September 2, 2012
In the second chapter of Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky highlights the complexity of family life, specifically during times of struggle. Through the introduction of Semion Marmeladov, Raskolnikov is pulled into a world of greater hardships than his own. After being told of the vices of destitution, Raskolnikov is forced to listen to Marmeladov’s stories about his failing family life. From these stories Raskolnikov sees the importance of money to a family. While Marmeladov is without work, his daughter works as a prostitute, his wife is bitter, and the kids are unhappy and hungry. Once Marmeladov gets his job back, his wife and daughter praise his and brag about him. However, Marmeladov’s alcoholism leads him astray once again and he leaves the family without any money. He drunkenly drags Raskolnikov along with him to visit the family, and his wife scolds him and exhibits contempt towards him. By calling him a criminal and a drunk she strips him of his once positive ties with his family.
Seeing the pain that the family was going through impacted Raskolnikov so much that he left them the only money that he had left. He then goes through some thoughts reaximining the situation. Sonia will have to go back to having a yellow ticket and the family will remain in the mess that they got themselves into. He then goes onto question mankind, “What if man is not really a scoundrel, man in general, I mean, the whole race of mankind—then all the rest is prejudice, simply artificial terrors and there are no barriers and it’s all as it should be.” Raskinokov is questioning the justice system, stating that there are no natural laws; crimes are only crimes because we, humans have deemed them to be crimes.