Dr. Zossimov reports that Raskolnikov is much better, but he is still pale, abstracted, and gloomy and looks "like a man who has been wounded or suffered intense pain." He concludes that whatever caused this collapse, they must remove these unhealthy influences.
Pulcheria Alexandrovna is so pleased to see her son that she narrates with deep emotion their fear upon arriving in St. Petersburg since Luzhin was unable to meet them. They were frightened to be alone, and she asks her son if he knows what it is like to be utterly alone. Raskolnikov then remembers Marmeladov's aloneness and tells that he has given all of the money she sent him to a poor woman whose husband was just killed. He admits that it was not right of him — that to help others a man must have the right to do so — and he had no right to squander his mother's hard-to-come-by money.
Raskolnikov then begins to feel impatient with his mother, even though he remembers how much he loves them in their absence. Pulcheria suddenly announces that Marfa Petrovna was dead and attributes it to her husband's beating her. Suddenly, Raskolnikov cannot stand their presence and "makes for the door" but is detained. Raskolnikov tells of his affair with the landlady's daughter and describes how plain she was, but even if she had been lame "or hump-backed" he "might have loved her even more." He insists that Dunya cannot marry Luzhin: "I do not withdraw from my chief point. It is me or Luzhin. If I am a scoundrel, you must not be. One is enough. If you marry Luzhin, I cease at once to look on you as a sister."
Dunya makes an elaborate justification of her engagement and then suddenly, with no provocation or reason, Raskolnikov withdraws his objections saying "Marry whom you like!" Dunya shows him Luzhin's letter, and Raskolnikov, amused by it, simply comments that Luzhin wants "to slander me and to raise dissension between us." Dunya implores Raskolnikov to come to the interview. She also invites Razumihkin.
Pulcheria asks her son if he knows what "it is like to be utterly alone?"; this question is the recurring motif introduced first by Marmeladov, then picked up by Raskolnikov and applied to Sonya and to himself. The effect of this utterance on Raskolnikov is profound since he has just recovered from the same emotions and the same desperation.
Raskolnikov has the sudden realization that the crime, rather than making him above the ordinary man, imprisons him and isolates him from others, even his mother: "It became suddenly plain and perceptible that he would never again be able to speak freely of anything to anyone."
Raskolnikov's dual personality is emphasized again and again in the chapter. At one moment he renews his objections to Dunya's marriage to Luzhin: "If you marry Luzhin, I cease to look on you as a sister." This is his compassionate, humane side speaking now in which he sees his sister sacrificing herself by entering into an insufferable marriage. Then only a few seconds later, he suddenly reverses: "What am I making such a fuss a for? Marry whom you like." Of course, this particular reversal from compassionate to intellectual is brought about by Dunya's terrible justification of her marriage. "If I ruin anyone, it is only myself. I am not committing a murder." This statement forces Raskolnikov to realize that he committed his murder so as to see if he would be able to stand apart and above other human beings; therefore, he must assume this air of not caring whom Dunya marries.
Ultimately, the question of whether to invite Raskolnikov to the meeting with Luzhin must occur before Dunya has knowledge of the money left to her by Marfa Petrovna so that her risking her marriage with Luzhin does not involve money matters. She proves herself to be a true agent and later worthy of the love of Razumihkin.