A man has been crushed by the wheels of a wagon, and is lying in the street, mortally wounded. Raskolnikov realizes he knows this man: it is Marmeladov, the drunken former official. Raskolnikov says he will pay for a doctor and asks for help to carry Marmeladov to the Lippewechsel’s house, not far away.
Marmeladov is done in by a wagon—Raskolnikov was very nearly crushed by one earlier in the novel. This coincidence leads Raskolnikov believe that he is somehow connected to the Marmeladov family. His interaction with Sonya begins this night.
Marmeladov’s wife Katerina has become more crazed since Raskolnikov last visited; she often speaks about her father’s high rank and the squalor of their current circumstances. When Marmeladov is brought in, Katerina remarks that “he finally got it.” A crowd has begun to gather at the apartment’s doorway. Katerina rushes into action and is extremely upset; she sends her oldest daughter Polenka to fetch Sonya. Raskolnikov calls for a doctor, who lives close by.
Although Katerina loves her husband and her family, she is obsessed with her own fall from nobility—her father was an officer—and Marmeladov’s death convinces her that she is fated for oblivion. Katerina’s descent into madness begins here and continues through Marmeladov’s funeral feast a few days later, when she and the family are kicked out of the apartment.
The landlord Amalia, Frau Lippewechsel, arrives and begins fighting with Katerina. Lebezyatnikov is also present (Luzhin’s roommate). The doctor arrives and informs Raskolnikov that there is no hope: Marmeladov will die in short order. A priest is called and administers last rites. Katerina cries with the children and Polenka returns with Sonya.
A doctor will arrive in similar fashion when Katerina is taken ill much later in the novel. In fact, doctors throughout the novel, Zossimov included, are unable to help the patients placed in their care. These patients, Raskolnikov included, are fated to suffer.
Katerina asks the priest what she will do with the children after Marmeladov’s death. She says she cannot forgive Marmeladov for his drunkenness; the priest argues that this lack of forgiveness is “a great sin.” Marmeladov sees Sonya, asks her for forgiveness, then dies; Katerina asks who will provide for the funeral expenses.
Marmeladov, despite his many flaws, retains a belief in the afterlife and asks his daughter for forgiveness. Sonya will tell Raskolnikov that he, too, must confess publically to his crimes and ask forgiveness after he admits his guilt to her.
Raskolnikov gives Katerina twenty roubles for the funeral. As he is leaving he sees Nikodim the police chief, who tells Raskolnikov he is soaked in (Marmeladov’s) blood. Raskolnikov agrees. As he is walking outside Polenka, sent by Sonya, asks for Raskolnikov’s name. He tells Polenka to pray for her father and for himself. Raskolnikov feels that his strength has returned, and that “life might be possible” after the murder of the crone, after all.
The assembled crowd, which includes Luzhin (as he later reveals), watches as Raskolnikov gives most of his money to Katerina, for Marmeladov’s funeral. This act of generosity shows Raskolnikov capable of great empathy. It also demonstrates his lack of concern for money, despite his impoverished circumstances.
Raskolnikov heads to Razumikhin’s party. Razumikhin is shocked by Raskolnikov’s frazzled appearance and offers to take him home—he has just been having an involved political conversation with Zossimov and others at the party. Zossimov looks Raskolnikov over and orders him home, to bed. Razumikhin tells his friend that Zossimov believes Raskolnikov might be insane.
Razumikhin has not decided whether his friend is sane or insane—nor is it obvious what this distinction might mean in Raskolnikov’s case. Raskolnikov is clearly unsettled and anxious; his memory often fails; he is cruel to his family. But Razumikhin appears ready to excuse this behavior, blaming it on Raskolnikov’s stress and fatigue.
Zossimov feels this way because of Raskolnikov’s recent behavior, especially his strange conversation with Zamyotov, at the Crystal Palace tavern, and Raskolnikov’s fainting spell at the police station. While mounting the stairs to his room Raskolnikov tells Razumikhin of Marmeladov’s death. It appears that someone is in the room. Pulcheria and Dunya are there—they have been waiting for Raskolnikov for an hour and a half. They are happy to see Raskolnikov but terrified by his appearance. Raskolnikov lies down and the two become acquainted with Razumikhin and filled in on their son’s circumstances.
Dunya and Pulcheria have arrived, as promised. Their presence in Petersburg increases the novel’s drama and leads to confrontations between Raskolnikov and Luzhin and Raskolnikov and Svidrigailov, who still desires to elope with Dunya. Raskolnikov is unsettled by his mother and sister’s arrival and decides, later, that he can no longer see them, that Razumikhin must care for them, and that he, Raskolnikov, must be alone.