Notes from the Underground
Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"Why must you invariably be the first to move aside?" I kept asking myself in hysterical rage, waking up sometimes at three o'clock in the morning. "Why is it you and not he? There's no regulation about it; there's no written law. Let the making way be equal as it usually is when refined people meet; he moves half-way and you move half-way; you pass with mutual respect."
But that never happened, and I always moved aside, while he did not even notice my making way for him. (2.1.24-5)
The Underground Man is offended because he has stubborn principles rather than because he feels truly inconvenienced; he doesn't really mind moving aside, it's just the idea of being somehow lower than the officer that bothers him.
But my preparations took a great deal of time. To begin with, when I carried out my plan I should need to be looking rather more decent, and so I had to think of my get-up. "[…] I must be well dressed; that inspires respect and of itself puts us on an equal footing in the eyes of the society." (2.1.26)
Notice how he attempts to be on equal footing "in the eyes of the society." What about in his own eyes? Does the Underground Man perceive himself on an equal level with the officer?
To borrow from Anton Antonitch seemed to me monstrous and shameful. I did not sleep for two or three nights. Indeed, I did not sleep well at that time, I was in a fever; I had a vague sinking at my heart or else a sudden throbbing, throbbing, throbbing! (2.1.27)
Compare the shame the Underground Man feels over borrowing money with the power he later feels over Liza (whom he is paying for sex).