Fathers and Sons | Study Guide

Ivan Turgenev

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Fathers and Sons | Chapter 22 | Summary



Arkady and Bazarov's carriage reaches a fork in the road. The left leads to Nikolskoe, the right to Maryino. Arkady murmurs to Bazarov they can turn left, if he would like. Bazarov feigns offense, but they turn left anyway. As soon as they arrive at Madame Odintsov's, they realize they have made a mistake. They have been gone for only three days, not giving Odintsov nearly enough time to miss them. They stay for four hours, engaged in painfully awkward conversation with Odintsov's aunt before returning to their carriage and driving back to Maryino. Everyone at Maryino, including Pavel, expresses delight at the young men's return. They have an animated conversation over dinner, during which Nikolai declares frustration at his inability to control his freed serfs, before retiring for the evening.

The next day Bazarov returns to his frog experiments, and Arkady notes Bazarov's company no longer entertains him, finding "he actually was dull" and Arkady wanted to get away. He recalls his father mentioning letters Madame Odintsov's mother wrote to Arkady's mother years before, so he spends the afternoon digging through boxes in search of them. He spends 10 days at Maryino before precipitously riding at top speed toward Madame Odintsov's with the letters. Katya is in the distance, and Arkady is "delighted to see her, as though she were of his own kindred." Despite his unannounced arrival, even Madame Odintsov delights in his return.


Arkady has returned to his romantic nature in full force. Since the fight in the barn, Arkady and Bazarov have become more distanced, and Arkady now realizes he has outgrown his friend's stifling philosophies. He longs to reconnect with his emotions, nature, and Katya. In an impulsive, romantic move, Arkady abruptly leaves home to rejoin Katya. He has made no plans or announced his visit but simply shows up when his longing overwhelms him. With this romantic gesture it is clear Arkady has freed himself from Bazarov's control.

Arkady's action in this chapter further characterizes the ineffectiveness of the men around him. At the dinner table Nikolai complains about his inability to run the farm efficiently, claiming he "can do nothing." Bazarov continues to mope, withdrawing completely from the conversation and offering no insights. Similarly Pavel remains interested only in himself. The only comment he offers is to tell Nikolai, in French, to stay calm. As these three characters sit around idly, Arkady commands his future. In this singular act, Arkady becomes a problem solver for his own "dullness" and prepares readers for the time when he will help other characters solve their problems as well.

Finally Bazarov's sheepish return to Madame Odintsov's solidifies the truth: she has no romantic feelings toward him. She basically ignores him, and he feels humiliated. Like Pavel who followed Princess R—around like a dog until she grew sick of the sight of him, Bazarov pathetically pines after Madame Odintsov.

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