Svidrigailov spends the night on the town, drinking and carousing with women he meets in the taverns. He decides later in the evening to go back to the apartment-house and visit Sonya, who is at home. He gives Sonya 3,000 roubles and says that, for Raskolnikov, there are only two options: suicide or confession and exile. Svidrigailov vows that he is going to America, and that he must leave Sonya now.
Svidrigailov becomes the central figure in this chapter. He begins giving away a large part of the inheritance he was given by Marfa, since, where he is going, he will have no use for money. Sonya is astonished but takes the money; she will later use it to support herself and Raskolnikov in Siberia.
Svidrigailov then heads to the house of his fiancée, says he is leaving Petersburg “for some time” and gives her 15,000 roubles, care of her parents. They are somewhat confused but take the money happily, and the fiancée wonders what will become of Svidrigailov.
The fiancée’s family is never fully described, but they seem perfectly willing to accept Svidrigailov’s money, despite the mystery inherent in the gift. Their circumstances are so desperate that they are simply grateful for the presence of so generous a benefactor.
Svidrigailov walks aimlessly and ends up taking a room in a rundown inn. He attempts to fall asleep and wonders if Marfa’s ghost will visit him in his current depressing surroundings. He finds he cannot sleep and stares out into the rain. Walking through the corridor later, he runs into a small girl who has hidden from her mother in the night, and who is worried she will be beaten.
Thus starts Svidrigailov’s dream, his only one of the novel. This dream, like Raskolnikov’s first, is a scene of violence and an intimation of something horrible to come. But it begins innocently enough: the young girl wishes that Svidrigailov might take her inside and protect her, by allowing her to sleep in a warm bed.
Svidrigailov calms the girl and takes her to his room to sleep, though he curses himself for “getting involved.” He goes to see how the girl, only five years old, is doing, and realizes she has grown feverish. Her face distorts and she begins laughing at Svidrigailov. He wakes up from the dream in a sweat.
But the girl does not stay innocent for long, which seems to symbolize the way that Svidrigailov is attracted by innocent women, but, in gaining the, corrupts them (or proves that they were already corrupt). Dunya's rejection of him has made that dynamic even more clear. Before, Svidrigailov could always move on from his corrupted women in search of real and true innocence or purity, hoping to win it. But when Dunya rejects him, suddenly it is clear that real or true purity will never agree to be possessed by Svidrigailov.
He walks outside in the early morning fog and finds a young man standing as a guard outside a building. Svidrigailov tells the guard he is going to America and pulls out a gun. The guard says that this behavior is not allowed and that it’s “in the wrong place,” but Svidrigailov does not listen and shoots himself in the head.
The guard’s words have a double meaning. Of course one would never wish to have a suicide occur at one’s place of work. But there is, naturally, no “good place” for suicide to happen. Svidrigailov’s comment, that he is going to America, has a tinge of mystery about it, but might be explained by the fact that America was an impossible ideal, a land of mythical freedoms and purity, for many Russians without the means to travel there. It is akin to Svidrigailov's quest for a pure and innocent women, a dream, but nothing more than a dream. It is also akin to heaven.