Michael J. Cummings...©
following summary is based on Richard Hare’s 1948 translation of Fathers
and Sons, published by Hutchinson & Co., Publishers, Ltd. The U.S.
copyright was later allowed to expire and the Hare version is now in the
public domain in the United States.
is May 20, 1859. Seated on a bench along a road in the Russian countryside,
Nikolai Petrovitch Kirsanov eagerly awaits the arrival of a carriage bearing
his son, Arkady, who has just graduated from the university in St. Petersburg.
With Nikolai is his servant, Pyotr, who stands nearby smoking his pipe.
about 40, has a limp, the result of a broken leg he suffered as a teenager.
The injury kept him from pursuing a military career, like his late father,
who had risen to the rank of major-general but retired early after receiving
an unfavorable review. Nikolai instead earned a university degree and worked
for a time in the civil service. After his father fell dead of a stroke
and his mother died of boredom, Nikolai married the daughter of his St.
Petersburg landlord, left the civil service, and later moved to the country,
where his wife bore their son, Arkady. Life was happy. Ten years later,
in 1847, his wife died. Nikolai then concentrated on developing his estate,
Maryino, into a thriving farm. It currently has 5,000 acres of land he
turned over to 200 peasants in return for rent and a share of the profits.
The peasants lately have been behind in their rent.
his son’s carriage arrives, Nikolai stands and shouts the young man’s name.
Father and son embrace, and Arcady introduces a friend he has brought from
the university: Evgeny Vassilyev Bazarov, a medical student scheduled to
receive a doctor’s degree in another year. On the way to Maryino, 12 miles
off, Nikolai brings his son up to date on news at Maryino: Arkady’s boyhood
nurse has died, and Nikolai has hired a new bailiff at 250 rubles a year.
In addition, he confirms what he believes Arkady already knows: that a
girl, Fenichka, lives with him at the estate in two rooms set aside for
her. Nikolai is embarrassed when he speaks of her. After all, he is not
married to her, she is only 23, and she is lowborn—the
daughter of an innkeeper. Arkady attempts to put his father at ease, saying
he has no reason to be ashamed.
the road, they pass emaciated animals and poor peasants dressed in tatters.
can’t let things go on like this,” Arkady says to himself.
their arrival, they walk through a long hall and settle in the drawing
room. There, a servant, Prokovich, takes Bazarov’s coat and goes off to
get supper. Nikolai’s older brother, Pavel—a
handsome man with an aristocratic bearing—comes
in and greets Arkady warmly, shaking his hand and kissing him. But when
introduced to Bazarov, he merely nods. Pavel, about 45, who had served
in the military, also lives at the estate. After Arkady and Bazarov leave
the room, Pavel is dismayed when he learns that Bazarov will be visiting
for a while. Pavel calls Bazarov an “unkempt creature.”
next morning Bazarov, the first to rise, explores the estate, which does
not impress him, then tramps off to a swamp to find frogs to dissect in
medical experiments. While out walking, he makes friends with two peasant
the house, meanwhile, Nikolai and Arkady have gotten up and gone out to
the terrace, where a samovar boils tea. Fenichka is expected but does not
appear, and Arkady guesses that his arrival at the estate has intimidated
her. His father confirms his son’s observation, saying she feels as Nikolai
does—ashamed. Arkady says,
you allow her to live under the same roof with you, she must be worthy
of it; in any case, it's not for a son to judge his father--particularly
for me, and with such a father, who has always let me do everything I wanted."
goes off and makes friends with her, discovering that she and her father
have a baby. When he returns to the terrace, Arkady says, “But why didn't
you tell me I have a brother? I should have kissed him last night as I
kissed him just now!"
joins his brother and nephew. Shortly afterward, Bazarov returns and sits
down. Over tea, Pavel inquires about Bazarov’s studies, and the young man
replies that physics and natural science are his chief subjects. When Pavel
observes that the Germans seem to be making progress in science, Bazarov
says nonchalantly that they are superior to Russian scientists, as if it
is an unarguable fact. His manner irritates Pavel. So do his ideas, one
of which rejects all authority.
they tell the truth, I agree—that’s all.”
becomes clear as the conversation continues that Pavel and Bazarov are
at opposite poles of Russian social and political thinking. Pavel is a
conservative, adhering strongly to the old ideals, traditions, and czarist
social policies. Bazarov is a nihilist, believing in none of them—patriotism,
aristocracy, serfdom, the arts, the czar. Every old idea, every institution,
is worthless, he says. When the conversation turns nasty, Nikolai changes
the subject. Then the two older men leave to talk with one of the estate’s
also espousing nihilism—tells Bazarov that
he was too hard on Pavel, saying he was and is a better man than Bazarov
thinks. Then he tells him Pavel’s story.
his young adulthood, Pavel was handsome, athletic, industrious, accomplished—a
fine soldier who made captain by age 28 and was the envy of all the ladies.
There could be no doubt that he was destined for great things. Then he
met a young woman, a princess, who had a boorish husband and no children.
She had a wonderful figure, golden hair, and carefree, pentrating eyes.
When attending social affairs, she dressed in the latest fashions, danced
the latest steps, and attracted the attentions of many young men, one of
whom was Pavel. He fell passionately in love with her, and they carried
on a romance. The time came, however, when she tired of him, Arkady
says. But Pavel pursued her everywhere. When she went abroad, he resigned
from the military and followed her. For four years, he alternately pursued
her and tried to forget her, then met up with her in Germany. They rekindled
their affair, but in a month it was over again. Years later, a somewhat
broken man, he was living an aimless bachelor life when he received news
that she had died in Paris in mental anguish. Nikolai then invited Pavel
to live at Maryino and, 18 months later, Pavel settled there and remained,
helping Nikolai with finances and even doing things for the peasant—although,
Arkady admits, “when he talks to them, he screws up his face and sniffs
eau de Cologne.”
Arkady concludes, Pavel is a good man at heart, a man Bazarov should not
denies despising him but says that a man who puts all his faith in one
woman is not a man at all. In the end, Bazarov says, the “mysterious relationships
between a man and a woman [are] all romanticism, rubbish . . . .”
now, though Arkady endorses Bazarov’s beliefs, it is clear that he is not
as steadfast as Bazarov in adhering to those beliefs. Arkady is malleable,
changeable, able to open his heart to others. Bazarov, on the other hand,
prefers beetles, frogs, and the hard objectivity of science.
is not to say, however, that Bazarov is completely unresponsive to others.
During his few weeks at Maryino, he gets along well with the servants,
perhaps because they do not represent the institutions he despises, and
they consider him a fine fellow—that is, all
of them except Prokovich, the old head servant, who regards Bazarov as
an "upstart." Bazarov also ministers to Fenichka’s child, Mitya, who is
cutting teeth, and she is impressed with his doctoring ability.
are always good with me,” Bazarov says. “I have a way with them.”
it be that Bazarov has feelings after all?
day he and Arkady decide to visit a nearby town, where the local governor
is giving a ball to honor Matvei Ilyich Kolyazin, a visiting government
official who is an uncle of Arkady. After they check into an inn, Arkady
sees his uncle while Bazarov remains at the inn. Then both young men pay
a courtesy call at the house of the governor, who invites them to the ball.
On their way back to the inn, they run into Viktor Sitnikov, one of Bazarov’s
old acquaintances—a nihilist disciple of Bazarov,
actually—who takes them to the home of an
“emancipated” woman Sitnikov says they simply must meet.
name is Madame Evdoksya Kukshina. After they arrive, she orders champagne
for them, speaks of women’s rights, and discusses American and French authors.
Like Bazarov, she says, she has learned something about chemistry—that
is, she can make a paste to keep dolls’ heads from breaking. During lunch,
the conversation centers on “whether marriage was a prejudice or a crime,
whether men were born equal or not, and precisely what constitutes individuality.”
The most significant topic that comes up—although
Arkady and Bazarov don’t realize it at the time—is
a name: that of a certain Madame Odintsov. Evdoksya speaks of her as one
of the pretty women in town who are empty-headed and badly educated.
days later at the ball, the young men meet this woman. Before she arrives,
Arkady dances awkwardly while Bazarov watches from the sidelines. Later,
while they pass time idly in a corner of the room, Sitnikov comes over
to inform them that Madame Anna Sergeyevna Odintsov has just stepped into
a striking figure," says Bazarov. "She's not like the other females."
and dignified in her black evening gown, Madame Odintsov indeed has a certain
air that sets her apart. She is yet young, 29, and has brains, a mind of
her own, and, as the widow of a rich man, money. Arkady dances a mazurka
with her. At first, he is tongue-tied in her presence, as if he were a
schoolboy. Later, he opens up and discusses various topics. When she asks
about Bazarov, he talks at great length and with great enthusiasm about
his friend. Madame Odintsov then invites Arkady and Bazarov to visit her.
Of Bazarov, she says, “I am very curious to meet a man who has the courage
to believe in nothing."
following day, when they go to her hotel, Arkady is astonished that Bazarov
seems uneasy before her. He talks more than usual, apparently in an attempt
to impress her, about medicine, homeopathy, and botany. She listens politely
and, when it is her time to speak, converses intelligently on these subjects,
for she has read many books. Arkady, meanwhile, still feels inadequate
in the presence of this sophisticated woman. After the visit—which
lasts three hours—she invites them to her
country residence, Nikolskoe, some thirty miles from the town, where she
lives with her sister, Katya, and her elderly aunt.
Bazarov raves about her, calling her a “grand duchess, a commanding sort
days later, when they arrive for a two-week stay at the splendid manor
house Anna Odintsov inherited from her husband, they meet her sister—a
pleasant, shy, round-faced girl of eighteen—and
her aunt, Princess Abdotya Stepanovna. But
it is Anna, of course, who intrigues them. When they sit down to talk on
the first day of the visit, she warns Bazarov that she is “dreadfully argumentative”
and “impatient and persistent.” They discuss art briefly, Bazarov condemning
it and Anna defending it. Then Anna’s aunt comes down for tea, and everyone
goes into the dining room, where Katya pours, the aunt talks while nobody
listens, and a neighbor, Porfiri Platonich, a plump little man, comes in
to play cards. While Anna, Bazarov, and Platonich begin a game, Anna asks
Katya to play for Arkady. Dutifully, Katya goes to the piano. Arkady politely
follows, although he would rather be sitting next to the stupendous Odintsov.
After Katya finishes her piece—Mozart’s Sonata
Fantasia in E Minor—she is quiet, although
Arkady tries to draw her out. Meanwhile, Bazarov loses badly at cards and
must pay up a small sum.
Arkady and Bazarov discuss their host while getting ready for bed:
a wonderful woman Anna Sergeyevna is!" Arkady says.
says Bazarov, "a female with brains; and she's seen life too."
her part, Madame Odintsov enjoys Bazarov’s company because of his candor
and unusual ideas.
fortnight passes quickly and pleasantly, Bazarov becoming more and more
Anna. After Bazarov announces to her one evening that he must leave to
visit his parents, they have a long conversation, each probing the feelings
of the other. The next day, they have a follow-up conversation in which
Anna appears to show great interest in Bazarov and his career. The conversation
tiptoes forward, with Bazarov containing what he really wants to say until
he can old back no longer:
me tell you . . . that I love you like a fool, like a madman . . . There,
you've got that out of me."
kisses her. After a moment, she breaks away, walks across the room,
and says, “You misunderstood me.” It is a shattering moment for Bazarov.
the two young men prepare to leave for the house of Bazarov’s parents,
Madame Odintsov makes no effort to persuade them to remain.
parents—kind and gentle folks—greet
their son and Arkady warmly in their six-room home on a small estate. Bazarov’s
father, Vassily Ivanovich Bazarov, is proud that he has placed his farm
workers on the rent system and turned the land over to them in return for
50 percent of the proceeds. Vassily himself is a doctor who has given up
his practice, although he does minister to the peasants when the need arises.
He talks medical science with his son, mentioning phrenology and a certain
practitioner named Rademacher, but Bazarov dismisses Rademacher as passé.
The elder Bazarov does not argue with his son—“What
am I? A retired army doctor,” he says.
their stay, it is Bazarov's turn to be irritated, mildly—by
constant pampering from his father and mother. What's more, he loses again
at cards—two-and-a-half rubles—this
time to a priest, Father Aleksei.
only two days, Bazarov sayshe's bored and needs the peace and quiet of
Maryino. So they leave for the Kirsanov estate, deciding to stop on the
way to visit Madame Odintsov. But she treats them with such icy dispassion
that they leave only hours after they arrived.
their return to Maryino, there is a small celebration over porter into
the late hours of the evening. In the ensuing days, Arkady vows to assist
his father, who has been having trouble managing the farm and the peasants.
Bazarov returns to what he does best: conducting experiments and irritating
Pavel. He talks frequently with Fenichka, who feels comfortable with him
because he does not look down on her. Early one day, while they are talking
outside, Bazarov kisses her. Later, Pavel who happened to see the embrace,
challenges him to a duel. Although Bazarov thinks dueling is a silly custom
and that the kiss was just as silly—an impulse,
that was all—he agrees to meet Pavel the following
morning at six. It will be pistols at eight paces, with only Nikolai’s
servant, Pyotr, acting as a witness.
they march off their paces, they decide to add two more at Bazarov’s suggestion,
then draw lines and choose weapons. All the while, Bazarov exhibits remarkable
sang-froid, cracking jokes and calling the duel absurd. Pavel, though,
says he means business. After they go to their marks and approach each
other, Pavel fires first, whizzing a bullet past Bazarov’s ear. Bazarov
fires without taking aim and wounds Pavel in the thigh. While blood trickles
down Pavel’s white trousers, Bazarov rushes over and—to
Pavel’s surprise—tends to the wound. Pavel
objects, saying he needs no help, then faints. While Bazarov tends to him,
Pyotr fetches Nikolai, who is pale with concern. When he asks what happened,
Pavel, who has come to, takes the blame for the encounter.
meanwhile, has been visiting at Nikolskoe again—but
to see Katya, not Madame Odintsov. It seems that he has fallen in love
with her and she with him. Previously, she says, Arkady seemed under the
control of Bazarov. Now, however, he is a changed man who thinks for himself.
She likes the new Arkady. They vow to marry.
also visits Nikolskoe again, this time to apologize to Odintsov for his
behavior. Then he leaves Nikolskoe and Maryino to return to his parents.
They are thrilled to have him back. So are the peasants on his father’s
farm, for Bazarov has begun helping his father minister to them. One day,
he takes part in an autopsy on a victim of typhoid fever. During the procedure,
he cuts himself and typhus germs enter his bloodstream.
at Maryino, meanwhile, Pavel has confronted Nikolai about Fenichka, who
has been living on edge ever since Bazarov kissed her. She says the encounter
was not her idea but Bazarov’s, then embraces Nikolai. Pavel then says
Nikolai should marry her. Nikolai is surprised that his brother would favor
marriage to a lower-class woman. But he is also very happy, for he loves
becomes ill, requests to see Anna Odintsov one more time, and dies after
she visits him. Six months later, Arkady marries Katya and Nikolai marries
Fenichka in the same wedding ceremony. Pavel goes abroad to live, Odintsov
marries a lawyer, and Arkady and his father work together to make a success
of Maryino. Near his home, Bazarov lies at eternal rest in a grave visited
frequently by his parents, who cry endlessly over it. They believe, as
Turgenev says in the closing paragraph, that "However passionate, sinful
or rebellious the heart hidden in the tomb, the flowers growing over it
peep at us serenely with their innocent eyes; they tell us not only of
eternal peace, of that great peace of 'indifferent' nature; they tell us
also of eternal reconciliation and of life without end."
action takes place in the Russian countryside, not far from St. Petersburg,
at the Kirsanov farm, the Bazarov farm, homes and inns in nearby towns,
and on streets and roads. St. Petersburg is in western Russia, at the mouth
of the Neva River, about 400 miles northwest of Moscow. Author Turgenev
does not identify the small towns in the countryside where much of the
action is set.
Nikolai Petrovich Kirsanov
Widowed, 40-year-old owner of a country estate worked by peasants who pay
rent. Although he espouses conservative ideals, he has taken a mistress
from the lower classes who bears him a child. He is proud of his son, Arkady,
who has just graduated from the university in St. Petersburg. He is kind
and accomodating with Arkady and his friend, Bazarov, in spite of their
Kirsanov Nikolai's son. He is pleasant and accommodating like his father.
Early on, he appears immature and weak-minded without ideas of his own.
He says says he subscribes to the nihilistic views of his friend, Bazarov.
In time, he takes control of his destiny and rejects Bazarov's extremism,
although he does not reject Bazarov himself.
Evgeny Vassilyev Bazarov
Bazarov is a medical student scheduled to receive his physician's degree
within a year. He is a thoroughgoing nihilist, rejecting all authority
and all traditions, customs, and institutions. He believes only in what
science can prove empirically—and in his own independent, sovereign ego.
Deep feelings, such as romantic love, are for the weak, he maintains. But
Bazarov betrays a human side: He seems to sympathize with peasants and,
horror of horrors, falls in love.
Pavel Petrovich Kirsanov
Older brother (age 45) of Nikolai. Handsome, aristocratic, he believes
firmly in the old ways of Russia and clashes repeatedly with Bazarov. Eventually,
the animosity between them leads to a duel.
Madame Anna Sergeyevna
Odintsov Wealthy, sophisticated 29-year-old widow with whom Bazarov
falls in love. She coldly rejects him but visits him when he becomes deathly
Princess Abdotya Stepanovna
Elderly aunt of Madame Odintsov.
Katerine Sergeyevna Lokteva
(Katya) Madame Odintsov's 18-year-old sister. Though shy and socially
backward, she realizes what really matters in life.
Fedosya Nikolayevna Savishna
Nikolai mistress and later his wife. The daughter of an inkeeper, she feels
inferior to the personages who come and go at Nikolai's estate. But she
makes up with Bazarov and eventually marries Nikolai.
Mitya Child of Nikolai
Viktor Sitnikov Bootlicking
follower of Bazarov and his nihilist philosophy.
Madame Evdoksya Kukshina
Emancipated woman visited by Arkady, Bazarov, and Sitnikov.
Vassily Ivanovich Bazarov
Father of Bazarov. He is a kindly, retired 62-year-old doctor who ministers
to the peasants on his small farm. He is very proud of his son.
Arina Vlassevna Bazarov
Mother of Bazarov. Like her husband, she is kindly and dotes so much on
her son that she makes him uncomfortable.
Matvei Ilyich Kolyazin
Visiting government official who is an uncle of Arkady.
Card player who frequently visits Madame Odintsov's home.
Prokovich Head servant
Pyotr Servant of
Nikolai who witnesses the duel between Pavel and young Bazarov.
of Nikolai who tends to Fenichka.
Father Aleksei Priest
who visits the Vassily Bazarov home and beats young Bazarov at whist.
Servants of Vassily Bazarov.
and Sons is a realistic novel. It was completed in 1861 and first published
in 1862 in the Russian Herald, a magazine. The literal translation
of the title is Fathers and Children. The primary purpose of the
book is to present an objective view of the generation gap that divides
fathers and sons because of the ideas that the older and younger generations
espouse. One of the ideas that divide the generations is nihilism.
Was Nihilism in 19th Century Russia?
was a dividing force in mid-19th Century Russia. Nihilism (a term derived
from the Latin word nihil, meaning nothing) is a philosophy
that calls for the destruction of existing traditions, customs, beliefs,
and institutions and requires its adherents to reject all values, including
religious and aesthetic principles, in favor of belief in nothing. The
term was coined in the Middle Ages to describe religious heretics. It was
resurrected in mid-19th Century Russia to describe radicals and revolutionaries.
Supporters of this philosophy saw it as a stage in the struggle against
tyranny and injustice. Turgenev made nihilism a household world in Russia
with the publication of Fathers and Sons in 1861. Its main character—the
nihilist Bazarov—became the most famous nihilist in the world, even though
he was fictional.
The clash between ideas
of one generation and the ideas of the next creates conflicts between parents
and children—in this case, between fathers and sons. Bazarov
rejects all the ideas and institutions of previous generations. Arkady
also rejects the old ways for a while, in imitation of Bazarov. Then he
becomes his own man, deciding that there are values worth preserving. Conflict
between parents and their children continues to be a popular theme in today’s
literature and will likely be so in future literature inasmuch as generational
clashes—over politics, morals, religion, music, social customs, and so
on—recur again and again.
No one can escape his
or her humanity. As a nihilist, Bazarov rejects all systems, beliefs,
and institutions handed down to him. He also rejects deep human emotions
as silly and unscientific. However, he succumbs to these emotions when
he ministers to sick peasants and when he falls in love with Madame Odintsov.
Likewise, Pavel—Bazarov’s sworn enemy—accepts blame for the duel he provoked
with Bazarov and acknowledges Bazarov’s generous efforts to save his life
afterward. Madame Odintsov—that cool, unruffled sophisticate—takes the
time to visit Bazarov when he is dying. Bazarov’s father, an old-school
Russian, makes concessions to his peasant, as does Arkady’s father, Nikolai.
Arkady, who was never really a nihilist although he professed to be one,
realizes that what really matters in life is not what lives in a laboratory
jar but what lives in the ordinary life of human beings in the form of
love and compassion.
Exploitation of farm
workers is unjust and inhumane. Turgenev completed Fathers and Sons
in 1861—the same year that Czar Alexander II issued an edict abolishing
serfdom, a system in which farm workers were bound to the land which they
worked—and published it in 1862.
and Sons is generally regarded today as an outstanding novel—Turgenev’s
finest work—because of its realistic depiction of the generational clash
between parents and their children. However, it received severe criticism
in Russia after it was published in 1862. Liberals argued that Turgenev’s
presentation of Bazarov as an unremitting extremist was an attack on progressive
ideas. Conservatives argued that Turgenev’s presentation of Pavel and other
establishment characters as backward defenders of the status quo was an
an attack on cherished traditions and institutions. Turgenev himself, in
defending his novel, said his purpose was not primarily to condemn one
system or another but to present human beings in conflict. In other words,
he was more concerned with fathers at odds with their sons than with political
conservatives at odds with political radicals. However, he could not ignore
the political views of his characters, for they were the views of millions
of Russians when he wrote the novel.
Characterization, and Structure
was a master craftsman who weighed his words carefully before assigning
them to sentences intended to reflect reality as it was, not as he wanted
it to be. Generally, he did not preach and did not resort to sentimentality.
than reveal characters through lengthy descriptions of their thoughts,
he revealed them through actions, interactions, and reactions. Thus, the
reader knows Bazarov and the other characters primarily through what they
do and say rather than through what Turgenev tells us they are thinking
or feeling. Instead of judging the characters or suggesting how they ought
to live, Turgenev simply tells their stories.
novel consists of episodes in which characters reveal themselves through
the ideas they express or the behavior they exhibit. Turgenev arranges
these episodes, which form the structure of the novel, according to the
ideas prevalent in particular locales. For example, in the episodes early
in the novel, Bazarov is in a conservative environment, where he provokes
anger. Next, he is in liberal environments—those of Kukshina and Odintsov—where
he engenders favor or tolerance of his views. When he visits his parents,
they express conservative views but show some sympathy to liberal causes—in
particular those affecting the peasants.
climax of a play or another narrative work, such as a short story or a
novel, can be defined as (1) the turning point at which the conflict begins
to resolve itself for better or worse, or as (2) the final and most exciting
event in a series of events. The climax of Fathers and Sons occurs,
according to the first definition, when Bazarov tells Madame Odintsov that
he loves her, then kisses her, only to discover that she has no romantic
interest in him. According to the second definition, the climax occurs
when Bazarov dies...
ridicules Pavel Kirsanov for falling hopelessly in love and spending years
pursuing his beloved. Yet Bazarov also yields to the wiles of a woman,
Madame Odintsov, confessing to her "that I love you
like a fool, like a madman. . . ." Arkady and Katya, depicted as
somewhat weak and pliant at first, turn out to be strong enough to control
their own destinies and wise enough to realize what really matters in life.
Sergeyevich Turgenev (1818-1883) ranks among the greatest writers of Russian
literature. His life parallels in some ways the lives of characters in
Fathers and Sons. For example, like the fictional Arkady, he lived
on a family estate on which he observed the mistreatment of workers. And,
like Arkady, he attended the university in St. Petersburg. Like Pavel Kirsanov
and Bazarov, he fell in love with a woman who eluded him—the French opera
star Michelle Ferdinande Pauline Viardot, a mezzo-soprano for whom he wrote
the libretto of the opera The Last Sorcerer, published in 1869.
he contrasted with characters in Fathers and Sons in that politically
he was neither a conservative, like Nikolai and Pavel, nor a radical, like
Bazarov and Sitnikov. Instead, he was a liberal who favored gradual change.
Turgenev spent considerable time in western Europe, studying in Germany
and living in France and other western European countries to absorb prevailing
ideas. He did much to popularize Russian literature in western Europe.
Fathers and Sons, his major works include the play A
Month in the Country (1850) and the novels On the Eve (1860)
and Smoke (1867).
Questions and Essay Topics
Who is the most admirable character
in the novel? Who is the least admirable?
Which character in the novel
is the most faithful to his or her professed ideals?
Explain the conflict going on
Explain the conflict between
the old ideas and the new ideas in the novel. Does this conflict reflect
what was actually happening in 19th Century Russia?
Explain the conflict between
the aristocrats and the lower classes in the novel. Does this conflict
reflect what was actually happening in 19th Century Russia?
Write a psychological profile
of the protagonist, Bazarov.
Why does Fathers and Sons
continue to be relevant for 21st Century readers?
Does Madame Odintsov love Bazarov?
If your answer is no, explain in an essay why she seems so fascinated with
him. If your answer is yes, explain in an essay why she rejects him.
With the air of a detached scientist,
Bazarov declares that the “mysterious relationships
between a man and a woman [are] all romanticism, rubbish.” He then
falls hopelessly in love with Madame Odintsov. What
accounts for this radical change in Bazarov's behavior?