Talk about intense!
This chapter of Crime and Punishment shows the events leading right up to Raskolnikov murdering his pawnbroker, and gives a little bit of backstory on the whole situation too. While the whole chapter is suspenseful, the ending of it has everybody on the edge of their seats:
But his heart would not stop. On the contrary, as though on purpose, it pounded harder, harder, harder… He could not stand it
He purposely stirred and muttered something aloud, so as not to make it seem he was hiding; then he rang for the third time, but quietly, seriously, and without any impatience. Recalling it later, vividly, distinctly – for this moment was etched in him forever – he could not understand where he got so much cunning, especially since his reason seemed clouded at moments, and as for his body, he almost did not feel it on him… A second later came the sound of the latch being lifted.
Obviously, Dostoevsky wanted to build up as much suspense as possible before the actual murder, but how he does it is very interesting.
First, the reader has been building up suspense from when they first picked up the book: The inevitable conclusion that Raskolnikov is planning something fishy has been made by everyone after the first couple of pages. The added suspense of this chapter really helps to bring all those feelings to a head. The vivid description of Raskolnikov’s heart beating makes my heart pound too!
The impression made on the reader by the fact that this moment was “etched in him forever” is that it makes them more anxious, as they can easily anticipate what is to come, or at least that whatever it is, it will be very important. Also, the fact that he suddenly became cunning, suddenly had the knowledge about what to do, makes it seem like he was taken over by something, as if his most wicked thoughts took control of his every action.
And then it ends with a stressful cliffhanger, “A second later came the sound of the latch being lifted.” Not gonna lie I read ahead. I just needed. To know. What happens next.