Fathers and Sons | Study Guide

Ivan Turgenev

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Fathers and Sons | Chapter 19 | Summary



Dinner that evening progresses awkwardly as Bazarov never lifts his eyes from the floor. After the meal he apologizes to Madame Odintsov for his behavior and says, "You don't love me, and you never will love me, I suppose?" When Madame Odintsov remains silent, Bazarov bids her farewell. Porfiry Platonovitch arrives and tells stories and bits of news.

The evening remains strained and awkward, especially when Sitnikov suddenly appears uninvited, stating "Evdoksya Kukshin ... sent him to inquire after Anna Sergyevna's health, and Arkady Nikolayevitch's too." He receives a civil greeting, as his presence lessens the tension in the room. Indeed "with Sitnikov's appearance everything became somehow duller and simpler," and everyone retires to bed earlier than usual.

When Bazarov tells Arkady he will be leaving in the morning, Arkady offers to join him. The next morning, both Katya and Sitnikov seem startled Arkady would leave with Bazarov. Bazarov is dismissive of people like Sitnikov, who he thinks is a dolt, but intellectual "gods" like Bazarov need dolts. Bazarov offends Sitnikov's father's liquor business, and Arkady rejects Sitnikov's offer of a ride home, joining Bazarov's carriage instead. Sensing Bazarov's sadness, Arkady "presses" Bazarov's hand while they drive toward Bazarov's parents' home. For most of the journey, Bazarov complains about women.


Sitnikov's presence reinforces the superficiality of nihilism. Like Madame Kukshin in previous chapters, Sitnikov has adopted Bazarov's principles for the social aspect of the conversation. He arrives at Madame Odintsov's expecting to be lavished with attention, much like Madame Kukshin expected at the governor's ball. When he doesn't receive it, he pouts and sulks, revealing just how far he is from true nihilism. Indeed Sitnikov, the impudent "young apostle of progress" who flutters into the room, offers comic relief after Bazarov's emotional declaration of love. The verbal irony in the narrator's words is apparent, as Sitnikov is a facade, nothing more—neither an apostle nor a progressive. Tolerated, he is as out of place there as Madame Kukshin is at the governor's ball.

Readers will notice the growing separation between Arkady's and Bazarov's characters. Both men are maturing. Arkady, without much difficulty, is growing closer to his emotions and Bazarov, with greater difficulty, is pushing them further away. Arkady offers Bazarov comfort in the carriage by holding his hand, a touching act of friendship that demonstrates his distancing from the nihilistic repression of emotions. Arkady also acknowledges he will miss Katya, with whom he has grown close during these weeks. Bazarov attempts to reject his heartbreak by spending the trip complaining about women.

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