Relationships between family members, and the formation of families through marriage, are central to the novel. Raskolnikov has a fraught relationship with his mother and sister, whom he recognizes as having made great sacrifices for his own happiness. He feels repulsed by their charity and tries to break off relations with them. But Raskolnikov nevertheless feels protective of his sister, in whom he confides, and of his mother. Apart from an engagement to his landlord’s daughter—a sickly girl who dies before they can be married—Raskolnikov expresses little interest in starting a family of his own.
This is in contrast to others in the novel. Razumikhin, from the first, is taken by Dunya and offers to protect her and her mother. In fact, as Raskolnikov withdraws from his family, Razumikhin appears to take over his duties and, later, marries Dunya, with Raskolnikov’s approval. Raskolnikov’s impieties toward his family are mirrored and opposed by Sonya, who gives everything—her reputation and happiness—in order to provide for Marmeladov, Katerina, and the children. Sonya and Raskolnikov later form a family unit while in exile in Siberia. Luzhin wishes to marry Dunya for practical reasons, and he believes he is doing Dunya an enormous favor. For him, family is a means of beginning a “brilliant” career as a public servant. Svidrigailov, the inveterate womanizer, tries to seduce Dunya; he is the novel’s libertine, satisfied only by new sexual conquests.
Although Raskolnikov’s rehabilitation is only hinted at in the epilogue, it seems clear that Sonya will play a role in his transformation from confused, nihilistic criminal to penitent. In Sonya’s total obedience and generosity Raskolnikov sees an example of Christian love (emphasized by a final reference to the story of Lazarus), which, incidentally, he has had a much harder time recognizing in his own mother and sister. If family is an eternal source of conflict in Dostoevsky’s novels, it is also the only means of escaping one’s loneliness and maintaining one’s sanity.
Family Quotes in Crime and Punishment
It is necessary that every man have at least somewhere to go.
. . . as he explained, a husband ought to owe nothing to his wife, but it is much better if a wife looks upon her husband as a benefactor.
And if we look straight, in all ways—will there be many good people left? No, in that case I’m sure that I, with all my innards, would be worth about as much as one baked onion!
No, it’s my fault most of all! I was tempted by his money, but I swear, brother—I never imagined he could be such an untrustworthy man!
Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave . . . . Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. . . . Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou has heard me, . . . and he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth.
Dunya! This Razumikhin, Dmitri Prokofych, is a very good man . . . He is a practical man, hard-working, honest, and capable of deep love . . . .
I’m wicked, I see that . . . but why do they love me so, when I’m unworthy of it!
At the beginning of their happiness there were moments when they were both ready to look at those seven years as if they were seven days. He did not even know that a new life would not be given him for nothing, that it still had to be dearly bought, to be paid for with a great future deed . . . .