Crime and Punishment By Fyodor Dostoevsky Summary and Analysis Part 1: Chapter 7

Summary

As soon as the door was opened a crack, Raskolnikov forced his way into the pawnbroker's. She is frightened, and he gives her the pledge that he had wrapped so carefully, telling her that it is a silver cigarette case. As she laboriously unwraps the package, he removes the axe and, while her back is turned, he hits her with the butt end of the axe. He then strikes her again and again with the blunt end of the axe. Very carefully, he lays the axe down by the body and begins to search through her pockets for keys.

While searching for the keys, he notices that Alyona Ivanovna wears two crosses, one of cypress wood and one of copper. He then finds some keys and a small leather purse stuffed very full and he takes them. As he searches the rooms, he finds all sorts of gold and silver items, but he suddenly hears footsteps in the entranceway. He discovers Lizaveta standing over her murdered half sister. Raskolnikov immediately takes the axe and with Lizaveta staring at him in utter horror, he strikes her with one heavy blow "with the sharp edge just on the skull and splits at one blow all the top of her head." This "second unpremeditated murder" makes him want to completely abandon the entire project. After the second murder, he begins to think of confessing and immediately begins to cleanse the blood from his axe, hands, and clothes.

As he is ready to leave, the doorbell rings. Two individuals wait outside for their appointments with Alyona Ivanovna. As they try the door, they realize that it is locked from the inside. One leaves to go get the porter and then when the other leaves for a moment, Raskolnikov slips out and hides in the empty, newly painted room just below the pawnbroker's flat. When the murder is discovered, he slips out unnoticed and returns to his own room, where he replaces the axe in the porter's lodge and then falls into a state bordering on unconsciousness.

Analysis

Part One ends with the murder of Alyona. But in the dual murder scene, note that Alyona is murdered with the blunt side of the axe and as though one stroke were not enough to kill her, he then bludgeons the body with further strokes. In contrast, the murder of Lizaveta is quickly finished by a swift stroke of the sharp side of the axe. In this dual murder, he has killed one person who is mean, wicked, and cold (Alyona) and the murder was premeditated so as to prove a theory to himself. In the second murder, Lizaveta, who is warm, friendly, humane, gentle, and compassionate is instantaneously killed and her murder was not premeditated. Thus in a figurative manner, the two murders represent the two aspects of Raskolnikov's character. The importance here is that later Raskolnikov seldom thinks of the murder of Lizaveta but is troubled about the murder of Alyona because the death of the old louse is directly correlated to the validity of his theories, and Lizaveta's murder was accidental.

As soon as he completes the murder and as he is standing in the midst of the carnage, his first thought is "to abandon everything" and "to give himself up." This is the first of many thoughts of confession that will continue until the actual confession at the end of Part Five.

Covered with blood, he notices a bucket half full of water and he begins to wash his hands and the axe. This elaborate cleansing ritual foreshadows his future redemption and salvation.

When Raskolnikov is trapped by two people who have independently arrived at about the same time and as they are determinedly and incessantly ringing the doorbell, he thinks of confession, motivated by the horror and fear that he is already feeling, for the second time.

Along with this ringing, and because he has hidden in a room freshly painted, Raskolnikov will later be plagued by the smell of fresh paint. For example, when his landlady has him summoned to the police office, the smell of fresh paint there contributes to his fainting spell.

Part One ends with the murder and Raskolnikov's illness. The crime occupies only one part of the book; the remainder of the novel will deal with the punishment.

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