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Notes from the Underground: Novel Summary: Part 1 Chapter 11-Part 2 Chapter 1

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Part 1 Chapter 11-Part 2 Chapter 1

Part 1 Chapter 11: The UM begins this chapter by proclaiming: "The final result, gentlemen, is that it's better to do nothing! Conscious inertia is better! And so, long live the underground!" Yet quickly he admits that he's lying, that he doesn't truly prefer the underground, but "something different, altogether different, something that I long for, but I'll never be able to find!"
He also says that he doesn't believe a word that he has just said, which makes the reader wonder about the man's sanity.  Yet this is all part of the psychology of the underground, and with some personal musings about why he has just written this "speech" down on paper, the Underground Man launches into part two-Apropos of Wet Snow.
Part 2 Chapter 1: The Underground Man flashes back to when he was only twenty-four years old.  He explains that even at that early age (remember the first part was written when he was forty) his life was "gloomy, disordered, and solitary to the point of savagery." Speaking about his work environment, he admits that he hated all of his co-workers, though he probably despised himself even more so.  The attack against the man of action in part one is resurrected in this chapter, when the UM explains that "only asses and their mongrels are brags, and even then, only until they come up against a wall."
Though he wishes to interact with others and perhaps even have normal relations with his fellow human beings, the UM's hyperconsciousness, as in part one, makes this impossible.  He spends most of his time reading, hoping it will keep his mind busy working on external problems.
One night he passes a tavern, only to see some men quarreling and one even being tossed out of the window.  Though he meekly tries to get into a fight himself, hoping to be thrown out in the same way, he isn't successful and leaves the establishment unsatisfied.  But he takes great pains to explain that he left not out of cowardice, but out of vanity.  He wasn't afraid of being physically humiliated, indeed he longed for it.  What he feared was that he wouldn't be understood, that his supreme "literary" genius wouldn't be recognized or respected, and that he would be treated as the insignificant little fly that he considers himself.  He remembers the officer who ignored his presence when he tried to start the fight, however.  He stalks this man, finding out all about him, hoping to challenge him to a duel.  Every day he imagines that as the two of them pass each other on the street, he will intentionally bump the man, instead of yielding to him as he always does.  One day the UM finally does find the resolve to carry out his mission, and the two bump shoulders.  Though the officer pretends that he doesn't notice the incident, the UM knows that he does notice, and he declares victory for having "publicly placed [himself] on an equal social footing with him."


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