Notes from the Underground - Part II: Chapters VII, VIII Summary & Analysis

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Part II: Chapters VII, VIII Summary

Thinking that she's making fun of his earlier observations, the writer goes on a tirade. He tells her that she's worse that the common laborer who sells his work for a period of time each day because she's sold her soul and has no hope of anything better now. He says that she's in the position that she'll never find love, for why should a man love her if he has only to command that she do his bidding anyway. He says that he's heard that women in her position may take "lovers", but says it means nothing because he's actually robbing her of her normal fee and that no man could truly love her knowing she could be called from his bed to another at any moment.

He then launches into a tirade about the fate of women in her position. He tells of one he'd seen thrown out on the steps in freezing weather and of the men who gathered around to make fun of her. He says that woman was probably young and in demand not that many years earlier. He says that a woman who dies as a prostitute has no loving hand caring for her on her deathbed, but is shoved into a corner and urged to hurry and die. And once dead, there's no one to care about the burial and no one to shed a tear or care for the gravesite.

The young woman begins to cry dramatically and the writer hurries to gather his clothes. He gives her his address and walks out, but she follows him and shows him a letter from a medical student. It's a love letter and the writer notes that it's not feigned but is an honest declaration of love. Liza says that he gave it to her without knowing what she's doing and that she hadn't yet decided whether she would remain in the brothel. The writer knows that the letter is Liza's one "precious" possession and that she showed it in order to redeem herself in his eyes.

When he wakes in his own home, the writer immediately puts aside all thoughts of Liza, thinking instead of his friends. He writes Simonov a letter of apology in which he lies and says that he'd already had wine while waiting for them and that his being unaccustomed to wine was the reason for his moodiness. He is pleased with the tone of the letter, saying that it reached exactly the right level of apology and "aristocratic playfulness". He notes that it would be impossible for a less learned and cultured man to achieve that effect.

The writer continues to worry that Liza will come to his apartment and that she'll see that he's a pauper living with a shabby couch and poor clothes. He even worries that Apollon, his servant, will insult her just to be contrary to the writer. When she arrives, he is in a heated argument with Apollon. The writer has just told the servant that he must apologize for his insolence if he wants to be paid. Apollon says he has nothing to apologize for and refuses. When the author realizes Liza is here, he runs to his own room and Apollon enters, saying politely, "there's a person out there, asking for you." The writer screams at Apollon to leave his room.

Part II: Chapters VII, VIII Analysis

The writer predicts that once a woman of this situation is dead, she spends her time wishing to be released from the coffin in order that she might see the sunlight and to live at least a little of the life that passed her by. He talks of a young man in the neighborhood who likely vowed love and how wonderful that love would have been when compared to the lonely death of a whore. When he finds that she's crying and seems broken hearted, he loses his drive and says that he wants to comfort her but doesn't dare. He gives her his address and tells her to come to him, but doesn't explain why. He also doesn't offer any personal thoughts as to the reason he takes this step, but continues to want to hurry and get away.

Through all the worry that Liza would appear, the author is dreaming that she does and that she loves him for his efforts to help her see that she should not be working in a brothel. He imagines that she'll eventually declare her love for him but that he'll say that he's always known of it. They'll then travel the world together. As is the case with dreams, he doesn't indicate how he'll suddenly be wealthy enough to travel.

It's noteworthy that the writer sends off a note of apology to Simonov and asks him to apologize on his behalf to the others. He says—as they noted during the dinner—that he is unaccustomed to drinking and that he'd had wine while waiting. He notes that it's a lie, but that he believes it strikes exactly the right cord with regard to an apology. He also says that he would have come in person, but that he's embarrassed by his actions. He sends Simonov the money he owes.

It's interesting to note the writer's relationship with Apollon. He says that Apollon is as much a part of his apartment as the shabby furniture. He also notes that Apollon has his own way of doing things and that he—the master—cannot change any of that. It's also interesting that the writer says it wouldn't have done any good to fire Apollon because he simply wouldn't have gone.

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(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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