Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment

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Themes and Colors
Criminality, Morality, and Guilt Theme Icon
Madness and Intoxication Theme Icon
Coincidence and Free Will Theme Icon
Money and Poverty Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Crime and Punishment, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Family Theme Icon

Relationships between family members, and the formation of families through marriage, are central to the novel. Raskolnikov has a fraught relationship with his mother and sister, whom he recognizes as having made great sacrifices for his own happiness. He feels repulsed by their charity and tries to break off relations with them. But Raskolnikov nevertheless feels protective of his sister, in whom he confides, and of his mother. Apart from an engagement to his landlord’s daughter—a sickly girl who dies before they can be married—Raskolnikov expresses little interest in starting a family of his own.

This is in contrast to others in the novel. Razumikhin, from the first, is taken by Dunya and offers to protect her and her mother. In fact, as Raskolnikov withdraws from his family, Razumikhin appears to take over his duties and, later, marries Dunya, with Raskolnikov’s approval. Raskolnikov’s impieties toward his family are mirrored and opposed by Sonya, who gives everything—her reputation and happiness—in order to provide for Marmeladov, Katerina, and the children. Sonya and Raskolnikov later form a family unit while in exile in Siberia. Luzhin wishes to marry Dunya for practical reasons, and he believes he is doing Dunya an enormous favor. For him, family is a means of beginning a “brilliant” career as a public servant. Svidrigailov, the inveterate womanizer, tries to seduce Dunya; he is the novel’s libertine, satisfied only by new sexual conquests.

Although Raskolnikov’s rehabilitation is only hinted at in the epilogue, it seems clear that Sonya will play a role in his transformation from confused, nihilistic criminal to penitent. In Sonya’s total obedience and generosity Raskolnikov sees an example of Christian love (emphasized by a final reference to the story of Lazarus), which, incidentally, he has had a much harder time recognizing in his own mother and sister. If family is an eternal source of conflict in Dostoevsky’s novels, it is also the only means of escaping one’s loneliness and maintaining one’s sanity.

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Family Quotes in Crime and Punishment

Below you will find the important quotes in Crime and Punishment related to the theme of Family.
Part 1, Chapter 2 Quotes

It is necessary that every man have at least somewhere to go.

Related Characters: Semyon Zakharovich Marmeladov (speaker)
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

Marmeladov is a foil for Raskolnikov, in that Marmeladov's life is also falling apart, but he reacts differently. Marmeladov is drunk, and has been sleeping on the banks of the Neva River for nearly the past week - and yet all he wishes to do is to narrate his life with his wife and family to someone, anyone, in the nearby tavern. Raskolnikov, though he does not have a family, is similarly dissolute. But the difference between the two men, older and younger, is that Raskolnikov is not interested in sharing his experiences or narrating them to a friend. Raskonikov's dissolution is instead a thoroughly private matter.

This will have consequences later in the novel, when Raskolnikov attempts to keep his murderous acts a secret. He finds this nearly impossible to do - he has nightmares about his deeds - and realizes, only too late, that Marmeladov's impulse to atone in public for his bad behavior is, in fact, a method by which people can relieve themselves of the burden of their guilt. 


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Part 1, Chapter 3 Quotes

. . . as he explained, a husband ought to owe nothing to his wife, but it is much better if a wife looks upon her husband as a benefactor.

Related Characters: Pulcheria Alexandrovna Raskolnikov (speaker), Avdotya (Dunya) Romanovna Raskolnikov, Pyotr Petrovich Luzhin
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

Luzhin, about whom Pulcheria is speaking, seems to be a good, honest man, a government official who announces that he is truly in love with Dunya, Raskolnikov's sister. But this speech he gives, as reported by Pulcheria, is somewhat odd considering the circumstances. He argues that it is better for a husband to marry a wife in a "lower position," because then the wife will literally look up to her husband, rely on him for everything, and be, therefore, much more inclined to work for him and for the good of their family.

This, of course, is at best an upsetting, and at worst a deeply terrifying conception of marriage, as a kind of servitude a woman must provide her husband. But Pulcheria and Dunya recognize that, based on their material circumstances, they have very little say in the matter. Dunya must be married if their family is to be supported, especially with Raskolnikov earning so little money. And Raskolnikov himself feels an unacknowledged guilt at being unable to offer his sister and mother any money to survive. 

Part 1, Chapter 4 Quotes

This marriage will not take place as long as I live, and to the devil with Mr. Luzhin!

Related Characters: Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov (speaker), Avdotya (Dunya) Romanovna Raskolnikov, Pyotr Petrovich Luzhin
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Raskolnikov makes plain his deep opposition to Dunya's potential marriage to Luzhin. Although Luzhin can provide material security for the family, Raskolnikov believes this security comes at too high a price. He states openly that he feels Dunya would have to give up too much of her independence to a man Raskolnikov feels he barely knows. 

But there are perhaps deeper reasons for Raskolnikov's opposition to Luzhin's marriage to Dunya. For Luzhin is, despite everything, a man "of action," a man "in the world." And Rasknolnikov is barely holding on to his tenuous life as a student, and his squalid top-floor apartment. Indeed, Raskolnikov is barely maintaining his grasp on reality itself. Thus he resents Luzhin for wishing to marry into the family, in part because he worries that Dunya will have to give up too much of her freedom, and in part because he feels implicitly that he should be the man providing for his mother and sister in their time of need. 

Part 2, Chapter 4 Quotes

And if we look straight, in all ways—will there be many good people left? No, in that case I’m sure that I, with all my innards, would be worth about as much as one baked onion!

Related Characters: Dmitri Prokofych Razumikhin (speaker)
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:

Razumikhin is a counterweight to Raskolnikov in the plot. He, like his friend, believes himself to be "fallen," to be a "sinner," a person capable of bad things. But Razumikhin does not place undue emphasis on this feeling of fallenness. Instead, he takes it as a given, as a condition of humanity - and he attempts to live a good life having accepted it. Thus, Razumikhin is good to Pulcheria and Dunya - he becomes more loving toward them as time passes. And though Raskolnikov believes his only way to make a mark in the world is to commit a horrific crime, Razumikhin, despite his belief that he is far from perfect, attempts to live a balanced and more rational life. He works for his money, continues with his studies, and manages to maintain his sanity. All this while attempted to help Raskolnikov, despite realizing that his friend is perhaps, as the novel goes on, beyond all help entirely. 

Part 2, Chapter 7 Quotes

He finally got it!

Related Characters: Katerina Ivanovna Marmeladov (speaker), Semyon Zakharovich Marmeladov
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:

Marmeladov's wife Katerina is of course saddened to see what has happened to her husband - but she is not necessarily surprised by it. She understands that for some time Marmeladov has been sick, and borderline insane - and drawn ever more to drink, which causes him only to ramble through the streets more, and to speak to whomever is close by about his misfortunes.

But Katerina also believes that Marmeladov should take more responsibility for his actions. She believes that he has failed to provide for their family; thus, his death underneath the wheels of a carriage is, for her, an example of her husband "getting" the fate that was headed his way. This fate, of course, could have been avoided had Marmeladov behaved differently. But this is another example of the interplay of choice and "fatedness" in the text - of the manner by which men and women do what they choose, or refuse to choose, and therefore suffer the consequences of both their action and inaction. 

Part 3, Chapter 4 Quotes

Despite her eighteen years, she looked almost like a little girl, much younger than her age . . . and this sometimes even appeared comically in some of her movements.

Related Characters: Sonya Semyonovna Marmeladov
Page Number: 238
Explanation and Analysis:

Sonya is to be Raskolnikov's love interest in the novel, although their romance is far, far from a "standard" one. Raskolnikov's mind is echoed here in the words of the narrator, who states what Raskolnikov perceives: that Sonya is young and largely helpless, that she has been tasked with supporting her family during her father's illness and now after his death, and that, in doing so, she has been made to "grow up" very quickly, more quickly than should be reasonable for someone of her age and temperament.

Raskolnikov feels very fond of Sonya and demonstrates to her what little kindness he is capable of showing anyone - indeed, he is alternately firm, cold, and distant with his sister and mother, and does what he can to create distance between himself and his friend Razumikhin. By the end of the novel, Sonya is the only person with whom Raskolnikov is anywhere near close at all - the only "family" he has left, as they live together during Raskolnikov's banishment in Siberia. 

Part 4, Chapter 3 Quotes

No, it’s my fault most of all! I was tempted by his money, but I swear, brother—I never imagined he could be such an untrustworthy man!

Related Characters: Avdotya (Dunya) Romanovna Raskolnikov (speaker), Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, Marfa Petrovna Svidrigailov
Page Number: 308
Explanation and Analysis:

Dunya is a counterpoint to Raskolnikov in her total dedication to being truthful, and to helping and serving her mother and brother - to doing all she can to make the lives of those around her easier. Dunya worries that she has sullied the family's name by taking up with Luzhin, who, it turns out, has had an eye on her money, and has not really loved her so much as planned to use Dunya to further his own designs. Dunya fears that this has brought shame on her brother and mother, and her anguish here is not so much her own - as might be expected of a lover jilted in this fashion - but is instead anguish for others.

Raskolnikov also worries about those around him, but his worries are those of a paranoid person - devoid of most relation to reality, and achieving their full effect only in his mind - without much reflection in the outside world. Raskolnikov sees others and thinks of himself; Dunya sees something happen to her and thinks of others. 

Part 4, Chapter 4 Quotes

Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave . . . . Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. . . . Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou has heard me, . . . and he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth.

Related Characters: Sonya Semyonovna Marmeladov (speaker)
Related Symbols: Lazarus
Page Number: 327
Explanation and Analysis:

This passage comes from one of the recurring motifs in the work. Raskolnikov asks Sonya to read from this passage in the Gospels, because he identifies deeply with Lazarus, a man who was dead and was revived, a man who has seen "the other side" and returned to life, but who has difficulty describing what he has passed through. Perhaps Raskolnikov, although he does not state this directly, worries that he, too, might only be "purified" through dying, as Lazarus has died. He fears that the only method of escaping his own guilt is to die. Or perhaps Raskolnikov merely marvels at the wonder of Jesus having brought someone back to life before Jesus' own resurrection in the Gospels. Raskolnikov does not come out and explicitly identify why he is so fixated on this story - but the idea of rebirth, of being dragged from death back into life, is an object of clear fascination for him. 

Part 5, Chapter 4 Quotes

Nonsense! I simply killed—killed for myself, for myself alone . . . and it was not money above all that I wanted when I killed . . . .

Related Characters: Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov (speaker)
Page Number: 419
Explanation and Analysis:

This is avastly important passage in the novel. For Sonya, loving Raskolnikov as she does, wishes to argue on his behalf that there were mitigating circumstances causing him to kill - that Raskolnikov was hungry, that he was not in right mind and that he therefore did not know what he was doing, that he murdered out of a desperation for money and a deep desire simply to stay alive. But to this, Raskolnikov argues point blank that the truth was nothing of the sort. The young man instead claims that he killed "for himself," out of a sense of fulfilling a destiny that was different from that of the university men around him - that Raskolnikov wanted to live beyond the confines of the life that unfurled before him. Sonya, then, attempts to humanize her love interest, whereas the young man desires only to clear his mind and not to make excuses for the murder, not to point to any mitigating circumstances - but to argue exactly why he killed, even if those reasons make no sense to his companion, and instead stem solely from a personal existential crisis.

Part 5, Chapter 5 Quotes

Dunya! This Razumikhin, Dmitri Prokofych, is a very good man . . . He is a practical man, hard-working, honest, and capable of deep love . . . .

Related Characters: Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov (speaker), Avdotya (Dunya) Romanovna Raskolnikov, Dmitri Prokofych Razumikhin
Page Number: 425
Explanation and Analysis:

By now Raskolnikov has already begin preparing for the future, for a time when he can truly no longer provide for the family, either because he is dead or in prison. (Of course, he has not been providing for the family at all already, and he knows this; but Raskolnikov nevertheless feels it is his duty to designate someone as the family's official "protector" after he is gone.) The arrangement he makes here makes a great deal of sense. Razumikhin is demonstrably in love with Dunya, and he is devoted to Pulcheria as well. He wishes to do all he can to serve Raskolnikov's mother and sister - he is committed to it. In every sense, then, other than the biological one, Razumikhin has become the family member that Dunya and Pulcheria have wanted. He has taken over for Raskolnikov and wishes to do so - and this provides Raskolnikov with a modicum of comfort as he realizes he must confess fully to his crimes. 

Part 6, Chapter 2 Quotes

You’d run away, and come back on your own. It’s impossible for you to do without us.

Related Characters: Porfiry Petrovich (speaker), Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov
Page Number: 461
Explanation and Analysis:

This is one of the climactic scenes in the novel. At this point Porfiry is convinced that Raskolnikov is guilty. He seems to know this intuitively, elementally, but he also notes that there are a great deal of corroborating, circumstantial effects that lead him to the same conclusion. And one of them is Raskolnikov's interactions with those who seek him out, with the investigators who have tasked themselves with finding the murderer. They keep finding Raskolnikov wherever they go - thus Raskolnikov "comes back on his own" out of some need to return to those who intuit he is the one to blame. (In a way fulfilling the trope that murderers always "return to the scene of the crime.")

This sheds further light on the nature of Raskolnikov's guilt. For at this point, he is more interested in expiating that guilt, in turning to a moment when he can serve his punishment, than he is in concealing his crime. For other than his relationship with Sonya, he has very little of his life left to protect. 

Part 6, Chapter 7 Quotes

I’m wicked, I see that . . . but why do they love me so, when I’m unworthy of it!

Related Characters: Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov (speaker), Pulcheria Alexandrovna Raskolnikov, Avdotya (Dunya) Romanovna Raskolnikov
Related Symbols: Lazarus
Page Number: 520
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Raskolnikov references a belief relating to a fundamentally Christian idea, as it is developed throughout the novel - that of the golden rule, in which others are to be treated the way they would wish to be treated. Dunya and Pulcheria love the young man unconditionally, and they do their best to demonstrate to him this love, despite whatever he might have done or might do in the future. They do this because they wish to be loved by him, because they treat him the way they want to be treated, because they are religious people, and, ultimately, to believe that the world works in this way, with people caring for those who care for them.

Raskolnikov finally seems to understand the unconditional nature of this life, even as he has a hard time understanding what it might mean for him - how they can love him after what he has done. This love, for Raskolnikov, is now only a source of pain for him, and though he understands it better in this scene, he still has a difficult time accepting it. 

Epilogue, Chapter 2 Quotes

At the beginning of their happiness there were moments when they were both ready to look at those seven years as if they were seven days. He did not even know that a new life would not be given him for nothing, that it still had to be dearly bought, to be paid for with a great future deed . . . .

Related Characters: Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, Sonya Semyonovna Marmeladov
Related Symbols: Lazarus
Page Number: 551
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Dostoevsky discusses another fundamentally Christian idea, that of redemption. The time in the camp is nothing compared to cosmic time - the chain of human existence moving forward and backward from Raskolnikov's and Sonya's time on earth. Thus Raskolnikov, who has found religion during his time away in the penal colony, and who has dedicated his life to living well and to helping Sonya, knows that he must somehow do something "great" in the future to make up for the harm he has caused others. 

He does not know exactly what this deed might be, and in this way the author leaves open the end of the novel for a possible sequel (never written). But Raskolnikov is also ennobled at this thought. For though a great future deed might be a difficult one to achieve, it is also a deed that remains possible - it is an indication of hope. Before, Raskolnikov had no hope, and he committed the murders in part because he felt his life to be without future and without direction. Even though a good deal of hard work lies in front of him, he nevertheless has found that future and that hope, as the author takes pains to make clear.