Crime and Punishment By Fyodor Dostoevsky Summary and Analysis Part 6: Chapter 8

Summary

Dunya and Sonya had been waiting all day for Rodya, fearing that he might have taken his life. Dunya gives up and goes to Rodya's room to wait for him. When he arrives at Sonya's, she is overjoyed to see him. He immediately tells her "I have come for your crosses — it was you who sent me to the cross-roads." As she goes for the crosses, he decides that he will not go to Porfiry because he is sick of him.

Sonya returns with the crosses, makes the sign of the cross over him, and hangs the little cypress-wood cross on his breast. He then tells Sonya, "This then is a symbol that I am taking up my cross." At Sonya's fervent request, he makes the "sign of the cross several times" and Sonya gets her shawl to accompany him, but he tells her he has to go alone. She follows discreetly but remains at a distance in the shadows.

As he goes to confess, he does not understand Sonya's grief since he is doing what she had asked. But he remembers her advice to go to the cross-roads and as he kneels and kisses the ground, a roar of laughter erupts from all who were around him. Some thought he was drunk; others thought him mad. He is about to abandon the entire idea and then he sees Sonya in the shadows at a distance. "In that moment Raskolnikov knew in his heart, once and for all, that Sonya would be with him for always, and would follow him to the ends of the earth."

He enters the police station and asks for Zametov, who is not there and he has to listen to some ravings from Ilya Petrovitch. Suddenly Raskolnikov overhears that Svidrigailov has shot himself. Without making his confession, he turns to go out and once on the steps he sees Sonya standing in the distance. He turns and goes back and tells the official: "It was I who killed the old pawnbroker woman and her sister Lizaveta with an axe and robbed them."

Analysis

Raskolnikov's last visit to Sonya shows his intentions to "take up his cross" and begin his re-entry into humanity. When he has taken on the cypress-wood cross, he makes the sign of the cross for Sonya's sake, which is a step toward redemption. It is the wooden cross and not the copper one, saving the latter for another day.

In his suffering, he also sees that Sonya suffers. As he goes to make his confession, he remembers her words to "Bow down to the people, kiss the earth, and say aloud, I am a murderer." As he begins to do these, he immediately provokes laughter; earlier his pride prevented him from becoming an object of ridicule of the people and still he has his fear of being laughed at because he still has a strong belief in the validity of his theory.

At the police station, he hates to confess to the supercilious Ilya Petrovitch, but with Zametov gone, and Ilya prattling on in a silly fashion, the news that Svidrigailov has shot himself causes him to leave the station without making a confession. As he leaves the station, the sight of Sonya, the symbol of suffering humanity, causes him to return. And with the confession, the novel comes to a thematic close. The confession is a culmination of the many attempts at confession that he has contemplated since his murder of the pawnbroker and her sister.

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