Rask has come back to tell Sonia who killed Lizaveta. He said he would.
“I said as I went away that perhaps I was saying good-bye for ever, but that if I came to-day I would tell you who… who killed Lizaveta.”
Dostoyevsky likes suspense, so he doesn’t have Raskolnikov blurt it out. He stretches the tension.
“Then how do you know about it?” she asked again, hardly audibly and again after a minute’s pause.
He turned to her and looked very intently at her.
“Guess,” he said, with the same distorted helpless smile.
Rask thought Porfiry was playing a game of cat and mouse with him earlier. Here, he is the one toying with Sonia.
“You can’t guess, then?” he asked suddenly, feeling as though he were flinging himself down from a steeple.
“Take a good look.”
Sonia learns the truth without Rask even saying it.
“Have you guessed?” he whispered at last.
“Good God!” broke in an awful wail from her bosom.”
Okay, so now Sonia knows. Because Sonia is Sonia, she feels his suffering. She grieves for Lizaveta, yes, but she grieves for Raskolnikov, feeling his pain and promising to follow him everywhere.
Now… Why? Why did he do it? There had to be a reason.
He says it was “to plunder“.
When Sonia guesses he was hungry and that he did it to help his mother he says, “I certainly did want to help my mother, but… that’s not the real thing either…”
Rask says, “I wanted to become a Napoleon, that is why I killed her…”
Got it. Wanted to be powerful leader.
Later in the chapter he says,
“So I resolved to gain possession of the old woman’s money and to use it for my first years without worrying my mother, to keep myself at the university and for a little while after leaving it–and to do this all on a broad thorough scale, so as to build up a completely new career and enter upon a new life of independence…”
So, is this the real reason. He wanted financial independence so that he could finish his degree.
Maybe not, for Rask says, “There were quite, quite other causes for it!”
So what were the reasons?
“I sat in my room like a spider.”
“And I know now, Sonia, that whoever is strong in mind and spirit will have power over them. Anyone who is greatly daring is right in their eyes.”
“The fever had complete hold of him.”
“I divined then, Sonia,” he went on eagerly, “that power is only vouchsafed to the man who dares to stoop and pick it up.”
So he was a mentally/physically ill predator who was seeking power.
That’s the reason he committed murder.
“I…I wanted to have the daring… and I killed her. I only wanted to have the daring, Sonia! That was the whole cause of it!”
He dared himself to kill?
I wanted to murder without casuistry, to murder for my own sake, for myself alone!
He wanted to ignore morality, ethics, and religion and take another person’s life.
“I wanted to find out then and quickly whether I was a louse like everybody else or a man. Whether I can step over barriers or not, whether I dare stoop to pick up or not, whether I am a trembling creature or whether I have the right…”
This is where Sonia and I have very different reactions to Rask’s reason for murder. She feels sorrow for and tenderness toward Rask. Me? I’m repulsed by and fearful of him.
What were your reactions to Raskolnikov’s reason for murder.