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Tête-à-tête: The Alienation of Raskolnikov and Caulfied

This is a collage of quotes and misquotes from two classic novels that share a few common elements: The sense of alienation, the absurdities of life, nihilism that defines our existence and so on. So here’s the collection of a few memorable passages, mostly attributed to the two protagonists: Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, from Crime and Punishment and Holden Caulfield, from The Catcher in the Rye.

I

“You are telling your story of this damn world,” the older guy utters.
“I don’t give a damn, except that I get bored sometimes when people
tell me to act my age,” Caulfied retorts so sharply the words would cut.
“Sometimes I act a lot older than I am—I really do—but people never
notice it. People never notice anything.”

Yeah, indeed, “To go wrong in one’s own way is better than to go right
in someone else’s.” The thick Russian accent was too apparent, just like the
Nagamapal road is synonymous to filth and garbage.

“I tell my own story because I want it just like that. All along, I was
surrounded by phonies...They were coming in the goddamn window.
Man, I don’t exactly know what I mean by that, but I mean it.”

Life is hidden in the details but it takes little effort to shoo away the rules
No matter how much the rules means so little in life.

Tête-à-tête: The Alienation of Raskolnikov and Caulfied
II

I did not bow down to you; I bowed down to all the suffering of humanity.
Raskolnikov can hear the voice as if some unknown notes sprang from the
underground, guiding him through the streets of human kind drowned in
its own pond of puke.

“I felt so lonesome, all of a sudden. I almost wished I was dead,” Caulfield
always has a reply or two. Poverty is no vice for him.  After all his life is
no bleak; he has no worry for the rent; and, there is no landlady to bring him
breakfast who nag about the rent all the day all the time. “I am always saying
'Glad to've met you' to somebody I'm not at all glad I met. If you want to stay
alive, you have to say that stuff, though.”

It is reassuring to hear from the junior, “People never notice anything.”
Possibly, not even their loneliness.

“Nothing in this world is harder than speaking the truth, nothing easier
than flattery.”

Sometimes he acts more than his age. No wonder then, when Caulfield
thinks aloud, there are always his thoughts to remember for good.
“Among other things, you'll find that you're not the first person who
was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behaviour.
You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited and
stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled
morally and spiritually as you are right now.”

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!” Raskolnikov recites.

“I like Jesus and all, but I don’t care too much for most of the other stuff
in the Bible. Take the Disciples, for instance. They annoy the hell out of me,
if you want to know the truth. They were all right after Jesus was dead and all,
but while He was alive, they were about as much use to Him as a hole in
the head. All they did was keep letting Him down. I like almost anybody in
the Bible better than the Disciples.”

Tête-à-tête: The Alienation of Raskolnikov and Caulfied
III

“What's your crime?”
“It was I who killed the old pawnbroker woman and her sister Lizaveta with an axe
and robbed them.”

Death was no boundary. Murder is even more unknown. You know nothing is true
and everything is permitted, even death. The old Nietzsche would say, combining
all his poetry and philosophy. Raskolnikov do believe when his creator scribbles,
“If there is no God, everything is permitted.”

Their rambles would go on as much as life would—Caulfield knows it,
so does Raskolnikov—not necessarily embodying the essence as rationalists
would want it to be.

Raskolnikov invites Caulfied to his garret, no matter how dingy it is—any
boarding is no better. He tells his feelings about Sonya Semyonovna.
He says, “Bro, I felt so lonesome, all of a sudden. I almost wished I was dead.”
Both of them do wonder if there are reasons beneath the handle-broken
coffee mugs or underneath the layers of our mundane existence.

“Only to live, to live and live! Life, whatever it may be!” His red hunting hat
is the proof. Caulfield knows better when he shoots people with it. Everyone
knows sixteen is sweet, if not knowing life. Death is over-rated.


Tête-à-tête: The Alienation of Raskolnikov and Caulfied


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Great news for Dostoevsky's fan. You can read Crime and Punishment
on Project Guttenberg   http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2554/2554-h/2554-h.htm
on Bartkeby.com   http://www.bartleby.com/318/
For Caulfield's fans, Flipkart is offering a 45% discount on The Catcher in the Rye
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1/2 1891

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2/2 1891