AP Test Review Books

 

AP Literature Book Review Project

JP Lorié, Lauren Beveridge, Laura Vargas, Brandon Cassel, Spencer Levine, and Brittany Schager

 

Death in Venice

Lauren Beveridge

Summary

Gustav von Aschenbach is a man that prides himself on self-discipline. Yet, he convinces himself that he can find inspiration through a change of scenery, which ultimately leads him to Venice. Aschenbach’s choice to pursue his desire to change setting signifies the beginning of his decline. Upon his arrival in Venice, Aschenbach allows his new surroundings to render him defenseless. Therefore, he falls obsessively in love with Tadzio, a 14-year old boy that is visiting Venice with his family. He spotted the enticingly beautiful boy at his hotel. While Aschenbach stealthily follows Tadzio around Venice, there is an outbreak of Cholera and the disease begins to ravage the city. Though authorities try to conceal this fact from the tourists, Aschenbach learns of the infectious disease rather quickly. Due to his love for Tadzio, Aschenbach naively decides to stay in Venice despite the eminent danger because he cannot bear to leave Tadzio. As time wears on, Aschenbach becomes progressively more forward and risky in his pursuit of Tadzio. The plot concludes with the death of Aschenbach as a result of Cholera, yet he dies as a degraded and pathetic man in opposition to the character he was at the start of the novel.

 

Character Analysis

Gustav von Aschenbach:

Aschenbach is an old writer of solemn nature and high status in Germany. Out of character, he convinces himself to give into his desires and travels to Venice. Upon his arrival, he entirely loses sight of the man he previously was. The boy Tadzio, who is also a guest in Venice, serves as the device through which the reader learns about Aschenbach’s repressed sexuality. He is a dynamic character because he loses all sense of dignity and morality upon spotting this boy, which ultimately leads him to death.

 

Tadzio:

Tadzio is a strikingly beautiful 14-year old boy. He is from Poland. Tadzio serves as the catalyst to Aschenbach losing all dignity and morality. He is visiting Venice with his mother, sister, and governess, and is residing in the same hotel as Aschenbach, which is how they first encounter eachother. While Tadzio is exceedingly innocent, he is not entirely unaware of Aschenbach’s interest in him.

 

 

No Exit

JP Lorié

Summary

Jean Paul Sartre’s No Exit is a short play about three people and their acceptance of their fate which is hell. The three characters find hell to be quite different then expected, a simple hotel made with unattractive furniture in which they are simply locked in. As the three begin to talk they soon discover that this entrapment with one another is the punishment itself. Two of the three each act as a torturer for the third. At first Garcin and Estelle try to validate their deaths through morale and just causes, however, Inez tells them not to lie. Throughout the majority of the play the three torture each other through malicious speech and unwanted action such as the girls’ talking and applying make up, Inez and Garcin’s teasing, and Garcin and Estelle’s flirting. All three characters furthermore, do divulge the truth of their sins and reasons for hell and Garcin and Inez do accept them. Part of the torture is also the ability to see people on Earth, this hurts them all as they watch people tarnish their memories. The end of the play is very important as they “torture” each other as Garcin confesses to being killed not for his stance but for abandonment, thus making him a coward. As Garcin looks for reasoning as to why he was brave rather then scared through Estelle, Inez continuously calls him coward. So much so that even when Garcin finds a chance to escape he doesn’t, saying that he will only be saved when he is told he isn’t a coward. Through all of the fuss after the three find themselves accepting their eternal fate and laughing as they laugh at their unfortunate fate.

 

Character Analysis

Garcin: 

Garcin is the first to enter the room, he has not accepted death in the beginning of the play as seen by his questions to the Valet and his human dignity tied to his death. He claims to have died standing for his belief when he was really shot for abandonment. His sins that landed him in hell are in the treatment of his wife as he consistently physically and emotionally abuses her, he does however, accept his sins and the responsibility of them. Garcin grows to accept his trapped situation within hell however not until he discovers that is now remembered as a coward. This thought rattles him so much that even when given the chance to escape he refuses saying that he will only be free when he’s not called a coward.

 

Inez:

A cold and rude woman Inez is the second to enter the room. She is much more accepting of both herself and the situation saying that they are already dead and thus don’t have anything else to worry about. Although more natural at first, as she tries to get along with the others, she does grow to exemplify the “torturer” more and more especially to Garcin as she reasonably says he must take responsibility, however, she also tries to hurt him through these remarks. Inez’s sin was seducing her cousin’s wife, saying that she thoroughly enjoys making vulnerable people uncomfortable as she toys with them. She is the fastest to accept the situation and is the first to suggest that they may be the torturers for one another. 

 

Estelle:

Estelle is the last to enter the room, once a wealthy and materialistic woman, Estelle is the least accepting of the situation as she continuously states that it must have been a misunderstanding. It becomes clear quite quickly that she requires the consistent validation of a man and thus flirts with Garcin, agreeing to everything he says even if she isn’t really listening to it. Although she dodges the question for a long time Estelle does go on to tell the truth about her sins, starting with the confessions that despite her lies she did cheat on her husband. Unfortunately Estelle became pregnant and gave birth to a child whom she killed in front of her lover who later committed suicide over it. By the end of the play she tries to kill Estelle with a knife and they all realize and accept their deaths through this.

 

 

 

Notes From the Underground

Brittany Schrager

Summary

“I am a sick man…I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man.” The first words that the narrator tells readers sets the tone for the novel. The novel is the narrator’s story about his separation from mainstream society. He goes through the days hating everyone and seeing the negativity in everything. He is against the traditions of regular society and feels that he is too smart for everybody else; in fact, it turns out that he is too smart for others. He does not care about anyone or anything. He complains that men are obsessed with the concept of free will, even if it will hurt them. He turns away everybody from his life because of the fact that he cannot function in society. He lets go of a woman who truly cares about him as a result of his inability to somewhat conform.

 

Character Analysis

Narrator:

The narrator goes through a sort of love-hate relationship with himself. He believes that he is too smart for others, yet he says that he hates himself because he is so lazy that he cannot do anything, whether it is good or bad. He lives his life trying to exercise his spite for society, such as refusing to see a doctor. He insists he takes pleasure in unpleasant things, such as toothaches, to be able to prove that he does not care about the concept of free will that man is so wrapped around.

 

 

The Reader

Summary

The story starts with the protagonist catches a bad illness. As he is walking home one day

from school he begins to vomit and Hanna sees him and helps him walk back home. After many fretful sick days of staying in bed, Michael goes to Hanna’s house with flowers to thank her. After this the affair begins. The next several parts of the novel consist of Michael and Hanna as their affair deepens. The reader can sense a state of foreboding as the story is told in the past through Michael point of view. As Michael begins to fall in love with Hanna he is consumed with her. Unfortunately she, as it appears, does not feel the same. Michael is so consumed byHanna that he cannot even function as a normal teenager, instead spending every waking minute with her.

Suddenly out of the blue one day Hanna has disappeared, for many years Michael is without Hanna but he cannot stop thinking about her. While attending college as a law student he is surveying a case of Nazi guards being prosecuted. To his dismay one of them is Hanna. As he watches the scenes unfold he sees that each guard is blaming everything on Hanna. He realizes she is only taking the blame to hide the shame of her illiteracy. Because Hanna did not deny the blame and Michael never told the judge, she was sentenced to life in prison and the others were given lesser sentences.

Several years later, Michael has tried to move on with his life but cannot. He has sent Hanna nothing but cannot seem to stop thinking about her. He is consumed with desire and guilt for feeling the desire. Eventually he begins to send her tapes of her favorite stories that he used to read to her. Through this Hanna learns how to reader and sends a letter to Michael. He never writes her back, only sending tapes. After a long prison sentence Michael receives a call announcing to him that Hanna will be released. With this exciting news Michael calls Hanna and the relationship starts again. As the day nears he tell her to prepare herself as he has picked her an apartment, job and will be coming to get her tomorrow. On the day of her release, though Hanna commits suicide and leaves a note. In the note Michael is to give the money she has to the witness at the trial and the witness may decide to do with it what she pleases. The witness decides to give the money to a foundation of Jews that are illiterate. Novel ends with Michael visiting Hanna’s grave for the first and only time, after finally being able to truly move on with his life.

 

Character Analysis

Michael: 

Michael is the protagonist of the novel. He is the narrator of the novel and in the story fall

in love with Hanna. He is young when this occurs, around the age of 15. Michael is a character of stubbornness, impulsivity, kindness, and judgment.

 

Hanna:

Hanna is whom Michael falls in love with in the story. They have an affair throughout part

of the story and then she disappears. It is later learned that Hanna was a Nazi during Nazi Germany and worked in the Auschwitz camp as a guard. She is viewed as a sad woman that feels guilty for her crimes. She is also illiterate.

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Lauren Beveridge
Period 1
May 1, 2013

Feminism in Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment, written in 1864 by Fyodor Dostoevsky, is about a man who formerly attended a University in St. Petersburg, Russia. At the time Dostoevsky wrote this novel, St. Petersburg was viewed as Russia’s most up- to- date “European” city. Therefore, Dostoevsky’s protagonist, Raskolnikov, must have had ample knowledge of the ground- breaking ideas and movements occurring in England, America, and Europe throughout the 1800’s. This knowledge most definitely influenced the portrayal of Dostoevsky’s characters and story line. One of the great movements of this time was the introduction of Feminism through the work and word of feminists such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Feminism revolves around the strength and independence of women, therefore, the women in Crime and Punishment such as Sonya and Dunya, have personality traits and take certain actions that make them stronger, smarter, and more capable than the men in the novel. Dostoevsky’s female characters, or heroines, in Crime and Punishment find independence from the men in the novel, not through economic empowerment, but moral conviction.

One of the most influential feminists of not only the 1800’s, but in all of history, is Mary Wollstonecraft. Her most popular work is entitled A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. In this text, she expresses a list of major ideas that set the foundation for the many feminist movements to come in the following centuries. She expressed the idea of unwilling submission to any person, custom, or institution that is degrading to women. She also stated that reason should be the basis for all human action and thought (Wollstonecraft). These two ideals alone are reflected strongly in the female characters in the novel.


For instance, Dunya refuses to be submissive to Luhzin, her fiancée, and defies his wishes by inviting her brother to an event he specifically asked her not to. Dunya does this to test her soon-to-be husband and his reaction to her defiance. When Luhzin is caught off guard, he reacts badly and resorts to degrading the women in the room in an attempt to regain his sense of pride. Seeing this undesirable facet in Luhzin’s personality brings Dunya to the decision that she will not condone his degrading behavior towards women or the institution of marriage and decides that he is unfit to wed. This decision is a clear representation of Wollstonecraft’s ideals for feminism.


Although Sonya’s actions do not seem to be supportive of Wollstonecraft’s work, she is still a female character that is strong in moral conviction, continuing the theme of strong female characters in the novel. Sonya prostitutes herself to support her family because her father is incapable of providing for them. Although this strays from the idea that women should not degrade themselves for any person, institution, or custom, there is one key word in Mary Wollstonecraft’s statement that makes Sonya’s actions pro-feminist. She said that women should not unwillingly submit to any person, institution, or custom that is destructive towards women. Sonya made this decision on her own, not unwillingly, because she knew she ultimately needed to take on the male role in her family dynamic or her family would fall apart entirely. This makes Sonya just as much of a feminist character as Dunya.

Not only should women not be submissive, Mary Wollstonecraft also believes that reason should be the basis for all human action and thought (Wollstonecraft). The women in the novel clearly exemplify a greater understanding of reason by their actions than the men. For example, Rodia, the protagonist was not remotely close to reasonable thought when he decided to murder Alonya and his sister. Also, Luhzin is very childish in his actions when he is threatened and acts out like a child, while Dunya remains placid and simply informs him that their relationship will no longer continue. Dunya does not allow herself to become over emotional in regard to anything in her life. I believe she understands, along with Sonya, that undesirable situations are better solved by complacent thinking rather than letting one’s emotions make the decisions for them like Rodia or Luhzin.


I believe that the most reasonable person in this novel is Sonya. She approached the issue of her father’s inability to support their family with an undeniably level -headed attitude. She understood that there was no other possible way for her family to survive unless she became their primary source of income, and she could only do so by prostituting herself. This was understandably a difficult decision for Sonya to make because she was sacrificing her own pride and happiness, but through only the most reasonable thought, she was able to do what she knew was right. I believe that these two characters are perfect representations of the feminist ideals that Mary Wollstonecraft spoke of in her legendary work A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

Another feminist of this time period, similar to Mary Wollstonecraft, that influenced the portrayal of the female characters in Crime and Punishment is Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Stanton served as the primary author of the Declaration of Sentiments, which is a document based off of the structure of the Declaration of Independence that was signed by sixty- eight women and thirty- two men in 1848. Frederick Douglass has said that this document was the “grand movement for attaining the civil, social, political, and religious rights of women.” Though it was first criticized for possibly hindering the women’s movement and attempting to change traditional mindsets of separate spheres for men and women, the document eventually became famous for its honest criticism regarding the dominant position of a man over a woman in the conventional household setting.

It’s opening paragraph stated that not only were women and men created equal, but if the government ruling over these people should create laws that suggest otherwise, women should refuse their allegiance to said laws. The list of sentiments proceeding this opening paragraph are complaints regarding the destructively dominant position of man over women, especially in marriage (Stanton). While not all of the sentiments relate directly to Crime and Punishment, they most definitely altered the views of Fyodor Dostoevsky regarding the role of women, therefore, the portrayal of female characters in his novel strayed from traditional values. The list of sixteen sentiments relates to the same characters as the ideals of Mary Wollstonecraft in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Sonya and Dunya.


The sentiments listed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton that I believe most relate to Dunya’s situation are: “He has made her morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes with impunity, provided they be done in the presence of her husband. In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master – the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement,” and “He has endeavored, in every way that he could to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life” (Stanton). I believe that the first sentiment I listed most relates to Dunya in the sense that she is expected to be obedient to her fiancée Luhzin, and therefore, when she defies his wishes, he acts out like a child and forces Dunya to take the position of ending their eminent marriage. She refuses to allow Luhzin to act as “her master”, which is what Stanton wishes for all women to pursue. Luhzin, being an undeniably insecure and overly sensitive male presence in the novel, serves as the connection between Dunya and Stanton’s other complaint. Luhzin attempts to degrade Dunya and make her submissive and subservient, not only to make himself feel validated as a man, but to ensure that Dunya will feel dependent upon him. Once again, Dunya defies him by doing whatever she pleases despite his wishes, and ends their engagement.


Sonya relates to Elizabath Cady Stanton’s list of sentiments as well, but I believe there are two sentiments in particular that describe her situation, which is much different than that of Dunya. These sentiments are “He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments, and from those she is permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty renumeration,” and “He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education- all colleges being closed against her” (Stanton). Sonya is forced to become a prostitute because the men in her family are incapable of providing for her financially, therefore, they take all the money she makes each night, while she gets near to nothing for her abuse, pain, and loss of pride. This relates to the second sentiment because she has no choice but to be a prostitute because she is not allowed entrance to a school to be educated. If women were allowed to be schooled, Sonya could have made money through more honorable means.


The ideals of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Mary Wollstonecraft in their renowned works, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and Declaration of Sentiments, lead to the feminism that is present throughout Crime and Punishment in the characters of Dunya and Sonya. These female characters are notably stronger in morals and character than the men, which was likely influenced by the movements of the feminists of this time period.

Works Cited

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment. New York: Modern Library, 1950.
Wollstonecraft, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 1992.
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady. Declaration of Sentiments: Seneca Falls Convention, July
1848. Tucson: Kore Press, 2004.

Final Draft JP’s Term Paper

JP Lorié
5/1/13

Survival of the Fittest within Crime and Punishment

Morality is often said to be the difference between man and his surroundings. Humans are one of the few organisms that feel a need to continuously help those within their species, even if it defies the natural route of nature. However, this specifically contradicts the natural instinct of survival. Fyodor Dostoevsky shows this contradiction and the battle between rationale and emotion along with their roles in a poor society through Darwin’s survival of the fittest as his protagonist endures this internal struggle with morality in the classic novel Crime and Punishment.

The internal struggle between the instincts of survival and morality define the protagonist of this Russian classic. Rodion Raskolnikov, or Rodia, acts rationally and intelligently which sets him apart from those around him. He is naturally smarter then others and understands his spot within the society that surrounds him. Living in the lower end of Russian society, many suffer, hunger, thirst, or die, it is a part of life that is accepted. Rodia’s internal struggle manifests in this place, his understanding of the natural way of life in which some die or suffer while others live is contradicted by his inept desire to help despite it being futile.

Rodia’s conflicting desires is one of the prevalent themes found within Dostoevsky’s novel. These internal conflicts deal with Darwinism and how it is found in todays society. Charles Darwin was a scientist who is accredited with the discovery of the theory of evolution. In his theory, Darwin defines the notion of natural selection, also sometimes referred to as survival of the fittest. This is applied in nature, it describes the way in which a species advances. When an animal is born with some kind of defect, or if it is unable to change to the environment around it then it dies. Only those that are able to change or are able to survive within their environment are able to reproduce and make more children, hopefully passing these genes that are important for the species’ survival, thus survival of the fittest. Over time these changes occur and theoretically the species evolves (Willus.com). This is seen with all organisms including humans. According to this, mankind should be the fittest organism of the evolutionary progression. As a follower of Darwin, Dostoevsky incorporated these ideas and placed this theory in the realm of Rodia within his society. Somewhere along the evolutionary path humans developed morality, which distinguishes the species. However, is this a survival trait? Dostoevsky analyzes this with the lower class, intelligent but struggling Rodia.

The first portion of the book is made up of several key moments in which Rodia is left with a decision. Whether to help someone who needs help, because they need money and are suffering, or to let them fend for themselves and take care of himself. Rodia is torn between this decision. For the purpose of survival Rodia shouldn’t help others, especially because there is no obligation to. However, Rodia continuously does; allowing his morale conscience to overtake that of survival. This struggle however is so strong that despite his seemingly altruistic actions he remains infuriated at his sympathies finding himself suffering because of it. Any money or charity given away means less for him and thus continues his own suffering.

The truly peculiar thing about Rodia is his division. Does it make him a good person, a bad one, or something different all together? His good gestures are that of a good man and as the protagonist the audience is forced to feel for him as he does these good deeds. However, he hates himself for it after the gesture is done. This is seen in when Rodia tries to help the young drunk girl in the street. Rodia is conflicted with these polar opposites. He understands that this is a regular conundrum and that girls such as this one constantly suffer in his society and that there is nothing he can do to influence a change in that. However, he also feels empathy, he sees the young drunk as the frightened girl that she is and feels compelled to help. In the end, as expected, he helps the girl and protects her but still walks away bitter and feeling as if he has not created an impact. Rodia not only lives at polar ends of this evolutionary and morality spectrum but he lives both to the fullest. He is obviously smarter then most and lives most of his life with rationale justification, however, even on the other end of the spectrum with morality Rodia does not do the bare minimum but consistently helps as much as possible. Thus Dostoevsky is able to illustrate the two realms of this human decision. Even the other characters within this work voice this opinion, “I’ve known Rodion for a year and a half: sullen, gloomy, arrogant, proud; recently (and maybe much earlier) insecure and hypochondriac. Magnanimous and kind. Doesn’t like voicing his feelings, and would rather do something cruel than speak his heart out in words. At times, however, he’s not hypochondriac at all, but just inhumanly cold and callous, as if there really were two opposite characters in him, changing places with each other” (Dostoevsky, 215). However, when looking at this in terms of Darwinism which of these decision good? Which is the right one? And how does Dostoevsky want the audience to see his split protagonist? When helping these people out the audience looks at the good natured side of Rodia. They see compassion, empathy, and generosity, all traits of a lovable protagonist. In day to day life this kind of person would be respected and considered better then most for their good qualities. These are the people appreciated most within a society as kind hearted and caring and yet Rodia rejects it and resents himself for it. According to Darwinism, his rejection of this is what makes him the “fittest”, theoretically it should be what makes him better then most. His independence is what helps him survive. This is what people should be like to continue evolution and make people continuously better.

If we look at Rodia’s independence as a unique survival skill, than that means that empathy is the opposite, and thus hurtful to himself and the people that act in such a way. If animals were to sacrifice themselves to help those weaker in the pack they would all die. The strong would sacrifice themselves and the weak would eventually find themselves on their own and die. Natural selection is thrown out in a society where no one can die because they are all protected. Furthermore, they are all reproducing only adding to this cyclical mess. Rodia symbolizes this division. His humanity hinders him despite his full understanding of its uselessness and he fails to escape it.

Rodia’s empathetic division is furthermore symbolic of our own society. Our society has police, fire fighters, hospitals, homeless shelters, therapy, and so many more institutions whose sole purpose is to help people live better, stronger, and longer despite any disadvantages they may have. These act as safety nets which don’t allow the weak to fall through. No natural selection can occur if everyone is equally fit. Thus we poison ourselves with more problems such as caring for the old, protecting the weak, and over population. Rodia sees these problems within his society and still tries to help those weak ones because he can’t bare not to. He adds to society’s problems and his own because of his empathy. This is further shown by the lack of money he has later on because of this.

Rodia’s intelligence and independence create a dangerous “superman” complex within him. His ability to see the ignorance of society and the faults and irrational actions of others helps create the notion that he is simply better than others. Although this seems more arrogance than anything else it grows dangerous when taken too literally. This is what we see with Rodia though, before the story even starts it is said that Rodia wrote an article on the idea of some people simply being better than the rest and thus above the law because they are one of the “extraordinary”. Rodia describes this, with a hinted notion that he believes he is one of these people, when talking to the police as he says, “I merely suggested that an ‘estraordinary’ man has the right…that is, not an official right, but his own right, to allow his conscience to…step over certain obstacles and then only in the event that the fulfillment of his idea” “calls for it” (Dostoevsky, 259-261). This belief is okay in the realm of Darwin’s survival if it contributes to his continued existence, however, it is his fatal flaw. According to Darwin, each organism must believe that it is the most important in order to continue surviving however this isn’t the moral thing to do in a human society. In fact, this is frowned upon as selfish or arrogant.

If Rodia truly believes he is the greatest human then it may be that his “kindness” doesn’t come from a inherent place of community service but rather an obligation or even pity as he looks down on the moral world. This changes the view with which we look at Rodia. His division is part of this superman complex which is still okay as it only causes his survival and kindness to those in need but Rodia does dangerously believe he is above the law. This is what allows him to kill the pawnbroker. He is better then the pawnbroker and this act of murder will help him and society, or so Rodia justifies it as. Although it may be true that this death is actually beneficial to society, Rodia has committed murder and even his superman complex is shaken as he forced to wonder if he is a disgusting regular person or truly above the law. This is what causes Rodia the punishment of guilt as his own arrogance and rationalized need to survive leads him to kill but yet, despite doing all the right things according to Darwin, he still suffers great emotional guilt and pain.

Rodia is nihilist as his superman complex causes him to be above the rest of society. Unfortunately for him, Rodia stands so high above the world that he ostracizes himself from others. Cutting all ties to friends and family Rodia even tries to cut emotional ties through this, as a superior human. This attitude hurts the ties between him and his friends as he finds himself of more importance then their business, “At times he’s terribly taciturn! He’s always in a hurry, always too busy, yet he lies there doing nothing. Not given to mockery, and not because he lacks sharpness but as if he had no time for such trifles. Never hears people out to the end. Is never interested in what interests everyone else at a given moment. Sets a terribly high value on himself and, it seems, not without a certain justification” (Dostoevsky, 215). This would further question the intentions of kindness throughout the first part of this book. Rodia is lying to himself and any person in society would find him nonfunctioning and with emotional or social problems. This is Darwinian side of Rodia that characterizes him as it is his method to survive. However, Rodia does not see this within himself, rather that he is special and even a utilitarian as he strives to make society better through killing the pawnbroker. This is how Rodia justifies murder and even tries to glorify himself through it but in reality it is his emotions and guilt that pull him back down to Earth. No longer in the clouds as superman, Rodia crumbles on Earth unable to rekindle his bonds with others as the crushing guilt makes him physically ill even upon waking up the next day, “What, can it be starting already, can the reckoning com so soon?” (Dostoevsky, 90-91)

The crime of this book occurs in the first part of this book however the punishment occurs throughout the rest of the hundreds of pages. The punishment, as described, isn’t imprisonment or even the evasion of detection but simply guilt. Rodia faces undeniable guilt that physically cripples him until he finally turns himself in. This is the most crucial part in the development of Rodia as a character and the definition of survival in a human society as Dostoevsky see it. After a struggle between emotion and rationale while forcefully coming down from a superman complex, Rodia faces his morality and emotions by turning himself in. Failing to survive as he goes to jail.

Rodia turning himself in shows the end of the battle between emotion and rationalization. Although he faced this superman complex with a nihilistic attitude Rodia still strived to survive battling this duality within him. For a long time and several hundred pages Rodia faces this guilt as it makes him severely ill and practically insane with anxiety from the idea of the acts he committed and what others may believe of it. This uncontrollable guilt becomes the theme of this novel and the apparent punishment created by Dostoevsky as jail becomes the only release from it. Here despite imprisonment, jail is still survival as it is an escape from the clutching hands of guilt which would surely kill him in time had he stayed the course. However, the course that Rodia followed while guilty was that of rationalization. The smart and rational thing to do was avoid detection which Rodia tried to do as much as possible only to suffer more. This is a loss of life as it is a loss of emotional freedom thus not surviving in a human sense within this society. And thus, he could never turn himself in while remaining rational and ignoring his own morality as much as possible thus further enforcing his own nihilism. It is not until Rodia is able to accept the love from those around him, especially Sonya, that he is able to face himself morally and come down from his own superman like superiority as it still dwindles in him. This allows him to accept not only his friends and family but himself as a person. He moves away from the cut tied attitude of nihilism and more towards a utilitarian philosophy of unity, family, and truth. He opens himself back up to emotion and is only then able to confess.

This confession would normally show a surrender however, here it represents freedom. Away with the duality and complexes, Rodia is able to be free from his own self imposed restraints. Through this Dostoevsky shows that the nihilistic nature of Rodia is not the key to survival and rationalization is not the overall advantage, but rather emotion is. It may cause problems such as described before, however, it also protects people. It prevents people from becoming extinct, from all of us becoming Rodia and killing each other for our own gains. Without these emotions humanity cannot move forward as they will be focused on killing each other. It may slow the development and course of humanity but emotion is what creates character and provides freedom for people which is what creates the need to survive and a reason to survive more powerful then the inherent need to breathe. In nature Darwin is correct that organisms develop to survive but in a human based society Dostoevsky shows that it is this “weakness” that creates the strength to survive and helps the overall population as it protects them. Rodia may be imprisoned but for once he will be open to others, such as visits from family and others within the prison as he accepts morality and emotion, allowing him to accept himself.

Works Cited
1) Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. Crime and punishment. New York: Modern Library, 1950. Print.

2) “Survival of the Fittest.” Willus.com Home Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 May 2013. .