A priest, a murderer, and a dead woman…

06 Sep

So… a priest, a murderer, and a dead woman are all in the same room.

That’s how C & P Part VI, chapter 1 starts.  Something strange is happening.  Katerina Ivanovna is dead.  Rask is watching the priest perform the requiem service from the doorway.

From his childhood the thought of death and the presence of death had something oppressive and mysteriously awful; and it was long since he had heard the requiem service.  And there was something else here as well, too awful and disturbing.

I underlined that last section in my book and put a star by it.  What’s the awful and disturbing thing that’s happening?  Something more awful and disturbing than a mother having died of consumption?

“Raskolnikov stayed all through the service.  As he blessed them and took his leave, the priest looked round strangely.”

Why is the priest looking around strangely?

Then the narrator tells us that Rask has felt uneasy himself.

“Sometimes he walked out of the town on to the high road, once he had even reached a little wood, but the lonelier the place was the more he seemed to be aware of an uneasy presence near him.  It did not frighten him, but greatly annoyed him, so that he made haste to return to the town, to mingle with the crowd, to enter restaurants and taverns, to walk in busy thoroughfares.

This “uneasy presence” feeling has happened another time when Rask was listening to music in a tavern.

But at last he had suddenly felt the same uneasiness again, as though his conscience smote him.

Help!  If it’s Rask’s conscience prodding him, why does the priest notice.  What’s going on here?


Posted by on September 6, 2012 in Crime and Punishment


Tags: , , , ,

2 responses to “A priest, a murderer, and a dead woman…

  1. Lutheran Mama

    September 6, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    I guess I just took it as a personification of his guilt. He’s done so well at shoving it down so he doesn’t feel bad or sorry or even disgusted at himself anymore. Now it’s become a familiar stranger, he doesn’t acknowledge it, but still it’s with him wherever he goes.
    The unconfessed and unrepentent guilt is the the terrible thing at the requiem service. (At least that’s how it seemed to me.)

  2. Christina Joy

    September 10, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    I can’t believe I missed this! Yes, I agree, LM – personification of his guilt, and when does our guilt become the most apparent, in the presence of the Word of God.


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