Fathers and Sons | Study Guide

Ivan Turgenev

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Fathers and Sons | Chapter 15 | Summary



Having been invited Arkady and Bazarov go to Madame Odintsov's hotel for a visit. Immediately Arkady notices Bazarov seems embarrassed, even nervous, to be there. Madame Odintsov cannot take her eyes off him. Bazarov and Madame Odintsov spend the rest of the afternoon in discussion of medicine and homeopathy, topics that surprise Arkady who expected Bazarov to talk about his philosophical views.

The narrator supplies the backstory of Anna Sergyevna Odintsov, who along with her younger sister were left with little after their father's death. Her mother, from a noble but impoverished family, had died years before. Remaining in the country, where her father had retired after losing his money gambling, she attended to her sister's education and soon after his death attracted the attention of Odintsov, a rich, eccentric, but kindly hypochondriac 26 years her senior whom Anna Sergyevna agreed to marry. When he died six years later, he left all his property to his wife, making her a very rich woman with a magnificent country estate. A great deal of slander followed her about, but her "independent and sufficiently determined character" enabled her to ignore it.

As Bazarov talks, he tries to impress Madame Odintsov, behavior Arkady finds surprising, and when she invites the young men to visit her estate in the country, Arkady notices Bazarov is blushing. At first put off by Bazarov, Madame Odintsov realizes he is nervous and is thus flattered. "Only the commonplace was repulsive to her," and Bazarov is hardly commonplace. When they leave the hotel, Bazarov remarks, "What a magnificent body ... Shouldn't I like to see it on the dissecting table."

Two days later Arkady and Bazarov set out for Nikolskoe, Madame Odintsov's estate, on the way to Bazarov's parents' house, where his parents expect him that day.


Clearly enamored with Madame Odintsov, Bazarov behaves in an affected way, much like Kukshin in the previous chapters. Thus far Bazarov has been a model of restraint, never allowing even the harshest of Pavel's comments to ruffle his feathers. Now Bazarov acts almost like a teenager. Although Arkady doesn't attempt to hide his affection for Odintsov, Bazarov continues to hide behind his nihilistic facade, but he seems to be less in control of the situation than he usually is. He makes a crass comment about wanting to see Odintsov's body on his autopsy table to convince Arkady—and perhaps himself—Odintsov is no different from any other beautiful woman. But Bazarov has noticed she is indeed different: a "perfect grand-duchess, a royal personage" but one who has "seen ups and downs" and known "what it is to be hard up!"

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