Fathers and Sons | Study Guide

Ivan Turgenev

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Fathers and Sons | Chapter 7 | Summary



Educated at home like his brother, as a young man Pavel rose in society as a handsome, self-confident, and intelligent man whose company was highly sought after. Pavel's star rose until he fell in love with Princess R—, an extraordinarily sociable and intelligent woman who openly flirted with men despite being married. After a brief romance Pavel expressed his love and gave the princess a ring. When the princess didn't return his affections, Pavel became obsessed, following her everywhere until she "grew sick of his pursuit of her, and she went abroad." Disgusted with his inability to move past her, Pavel sank into depression, unable to "get back into the old groove" in society. For 10 years Pavel maintained an unhappy yet sociable life, until he received word the princess had died. Her death occurred around the same time Arkady's mother, Masha, died, so Pavel offered to move into Maryino and help Nikolai manage the property.

Arkady insists Bazarov should pity his unhappy uncle, but the story has little effect on Bazarov. Instead of pitying Pavel, he mocks the man who first allows himself to love and then allows heartbreak to dictate his future.


The story of Pavel's heartbreak appears anecdotal at first, but the story takes on a keen sense of situational irony when Bazarov, who mocks Pavel's heartbreak, says anyone foolish enough to fall for love is "not a man." Arkady feels sympathetic toward Pavel, but again Bazarov smugly dismisses this emotion as nonsense. This seemingly anecdotal backstory provides foreshadowing for Bazarov's eventual downfall. Like Pavel he will fall for an unattainable woman, suffer heartbreak, and struggle to right himself in the aftermath. He will become the "unforgivable imbecile" he accuses romantics like Pavel of being. If Bazarov's exaggerated indifference characterizes him up until this point, his exaggerated despair will characterize him when his nonchalance is put to the test later. As Pavel's story underscores the theme of unrequited romantic love, so will Bazarov's later in the novel.

Arkady characterizes his uncle as kind, generous, and intelligent rather than snobbish as others see him. He has helped Nikolai, who has proved himself less capable than Pavel and has in effect given his younger brother the inheritance intended to be his.

Arkady's plea for Bazarov to pity rather than ridicule Pavel is the first instance in which he hasn't gone along with Bazarov's views. Arkady is beginning to assert his independence over Bazarov's teachings, a separation that will grow as the novel progresses.

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