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FREE Barron's Booknotes-Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky-Free
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PART II, CHAPTER 1

Hours later, still in a stupor and once again isolated in his garret, Raskolnikov tries to cope with the memory of the murders. Chills and tremors plague him, and he compulsively examines his clothes for blood- stains. Suddenly he remembers the loot in his coat pockets and hides it behind the torn wallpaper without counting the money. One thing the murders haven't changed is the self-doubt that haunts him.

Rushing around the room, he seems unable to decide what to do next. He cuts off the bloody fringes of his trousers and tears the stained pocket from his coat, but can't figure out what to do with them. "Can this really be the beginning of my punishment?" he asks. Punishment is something that he has never thought about until now. By showing Raskolnikov's hysteria, Dostoevsky picks up on one of the young man's theories-that illness accompanies crime. Does his reaction prove that he has committed a crime after all? Remember, he was sure he wouldn't react the way an ordinary criminal would.

His only solution is to go to sleep. But he awakes to a loud knocking on the door. His first thought is that he has been found out. In his state he doesn't realize how unlikely that is; he debates with himself about how he should respond. Finally, he simply opens the door. His worst imaginings seem confirmed when he is handed a summons from the police. Once more, Dostoevsky draws the reader into Raskolnikov's anxiety. Is it all over already?

In fact, the summons is absolutely unrelated to the murder. But Raskolnikov can't pull himself together. Fear that he will give himself away tortures him. He is in such a state that he leaves his room unlocked, with the bloody shreds of clothing lying in plain sight and the pawnbroker's money and possessions clumsily hidden. The coincidental summons (foreshadowed by the maid in Part I, Chapter 3) and the tension it produces are Dostoevsky's way of showing us Raskolnikov's fragile grip on himself. No wonder Raskolnikov's worried about giving himself away. He ought to be.


His inner confusion is profound when he arrives at the station and confronts, in turn, three representatives of the police: Zametov, the chief- clerk; Ilya Petrovich, the fiery lieutenant; and Nikodim Fomich, the captain. When he learns from the clerk that he is being sued for his debts, relief washes over him. Enough of his old arrogance returns so that he can even talk back to the lieutenant. You may be able to remember reacting this way yourself, when you've gotten away with a close call. For all his strangeness, Raskolnikov is a very real character.

In his euphoria, he tells the sad story of his crushing debt and his unhappy life, but the officers aren't impressed. Clearly there is nothing new in his experience, and they're callous about suffering. Their lack of interest depresses Raskolnikov profoundly, another indication of his emotional state, for "his soul... was tormentingly conscious of... eternal loneliness and estrangement." His alienation from his fellow men is increasing.

He feels an urge to confess, to get it over with, to tell all. But he resists just in time to overhear the three men engrossed in a conversation about the pawnbroker's mysterious murder. Then, when he stands up to leave, he faints. A more dramatic moment is hard to imagine.

Suddenly, everybody is enormously interested in him. But now their interest fills Raskolnikov with fear and dread.

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FREE Barron's Booknotes-Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky-Free
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