Throughout Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoyevsky creates Raskolnikov, a complex main character whose actions are driven by two very different sides of his personality. Raskolnikov believes himself to be superior to most other people, even though he is poor and lives a life of degradation. This feeling of superiority transforms him into a completely self-interested individual and causes him to be alienated from almost everyone in his world. Raskolnikov's complete self-absorption is shown at the very beginning, as the narrator states that, "he had plunged so far within himself that he feared meeting anyone at all." (pg.1) The reader learns of Raskolnikov's plan to commit some sort of senseless crime, one that is unspecified until later on in chapter 1. As Raskolnikov walks down the street toying with the idea of whether to commit the murder or not, his self-involvement allows him to not be embarrassed about the way he is dressed, or the way he is acting. R is so involved with his thoughts that he "walked on without noticing his environment." (pg. 2) It is R's feeling that he is above society and its laws that allow him to commit murder. R states, "The old woman was a mistake perhaps, but she's not the point! it wasn't a human being I killed, it was a principle! - (pg. 264) He feels that being able to successfully murder without feeling guilty, being able to intellectualize an immoral act, will prove that he is above mediocrity and morality.
However alienated Raskolnikov seems to be, he continually makes sacrifices for strangers. These self-sacrifices are in complete contrast to his self-involvement, and add to the peculiarity of his character. For example, Raskolnikov helps a young girl who is being stalked by Svdrigailov, a man whom readers get to know a lot better later on in the novel. After fending off Svdirgailov, Raskolnikov "fumbled in his pocket and dug out twenty kopecks he found there.