Magazine article Russian Life

Crime and Punishment

Magazine article Russian Life

Crime and Punishment

Article excerpt


"I haven't come just to talk," said Raskolnikov loudly all of a sudden. Frowning, he got to his feet and walked over to Sonya. Silently, she lifted her eyes towards him. His gaze was particularly stem, expressing some wild determination.

"I left my family today," he said, "my mother and sister. I won't go back to them now. It's a clean break."

"But why?" asked Sonya, as though stunned. The recent meeting with his mother and sister had made an extraordinary, if indistinct, impression on her. It was with a kind of horror that she heard the news of the rift.

"Now I have only you," he added. "We'll go together ... I've come to you. Together we're damned, together we'll go!"

His eyes blazed. "Like a madman!" Sonya thought in her turn.

"Go where?" she asked in fright, automatically taking a step back.

"How should I know? All I know is that there's one road before us. One aim!"

She looked at him, understanding nothing. All she understood was that he was dreadfully, infinitely unhappy.

"None of them will understand a thing, if you tell them," he went on, "but I understood. I need you, that's why I've come to you."

"I don't understand ...," whispered Sonya.

"You'll understand later. Haven't you done the same thing? You also managed to take that step ... transgress. You've laid hands on yourself, mined a life ... your own (it's all the same!). You could have lived the life of the spirit, the life of reason, yet you'll end up on Haymarket Square ... But it's too much for you, and if you're left alone, you'll go mad, just like me. There's something crazy about you even now. So we've one road ahead of us. We'll walk it together! Let's go!"

"But why? Why are you saying this?" said Sonya, strangely restless and agitated.

"Why? Because something has to change--that's why! It's time to think about things seriously, head-on, instead of childish crying and yelling about God not allowing it! I mean, what will happen if you really are taken off to hospital tomorrow? She's consumptive and out of her mind, she'll soon die, but the children? You think Polechka won't go to rack and ruin? You mean you haven't seen the children around here, on street corners, sent out by their mothers to beg? I've seen where these mothers live, the conditions they live in. Children can't remain children there, it's impossible. There, a seven-year-old is depraved and a thief. Yet children are the image of Christ: 'Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.' He commanded that they be honored and loved. They're humanity's future ..."

"But what's to be done? What?" repeated Sonya, weeping hysterically and wringing her hands.

"What's to be done? Break what must be broken, once and for all, and take suffering upon yourself! You don't understand? You'll understand later ... Freedom and power, especially power! Over all quivering creatures, over the whole ant heap! ... This is the aim! Remember that! My parting words! Who knows? I may be speaking to you for the last time. If I don't come tomorrow, you'll hear about everything yourself. When you do, recall these words of mine. And some day, later, years later, as life goes by, perhaps you'll understand what they meant. …

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