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Porfiry begins with small talk, then says he wants to be straight with Raskolnikov.
After mentioning Nikolay, the painter who confessed, he apologizes for being so hard on Raskolnikov, explaining that it was only natural that he was suspicious. He likes Raskolnikov and doesn't want Raskolnikov thinking he's "a monster."
Raskolnikov is getting more and more freaked out, not sure if Porfiry thinks he's innocent or guilty.
When Raskolnikov was sick, Porfiry searched his room and found nothing. He needed a solid piece of physical evidence to tie Raskolnikov to the crime, and he never found anything. As for Nikolay's confession, Porfiry was shocked by it and couldn't believe it.
People love Nikolay—he's a skilled entertainer, attends classes, is tenderhearted, and drinks too much. He was involved in a religious sect to which members of his family belong.
Porfiry thinks religious study made Nikolay imagine he was the murderer, in a kind of religious fervor. He's waiting for him to retract the confession any minute now.
He is quite sure that Nikolay couldn't have committed these particular murders.
Finally, he jumps up and accuses Raskolnikov, who denies it. But Porfiry is convinced.
They look at each other for about 10 minutes and then Raskolnikov makes another denial, joking that Porfiry is "up to [his] old tricks."
He wants to know why Porfiry doesn't arrest him, if he's so sure. Porfiry explains that he likes Raskolnikov and thinks that if he confesses, it will be better for him.
Raskolnikov says he's bluffing, but Porfiry insists he has evidence, though he can't tell Raskolnikov everything.
Raskolnikov wants to know how it will be better for him if he confesses.
Porfiry responds that confessing will suggest that Raskolnikov killed the women in a state of temporary insanity and help him get a milder punishment. A milder punishment is the last thing Raskolnikov wants, which is what Porfiry has been "afraid of."
He tries to convince Raskolnikov that killing the women is not the end of the world, that Raskolnikov can eventually get past it and live a decent life. What Raskolnikov needs, Porfiry says, "is fresh air, fresh air, fresh air!"
Raskolnikov asks Porfiry what would happen if he just left town. Amused, Porfiry says that Raskolnikov will want to suffer and will eventually confess.
As the two men get up to go, Raskolnikov makes sure Porfiry understands that he hasn't confessed yet. Porfiry says he knows.
Porfiry tells Raskolnikov that if he decides to commit suicide, please leave a note confessing to the murders.
Raskolnikov watches Porfiry from his window, then goes out into the streets himself.