Notes from Underground

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Notes from Underground Part 2, Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The underground man feels ashamed in front of Liza. He tells her not to assume anything from the apparent poverty of his home, and tells her, “I’m poor, but noble. . . . One can be poor and noble.” He sends Apollon to go get tea for Liza and him. Apollon ignores him for a few minutes and the underground man stares at him until he finally goes off to get the tea.
The underground man apparently cares about his relationship with Liza, feeling embarrassed in front of her and not wanting Apollon to humiliate him in front of her.
Themes
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
The underground man suddenly shouts that he will kill Apollon and refers to him as his executioner. He bursts into tears, shocking Liza. He asks Liza if she despises him and then blames Liza for his behavior and vows not to speak to her for the rest of her visit. After a long, painful silence, Liza tells the underground man that she wants to leave the brothel.
The underground man behaves irrationally, bursting into tears for no clear reason, and taking out his frustration on the person who is trying to comfort him (Liza).
Themes
Reason and Rationality Theme Icon
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon
The underground man tells the reader that he felt pity for Liza, but that “something hideous immediately suppressed” his pity. After another long silence, he asks Liza why she came to him. He tells her that he was laughing at her the night before and has no pity for her now. He guesses that she thought he would save her, and says that he will do no such thing. Liza is crushed.
The underground man struggles between his normal tendency for spite and his human ability for pity. He defensively attempts to maintain his personal isolation by not allowing any intimacy between Liza and himself, claiming that he was only toying with her at the brothel.
Themes
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Human Nature Theme Icon
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon
The underground man tells Liza to leave him alone, wishes the world would stop bothering him, and tells her that he is “a scoundrel, a bastard, an egotist, and a sluggard.” He tells her that he is ashamed of what he said the night before and says he will never forgive her “for coming upon me in this dressing gown as I was attacking Apollon like a vicious dog.”
The underground man insists on his nature as a “scoundrel” as a defensive attempt to maintain his solitude and keep Liza at a distance from himself. He irrationally takes out his anger on her for putting him in a painfully embarrassing situation.
Themes
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Human Nature Theme Icon
Reason and Rationality Theme Icon
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon
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The underground man tells Liza that he hates her, and then he tells the reader that something strange happened. He says that he was so used to imagining everything as it happens in books, that he didn’t know what to think of this strange thing. He says that Liza understood more than he thought she would.
Real life defies the expectations the underground man has from books. His attempt to push Liza away and maintain his lonely life seems to fail.
Themes
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Literature and Writing Theme Icon
Liza embraces the underground man, as the two both cry. He says that he can’t be “good,” and then continues crying as Liza continues to embrace him. After the underground man’s “hysterics” pass, he realizes that he is now ashamed of having broken down and that he has made Liza a sort of heroine. He tells the reader that it is possible he even envied her in this position. He tells the reader he “hated her and felt drawn to her simultaneously.”
Liza is the only person in the novella who attempts to break through the underground man’s wall of spite to make a meaningful connection with him. The underground man has conflicted feelings: part of him hates and fears Liza and wants to stay alone, while part of him is drawn to her and wants some company in his life.
Themes
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Reason and Rationality Theme Icon
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon