Crime and Punishment read-a-long weeks 4 and 5


The Crime and Punishment read-a-long is hosted by Wallace over at Unputdownables. In weeks four and five we read from part 2, chapter 5 to the end of part 3 chapter 3. The official discussion posts are over at Unputdownables.

As always, this discussion will contain spoilers, so only read on if you don’t mind/have already read this far (or further).

So Raskolnikov’s friends have become much more interesting, complicated characters. Razumikhin in particular has adorable puppy love for Dunya and gives a great rambling drunken speech about lying:

“Do you think I am annoyed because they talk nonsense? Rubbish! I like people to talk nonsense. It is man’s unique privilege, among all other organisms. By pursuing falsehood you will arrive at the truth! The fact that I am in error shows that I am human. You will not attain to one single truth until you have produced at least 14 false theories…You can talk the most mistaken rubbish to me, and if it is your own, I will embrace you! It is almost better to tell your own lies than somebody else’s truth; in the first case you are a man, in the second you are no better than a parrot!”

Raskolnikov, after weeks of being an ass to his friends and family, showing kindness only to strangers, has now suddenly apologised for his behaviour. Is he being sincere? The narration suggests not:

“‘You’re in a very sentimental mood today, aren’t you?’ exclaimed Razumikhin. If he had had more penetration he would have seen that it was very far from being a sentimental mood, but something like the very opposite. But Avdotya Romanovna noticed it. Her eyes followed her brother with anxious attention.”

But what he is finally sounding like is the intelligent law student we had been told he was. Certainly his honesty is still questionable (though in the light of Raz’s speech above, can he perhaps be lying for the right reasons?) but his delirious state has passed, if indeed it was ever as bad as his friends thought it was. Interestingly his mother and sister are afraid of him and he knows it and even confronts them about it. Is it just the memory of seeing him delirious that scares them or is there something basic in his character that they know to be afraid of?