The three find Raskolnikov and Zossimov, who declares Raskolnikov “well.” The latter appears cleaned and more presentable, though there is a look of anguish fixed on his face. Zossimov urges Raskolnikov to find the “original causes” of his temporary madness and discomfort, and recommends a return to steady work and university life, to which Raskolnikov seems to assent. Raskolnikov appears to apologize, however mechanically, to his mother for his previous behavior, and he reaches out to touch his sister’s hand, signifying reconciliation.
Raskolnikov’s “mechanical” behavior here is important. In the aftermath of his previous days’ frenzy, Raskolnikov displays an outward calm, almost a resignation to his fate. He exhibits no strong desire to live—he wishes only that he might smooth over matters with his mother and sister and then avoid their company altogether. Raskolnikov’s mental state seems always to be changing: he is at turns agitated, calm, and manic.
Pulcheria reiterates her concerns about her son’s health and Raskolnikov appears to explain his behavior, as Dunya recognizes, as if by rote. Raskolnikov refers both to his rationality and his apparent “delirium” the previous day, and Zossimov seems to agree that the patient was acting as though not quite sane nor mad, bur rather “in a dream.” Raskolnikov explains Marmeladov’s death and tells his family, apologetically, that he gave the 25 roubles to Katerina for the funeral. His mother is convinced of Raskolnikov’s goodness; Raskolnikov realizes his family is afraid of him.
Dunya understands that something is truly wrong with her brother. His “mechanical” behavior, his apologies that do nothing more than satisfy the formal demands of politeness, create in her a sense of unease. Zossimov and Razumikhin have trouble understanding Raskolnikov’s behavior. Was his frenzy a “delirium,” an instance of insanity? Or was it the behavior of a sane man who was, for some reason, anxious?
Pulcheria tells her son that Marfa Svidrigailov died, suddenly, of a stroke after being beaten by her husband. Raskolnikov asks why his mother is telling him this, and Dunya intercedes, saying they both are afraid of him. Raskolnikov grows upset and yells at everyone, saying they are dull and asking them to speak. Razumikhin speaks of his engagement to the landlady’s daughter, indicating that it was a mistake, an instance of “spring delirium.”
Marfa’s death occurs under suspicious circumstances. It is said that her husband Svidrigailov beat her before her stroke, but Svidrigailov will later attribute her death to a heavy meal and a trip to the sauna. Whatever the truth may be, Svidrigailov continues to be associated with rumors of past crimes throughout the novel.
Pulcheria wonders if Raskolnikov’s condition doesn’t derive from the squalor of his apartment. Raskolnikov repeats to his sister, with apologies, that he cannot support her marriage to Luzhin. Dunya says she is marrying for her own reasons, not for her brother’s sake; Raskolnikov says that it is “low” and “base” to marry only for money. Dunya yells that it is not as though she has “put in a knife in someone,” and Raskolnikov nearly faints.
Raskolnikov once again equates Dunya’s desire to marry Luzhin with a kind of prostitution. Dunya argues that she wishes to marry for her own reasons (although she stated earlier, at least in jest, that she would almost marry Luzhin just to see her brother again). Raskolnikov faints again at a perceived reference to the murders.
His anger passes, however, and Raskolnikov tells his sister to marry whomever she wishes. Raskolnikov reads Luzhin’s recent letter and corrects Luzhin, saying that he gave the money to Katerina, not to Sonya. He believes Luzhin is trying to impute a base motive to Raskolnikov in connecting him to a known prostitute. Raskolnikov says he will be present at the meeting tomorrow at eight p.m.
Raskolnikov finds the distinction important: he gave the money to Katerina, not to Sonya, and he has a growing distrust of Luzhin’s motives, since Luzhin seems perfectly happy to distort the truth in order to link Raskolnikov to a “fallen woman.” The stage is set for a dramatic encounter with Luzhin the following day.