Tag Archives: Crime and Punishment Part 4 chapter 4

Like sand through the hourglass, so are the days…

Part IV, chapter 4

This is the chapter where Raskolnikov torments Sonia about her occupation, about the future of her step-siblings when Katerina Ivanovna dies, and about who killed Lizaveta.

It’s also the chapter where the prostitute reads the Bible with the murderer.

But it’s the ending that reminded me of the days way, way back in my past when I used to watch a soap opera.  Do they still call them that now?  A daytime drama?

The last paragraph of this chapter was the shocker.  This intimate conversation between Raskolnikov and Sonia was overheard.  This is where the tv camera pans across the set, through the walls of Sonia’s room to the next apartment to reveal..

On the other side of the door on the right, which divided Sonia’s room from Madame Resslich’s flat, was a room which had long stood empty.  A card was fixed on the gate and a notice stuck in the windows over the canal advertising it to let.  Sonia had long been accustomed to the room’s being uninhabited.

And in the dark room, there’s just enough light for the tv viewer to make out the figure of a man.

Who?  Who heard all that they said?

But all that time Mr. Svidrigaïlov had been standing, listening at the door of the empty room.



Not him!  Oh, no.  Not Dounia’s former employer.  Not the man who very likely caused his own wife’s death.  Not the man who has an obsession with Rask’s sister and who seems to have come to St. Petersburg with questionable motives.

This is where the theme music plays and the soap opera ends with a shot of threatening Mr. Svid, standing with his ear to the door, hearing all Rask has said and half-smiling in that creepy, bad-guy way that villains do.

Oh, Dostoyevsky.  You’ve done it again with your dramatic, suspenseful chapter-ending.  This one made me want to say, “Tune in tomorrow to find out if Rask reveals he’s Lizaveta’s murderer and to find out what Svidrigaïlov will do with his new-found information.”


Posted by on August 31, 2012 in Crime and Punishment


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Beautiful but Terrible Words

Crime and Punishment Part IV, chapter 4

Sonia has read the story of Lazarus to Raskolnikov.

“That is all about the raising of Lazarus,” she whispered severely and abruptly, and turning away she stood motionless, not daring to raise her eyes to him.  She still trembled feverishly.  The candle-end was flickering out in the battered candle-stick, dimly lighting up in the poverty-stricken room the murderer and the harlot who had so strangely been reading together the eternal book.

I think Dostoyevsky could give Flaubert a run for his money.

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Posted by on August 26, 2012 in Crime and Punishment


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