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FREE Barron's Booknotes-Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky-Free
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CHAPTER 6

In another of the astounding reversals of behavior that characterize Svidrigailov, he stops to see Sonia and gives her 3000 roubles because he doesn't want her to live as a prostitute anymore. And, he says, because he is going away, no one will ever know where the money came from, for she must never tell. Further, he warns her that Raskolnikov has only two choices: to confess and be punished, or to kill himself.

Despite his generosity, it is clear that something is very wrong with Svidrigailov, and his behavior fills Sonia with "vague and distressing forebodings." Clearly, Dostoevsky is warning us of approaching disaster.

Svidrigailov pays another visit and gives his fiancee and her impoverished family 15,000 roubles, with the rather thin explanation that he will be away for awhile and he wants her to have her wedding gift before he goes.

Having finished his errands, Svidrigailov goes, alone, to a seedy hotel and a tiny, dismal room. In this environment, so reminiscent of the garret where Raskolnikov lives, he's cut off from humanity. And, like Raskolnikov, Svidrigailov is lost in daydreams and nightmares. Thoughts of Dunya fill his mind; he remembers her pointing the gun at his head. The memory fill him with pity for her and profound unhappiness for himself.


As he fall asleep, he dreams that the mice with whom he shares the room are running over his body, and he wakes in horrified disgust. He falls asleep again and dreams he is in a beautiful garden full of flowers. Among the flowers is a beautiful young girl, with fair, wet hair and a bitter expression on her face. Svidrigailov recognizes her: the girl who committed suicide after he sexually abused her. How horrible! How repulsive!

In yet another dream, he pulls on his coat and goes out into the cold, rainy night. Then on an endless walk down a long hall he finds a child-no more than five-wet, shivering, and crying. Sobbing, the child is unable to answer his questions, and so Svidrigailov carries her to his room, undresses her, and puts her into the bed.

As he checks the child to make sure she is okay, she seems strangely flushed. But it is not fever as he suspects. As he watches her, suddenly she laughs, and tries to seduce him. Her face is no longer the face of a child, but the face of a whore. As the horrified Svidrigailov reaches out to strike her, he wakes.

He has seen, at last, his own decadence, and he is disgusted. There can be no salvation. So clutching Dunya's revolver, Svidrigailov goes out into the early morning and puts a bullet through his head.

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