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Free Study Guide-Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky-Free Booknotes
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PART VI, CHAPTER 8

Summary

Raskolnikov goes to Sonia's lodgings. Sonia has been tormented by fears that Raskolnikov may commit suicide and she is filled with joy on seeing him again. He tells her that he has come to take the cypress wood cross she had promised to give him when he came to the point of confession. Sonia takes two crosses from a drawer, makes the sign of the cross over herself and Raskolnikov and puts the cypress wood cross on his breast. Sonia takes her shawl and gets ready to leave with him, but Raskolnikov expresses the desire to proceed alone. As he sets off down the stairs, he wonders if he could still change things and if he should confess to the police at all.

Recalling Sonia's words, "Go to the crossroads," he kneels down in the middle of the square, bows to the ground and kisses it. Thinking he is a drunkard or some crazy pilgrim, people make fun of him. Raskolnikov does not say the words, "I am a murderer." Instead, he walks towards the police station. At one moment, he turns around and finds Sonia following him. He knows now that Sonia will always be at his side.

He reaches the police station. He hopes that Nikodim Fomich is there, but upon reaching the office, he discovers that Ilya Petrovich is in the room. Petrovich tells him that Svidrigailov has committed suicide. Raskolnikov is startled to hear this news. He tells Petrovich that he had come to see Zametov and leaves the office. He walks down to the courtyard. There Sonia, who has been waiting for him, throws up her hands in despair. Raskolnikov returns to the office and tells Petrovich: "It was I who murdered the old woman and her sister, Lizaveta, with a hatchet and robbed them." Petrovich is stunned. Raskolnikov repeats his statement.


Notes

Finally, Raskolnikov comes to terms with what he has to do. The symbolic taking up of the cross occurs in this chapter as Raskolnikov accepts his suffering, albeit grudgingly. Sonia is his guide and shows him the way to redemption through suffering. In spite of Raskolnikov's request to her not to accompany him to the police station, she follows him all the way. Ultimately, it is her presence which forces him to go back to the office and confess.

In a highly dramatic manner, as Sonia told him to do earlier, Raskolnikov bows down to the four corners of the world kisses the earth. He is about to speak the words: "I am a murderer," but his speech is stifled by the uncomprehending crowd of people in the square. His inability to confess openly to the people in the street is due to his sense of pride. Even when he is on his way to the police station, he wishes that the police captain, Nikodim Fomich were there, for he does he not wish to confess to the police clerk, Ilya Petrovich. However, it is Ilya Petrovich that he finds in the office. Raskolnikov is, at first, unable to confess to Ilya Petrovich and he leaves the office after hearing about Svidrigailov's suicide. It is only because the determined Sonia has been waiting downstairs for news of his public confession that Raskolnikov goes back to the office and confesses. The novel ends here, as Raskolnikov is now prepared to face his punishment, and Sonia is willing to go with him and lend her spiritual support.

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