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THE EPILOGUE, PART II
While in prison in Siberia, Raskolnikov does not mingle with the other convicts. His pride has been wounded and he eventually becomes ill. He feels no remorse for the murders of the two women. He admits to himself that he has failed in his attempt to implement his theory of the extraordinary man. He asks himself why he did not have the strength, like Svidrigailov, to commit suicide, instead of suffering in prison. He is amazed that his fellow prisoners appear to love life.
One of his fellow prisoners accuses him of being "godless," saying, "You don't believe in God . . . you deserve to be killed." One of the convicts even tries, unsuccessfully, to attack Raskolnikov. The prisoners love and respect Sonia, even while they despise Raskolnikov. On that first Christmas in Siberia, she brings a gift of pies and loaves for the whole prison. She also writes letters on behalf of the prisoners to their families and mails them.
Raskolnikov has a dreadful dream while he lies miserable in a prison hospital. He dreams that the whole of Europe and Asia will one day be consumed by sickness and plague. It is a vision of doom. He learns that Sonia is ill. Early one morning he goes to work at a riverbank. Suddenly Sonia appears by his side. She holds out her hand to him and he takes it. Sonia then realizes that Raskolnikov loves her. Seven years of waiting lie ahead of them. That evening Raskolnikov is more courteous toward his fellow prisoners and is more cheerful. He keeps a Bible under his pillow. He wishes that Sonia's beliefs can also be his. The new life ahead of him will not be easy. It will be a story of a man's regeneration. However, that will be another story; this one has reached its conclusion.
In this the concluding part of the Epilogue (and of the novel), Dostoevsky shows how prison life affects the mind of the intellectual hero, Raskolnikov. Dostoevsky himself spent six years in a Siberian prison and knew the conditions that prevailed there. His novel, The House of the Dead (1862), grew out of his experiences there. However, in the Epilogue to Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky refrains from describing the outer prison conditions, and deals instead with the tortured mind of Raskolnikov the prisoner.
At first Raskolnikov is gloomy and despondent, as he sees no hope for the future and is frustrated by his present condition. Dostoevsky seems to contend that religion and belief in God is very important for Raskolnikov's regeneration as a human being. In this, Raskolnikov is dependent on Sonia. His fellow prisoners realize that he is "godless" and they fear and hate him for this. On the other hand, they recognize in Sonia the true Christian virtues of love and charity. The theme of damnation is introduced in the form of Raskolnikov's dream of doomsday. According to Christian ethics and beliefs, it is only through love, patience and kindness that human beings can survive damnation. Thus, at the end the reader sees Raskolnikov accepting Sonia's love and trying to accept her views on God and religion. Dostoevsky believed deeply in the power of love. In the end, it is love with its infinite possibilities that seems to be Raskolnikov's path to redemption. He is at last able to come to terms with his fellow prisoners, with Sonia and himself.