Notes from the Underground: Novel Summary: Part 1 Chapter 3-Part 1 Chapter 4

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Part 1 Chapter 3-Part 1 Chapter 4

Part 1 Chapter 3: The UM now uses an analogy to make his point.  He describes the normal, "stupid" person as an enraged bull rushing headlong into a wall at the slightest impulse.  He likens himself, one who possesses a hyperconsciousness, to a mouse-the antithesis of a normal man, he says.  While the bull acts on its rather simple mental reasoning, the mouse cannot act because its overly sophisticated mental processes perpetually plague it with doubt and vacillation, rendering him unable to do anything, save "creep ignominiously back into its mousehole." This hole, this underground, is the home of the UM and those like him.
At the end of the chapter, the UM elaborates on the wall concept.  The wall represents, he explains, "the laws of nature, the conclusions of natural science and mathematics." The wall also embodies such ideas as evolution, which Dostoevsky largely equated with atheism and socialism.  While the man of action readily accepts the wall and its implications, the UM (and Dostoevsky) can't come to grips with the concept of the stone wall, the idea that "two times two makes four," because it makes man out to be an animal-a mere phenomenon of science, lacking the human component of free will.
Part 1 Chapter 4: To advance his previous point that one can find pleasure in suffering, the UM uses the example of a toothache.  He explains that though there is absolutely no rational motive for finding enjoyment in one's pain, realizing that one can make such an irrational decision is in and of itself a cause for certain satisfaction.

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