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Reading journal: Crime and Punishment by Fjodor Dostojevski. Entry 3.

  • Things are now getting really interesting. The story is about halfway told and the plot thickens as several turning points are reached one after the other. R seems to be recovering from his fever, but his mind is still in turmoil. The main turning points I have recognised as such are:

    • Sonja appearing on the scene and meeting R’s mother and sister – even though she has done little so far, she is presented in such a way as to suggest that she is an important character;

    • Dunja seems to have decided to break off her engagement with Lusjin, possibly because she has seen that her brother does not condone the marriage, but also possibly because she has realised it would be a kind of prostitution if she did marry him;

    • A second detective, Petrovits, has turned up and like Sametof he seems to be convinced that R is the murderer. It remains to be seen if he “solves” the case, i.e. finds proof and arrests R, or if R’s conscience drives him to confess. Petrovits is clearly a detective of the psychological school and has already started playing head games with R.

    • Finally, there is the appearance of Svidrigelof, a man described in a letter from R’s mother in Part 1 as Dunja’s ardent admirer, a married man for whom she worked and who wanted to make her his mistress, causing both women to be socially ostracised until it was made clear that Dunja was innocent of any wrongdoing. In an earlier chapter in this part of the book R’s mother and sister had mentioned that his wife had died of a stroke caused by him beating her, and now he turns up out of the blue and visits R. I smell something fishy.

  • Rasumikhin is clearly in love with Dunja, and she seems interested in him – this may lead to happiness or doom.

  • The thinking behind the murder is becoming clearer – R had, some time before the narrative starts, published an article in a periodical about how some unusual men, great men with great ideas beneficial to humankind, could be excused for having killed others to set their plans in motion and introduce their great ideas to the world. While it is not said in so many words, it is clear from the portrait the narrator has already painted of R that he considers himself one of these great men. The plan or idea has only been hinted at, but clearly he needed money to set it in motion, and was able, through his idea of himself as a great man, to convince himself that the old woman deserved to die so that others would live. That he thinks to himself that he is more insignificant than his victim is interesting – the brutal reality of the murder clearly clashes with his ideal. Another interesting point is his thinking that he has hardly considered Lisaveta at all, which the reader knows is not true. That murder, unexpected and unplanned for, is, I think, the one that has caused much more turmoil in him than the death of the old woman.


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