[by Phillip Coates]
As week two of our discussion rolled around, our group dove headlong into several new developments and revelations within part two of the novel. After part one, what we were left with was the aftermath of the crime. One question that was raised is, will this be the only crime? Also on that note, do we still have sympathy for the lead protagonist Raskolnikov after this heinous act?
Money is a powerful force behind many of the novel’s character’s motivations and actions. It can lead them to acts of kindness, such as Raskolnikov paying for the funeral of a friend. Or it can steer them to commit terrible crimes. Initially, the reader is led to believe that Raskolnikov is motivated by money for the crime he commits, but as we read on we realize there are more forces at work. One of our group’s members, Ursula, aptly labeled this story as beyond good and evil. A fair assessment of what has transpired thus far.
Our guide Lucas Bernhardt informed us of several important insights into the novel, one of which was the prevalence of venereal diseases. This awareness could illuminate further the reaction Raskolnikov has to the murder in the novel. His health issues dominate much of part two of the novel. It also is worth mentioning that Dostoevsky himself was rumored to suffer from similar afflictions.
Another point Lucas brought up was that the more correct translation for the title of Crime and Punishment is “stepping across and punishment.” This more true to form phrase serves as significant and symbolic, and appears in part two, to convey the entrance of a new character; one we could expect to have a larger impact on the novel the further we dive in.