Notes from Underground

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Notes from Underground Part 2, Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next day, the underground man awakes and is surprised to remember his “sentimentality” the previous night. He decides that he must “rescue at all costs” his reputation with Zverkov and Simonov. He borrows money from Anton Antonych so that he can pay back Simonov and tells Anton “casually that on the previous evening ‘I’d been living it up with some friends at the Hotel de Paris.’”
The underground man’s concern for his reputation, as well as his casual bragging to Anton, suggests that he cares what others think and has some desire to be involved in society.
Themes
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Back home, the underground man writes a letter to Simonov, asking for his forgiveness and saying that he was extremely intoxicated the night before. The underground man pauses and thinks that maybe he did only act so rudely because of the wine, but then says, “Hmmm. . . well, no, it wasn’t really the wine. . . . I lied to Simonov; it was a bold-faced lie—yet I’m not ashamed of it even now.” He gives the letter to his servant Apollon to deliver to Simonov.
The underground man vacillates in terms of how much he cares about other people: he wants to apologize to Simonov, but is not ashamed to tell his readers that he lied in his letter. He says that he did not act the way he did because he was drunk—his behavior was without rational explanation.
Themes
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Reason and Rationality Theme Icon
The underground man worries that Liza might pay him a visit and regrets giving her his address. He thinks that he appeared like a hero before her last night, but worries that his dirty apartment will show him how revolting he truly is. He continues to worry about Liza coming into the night and keeps thinking of her “pale, distorted face with its tormented gaze.”
Having made some connection with Liza the previous night, he now worries that she will interrupt his mostly solitary existence. Yet the fact that he worries about her seeing how revolting he is suggests he cares what she thinks of him and on some level desires some sort of relationship with her.
Themes
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
The next day, the underground man is still thinking about Liza. He is angry at her “damned romanticism” that allowed him to persuade her so easily, and thinks to himself, “how little idyllic sentiment. . . was necessary to turn a whole human soul according to my wishes at once.”
The underground man insists to himself that his behavior toward Liza was all out of spite, an attempt to manipulate her, and was not any reflection of genuine kindness.
Themes
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon
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Several days pass, though, without Liza coming to visit him. The underground man imagines himself saving Liza, Liza declaring her love for him, and him accepting her as his wife with an elaborate speech reminiscent of the French author George Sand. He begins to find this fantasy “crude” and ends up “sticking my tongue out at myself.”
Alone, the underground man retreats into his literature-tinged fantasies, imagining what he might do with Liza but taking no real action. Prone to self-contradiction, the underground man both desires what he fantasizes about and finds it crude and repulsive.
Themes
Thought vs. Action Theme Icon
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Reason and Rationality Theme Icon
Literature and Writing Theme Icon
The underground man describes his servant Apollon, whose rudeness distracts him from thinking about Liza. He talks of the mutual hatred between them and describes Apollon’s arrogance. Apollon has a lisp, which he thinks gives him “enormous dignity.” He says he could not get rid of Apollon and describes how he has in the past withheld Apollon’s wages in order to exercise his will as Apollon’s master.
The underground man despises his only companion at his home and spitefully tries to exercise his power over Apollon.
Themes
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon
The underground man wanted Apollon to have to ask for his wages, but the plan never worked. Apollon would come to the underground man’s room and simply stand there in silence, staring at him, until the underground man broke down and gave him his money. This precise thing has been happening today, with Apollon following the underground man around, staring at him.
The underground man tries to assert his dignity and power over Apollon, but Apollon ends up asserting his own power.
Themes
Human Nature Theme Icon
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon
The underground man finally confronts Apollon, calling him a “torturer,” and demands that Apollon show him respect before getting his money. Apollon threatens to complain to the police. Furious, the underground man tells him to go to the police. Just then, though, Liza arrives, looking for the underground man, who then tells Apollon to leave them alone together.
The malicious feud between Apollon and the underground man gives the underground man so much pain that he refers to Apollon as his “torturer,” though it is his overactive mind that makes enduring Apollon’s behavior so difficult.
Themes
Thought vs. Action Theme Icon
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon