Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Barron's Booknotes
PART II, CHAPTER 7
Raskolnikov discovers that the carriage has run over Marmeladov, who was walking, drunk, down the street. Raskolnikov accepts responsibility for Marmeladov and offers to pay those who are willing to carry Marmeladov home. Marmeladov is then taken home. His chest has been crushed by the horse's hooves and the wheels of the carriage. His wife and three young stepchildren are horrified at the sight of him. The lodgers of Mrs. Lippewechsel, the landlady, all crowd into the room.
A doctor is sent for, but it is too late. Marmeladov's daughter, Sonia, enters. She is dressed in a prostitute's flashy apparel. Marmeladov asks Sonia for her forgiveness and dies in her arms. Before leaving, Raskolnikov gives about 20 rubles to Katerina Ivanovna to put towards the funeral expenses. On his way out he meets the police chief, Nikodim Fomich, who remarks that Raskolnikov's clothing is bloodstained. As Raskolnikov walks downstairs, Polenka, Katerina Ivanovna's nine year-old daughter, rushes down to meet him. She asks to know his name and address. Raskolnikov treats her tenderly, placing his hands on her shoulders, and asks her whether she will love him. In response Polenka kisses Raskolnikov and cries quietly on his shoulder. Raskolnikov asks Polenka to remember him in her prayers, and gives her his name and address.
Raskolnikov walks back to the bridge where he had earlier witnessed the attempted suicide. He realizes that life is worth living and that he need not ruin his life for the sake of the old woman he has murdered. He goes to meet Razumihin at the house- warming party. Razumihin, who has had a bit too much to drink, reveals that Zossimov believes that Raskolnikov is mad. He also tells Raskolnikov that Zossimov suspects that he (Raskolnikov) had a part in the murders. Razumihin accompanies Raskolnikov to his room, where they find Dounia and Pulcheria Alexandrovna, who have just arrived in St. Petersburg. As his mother and sister rush to embrace him, Raskolnikov falls in a swoon to the ground. Razumihin lifts him and puts him onto the sofa.
Part II closes with the death of Marmeladov in a road accident and the arrival of Raskolnikov's mother and sister. Raskolnikov, who had met Marmeladov only once in the tavern, now feels it is his duty to take the dying man home. Here, the reader witnesses Raskolnikov's humanitarian nature. He helps the poorest of the poor in their most desperate moments, when they are faced with a close relative's death. The sight of Marmeladov's blood spattered on his clothes does not upset him as much as the blood of his victims.
Marmeladov's death is a horrible and painful one. He has lost every shred of his dignity, and his wife curses him even while he lies dying. Neighbors flock to see the dying drunkard. He finally finds peace only when he is forgiven by his daughter, Sonia, for being a failure as a father.
Sonia's timidity and humility are in sharp contrast to her external attire. It is the first time that Raskolnikov sees her. Raskolnikov's ability to love and his need for love are visible in the manner in which he caresses nine-year-old Polenka. His love for Sonia will later become the all-important cause of his soul's redemption. After receiving the pure and natural love of the innocent child (Polenka), Raskolnikov feels that life is worth living after all. He puts thoughts of suicide out of his mind. Now he desires company once more, and he goes to meet Razumihin. However, the arrival of his mother and sister seems to have upset him, and he turns pale and falls to the floor. Perhaps the sight of these two women, who are innocent of crime and must suffer the disgrace of his terrible deed, strikes him as too much. He feels he has wronged them deeply and hence Raskolnikov swoons away.