Crime and Punishment Chapter 3
Raskolnikov wakes up from his unsettling sleep feeling irritable. Nastasya, the maidservant, comes in with some tea and engages him in small talk. She tells him that his landlady, Praskovya Pavloyna, is looking to go to the police to get her money from him. Before leaving to get Raskolnikov some food, Nastasya gives him a letter from his mother, Pulcheria Raskolnikov. He has been waiting for it, longingly and fearfully.
In the letter, his mother expresses her anxieties over Raskolnikov quitting the university. She expresses her desire to send him as much money as she can scrounge up. She then explains the recent events with Dounia, Raskolnikov's sister: She had been working as a governess for Marfa Petrovna and her husband, Mr. Svidrigailov. Initially, Mr. Svidrigailov had shown contempt for Dounia, but later expressed his true desire for her. Although Dounia refused his advances, he was persistent. One day, Marfa Petrovna overheard her husband's proposals and laid the blame squarely on Dounia. She sent Dounia off and spread word about town regarding the incident. The whole town reacted to the scandal with self-righteous anger. The two Raskolnikov women faced public disgrace until Mr. Svidrigailov confessed to his wife of Dounia's innocence. He produced a letter written by Dounia that cleared her of any wrongdoing. Marfa Petrovna repented of her slander and, as was her character, went to extreme lengths to restore Dounia's reputation. She even went door to door and held public readings of Dounia's well-expressed letter. This resulted in a complete reversal of public opinion. Marfa Petrovna went so far as to hasten the meeting between Dounia and her suitor, Pyotr Petrovitch Luzhin (Marfa's distant relative), a well-to-do lawyer with posts in the government. After the very first meeting, he sent a letter of proposal and asked for a speedy answer.
At this point in the letter, Raskolnikov's mother expresses her opinion about the matter. She describes Mr. Luhzin as a forty-five year old man of practical, business-like manner, though a bit conceited. Although Dounia has consented to the marriage not out of love, but for the (financial) security and benefit of the family, Raskolnikov's mother feels that the arrangement can be a sensible, happy one. However, she recounts warily of Mr. Luhzin's second visit, where he let slip that he prefers a poor girl in marriage because she makes a more grateful wife. Nevertheless, Dounia, after spending all night in thought and prayer, decides to go ahead with the marriage. Raskolikov's mother goes on to say that Mr. Luhzin is planning to set up an office in St. Petersburg and that Dounia has already dropped some hints to Mr. Luhzin about possibly helping her brother get started in the business. In fact, Dounia has been occupied with the thought that someday, her brother will become a partner in her future husband's firm. The letter ends by saying that she and Dounia will be visiting Raskolnikov in St. Petersburg as soon as they work out the finances. She tells Raskolnikov how much she and Dounia love him and that he should say his prayers. She fears that he has lost his faith to trendy, atheistic ideas and reminds him of the days in his youth when he would say his prayers in happiness. Raskolnikov is in tears as he reads the letter. But as soon as he finishes it, he walks out in bitterness, talking to himself. People who see him on the street think he is drunk.