Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Barron's Booknotes
PART V, CHAPTER 5
Lebeziatnikov tells Sonia that Katerina Ivanovna has lost her mind and has taken her children out into the street to perform as street singers for money. Sonia leaves to go in search of Katerina Ivanovna.
Raskolnikov goes back home. He thinks that he has placed his burdens on Sonia's shoulders and is afraid that he will ruin her life, too. He wonders whether prison life in Siberia will be better than or worse than his present existence. Dounia arrives at this moment. She tells Raskolnikov that she knows that he is being harassed by the police because they suspect him of murder. She does not blame him for abandoning her and their mother. She tells Raskolnikov that if he needs her help he should not hesitate to ask for it. Raskolnikov tells Dounia that Razumihin will be a suitable husband for her. After Dounia leaves, Raskolnikov thinks to himself that his sister will not be able to endure the thought that her brother is a murderer.
Raskolnikov leaves his room. He meets Lebeziatnikov, who takes him to see Katerina Ivanovna. She is forcing her children to perform street songs and dances for alms. Sonia begs Katerina Ivanovna to leave the street and to come home with her. A policeman appears and orders Katerina Ivanovna to leave the area at once. In fright, Katerina Ivanovna's two younger children, Kolya and Lida, start to run away. Their mother chases them, but she stumbles and falls. It is then discovered that Katerina Ivanovna is coughing blood. She is taken to Sonia's lodgings, where she dies after having refused to let a priest see her. Before dying, she entrusts her three children to Sonia's care.
Svidrigailov appears at Sonia's house and asks to speak to Raskolnikov. He offers to pay for the funeral of Katerina Ivanovna and tells Raskolnikov he will put the three children in good orphanages after giving each of them 1,500 rubles in trust funds. Raskolnikov wonders why Svidrigailov is being so charitable. Svidrigailov points out that Katerina Ivanovna was not the louse that "some old moneylender" was. Raskolnikov turns pale at the insinuation. He asks Svidrigailov how he came to know about his (Raskolnikov's) involvement in the murders. Svidrigailov reveals that he has been eavesdropping on Raskolnikov's conversations with Sonia, since he lives right next door to her.
In this chapter Dostoevsky emphasizes the pitiful condition of Katerina Ivanovna and her children. He portrays the madness in Katerina Ivanovna in a street scene that is typical of big cities like St. Petersburg. Katerina Ivanovna refuses to allow a priest to be at her deathbed, as she believes that God sees her pain and therefore, will forgive her. As in the previous chapter, the theme of suffering is introduced. Katerina Ivanovna is released from suffering through death.
Raskolnikov feels terribly lonely after his meeting with Sonia. He begins to despise Sonia because she suggests that he must go to prison for his crime. He realizes that he has made her more unhappy. It is only at the end of the novel that he accepts Sonia's love and devotion. His pride is at the heart of this delayed acceptance of Sonia and of his own fate.
Svidrigailov reveals to Raskolnikov that he knows Raskolnikov is the murderer. This becomes important, as Svidrigailov uses this knowledge to get Dounia to meet him alone in Part VI, Chapter 5. The death of Katerina Ivanovna leaves Sonia responsible for the three children; it also brings out some good in Svidrigailov, who offers his help to place them in orphanages.