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Free Study Guide-Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky-Free Booknotes
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PART VI, CHAPTER 2

Summary

Porfiry tells Raskolnikov that it is best that they be frank with each other. Porfiry realizes that Raskolnikov is a man "oppressed with cares, but proud, masterful, and impatient." He says he does not share Raskolnikov's convictions. He reveals that he conducted a search while Raskolnikov was sick in bed, right after the murders, but found nothing incriminating. He tells how Razumihin was instructed to give out details about the investigation so as to get Raskolnikov agitated. He tells Raskolnikov that Nikolai has nothing to do with the murders. He labels the murders "a fantastic and gloomy case, a contemporary case, something that could only happen in our time."

Porfiry openly accuses Raskolnikov of being the murderer. Raskolnikov denies this and observes that Porfiry is up to his old tricks. Porfiry asserts that he is sure of Raskolnikov's guilt. He asks Raskolnikov to come forward and confess so that he can receive a commuted sentence. He tells Raskolnikov that if within two days he does not give himself up, he (Porfiry) will have to arrest Raskolnikov. Porfiry claims to have some evidence against Raskolnikov.


Porfiry observes that Raskolnikov needs air. When Raskolnikov refuses to accept Porfiry's offer, Porfiry advises him to suffer his punishment and through it, to gain the will to live freely again. As Porfiry gets up to leave, Raskolnikov reminds him that he has not confessed to the murders as yet. Porfiry is certain that Raskolnikov will not try to run away from Russia or to commit suicide to escape the law.

Notes

Porfiry finally lays his cards on the table. He comes to Raskolnikov with the offer of a commuted sentence if he is willing to confess. Raskolnikov's pride is the one thing that keeps him from accepting this offer. Porfiry, who understands Raskolnikov's mind perfectly, realizes this and advises Raskolnikov that it is better to suffer punishment for his crime in Siberia, than to live in constant fear and torment as Raskolnikov presently does. Porfiry speaks more as a friend than as a policeman. He respects Raskolnikov's intelligence and wishes to offer him the noble way out. He recognizes that Raskolnikov is not mean and base. He is able to define Raskolnikov's character in precise detail. His analysis of the murderer's mind and methods fits Raskolnikov perfectly.

Like Sonia earlier, Porfiry maintains that Raskolnikov must suffer punishment in order to gain salvation. He advises Raskolnikov to find his "faith." He points out that Raskolnikov needs "a change of air." His gloomy surroundings are probably the source of his depression. Porfiry has now left the way open for Raskolnikov to confess. He has faith in the potential redemption of Raskolnikov because he realizes that within this criminal there is a man of intellect who could be reformed.

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