Raskolnikov and Sonia

July 23, 2017: Harmonize

The following is an abridged excerpt from Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Constance Garnett translation, Part 4 Chapter 5).

A conversation is taking place between Raskolnikov and Sonia. Raskolnikov is trying to understand how Sonia has maintained both sanity and goodness despite having committed great sin.

“But you are a great sinner, that’s true,” he added almost solemnly…

“Tell me,” he went on almost in a frenzy, “how this shame and degradation can exist in you side by side with other, opposite, holy feelings? It would be better, a thousand times better and wiser to leap into the water and end it all!”

“But what would become of them?” Sonia asked faintly, gazing at him with eyes of anguish, but not seeming surprised at his suggestion.

Raskolnikov looked strangely at her. He read it all in her face; so she must have had that thought already, perhaps many times…

He was still confronted by the question, how could she have remained so long in that position without going out of her mind, since she could not bring herself to jump into the water?…

He began looking more intently at her.

“So you pray to God a great deal, Sonia?” he asked her.

Sonia did not speak, he stood beside her waiting for an answer.

“What should I be without God?” she whispered rapidly, forcible, glancing at him with suddenly flashing eyes, and squeezing his hand.

“Ah, so that is it!” he thought.

“And what does God do for you?” he asked, probing her further.

Sonia was silent a long while, as though she could not answer. Her weak chest kept heaving with emotion.

“Be silent! Don’t ask! You don’t deserve!” she cried suddenly, looking sternly and wrathfully at him.

“That’s it, that’s it,” he repeated to himself.

 

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