“Crime and Punishment (1866) is the story of a murder committed on principle, of a killer who wishes by his action to set himself outside and above society. A novel of great physical and psychological tension, pervaded by Dostoevsky’s sinister evocation of St. Petersburg, it also has moments of wild humour. Dostoevsky’s own harrowing experiences mark the novel. He had himself undergone interrogation and trial, and was condemned to death, a sentence commuted at the last moment to penal servitude. In prison he was particularly impressed by one hardened murderer who seemed to have attained a spiritual equilibrium beyond good and evil: yet witnessing the misery of other convicts also engendered in Dostoevsky a belief in the Christian idea of salvation through suffering.”
– some mad wag’s book review.
How to do the inferred and applied question summer work for Crime And Punishment.
Let me start by pointing out that the guiding question for approaching work on an AP level is
What diction/tone/figures of speech does the author use to convey meaning?
In this case, what language choices is Dostoevsky using to tell this story? What you are doing is reading with this in mind, and creating questions with which to challenge your colleagues, testing their observations.
Ideally, you will know the answers to your questions, but in posing the questions to your classmates, you might be pleasantly surprised by an unexpected answer.
1. What diction supports the metaphor of Raskolnikov as a cat? (or as a small, quiet being)
uneasy…frightened…shrank…crept like a cat…slip out unnoticed (1)
2. In what ways might the actions of the drunks in the pub foreshadow Raskolnikov’s future?
“there was nobody to share his jollity. His friend watched all these outbursts…with a hostile and suspicious expression” (7).
1. How is the “prophetic insight” of R.’s first impression of Marmeladov foreshadowing?
[You might formulate a question that you will come back to answer after reading further.]
2. How is the one remaining button on M.’s frock coat symbolic of his condition? (8)
He is “held together” by one last button: all the others have burst or been lost, as has his job and his salary and his dignity.
1. To what Scriptures do Marmeladov’s description of Judgment apply?
[See how the Biblical readings apply to our readings?]
2. How does the condition of M.’s family represent the poverty of today?
1. How does Marmeladov embody the theme of salvation through suffering?
2. How is Sonya a gold-mine? (22)
[I’ll leave you to answer this. Note that this question is dangerously close to the “Too easy/Cake walk” designation that will land you firmly in the category of “satisfactory minus” or even deficient.]
2. What language is used to reinforce R.’s ideas of amorality and superiority? (Theme)
“Men are scoundrels; they can get used to anything…all the rest is just prejudice, imaginary fears, and there are no real barriers, and that is how it should be!”(23) This observation further convinces R. of the rightness of his plot.
You see that some chapters like the exposition of Marmeladov in I.ii are short stories in themselves, and might seem to be long-winded digressions to the undisciplined reader, but are indeed richly illustrative of themes and symbols. The reading is deep and dense, solidly crafted – and will need your time and attention.
Recognition of nuance.
1. What did the master of the public house look like?
An iron lock (8). [A facile answer; this smacks of a last-minute job.]