Notes from the Underground - Part II: Chapters IV, V and VI Summary & Analysis

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Part II: Chapters IV, V and VI Summary

The dinner is a disaster for the author. He arrives at five o'clock and waits for more than an hour only to discover that the time was changed to six o'clock and that Simonov forgot to tell him. Almost immediately, Zverkov asks him a question and the author perceives derision that might or might not have been there. Zverkov asks about his salary and the author asks what's the point of the "interrogation", but does tell his salary and then blushes. Both the other former classmates make negative comments about the low salary. Zverkov notes that the author has gotten thin and looks him over. The author is acutely aware of his shabby clothing and his stained trousers.

As the night lengthens, the author begins to drink and soon becomes quite drunk. As the others talk and laugh, the author paces back and forth in the room. On the rare occasions he does talk, it's to cut down Zverkov, which isn't well received by any of the others. Soon even Simonov says that he should not have allowed the writer to attend and they all put it down at least partly to his drunkenness. When the party breaks up, the four friends are going "there", which turns out to be a brothel. The author asks Simonov for enough money to join them and Simonov almost throws it at him. The author does follow, but when he arrives, the four have all gone into rooms with women. A woman approaches him and they walk off to her room together without speaking a word.

The writer wakes in the brothel in the bed of a woman he learns is named Liza. He realizes that they've "fornicated" and he likens it to spiders who indulge in an act that should have been the consummation of love but is not. He asks and she tells him her name is Liza. He then tells her of watching a coffin taken out of a brothel in a poor side of town and weaves a story of the burial that would likely take place in several inches of water because of the snowy weather. He continues to question her and talks at length about the love that can exist between a father and a daughter. After a point, she says that not all families are like that and that some fathers would sell their daughters rather than see them "marry honorably". The writer, assuming this is what happened to Liza, says that poverty is often the reason for this but he says that a lack of Godliness could also be the culprit.

The writer goes on and on about how people can be happy as a family. He says that he had no family of his own, and that's how he wound up as he has. In a family, the wife may be jealous beyond all reason or may harp and nag at a man in order to make up. But the fact remains that a man who watches his wife suckle their child can never turn from that wife, according to the writer.

When Liza takes on a mocking tone, the writer is immediately angry, though he admits that he should have known that it was her way of getting past her shyness.

Part II: Chapters IV, V and VI Analysis

It's the author who says the conversation topic should change and Ferfichkin asks if he's planning to show off his intellect. The author gets in a barb by saying such an endeavor would be superfluous in this setting. When he decides to follow the others to the brothel, he screams and yells at the driver. Then he changes his mind, breaks into tears, and gets out of the sled. Then he gets back in and urges the driver again to hurry.

The author is so caught up with his appearance that he notices his face in a mirror and notes that he looks ferocious. He says that he's glad of that.

The writer questions Liza at length about various aspects of her life. He wants to know about her parents and her reason for falling into the life at a brothel, and tells her that she's a slave and will never escape the life. He points out that she probably owes the madam money already and that she'll eventually move to less reputable houses where she'll be ill treated and eventually die alone and a pauper. It seems that he's trying to talk this girl into going home, then he notes that he's excited about the conversation. He says that, "Surely, I couldn't fail to get the best of such a young soul!" This indicates that he's verbally sparring for the sport of it and that he doesn't care for the young girl's fate at all. He even says that he's excited "about the sport of it". Just seconds later, he swears that she interests him, but doesn't say what it is that is of interest.

It's interesting that the writer launches into a conversation about how everyone can be happy if they simply take time to look about for that happiness. He himself finds little or nothing to be happy about in his own life or with other people. He seems to be contradicting his own life, though it's not yet clear why. He could be trying also to convince himself but is seems more likely that he's using the arguments he believes will work on this young woman.

This section contains 921 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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