Part Four. IV

And Raskolnikov went straight to the house on the canal where Sonya lived. It was a three-storied, old, and green-colored house. He sought out the caretaker and got vague directions from him as to where Kapernaumov the tailor lived. Having located the entrance to a narrow and dark stairway in the corner of the yard, he went up, finally, to the second floor and came out onto a gallery running around it on the courtyard side. While he was wandering in the darkness and in perplexity with regard to the possible whereabouts of Kapernaumov’s entrance, a door opened suddenly, three steps away from him; he took hold of it mechanically.

“Who’s there?” a woman’s voice asked in alarm.

“It’s me…to see you,” Raskolnikov replied, and stepped into the tiny entryway. There, on a chair with a broken seat, stood a candle in a bent copper candlestick.

“It’s you! Lord!” Sonya cried weakly, and stood rooted to the spot.

“Where do I go? In here?”

And, trying not to look at her, Raskolnikov went quickly into the room.

A moment later Sonya came in with the candle, put the candlestick down, and stood before him, completely at a loss, all in some inexpressible agitation, and obviously frightened by his unexpected visit. Color suddenly rushed to her pale face, and tears even came to her eyes…She had a feeling of nausea, and shame, and sweetness…Raskolnikov quickly turned away and sat down on a chair by the table. He managed to glance around the room as he did so.

It was a big but extremely low-ceilinged room, the only one let by the Kapernaumovs, the locked door to whose apartment was in the wall to the left. Opposite, in the right-hand wall, there was another door, always tightly shut. This led to another, adjoining apartment, with a different number. Sonya’s room had something barnlike about it; it was of a very irregular rectangular shape, which gave it an ugly appearance. A wall with three windows looking onto the canal cut somehow obliquely across the room, making one corner, formed of a terribly acute angle, run somewhere into the depths where, in the weak light, it could not even be seen very well; the other corner was too grotesquely obtuse. The whole big room had almost no furniture in it. There was a bed in the corner to the right; a chair next to it, nearer the door. Along the same wall as the bed, just by the door to the other apartment, stood a simple wooden table covered with a dark blue cloth and, at the table, two rush-bottom chairs. Then, against the opposite wall, near the acute corner, there was a small chest of drawers, made of plain wood, standing as if lost in the emptiness. That was all there was in the room. The yellowish, frayed, and shabby wallpaper was blackened in all the corners; it must have been damp and fumy in winter. The poverty was evident; there were not even any curtains over the bed.

Sonya looked silently at her visitor, who was examining her room so attentively and unceremoniously, and at last even began to tremble with fear, as though she were standing before the judge and ruler of her destiny.

“It’s late . .. already eleven?” he asked, still without raising his eyes to her.

“Yes,” Sonya murmured. “Ah, yes, it is!” she suddenly hurried on, as if the whole way out for her lay there. “The landlord’s clock just struck…I heard it myself…It is!”

“I’ve come to you for the last time,” Raskolnikov went on sullenly, though it was in fact the first time. “I may never see you again . . .”

“You’re…going away?”

“I don’t know…tomorrow, everything . . .”

“So you won’t be at Katerina Ivanovna’s tomorrow?” Sonya’s voice faltered.

“I don’t know. Tomorrow morning, everything…That’s not the point; I came to say one word to you . . .”

He raised his pensive eyes to her and suddenly noticed that he was sitting and she was still standing before him.

“Why are you standing? Sit down,” he said suddenly, in a changed, quiet and tender voice.

She sat down. He looked at her for about a minute, kindly and almost compassionately.

“How thin you are! Look at your hand! Quite transparent. Fingers like a dead person’s.”

He took her hand. Sonya smiled weakly.

“I’ve always been like that,” she said.

“Even when you were living at home?”


“Ah, but of course!” he uttered abruptly, and the expression of his face and the sound of his voice suddenly changed again. He looked once more around the room.

“You rent from Kapernaumov?”

“Yes, sir . . .”

“That’s their door there?”

“Yes…They have a room the same as this one.”

“All in one room?”

“Yes, in one room, sir.”

“I’d be scared in your room at night,” he remarked sullenly.

“The landlords are very nice, very affectionate,” Sonya replied, as if she had still not come to her senses or collected her thoughts, “and all the furniture and everything…everything is theirs. And they’re very kind, and the children often come to see me, too.”

“They’re the ones who are tongue-tied?”

“Yes, sir…He stammers, and he’s lame as well. And his wife, too…Not that she really stammers, but it’s as if she doesn’t quite get the words out. She’s kind, very. And he’s a former household serf. And there are seven children…and only the oldest one stammers; the rest are just sick…but they don’t stammer…But how do you know about them?” she added with some surprise.

“Your father told me everything that time. He told me everything about you…How you went out at six o’clock, and came back after eight, and how Katerina Ivanovna knelt by your bed.”

Sonya was embarrassed.

“I thought I saw him today,” she whispered hesitantly.


“My father. I was walking along the street, nearby, at the corner, around ten o’clock, and he seemed to be walking ahead of me. It looked just like him. I was even going to go to Katerina Ivanovna . . .”

“You were out walking?”

“Yes,” Sonya whispered abruptly, embarrassed again and looking down.

“But Katerina Ivanovna all but beat you when you lived at your father’s?”

“Ah, no, what are you saying, no!” Sonya looked at him even with some sort of fright.

“So you love her?”

“Love her? But, of co-o-ourse!” Sonya drew the word out plaintively, suddenly clasping her hands together with suffering. “Ah! You don’t…If only you knew her! She’s just like a child. It’s as if she’s lost her mind…from grief. And she used to be so intelligent…so generous…so kind! You know nothing, nothing…ah!”

Sonya spoke as if in despair, worrying and suffering and wringing her hands. Her pale cheeks became flushed again; her eyes had a tormented look. One could see that terribly much had been touched in her, that she wanted terribly to express something, to speak out, to intercede. Some sort of insatiable compassion, if one may put it so, showed suddenly in all the features of her face.

“Beat me? How can you! Beat me—Lord! And even if she did beat me, what of it! Well, what of it! You know nothing, nothing…She’s so unhappy; ah, how unhappy she is! And sick…She wants justice…She’s pure. She believes so much that there should be justice in everything, and she demands it…Even if you tortured her, she wouldn’t act unjustly. She herself doesn’t notice how impossible it all is that there should be justice in people, and it vexes her… Like a child, like a child! She’s a just woman!”

“And what will become of you?”

Sonya looked at him questioningly.

“They’re all on your hands. True, it was all on you before as well, and it was to you that your late father came to beg for the hair of the dog. Well, what will become of you now?”

“I don’t know,” Sonya said sadly.

“Will they stay there?”

“I don’t know, they owe rent for the apartment; only I heard today that the landlady said she wants to turn them out, and Katerina Ivanovna says herself that she won’t stay a moment longer.”

“How is she so brave? She’s counting on you?”

“Ah, no, don’t talk like that! …  We’re all one, we live as one.” Sonya again became all excited and even vexed, just like a canary or some other little bird getting angry. “And what is she to do? What, what is she to do?” she repeated, hotly and excitedly. “And how she cried, how she cried today! She’s losing her mind, did you notice? She is; she keeps worrying like a little girl that everything should be done properly tomorrow, the meal and everything…then she wrings her hands, coughs up blood, cries, and suddenly starts beating her head against the wall as if in despair. And then she gets comforted again; she keeps hoping in you; she says you’ll be her helper now, and that she’ll borrow a little money somewhere, and go back with me to her town, and start an institution for noble girls, and she’ll make me a supervisor, and a completely new, beautiful life will begin for us, and she kisses me, embraces me, comforts me, and she really believes it! She really believes in her fantasies! Well, how can one contradict her? And she spent the whole day today washing, cleaning, mending; she brought the tub into the room by herself, with her weak strength, out of breath, and just collapsed on the bed; and she and I also went to the market in the morning to buy shoes for Polechka and Lenya, because theirs fell to pieces, only we didn’t have enough money, it was much more than we could spend, and she had picked out such lovely shoes, because she has taste, you don’t know…She just cried right there in the shop, in front of the shopkeepers, because there wasn’t enough…Ah, it was such a pity to see!”

“Well, after that one can understand why you…live as you do,” Raskolnikov said, with a bitter smirk.

“And don’t you pity her? Don’t you?” Sonya heaved herself up again. “You, I know, you gave her all you had, and you hadn’t even seen anything. And if you’d seen everything, oh, Lord! And so many times, so many times I’ve brought her to tears! Just last week! Ah, me! Only a week before his death. I acted cruelly! And I’ve done it so many times, so many times. Ah, it’s been so painful to remember it all day long today!”

Sonya even wrung her hands as she spoke, so painful was it to remember.

“You, cruel?”

“Yes, me, me! I came then,” she continued, weeping, “and my father said, ‘Read to me, Sonya,’ he said, ‘there’s an ache in my head, read to me…here’s a book’—he had some book, he got it from Andrei Semyonovich, he lives here, Lebezyatnikov, he was always getting such funny books. And I said, ‘It’s time I was going,’ I just didn’t want to read, because I stopped by mainly to show Katerina Ivanovna the collars; Lizaveta, the dealer, had brought me some cheap collars and cuffs, pretty, new ones, with a pattern. And Katerina Ivanovna liked them very much, she put them on and looked at herself in the mirror, and she liked them very, very much. ‘Sonya, please,’ she said, ‘give them to me.’ She said please, and she wanted them so much. But where would she go in them? She was just remembering her former happy days! She looked in the mirror, admired herself, and she’s had no dresses, no dresses at all, no things, for so many years now! And she never asks anything from anybody; she’s proud, she’d sooner give away all she has, but this time she asked—she liked them so much! And I was sorry to think of giving them away; I said, ‘But what for, Katerina Ivanovna?’ I said that: ‘what for?’ I should never have said that to her. She just looked at me, and she took it so hard, so hard, that I refused, and it was such a pity to see…And it wasn’t because of the collars, but because I refused, I could see that. Ah, if only I could take it all back now, do it over again, all those past words…Oh, I…but why am I talking about it! … it’s all the same to you!”

“So you knew Lizaveta, the dealer?”

“Yes…Why, did you?” Sonya asked in return, with some surprise.

“Katerina Ivanovna has consumption, a bad case; she’ll die soon,” Raskolnikov said after a pause, and without answering the question.

“Oh, no, no, no!” And with an unconscious gesture, Sonya seized both his hands, as if pleading that it be no.

“But it’s better if she dies.”

“No, it’s not better, not better, not better at all!” she repeated, fearfully and unwittingly.

“And the children? Where will they go, if you don’t take them?”

“Oh, I really don’t know!” Sonya cried out, almost in despair, and clutched her head. One could see that the thought had already flashed in her many, many times, and that he had only scared it up again.

“Well, and what if you get ill now, while Katerina Ivanovna is still with you, and you’re taken to the hospital—what then?” he insisted mercilessly.

“Ah, don’t, don’t! That simply can’t be!” And Sonya’s face became distorted with terrible fright.

“Why can’t it?” Raskolnikov went on, with a cruel grin. “You’re not insured against it, are you? What will happen to them then? They’ll wind up in the street, the lot of them; she’ll cough and beg and beat her head against the wall, like today, and the children will cry… Then she’ll collapse, then the police station, the hospital, she’ll die, and the children…”

“Oh, no! God won’t let it happen!” burst at last from Sonya’s straining breast. She listened, looking at him in supplication, her hands clasped in mute entreaty, as if it were on him that everything depended.

Raskolnikov got up and began pacing the room. About a minute passed. Sonya stood with arms and head hanging, in terrible anguish.

“But can’t you save? Put something aside for a rainy day?” he asked suddenly, stopping in front of her.

“No,” whispered Sonya.

“No, naturally! And have you tried?” he added, all but in mockery.

“I have.”

“But it didn’t work! Naturally! Why even ask!”

And he began pacing again. Another minute or so passed.

“You don’t get money every day?”

Sonya became more embarrassed than before, and color rushed to her face again.

“No,” she whispered, with painful effort.

“It’s bound to be the same with Polechka,” he said suddenly.

“No, no! It can’t be! No!” Sonya cried loudly, desperately, as if she had suddenly been stabbed with a knife. “God, God won’t allow such horror! . . .”

“He allows it with others.”

“No, no! God will protect her! God! . . .” she repeated, beside herself.

“But maybe there isn’t any God,” Raskolnikov replied, even almost gloatingly, and he looked at her and laughed.

Sonya’s face suddenly changed terribly: spasms ran over it. She looked at him with inexpressible reproach, was about to say something, but could not utter a word and simply began sobbing all at once very bitterly, covering her face with her hands.

“You say Katerina Ivanovna is losing her mind, but you’re losing your mind yourself,” he said, after a pause.

About five minutes passed. He kept pacing up and down, silently and without glancing at her. Finally he went up to her; his eyes were flashing. He took her by the shoulders with both hands and looked straight into her weeping face. His eyes were dry, inflamed, sharp, his lips were twitching…With a sudden, quick movement he bent all the way down, leaned towards the floor, and kissed her foot. Sonya recoiled from him in horror, as from a madman. And, indeed, he looked quite mad.

“What is it, what are you doing? Before me!” she murmured, turning pale, and her heart suddenly contracted very painfully.

He rose at once.

“I was not bowing to you, I was bowing to all human suffering,” he uttered somehow wildly, and walked to the window. “Listen,” he added, returning to her after a minute, “I told one offender today that he wasn’t worth your little finger…and that I did my sister an honor by sitting her next to you.”

“Ah, how could you say that to them! And she was there?” Sonya cried fearfully. “To sit with me! An honor! But I’m…dishonorable…I’m a great, great sinner! Ah, how could you say that!”

“I said it of you not for your dishonor and sin, but for your great suffering. But that you are a great sinner is true,” he added, almost ecstatically, “and most of all you are a sinner because you destroyed yourself and betrayed yourself in vain. Isn’t that a horror! Isn’t it a horror that you live in this filth which you hate so much, and at the same time know yourself (you need only open your eyes) that you’re not helping anyone by it, and not saving anyone from anything! But tell me, finally,” he spoke almost in a frenzy, “how such shame and baseness can be combined in you beside other opposite and holy feelings? It would be more just, a thousand times more just and reasonable, to jump headfirst into the water and end it at once!”

“And what would become of them?” Sonya asked weakly, glancing at him with suffering, but at the same time as if she were not at all surprised at his question. Raskolnikov looked at her strangely.

He read everything in that one glance of hers. So she really had already thought of it herself. Perhaps many times, in despair, she had seriously considered how to end it all at once, so seriously, indeed, that now she was almost not surprised at his suggestion. She had not even noticed the cruelty of his words (nor had she noticed, of course, the meaning of his reproaches, or his special view of her shame—that was obvious to him). But he fully understood the monstrous pain she suffered, and had long been suffering, at the thought of her dishonorable and shameful position. What, he wondered, what could so far have kept her from deciding to end it all at once? And only here did he understand fully what these poor little orphaned children meant to her, and this pitiful, half-crazed Katerina Ivanovna, with her consumption, and her beating her head against the wall.

But then, too, it was clear to him that Sonya, with her character, and the education which, after all, she did have, could in no way remain as she was. It still stood as a question for him: how had she been able to remain for so much too long a time in such a position and not lose her mind, if it was beyond her strength to drown herself? Of course, he understood that Sonya’s position was an accidental social phenomenon, though unfortunately a far from isolated and exceptional one. But it would seem that this very accident, this smattering of education, and the whole of her preceding life, should have killed her at once, with her first step onto that loathsome path. What sustained her? Surely not depravity? All this shame obviously touched her only mechanically; no true depravity, not even a drop of it, had yet penetrated her heart—he could see that; she stood before him in reality . . .

“Three ways are open to her,” he thought, “to throw herself into the canal, to go to the madhouse, or…or, finally, to throw herself into a depravity that stupefies reason and petrifies the heart.” This last thought was the most loathsome of all to him; but he was already a skeptic; he was young, abstract, and consequently cruel; and therefore he could not but believe that the last outcome—that is, depravity—was the most likely.

“But can it be true?” he exclaimed to himself. “Can it be that this being, who has still kept her purity of spirit, in the end will be consciously pulled into this vile, stinking hole? Can it be that the pulling has already begun, and that she has been able to endure so far only because vice no longer seems so loathsome to her? No, no, it can’t be!” he kept exclaiming, like Sonya earlier. “No, what has so far kept her from the canal is the thought of sin, and of them, those ones… And if she hasn’t lost her mind so far…But who says she hasn’t lost her mind? Is she in her right mind? Is it possible to talk as she does? Is it possible for someone in her right mind to reason as she does? Is it possible to sit like that over perdition, right over the stinking hole that’s already dragging her in, and wave her hands and stop her ears when she’s being told of the danger? What does she expect, a miracle? No doubt. And isn’t this all a sign of madness?”

He stubbornly stayed at this thought. He liked this solution more than any other. He began studying her with greater attention.

“So you pray very much to God, Sonya?” he asked her.

Sonya was silent; he stood beside her, waiting for an answer.

“And what would I be without God?” she whispered quickly, energetically, glancing at him fleetingly with suddenly flashing eyes, and she pressed his hand firmly with her own.

“So that’s it!” he thought.

“And what does God do for you in return?” he asked, testing her further.

Sonya was silent for a long time, as if she were unable to answer. Her frail chest was all heaving with agitation . . .

“Be still! Don’t ask! You’re not worthy! . . .” she cried suddenly, looking at him sternly and wrathfully.

“That’s it! That’s it!” he repeated insistently to himself.

“He does everything!” she whispered quickly, looking down again.

“Here’s the solution! Here’s the explanation of the solution!” he decided to himself, studying her with greedy curiosity.

With a new, strange, almost painful feeling, he peered at that pale, thin, irregular, and angular little face, those meek blue eyes, capable of flashing with such fire, such severe, energetic feeling, that small body still trembling with indignation and wrath, and it all seemed more and more strange to him, almost impossible. “A holy fool! A holy fool!” he kept saying within himself.[1]

There was a book lying on the chest of drawers. He had noticed it each time he paced the room; now he picked it up and looked. It was the New Testament, in Russian translation.[2] The book was old, used, bound in leather.

“Where did this come from?” he called to her across the room. She was still standing in the same place, three steps from the table.

“It was brought to me,” she answered, as if reluctantly, and without glancing at him.

“Who brought it?”

“Lizaveta. I asked her to.”

“Lizaveta! How strange!” he thought. Everything about Sonya was becoming more strange and wondrous for him with each passing minute. He took the book over to the candle and began leafing through it.

“Where is the part about Lazarus?” he asked suddenly.

Sonya went on stubbornly looking down, and did not answer.

“Where is it about the raising of Lazarus? Find it for me, Sonya.”

She gave him a sidelong glance.

“You’re looking in the wrong place…it’s in the fourth Gospel…” she whispered sternly, without moving towards him.

“Find it and read it to me,” he said. He sat down, leaned his elbow on the table, propped his head in his hand, and looked away sullenly, preparing to listen.

“About three weeks, and welcome to Bedlam! I’ll probably be there myself, if nothing worse happens,” he muttered to himself.

Sonya stepped hesitantly to the table, mistrusting Raskolnikov’s strange wish. Nevertheless, she picked up the book.

“You’ve never read it?” she asked, glancing at him loweringly across the table. Her voice was becoming more and more severe.

“Long ago…in school. Read it!”

“You never heard it in church?”

“I…haven’t gone. Do you go often?”

“N-no,” whispered Sonya.

Raskolnikov grinned.

“I see…Then you won’t go tomorrow to bury your father either?”

“Yes, I will. And I went last week…for a memorial service.”

“For whom?”

“Lizaveta. She was killed with an axe.”

His nerves were becoming more and more irritated. His head was beginning to spin.

“Were you friends with Lizaveta?”

“Yes…She was a just woman…She came…rarely…she couldn’t. She and I used to read and…talk. She will see God.”[3]

How strange these bookish words sounded to him; and here was another new thing: some sort of mysterious get-togethers with Lizaveta—two holy fools.

“One might well become a holy fool oneself here! It’s catching!” he thought. “Read!” he suddenly exclaimed insistently and irritably.

Sonya still hesitated. Her heart was pounding. She somehow did not dare read to him. He looked almost with pain at the “unfortunate madwoman.”

“What is it to you? You don’t believe, do you? . . .” she whispered softly, somehow short of breath.

“Read! I want you to! he insisted. “You read to Lizaveta!”

Sonya opened the book and found the place. Her hands were trembling; she did not have voice enough. She tried twice to begin, but kept failing to get the first syllable out.

“‘Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany . . .’ “[4]she uttered at last, with effort, but suddenly, at the third word, her voice rose and broke like an overtightened string. Her breath failed, and her chest contracted.

Raskolnikov partly understood why Sonya was hesitant to read to him, and the more he understood it, the more rudely and irritably he insisted on her reading. He understood only too well how hard it was for her now to betray and expose all that was hers. He understood that these feelings might indeed constitute her secret, as it were, real and long-standing, going back perhaps to her adolescence, when she was still in the family, with her unfortunate father and her grief-maddened stepmother, among the hungry children, the ugly shouts and reproaches. But at the same time he now knew, and knew for certain, that even though she was anguished and terribly afraid of something as she was starting out to read, she also had a tormenting desire to read, in spite of all her anguish and apprehension, and precisely for him, so that he would hear it, and precisely now —”whatever might come of it afterwards!”…He read it in her eyes, understood it from her rapturous excitement…She mastered herself, suppressed the spasm in her throat that had made her voice break at the beginning of the verse, and continued her reading of the eleventh chapter of John’s Gospel. Thus she read on to the nineteenth verse:

“‘And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.’”

Here she stopped again, anticipating with shame that her voice was again about to tremble and break . . .

“‘Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him . . .’”

(and catching her breath as if in pain, Sonya read strongly and distinctly, exactly as if she herself were confessing it for all to hear:)

“‘Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.’”

She stopped, quickly raised her eyes to him, but mastered herself at once and began to read further. Raskolnikov sat listening motionlessly, without turning, his elbow resting on the table, his eyes looking away.

They read to the thirty-second verse.

“‘Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?’”

Raskolnikov turned and looked at her anxiously: yes, that was it! She was already trembling in a real, true fever. He had expected that. She was approaching the word about the greatest, the unheard-of miracle, and a feeling of great triumph took hold of her. There was an iron ring to her voice; joy and triumph sounded in it and strengthened it. The lines became confused on the page before her, because her sight was dimmed, but she knew by heart what she was reading. At the last verse: “Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind…” she had lowered her voice, conveying ardently and passionately the doubt, reproach, and reviling of the blind, unbelieving Jews, who in another moment, as if thunderstruck, would fall down, weep, and believe…”And he, he who is also blinded and unbelieving, he, too, will now hear, he, too, will believe—yes, yes! right now, this minute,” she dreamed, and she was trembling with joyful expectation.

“‘Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone.

Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.’”

She strongly emphasized the word four.

“‘Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth… ’”

(she read loudly and rapturously, trembling and growing cold, as if she were seeing it with her own eyes:)

“‘. . . bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

“‘Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. ‘“

Beyond that she did not and could not read; she closed the book and got up quickly from her chair.

“That’s all about the raising of Lazarus,” she whispered abruptly and sternly, and stood motionless, turned away, not daring and as if ashamed to raise her eyes to him. Her feverish trembling continued. The candle-end had long been burning out in the bent candlestick, casting a dim light in this destitute room upon the murderer and the harlot strangely come together over the reading of the eternal book. Five minutes or more passed.

“I came to talk about business,” Raskolnikov suddenly spoke loudly, and, frowning, he rose and went to Sonya. She looked up at him silently. His face was especially stern, and some wild resolution was expressed in it.

“I left my family today,” he said, “my mother and sister. I won’t go to them now. I’ve broken with everything there.”

“Why?” Sonya asked, as if stunned. Her meeting earlier with his mother and sister had left an extraordinary impression on her, though one not yet clear to herself. She heard the news of the break almost with horror.

“I have only you now,” he added. “Let’s go together…I’ve come to you. We’re cursed together, so let’s go together!”

His eyes were flashing. “He’s crazy,” Sonya thought in her turn.

“Go where?” she asked in fear, and involuntarily stepped back.

“How do I know? I only know that it’s on the same path, I know it for certain—that’s all. One goal!”

She went on looking at him, understanding nothing. She understood only that he was terribly, infinitely unhappy.

“None of them will understand anything, if you start talking with them,” he continued, “but I understand. I need you, and so I’ve come to you.”

“I don’t understand . . .” Sonya whispered.

“You’ll understand later…Haven’t you done the same thing? You, too, have stepped over…were able to step over. You laid hands on yourself, you destroyed a life…your own (it’s all the same!). You might have lived by the spirit and reason, but you’ll end up on the Haymarket… But you can’t endure it, and if you remain alone, you’ll lose your mind, like me. You’re nearly crazy already; so we must go together, on the same path! Let’s go!”

“Why? Why do you say that?” Sonya said, strangely and rebelliously stirred by his words.

“Why? Because it’s impossible to remain like this—that’s why! It’s necessary finally to reason seriously and directly, and not weep and cry like a child that God will not allow it! What if you are indeed taken to the hospital tomorrow? That woman is out of her mind and consumptive, she’ll die soon, and the children? Won’t Polechka be destroyed? Haven’t you seen children here on the street corners, sent out by their mothers to beg? I’ve learned where these mothers live, and in what circumstances. Children cannot remain children there. There a seven-year-old is depraved and a thief. But children are the image of Christ: ‘Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.’[5] He taught us to honor and love them, they are the future mankind . . .”

“But what, what can be done, then?” Sonya repeated, weeping hysterically and wringing her hands.

“What can be done? Smash what needs to be smashed, once and for all, and that’s it—and take the suffering upon ourselves! What? You don’t understand? You’ll understand later…Freedom and power, but above all, power! Over all trembling creatures, over the whole ant-heap! … That is the goal! Remember it! This is my parting word to you! I may be talking to you for the last time. If I don’t come tomorrow, you’ll hear about everything yourself, and then remember these present words. And sometime later, years later, as life goes on, maybe you’ll understand what they meant. But if I come tomorrow, I’ll tell you who killed Lizaveta. Good-bye!”

Sonya shuddered all over with fear.

“You mean you know who killed her?” she asked, frozen in horror and looking at him wildly.

“I know and I’ll tell…you, you alone! I’ve chosen you. I won’t come asking forgiveness, I’ll simply tell you. I chose you long ago to tell it to, back when your father was talking about you and Lizaveta was still alive, I thought of it then. Good-bye. Don’t give me your hand. Tomorrow!”

He went out. Sonya looked at him as at a madman; but she herself was as if insane, and she felt it. Her head was spinning. “Lord! How does he know who killed Lizaveta? What did those words mean? It’s frightening!” But at the same time the thought would not enter her mind. No, no, it would not! … ”Oh, he must be terribly unhappy! … He’s left his mother and sister. Why? What happened? And what are his intentions? What was it he had said to her? He had kissed her foot and said…said (yes, he had said it clearly) that he now could not live without her…Oh, Lord!”

Sonya spent the whole night in fever and delirium. She jumped up every now and then, wept, wrung her hands, then dropped into feverish sleep again, and dreamed of Polechka, of Katerina Ivanovna, of Lizaveta, of reading the Gospel, and of him…him, with his pale face, his burning eyes…He was kissing her feet, weeping…Oh, Lord!

Beyond the door to the right, the door that separated Sonya’s apartment from the apartment of Gertrude Karlovna Resslich, there was an intervening room, long empty, which belonged to Mrs. Resslich’s apartment and was up for rent, as signs on the gates and notices pasted to the windows facing the canal announced. Sonya had long been used to considering this room uninhabited. And meanwhile, all that time, Mr. Svidrigailov had been standing by the door in the empty room and stealthily listening. When Raskolnikov left, he stood for a while, thought, then went on tiptoe into his room, adjacent to the empty room, took a chair, and inaudibly brought it close to the door leading to Sonya’s room. He had found the conversation amusing and bemusing, and he had liked it very, very much—so much that he even brought a chair, in order not to be subjected again in the future, tomorrow, for instance, to the unpleasantness of standing on his feet for a whole hour, but to settle himself more comfortably and thus treat himself to a pleasure that was full in all respects.


[1] A “holy fool” (yurodivyi in Russian) can be a saintly person or ascetic whose saintliness is expressed as “folly.” Holy fools of this sort were known early in Christian tradition, but in later common usage “holy fool” also came to mean a crazy person or simpleton.

[2] The language of the Russian Orthodox Church is Old Slavonic, not Russian. The Bible was first translated into Russian in the early nineteenth century.

[3] See Matthew 5:8: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”

[4] Here and further on Sonya reads from John 11:1-45.

[5] An imprecise quotation of Matthew 19:14.


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