Summary and Analysis Part 3: Chapter 4



The family conference is suddenly interrupted by the appearance of Sonya, dressed in modest simplicity, filled with embarrassment and humility. She has come at Katerina Ivanovna's insistence to entreat Rodya to be present at the funeral and refreshments afterwards. He offers her a seat and tells her he needs to speak with her. She is further embarrassed because she should not be sitting in the presence of Dunya and Pulcheria Alexandrovna. She is also in Rodya's "bedroom" and she realizes that due to the poverty of his room that Raskolnikov must have given them everything.

Dunya and her mother must leave and alone, the mother has a presentiment that there is a special meaning of some importance between Rodya and Sonya, particularly after what Luzhin had written about her. Dunya decides that Luzhin is "a wretched scandal-monger."

Raskolnikov wants to be alone with Sonya, but first he tells Razumihkin that he needs to arrange an interview with Porfiry. Sonya has to go, and as she leaves, she is followed by Svidrigailov who discovers that they live in adjoining rooms.

As Raskolnikov and Razumihkin are on their was to see Porfiry, Raskolnikov begins teasing Razumihkin of being in love with Dunya and of acting like a love-sick Romeo. Rodya points out that Razumihkin has shaved and bathed, put on "clean linen," and has "Pomatum" on his hair. They enter Porfiry Petrovitch's flat laughing loudly.


This chapter is the most disjointed (or the least unified) of any chapter. First there is the group in Raskolnikov's small room. Secondly, we shift to a street conversation between Dunya and her mother. Thirdly, a discussion outside with Rodya, Sonya, and Razumihkin, and fourth, Sonya leaves and is trailed by Svidrigailov, and finally, a scene between Rodya and Razumihkin where Rodya teases him about being a Romeo. This rambling chapter is not at all typical of the rest of the novel.

During the time of this novel, Sonya's appearance at Raskolnikov's is a social error and for him to have her sit with his mother and sister is a tremendous breach of social class and can be construed as a deep insult to mother and sister. Raskolnikov's terrible error can be explained in that he instinctively or subconsciously knows that Sonya will become his means of salvation.

The scene with Sonya's returning to her home introduces the very important personage of Svidrigailov. Our first impression is that he is secretively trailing her for dubious reasons. He does live next door to Sonya, and this nearness allows him the chance to overhear Rodya's confession to Sonya.

The chapter ends with Raskolnikov's deliberate joviality as they approach Porfiry apartment so as to deceive Porfiry, making him think all is light-hearted and healthy. This event shows the return of Raskolnikov's calm, rational powers.