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Free Study Guide-Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky-Free Booknotes
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PART VI, CHAPTER 6

Summary

Until ten that night, Svidrigailov spends his time "wandering between various taverns and brothels." After ten he goes to his lodgings. Then he drops by at Sonia's place and gives her 3,000 rubles worth of bonds. He reveals to her his knowledge of Raskolnikov's guilt. He tells Sonia that he is going to America.

After eleven, Svidrigailov pays a visit to his teenage fiancée. He leaves 15,000 silver rubles as a gift for her. He sets out for the opposite bank of the Neva River and books a room in a hotel. His room is filthy and depressing, and his recent memories of Dounia do not allow him to get much rest. After some time, he drifts off into sleep. He dreams of a poor, sick, five year-old girl, whom he picks up and looks after, only to discover that the child suddenly transforms into a prostitute. Svidrigailov wakes in horror. He writes a few lines in a notebook. He walks out in the early dawn. In front of a watchtower, he takes out a revolver and shoots himself.


Notes

In this chapter, the reader sees how Svidrigailov prepares himself for his death by suicide. Following Dounia's rejection of him, he no longer has an interest in life. He gives away his money in parts, first to Sonia and then to his fiancée. He leaves his lodgings and checks into a hotel where he is not known to anyone. He spends a lonely and dreadful night there. Again, his isolation from others is emphasized.

His inability to find a healthy and pure love is reflected in his dream about the innocent child who turns into a prostitute. Svidrigailov is perhaps not as depraved as some critics make him out to be. He has been looking for the right kind of love. Because he has not been able to receive it, he has turned to vice and finally opts for an early death by suicide. His act of suicide shows he cannot bear to live without the sympathy of other humans, like Dounia, whom he loves.

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