Summary and Analysis Part 4: Chapter 5



The day after his meeting with Sonya, Raskolnikov performs the unpleasant task of going to the Criminal Investigating section of the police department to officially file a claim to his two pawned items. He is filled with intense dread because he hated Porfiry "with an intense, unmitigated hatred" and was afraid his hatred might betray him. He is kept waiting for a long time and gets very nervous and edgy.

Porfiry receives Raskolnikov very cordially and acts as though it is a pleasant social visit, forgetting that a person is not kept waiting so long for a social visit. Raskolnikov tries to keep the meeting formal and business-like; in fact, he keeps threatening to leave unless Porfiry comes to the point and examines him in an official way. Nothing, however, seems to deter Porfiry from performing his duties his own way, and he is determined to talk about all types of subjects, especially theories about crime and crime detection.

As he talks about this and that, he paces constantly about the room and stops frequently at the door and listens to see if perhaps someone is still there. His pacing makes Raskolnikov more nervous. The interview continues for so long and is filled with so much chatter, along with irrelevances, that finally Raskolnikov loses his patience and tells Porfiry that he realizes the type of "cat and mouse game" he is playing. Raskolnikov then asserts that if he is suspected of being the murderer of "that old woman and her sister Lizaveta," then he demands to be arrested immediately or allowed to leave. "If you find that you have a legal right to prosecute me or arrest me, then do it! But I will not permit anyone to laugh in my face and torment me."

To detain Raskolnikov, Porfiry reveals that he knows many unusual things about Raskolnikov, such as his trip to the scene of the crime when he rang the doorbell and asked to see the blood. Porfiry also explains his technique: He can always arrest a person, but he prefers a suspect to have his own time to think over his crime. In Raskolnikov's case, Porfiry says that he likes him and wants to help him in a friendly manner, but Raskolnikov rejects his friendship and is about to leave when Porfiry reminds him of a little surprise that is behind the door in the next room. Before he can unlock the door, something strange and unforeseen occurs.


Earlier, Porfiry's technique was called a "cat and mouse game." This now becomes clear to both the reader and to Raskolnikov. First, Raskolnikov is kept waiting unnecessarily; then he is exposed to incessant chatter and more chatter; and then there is the hint of some secret evidence hidden in the next room. In all these cases, Porfiry does have the upper hand, and Raskolnikov is at his mercy.

The meetings in the last two chapters show us that Raskolnikov goes from Sonya who will redeem him emotionally through her sufferings to Porfiry who will try to redeem Raskolnikov intellectually. This second redemption is more difficult since Raskolnikov's existence now is based upon the validity of his theory.

Porfiry presumably knows more than he reveals. He could arrest Raskolnikov at any time, but doesn't because he does have a "sincere liking for him" and if he arrested Raskolnikov now, Raskolnikov would never realize the error of his theory. Religiously, confession of sin is the beginning of redemption and Raskolnikov must be left alone to confess.