Part 6, Chapter 8 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 717

It is after dark when Raskolnikov arrives at Sonia’s room, and she has been waiting for him all day. She and Dounia enjoyed the fellowship of a shared grief, and Dounia is comforted to know that her brother will not be alone. He confided in Sonia for confession and for human fellowship, and Sonia will go with him wherever fate will send him. Each woman privately admires the other, but when they separate, each woman is filled with despair.

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Sonia is staring intently out the window when Raskolnikov arrives, but she quickly hides her joy when she looks carefully at his face. He has come for the cross she promised him. He tells her he is most angry about having to answer foolish questions put to him by foolish men, and he may avoid Petrovitch altogether when he turns himself in to the authorities. Raskolnikov is pacing and trembling, and he barely knows what he is doing.

Sonia takes the two crosses, one wooden and one copper, and makes the sign of the cross over herself and him before placing the wooden cross around Raskolnikov’s neck. It is a symbol of his taking up his cross. Sonia is weeping and asks him to cross himself and say at least one prayer. As he crosses himself several times, Sonia places her shawl over his shoulders, and Raskolnikov is afraid she intends to go with him to the police.

When he leaves, Raskolnikov does not say good-bye to Sonia as she stands in the middle of her room; he has already forgotten about her. As he walks, Raskolnikov scolds himself for going to see Sonia and admits he simply wanted her tears—something he could hold on to in the days to come. He walks along the canal and near the bridge; he wants to remember it now so that when the prison van takes him over it, he will have these memories.

In the middle of the square, he remembers Sonia’s advice: kneel down and kiss the ground, for you have sinned against the people. That is just what he does, amid the jeers and taunts of the crowd. When he finally rises and makes his way to the police station, he realizes Sonia has followed him. Now he knows she will be with him forever. He is near the station and walks up the filthy stairwell to the third story.

The office is silent and empty when he arrives, and Raskolnikov believes it is fate that the man he sees first is the explosive lieutenant, Ilya Petrovitch. The man is apologetic for his behavior when Raskolnikov was last here and wonders how he can help him today. Raskolnikov asks whether Zametov is available, but Zametov has not been seen since he quarreled with everyone and left yesterday. The officer continues to ask about Raskolnikov’s literary preferences and wonders whether he is a nihilist.

For Raskolnikov, most of what Ilya Petrovitch says is nothing but empty words, and he waits to see what will happen next and how it will all end. The man continues talking about midwives and education and suicides, such as the latest one, Svidrigailov. Svidrigailov’s death is stunning news to Raskolnikov, and the officer says it was an odd case. Svidrigailov was recently widowed, evidently had some money, and left a few words in a notebook. Raskolnikov says his sister was once a governess in the man’s home and that he saw him just yesterday, but he knows nothing else about the man or his death.

Since Zametov is not there, Raskolnikov begins walking down the stairs, reeling with giddiness and holding onto the wall. As he walks into the yard, he sees Sonia waiting for him with a look of poignant despair on her face. He gives her a sickly smile and goes back into the building. Inside, he approaches Ilya Petrovitch, now sitting behind a desk, and tries to speak, but nothing comes out of his mouth. The officer puts him into a chair and orders someone to bring water, which Raskolnikov refuses.

In a clear voice, Raskolnikov announces that he was the one who murdered the old pawnbroker and her innocent sister with an axe and robbed them. Everyone gapes, and Raskolnikov repeats his statement.

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