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Course Hero. "Fathers and Sons Study Guide." February 6, 2018. Accessed November 15, 2018.


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Fathers and Sons | Quotes


It can't go on like this, reforms are absolutely necessary.

Arkady, Chapter 1

Arkady is surprised at conditions at home when he returns from university. Seeing the impoverished servants and the ramshackle house, he realizes serfdom is not sustainable, and social change must happen. His outlook represents progressive thinking as opposed to the older feudal ways.


They develop their nervous systems till they break down.

Bazarov, Chapter 4

Bazarov, the nihilist, mocks Nikolai and Pavel upon meeting them because they seem anxious to impress, or at least be gracious to their guest. Bazarov's mockery will be an example of situational irony later in the novel when he suffers an emotional breakdown at Madame Odintsov's rejection of his love.


He has no faith in principles, but he has faith in frogs.

Pavel, Chapter 5

Pavel's sardonic observation highlights the apparent hypocrisy of Bazarov's nihilism. He rejects the authority of medicine while studying to become a doctor and rejects the authority of science while performing scientific research on frogs. These actions foreshadow Bazarov's dismissal of love while falling in love. And Pavel's comment hints at the futility of nihilism.


He thought it a duty to conceal his feeling. He was not a nihilist for nothing!

Narrator, Chapter 11

When Bazarov suggests visiting his parents, Arkady feels delighted but hides his emotions, trying to put his newfound nihilism into practice. He is still someone who feels emotion no matter how hard he may try to suppress it. The narrator is poking gentle fun at Arkady's attempt to be someone he isn't.


There's not the least need for them to understand our conversations.

Bazarov, Chapter 13

Bazarov refutes Madame Kukshin's assertion Russian women are poorly educated by suggesting women don't need to understand philosophical conversation. His statement might be supporting the patriarchal belief women are second-class citizens or might be encouraging women to come up with their own beliefs rather than parrot what they hear others say. Either way Bazarov comes across as arrogant and dismissive.


A single human specimen is sufficient to judge of all by.

Bazarov, Chapter 16

While trying to impress Madame Odintsov with his nihilistic ideas, Bazarov asserts all humans are basically the same, adding they "are like trees in a forest; no botanist would think of studying each individual birch tree." He doesn't believe society needs to categorize men as stupid or clever, wicked or good, because variations of these traits are insignificant, and negative traits resemble illness.


Arkady adored [nature], though he did not dare to acknowledge it.

Narrator, Chapter 17

This statement highlights the stranglehold Bazarov's beliefs have on Arkady's individuality. Like Katya Arkady loves nature but knows Bazarov would think less of him if he admitted it. He keeps his own beliefs and feelings hidden as long as he's under Bazarov's influence.


It was passion struggling in him ... passion not unlike hatred, and perhaps akin to it.

Narrator, Chapter 18

The admission of loving Madame Odintsov traumatizes Bazarov. He must admit not only that he loves her but has compromised his strongly held beliefs. He is no longer a nihilist but the weak, sentimental "imbecile" he detests.


It's not for the gods to bake bricks.

Bazarov, Chapter 19

Bazarov notes the importance of "dolts" like Sitnikov who unquestioningly spout nihilist beliefs to the masses. Although Bazarov previously suggests all men are the same, he clearly sees himself as superior, a "god" hovering above ordinary sycophants like Sitnikov.


Nowadays we laugh at medicine altogether.

Bazarov, Chapter 20

Bazarov tries to explain his nihilistic views of medicine to his father, a retired army surgeon. This statement, like so many of Bazarov's, becomes a statement indicating situational irony when Bazarov catches typhus and uses medicine to try to save his life—and he is not laughing.

Despite years of estrangement and Bazarov's perpetual selfishness and disrespect, Vassily remains the devoted and loving father. He accepts Bazarov's disrespect because he lovingly believes doing so will help Bazarov become successful.


He was ashamed of his own haughtiness, of his failure.

Narrator, Chapter 24

After the failed duel with Bazarov, Pavel reconsiders his harsh views of the young scholar. Because Bazarov acted like a gentleman during the duel, Pavel now respects him. He previously believed himself socially superior to Bazarov but now sees them as the equals Bazarov's nihilism presented them to be.


Don't let's worry ourselves about appearances.

Pavel, Chapter 24

As Pavel recovers from his injury in the duel, he begs Nikolai to ignore tradition and custom and to marry Fenitchka. He realizes life is too short to reject happiness because of what others might say or because of social structures.


He's a wild animal, and you and I are tame.

Katya Sergyevna Lokteva, Chapter 25

Katya asserts Bazarov can never settle down, but she and Arkady have a chance at happiness because they appreciate life's small joys and can love easily. At first Arkady is offended by this assessment, for he wants to be wild, but away from Bazarov's influence he recognizes and appreciates her words as truth.


Death's an old joke but it comes fresh to everyone.

Bazarov, Chapter 27

On his deathbed Bazarov realizes he has squandered his chance at happiness by pushing all emotion away. He sees his life and love with "fresh" eyes, but now it's too late. Despite his earlier claims of everyone being the same and having the same emotions, death is unique to each individual—thus individuality does exist.

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