Crime and Punishment By Fyodor Dostoevsky Summary and Analysis Part 2: Chapter 7

Summary

On his way to the police station, Raskolnikov witnesses a terrible accident — a drunken man stumbles and falls under a carriage and is crushed. Amid great confusion, Raskolnikov recognizes the wounded man as Marmeladov, and he immediately takes charge and offers money to anyone who will help get him home.

When they arrive, Katerina Ivanovna becomes hysterical and cannot control her grief and anxiety — the children are hungry, they have no money for a burial, and she has no one to turn to. Raskolnikov offers consolation and again offers to pay for a doctor and other expenses. A priest is sent for, and Katerina Ivanovna also sends young Polenka to tell Sonya.

When the doctor arrives, he announces that Marmeladov will die immediately. He receives the funeral rites, and Polenka returns saying that Sonya is coming immediately. Marmeladov tries to make some apology to Katerina and to Sonya who has just arrived, dressed in the gaudy, cheap finery worn by prostitutes: "She seemed forgetful of her garish fourth-hand silk dress, indecently out of place here with its ridiculous long train and immense crinoline."

When Raskolnikov first sees Sonya, he "recognized her crushed and ashamed in her humiliation. . .meekly awaiting her turn to say goodby to her dying father." The father had never seen his daughter in her professional costume; infinite shame possessed both father and daughter.

As Raskolnikov leaves, he gives his money to Katerina Ivanovna and outside he meets Nikodim Fomitch, the police official who exclaims that Raskolnikov is splattered with blood. At Sonya's request, Polenka follows Raskolnikov to find out his name, where he lives, and to thank him. In their meeting, Raskolnikov shows great compassion for young Polenka and asks her to pray for him. He then resolves that life is still before him and he rejects any thoughts of confessing to his crime. With this thought, he goes to Razumihkin and apologizes for his bad temper. Razumihkin walks home with him and tells him of Zossimov's suspicion that perhaps Raskolnikov is going insane. When they reach Raskolnikov's place, they find his mother and sister waiting for him. Instead of returning their enthusiastic embraces, he faints.

Analysis

At the end of Chapter 6, Raskolnikov was determined to go to the police and confess. On the way, when he witnesses the death of a human being run over by a carriage, he is automatically reminded of the previous episode when he was hit by a carriage and brutally treated. Therefore, his indignation causes him to respond to the wounded man, who turns out to be Marmeladov. In this incident, his intellectual desire to confess is overruled by his emotional and humanitarian responses. His intellectual side is always deliberate while his emotional responses are spontaneous.

In Marmeladov's apartment, the reader is exposed to the cry of "Do you know what it means to have no place to go." Raskolnikov is therefore affected by the poverty and squalor of the place and constantly volunteers to pay for any expenses. At the end, Raskolnikov's compassion causes him to give his last 20 rubles to Katerina to help. This is the money that he has just received from his mother — money that she could hardly spare and not for him to squander on some poor family. Again, even though Raskolnikov can rationalize a murder, he cannot stand the sight of human suffering, indicating the tremendous poles of his existence.

Raskolnikov's first sight of Sonya reveals her as a person of great suffering and shame. He will later say that Sonya represents the great sufferings of all humanity. Here he is equally aware of the contrast between the absurd finery and gaudy dress required by prostitution as seen against her demure and humiliated self. He is immediately attracted to her, not for sexual reasons, but because of her great suffering.

Physically, Raskolnikov is an exceptionally handsome man, and now Dostoevsky presents Sonya as small, but very pretty with lovely hair and remarkable blue eyes.

While helping with Marmeladov, Raskolnikov becomes splattered with blood. Whereas Alyona's blood on his person after the murder was a part of the cause of his delirium and was repulsive to him, this blood from helping Marmeladov makes him determined again to live. When he tells the police magistrate, Nikodim Fomitch, "I am all over covered with blood" he means this both literally (from helping Marmeladov) and figuratively (from killing Alyona) and he decides to live. And his meeting with young Polenka also influences him to live. "Life is real! haven't I lived just now? My life has not yet died with that old woman!" But with his affirmation of life, he renews his acquaintance with Razumihkin, so as to have an excuse for going personally to Porfiry rather than to the police station.

Part II ends with the surprise appearance of his mother and sister, and the emotions are too much for him and he faints.

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