Fathers and Sons

A Detailed Study of Two Key Passages in "Fathers and Sons"

Much of the tension in Ivan Turgenev’s <i>Fathers and Sons</i> arises from the conflict between the two main characters, Bazarov and Arkady. Bazarov is a nihilist and the catalyst for much of the action of the novel. He does not share the romantic views held by Pavel and Nikolai Petrovitch, Arkady’s uncle and father, and this position alienates him greatly from the other main characters. Arkady, Bazarov’s best friend, admires Bazarov’s courage at the start of the novel, and he follows Bazarov closely, thinking he believes in nihilism. However, upon his arrival at his father’s estate, he begins to see that he is not of the same mold as Bazarov. The two key passages chosen for exploration in this essay reveal this changing attitude of Arkady and also the progression of Bazarov into a romantic character. The first key passage (pg. 33-34; quoted below) indicates Arkady’s initial movement towards romanticism. Turgenev describes Arkady’s developing fascination with nature and romanticism through his prose and also presents Bazarov’s bold statements concerning nihilism through the dialogue, generating early tension between the two opposing ideological views. The second key passage, near the end of the novel (pg. 150-151;...

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