Notes from Underground

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Notes from Underground Part 2, Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Everyone else has left without the underground man, so he follows after in a cab, talking to himself. He resolves to slap Zverkov in the face and plans how to go about doing it. Zverkov was going to meet a prostitute named Olympia, who had once ridiculed the underground man, so he thinks he will “drag Olympia around by the hair and Zverkov by the ears.” He thinks that by slapping Zverkov and challenging him to a duel he can regain some honor.
The underground man finds himself alone again, and resorts to talking to himself. He now makes up his mind and, settling on spite, thinks of how he is going to slap Zverkov. He is still fixated on the idea of a duel, drawn from literature and his own literature-fueled sense of honor.
Themes
Thought vs. Action Theme Icon
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon
Literature and Writing Theme Icon
The underground man says that even then he was aware of “the disgusting absurdity of my intentions,” but nonetheless kept going toward the brothel, telling his driver to hurry up. Feeling that he needs to “wipe out” the disgrace of his behavior at the party, he fantasizes about confronting Zverkov. Even if he is arrested and sent to prison for attacking him, he images tracking Zverkov down fifteen years later for revenge. He realizes, though, that all of these thoughts are drawn from a short story by the Russian writer Alexander Pushkin.
The underground man is capable of contrary thoughts at the same time: he realizes the absurdity of his plan, but nonetheless wants to go through with it. He imagines elaborately what he will do to Zverkov, continuing to think more than to act. His imagination and fantasies are heavily influenced by what he has read. He is to some degree removed from reality, as well as from society.
Themes
Thought vs. Action Theme Icon
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Reason and Rationality Theme Icon
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon
Literature and Writing Theme Icon
It is snowing outside as the underground man finally arrives at the brothel. He goes inside, but Simonov and the others have already left. The underground man walks around the room, talking to himself. He is glad that he doesn’t have to slap Zverkov, though he insists to himself that he would have done it. He sees a young girl and walks up to her. He sees his reflection in a mirror and thinks he looks “extremely repulsive.” He thinks to himself that he is glad he will “seem so repulsive” to the prostitute.
After so much thinking about what he will do to Zverkov, the underground man arrives too late to actually do anything. Filled with anger, he irrationally decides to channel some of it into spitefully annoying the young prostitute with his “extremely repulsive” appearance.
Themes
Thought vs. Action Theme Icon
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon