Katerina asks Luzhin for his support in her quarrel, but Luzhin replies he has instead come to speak with Sonya. Luzhin announces, in a “businesslike tone,” that a 100-rouble note has disappeared from his room; he asks if Sonya has any knowledge of this. Sonya says she does not; Luzhin then explains to all present that he gave Sonya ten roubles to help her. He accuse Sonya of stealing and Katerina grows extremely upset.
Luzhin introduces the second part of his ploy. By placing the 100-rouble note on Sonya without her knowledge, Luzhin can subtly reference Sonya’s lowly occupation, shame Katerina’s family, and show nonetheless that he is a gracious man, when he ultimately forgives Sonya for her (perceived) theft.
Katerina goes on to say that Luzhin cannot prove his assertions. Katerina turns inside-out Sonya’s pockets, revealing the 100-rouble note, and Amalia demands that the police be brought around to arrest Sonya. Katerina says she does not believe that Sonya has stolen, but Luzhin quiets the room and offers Sonya forgiveness. At that point, though Lebezyatnikov accuses Luzhin of being a “vile man.”
Lebezyatnikov, however, has by chance seen Luzhin slip Sonya the extra money. In this scene, then, Lebezyatnikov really does serve as the staunch defender of women’s rights he so professes to be. Luzhin’s inadequate response to these allegations will prove his undoing among social circles in Petersburg.
Lebezyatnikov claims that Luzhin placed the note in Sonya’s pocket unbeknownst to her, and Lebezyatnikov assumed at the time either that Luzhin was being especially generous or trying to “test” Sonya. He says now, however, that he understands the set-up: Luzhin has arranged the whole affair so he might be seen as a gracious man, capable of forgiveness. Luzhin declares this is not true, but Raskolnikov speaks up and agrees with Lebezyatnikov’s assertions, claiming Luzhin has been dishonest with his family as well.
Raskolnikov, who has been present the entire time, naturally has every reason to dislike Luzhin. It is also clear that, at this point in the novel, Raskolnikov has developed an especially close relationship with Sonya. But even if this weren’t the case, it would be safe to assume that Sonya would not steal even a cent from Luzhin—and Luzhin has every reason to lie, since he is searching for a way to rehabilitate his local reputation and increase his own self-esteem, after Dunya’s termination of the engagement.
Luzhin leaves in a huff, with the room now on Lebezyatnikov’s side, and the latter asks Luzhin to vacate their apartment. Sonya, terribly upset, leaves, and Amalia uses this further ruckus against Katerina, demanding that her family leave the apartment immediately. Katerina puts on her shawl and goes out into the street, loudly protesting her unfair treatment, and Raskolnikov leaves amid the commotion to find Sonya at her apartment.
Amalia uses this disagreement as a chance, once and for all, to kick Katerina and the family out of the apartment. At news of this, Katerina appears to undergo a total psychic break: she runs outside and pledges to beg for money however she can to support the family. Thus Amalia initiates a chain of events that lead to Katerina’s death.