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FREE Barron's Booknotes-Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky-Free
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CHAPTER 4

Although Raskolnikov takes no part in the conversations in this chapter- one about Razumikhin's plans for a housewarming party that evening and another about the murder of the pawnbroker-he is keenly interested in the second conversation, and obviously directly involved. But he is the only one who knows it.

Because Razumikhin has invited the police clerk Zametov and the examining magistrate, Porfiry Petrovich, to his party, the talk quickly turns to the murder. Razumikhin explains he disapproves of the way the investigation is being handled. One of the painters who had been working in the pawnbroker's building on the evening of the killing has been arrested, but Razumikhin and his friends are sure he's innocent.


In the middle of the discussion, one remark unsettles Raskolnikov completely, and he spends the rest of the time staring at the wall. The maid announces, quite out of the blue, that the murdered Lizaveta had once mended one of his shirts. This is another of the coincidences that fill the novel. Readers disagree whether details like this make the novel more realistic and powerful, or too artificial and contrived. It's something you might think about.

Besides providing details of what the police know about the murder-which isn't much-the conversation provides some serious criticism of police methods of investigation. Razumikhin accuses them of arresting first and thinking afterward, and of not asking the right questions. The strongest criticism, and the one that has the most bearing on Raskolnikov, is the one that bothers Razumikhin the most: the investigators will interpret even the least significant physical evidence as important while ignoring psychological evidence about the accused's mental state. With opposition like that, Raskolnikov has little to fear, and he knows it.

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