Study Guide

Crime and Punishment The Home

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Home

Part 1, Chapter 1
Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov

"I want to attempt a thing like that and am frightened by these trifles," [Raskolnikov] thought, with an odd smile. (1.1.5)

Of course, Raskolnikov is referring to his murderous idea. Part of what his mixed-up brain wants to do is overstep his fears of the landlady, to reach a place where he is in power, either literally or by becoming fearless.

[Raskolnikov] was hopelessly in debt to his landlady, and was afraid of meeting her. (1.1.2)

Right away, the novel digs into one of our deepest fears: the landlady, or landlord as the case may be. Since it's only been a few years since the serfs were emancipated, and since the serfs were "owned" by people who also owned land, landperson phobia was probably extremely acute in Russia.

Part 1, Chapter 2
Katerina Ivanovna Marmeladov

[Marmeladov:] "Allow me to ask you another question out of simple curiosity: have you ever spent a night on a hay barge, on the Neva?" (1.2.7)

Marmeladov tells Raskolnikov that his home life is so unbearable that he had to leave and sleep outdoors. It's obvious from what he says that the horror of his home is of his own making. He knows it, too. He just doesn't know how to turn things around.

Part 4, Chapter 4
Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov

"On a broken chair stood a candle in a battered copper candlestick." (4.4.4)

This is the first thing Raskolnikov sees when he enters Sonia's home. Notice how both the chair and the candlestick are rather beaten up? Dostoevsky really wants to emphasize Sonia's poor living conditions.

Part 5, Chapter 3

"Thief! Out of my lodging. Police, police!" yelled Amalia Ivanovna. "They must to Siberia be sent! Away!" (5.3.30)

The funny phrasing is the translator's interpretation of Dostoevsky's impression of how German immigrants to Russia speak. But we digress. Here we see another landlady, but a more vicious one. Katerina asked for it, to be sure, but was also provoked. Like Raskolnikov, Katerina wants to be free from the landlady. As we know, this decision leads to Katerina's death and to a traumatic experience for her kids.

Part 6, Chapter 6
Arkady Ivanovitch Svidrigaïlov

"Ugh! hang it! I believe it's a mouse," [Svidrigaïlov] thought, "that's the veal I left on the table." (6.6.37)

Svidrigaïlov's final "home" before he kills himself is the worst hotel room ever. It seems to mirror his cracked state.

Epilogue, Part 2

Seven years, only seven years! At the beginning of their happiness at some moments they were both ready to look on those seven years as though they were seven days. (Epilogue.2.29)

This passage suggests that Raskolnikov and Sonia find a home in each other. As long as they are together, they will feel secure.

Arkady Ivanovitch Svidrigaïlov

[Svidrigaïlov:] "I will put those two little ones and Polenka into some good orphan asylum, and I will settle fifteen hundred roubles to be paid to each on coming of age, so that Sofya Semyonovna need have no anxiety about them." (5.5.93)

This gives us the willies. Would you trust Svidrigaïlov with your children's futures? Sonia almost has to do it. She really doesn't have the means to raise three kids. We can only hope that this is one of Svidrigaïlov's "good deeds" and he found a nice place for them. Either way, their home lives are about to change, for better or worse.

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