Study Guide

Crime and Punishment Part 1, Chapter 3

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Part 1, Chapter 3

  • If you've been dying to check out Raskolnikov's room, this is your opportunity.
  • He wakes up the next day, "late," after a rotten night's sleep. He looks at his room like he really hates it.
  • It's about 6 feet long, and the ceiling is so low that Raskolnikov (who is tall, though not overly tall) lives in perpetual fear of bumping his head on it.
  • He sees peeling wallpaper, old chairs, a dusty desk and dusty papers that haven't been recently handled. An old couch (his bed) takes up half the room.
  • Raskolnikov sleeps in his clothes, "without sheets, wrapped in his old student's overcoat."
  • His pillow is his bag of clothes ("clean and dirty"). He's living a terrible life, but it matches the way he's feeling.
  • The narrator says Raskolnikov is acting like a "monomaniac," somebody focused on just one thing, to the point of forgetting about everything else.
  • The landlady cut off his food two weeks ago.
  • The cook, Nastasya, who was also the landlady's "only servant," didn't mind not cleaning his room. She's the one who woke him up today, at some time after 9.
  • She'd brought him some tea, from her own teapot.
  • He asks her to go buy him a big sausage, but she offers him some old cabbage soup.
  • While he eats the soup, she tells him the landlady is going to the cops about him.
  • In response to his puzzlement, Nastasya says it's because he won't pay rent or move.
  • This is the last thing I need, he thinks.
  • Nastasya asks why Raskolnikov, a smart guy, isn't working.
  • She asks, didn't you used to teach? 
  • He says that he is working. Doing what? "Thinking," he tells her, not joking.
  • She thinks it's pretty funny, though, and starts laughing hysterically.
  • When she manages to control herself, she asks him where he can get some money.
  • He says he can't teach because he's too poor to get boots and clothes.
  • Plus, the pay is terrible. She says he should take what he can get.
  • Raskolnikov starts looking creepy, and Nastasya decides to go.
  • She remembers to tell him he has mail and that she paid the mailman for it.
  • She wants him to pay her back. The idea of a letter gets Raskolnikov excited.
  • Nastasya brings it, and he tells her to leave.
  • He kisses the letter. It's from his mom, who taught him to read. He loves her.
  • It looks like a very long letter. And we get to read it.
  • His mom addresses the letter to "Rodya" (a nickname, derived from his first name, which we don't yet know.)
  • It's been two months since she's written to him, and this has given her much anxiety.
  • She loves him very much, and so does his sister, Dounia.
  • His mom heard he had to drop out of school for lack of funds and that his teaching jobs have dried up, and she's deeply sorry.
  • She didn't have any money to send him because she was in debt, too, to a man that was Raskolnikov's father's "friend."
  • That guy loaned her money on Raskolnikov's mom's pension, and interest was due.
  • But, good news: the debts have been paid, and things are getting better. Now, she can send him some money.
  • Dounia had been having some serious problems with the Svidrigaïlov family. Mr. Svidrigaïlov, in particular.
  • Raskolnikov asked about this situation in his last letter.
  • She couldn't write him and lie, and she didn't want to tell him how bad it was.
  • Dounia worked for the Svidrigaïlov family as a nanny.
  • She'd had to get an advance on her salary and couldn't quit until it was paid back. That's how we got the money to send to you, Raskolnikov's mother writes.
  • Everybody was nice to her there, except Mr. Svidrigaïlov, who was a drunk. He was in love with Dounia and was mean to her so nobody would suspect his desire.
  • Svidrigaïlov couldn't hide his passion for long and was soon pursuing Dounia relentlessly. She was stuck working there because of the debt.
  • Svidrigaïlov's wife, Marfa Petrovna, happened to hear her husband trying to get Dounia to sleep with him and blamed the whole thing on the girl.
  • It was a violent scene. Marfa hit Dounia.
  • Marfa went around the neighborhood talking about it, and Raskolnikov's mother and sister couldn't go anywhere without trouble. Everybody was against them.
  • Well, Mr. Svidrigaïlov decided to tell the truth. As proof that he was to blame, he gave Marfa the letter Dounia had sent him.
  • In the letter, Dounia praises Marfa and the kids and begs him to devote himself to them.
  • Marfa believed him and begged Dounia's forgiveness.
  • Marfa then did damage control and went around to everybody reading the letter out loud. The neighborhood was happy for the entertainment, and Dounia's reputation was saved.
  • And, because it was saved, a man came around, one Pyotr Petrovitch Luzhin, who is related to Marfa. He met with Dounia and Raskolnikov's mother. He said he wanted to marry Dounia, and he wanted to have an answer right away because he needed to get back to St. Petersburg.
  • They were surprised and tried to decidethey only had about 24 hours.
  • This Luzhin fellow has some money, and some unspecified job. He's 45 but still possibly attractive.
  • Now, Raskolnikov's mother warns him to give Luzhin a chancewhen he meets him very soon in St. Petersburg. Not, she says, that there's anything about him to dislike.
  • Luzhin has some definite opinions of his own but also sees things from the point of view of the "younger generation."
  • Aside from talking too much and insisting on being the center of attention, he's not bad.
  • He's really very nice, and Dounia is such a good, smart girl.
  • Raskolnikov will like Luzhin, she's sure. Even though she has some issues with him.
  • See, at their first meeting, Luzhin told them that he wanted to marry a girl with no money so that she would have to depend on him for everything.
  • This was an accident, and Luzhin had tried to take the comment back.
  • When Raskolnikov's mother told Dounia she thought this remark uncool, Dounia got mad and said that what people do and what people say are two different things.
  • Then, Dounia stayed up all night, praying and pacing.
  • The next day, she announced her decision to accept the proposal.
  • Luzhin will be in St. Petersburg any minute and can probably hook up Raskolnikov with a job, though she isn't 100 percent sure about that.
  • Still, Dounia is extremely excited about Raskolnikov working with Luzhin and being able to go back to school (with help from Luzhin's money).
  • His mother writes that she thinks she'll live by herself when Luzhin and Dounia are married.
  • She's sure she'll be invited to live with them but will say no, so she's not in the way.
  • Furthermore, she and Dounia are moving to St. Petersburg, too, in a week.
  • Raskolnikov's mother and sister haven't seen him for three years, and they can't wait to see him soon.
  • His mom is going to borrow some more money against her pension, and she can send him about 75 roubles.
  • Luzhin is going to pay to have their luggage transported, and they are getting a good deal on tickets, but they don't want to get to St. Petersburg flat broke.
  • So, she thinks she might only be able to send him 30, not 75 roubles.
  • She loves him, and she can't wait to see him.
  • She's going to pray for him even though she thinks he's probably one of those modern kids who doesn't believe in God anymore.
  • She signs off, "Yours till death, Pulcheria Raskolnikov."
  • Raskolnikov has been crying while reading the letter, but now his face twists and he grins in a creepy way. He lies down. His thoughts are wild.
  • The small, boxlike room makes him crave outside air, so he can think.
  • He goes out without even worrying about the landlady.
  • He walks without knowing where he's going, staggering and talking to himself.

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