Against a backdrop of anti-Tsarist feeling the hero of the book wants to rise up the ranks and overcome his problems. The way Conrad approaches this is that, as he warns in the introduction, is to try and see how Russians are perceived under Western eyes and as a result he is prepared to sacrifice some death of characterisation in order to get over the general Russian philosophy. Time will tell if he succeeds.
Bullet points between pages 1 – 50
* The focus of attention is a student Razumov who is diligent and hopes that he can out his low birth behind him by doing well and appeasing his benefactor a Prince he has only ever met once briefly
* Meanwhile an assassination is carried out of a Tsarist minister who has been responsible for repressing, exiling and punishing those who fight against the system as two students throw bombs at him with the first failing to kill him but the second hitting its mark
* The second bomb has been thrown by Victor Haladin who is a fellow student and seeks refuge in Razumov’s rooms and explains that it is a war and that’s why he did it but also expresses some regret and shows mental and emotional exhaustion at having carried out the act
* Haladin asks Razumov to help him escape but instead he goes to his benefactor the Prince who takes him to a general who says they will capture Haladin and then sends Razumov back to his rooms
* The clock stops, the minutes seem to go slowly but finally Haladin, who realises that his fellow student does not agree with his act, leaves and disappears into the night without Razumov having the courage to do anything but stay inside his rooms