Crime and Punishment Chapter 17
Zossimov is already in Raskolnikov's room. He declares that Raskolnikov is almost fully well. The news pleases the mother and sister. The path to full recovery, Zossimov suggests, is up to Raskolnikov. Perhaps leaving the university was the catalyst for his illness and therefore, some work and direction is beneficial, Zossimov advises. Raskolnikov addresses Zossimov and Razumihin, thanking them with a hint of mocking annoyance. He apologizes to his mother and sister for his attitude the day before. Although the mother is glad to see Raskolnikov's pleasant manner, she is uneasy and fearful. Unable to hide her emotions, the mother confesses to how much she worried about him when she first came to St. Petersburg. Speaking as if only to please his mother, Raskolnikov tells her of his intentions to visit that morning. Only a need to wash his bloodied clothes prevented him. His mother is alarmed to hear of blood. Raskolnikov tells them about Marmelodov's accident. He admits to remembering the slightest details of that day, although he cannot remember why he did what he did. To this, Zossimov explains:
"Actions are sometimes performed in a masterly and most cunning way, while the direction of the actions is deranged and dependent on various morbid impressions-it's like a dream." Chapter 17, pg. 197
It is perhaps fortunate that they consider him almost mad, Raskolnikov thinks to himself. He explains how he got blood on his clothes by carrying the injured man and how he gave away all his money to the poor family. His mother forgives him, trusting that he does all for good. "Don't be too sure," is Raskolnikov's cold reply (p.198). He senses fear in his mother and sister. The mother tells Raskolnikov about Marfa Petrovna, telling him of the rumor that Svidrigailov might have been involved in her death. Raskolnikov asks why she should tell him such gossip. His mother confesses that she does not know what to talk about. Raskolnikov asks why they are all acting as if they are afraid of him. Dounia defends her mother, saying that it is his strange behavior that is causing such emotions. His mother tries to clarify Dounia's statement, but Raskolnikov tells her that there will be a time to speak of everything freely. Deep inside, however, Raskolnikov is overwhelmed by an intolerable feeling of not being able to speak to anyone about anything. Raskolnikov questions why everybody is so silent. Feeling uncomfortable, Zossimov excuses himself and leaves.
Raskolnikov abruptly changes the subject from talking about Dounia's watch (which he mistakenly takes to be a present from Luzhin) to reminiscing about his former fiance, the sickly daughter of his landlady. He remembers how he liked her mostly because she was an invalid and quite uncomely. He reminds Dounia that if she marries Luzhin, he will not consider her a sister. Dounia counters that she is marrying Luzhin for her sake and not his. Raskolnikov accuses her of lying for the sake of stubbornness and pride. Dounia remarks that even if it were true, she is only ruining herself and not committing murder. Raskolnikov asks for proof of Luzhin's high esteem for her and of her respect for him. Dounia shows him Luzhin's letter. Before reading it, Raskolnikov has a sudden change of mind-he wonders why he is making a fuss about this and tells Dounia to marry whomever she wants. After carefully reading the letter, however, Raskolnikov points to its businesslike, uneducated tone. But more importantly, Raskolnikov uncovers Luzhin's attempt to slander him by stating that Raskolnikov gave money to a girl of notorious character, even though he clearly gave it to the widow, Katerina Ivanovna. Hearing of Luzhin's misrepresentation of Raskolnikov's charity, the women agree that Raskolnikov be present at their meeting.