea, as he has begun to feel feverish. Now, of all times, it would be best if he were not sick, but he wraps himself in a blanket and begins having disjointed, feverish thoughts. He blows out the candle, inviting Marfa Petrovna to visit him now.

He thinks about Raskolnikov and Dounia before feeling a mouse crawl up his arm. Soon he is plagued by several mice until he wakes up, disgusted by such dreams. It is still dark, and now his thoughts take him to a sumptuous country cottage where he sees a fourteen-year-old girl lying still and knows she had drowned herself. Next he imagines the rain has caused the river to flood, creating havoc in the city. A clock strikes three and he decides to go now rather than wait, since it will be light...

(This entire section contains 786 words.)

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in an hour. As he walks down the hallway, he discovers a five-year-old girl in the corner, crying because she has broken her cup and is afraid her mother will beat her. He takes her to his room and puts her in his bed. Soon he checks on her and discovers that the innocent girl now has the face of a French harlot, winking at him seductively. He is appalled at the depravity and wakes up again with a start. It is five o’clock and he has overslept.

Svidrigailov gets up and writes a few lines on the front page of a notebook and then leaves the room with the revolver. He walks for a time before approaching a soldier in uniform and just stands and stares at him for several moments; soon it seems odd to the soldier that this sober man is behaving in such a way. Svidrigailov tells the soldier to say, when asked, that Svidrigailov was planning to go to America; then he places to the revolver to his own temple and pulls the trigger.


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