Fathers and Sons: Chapter 20,21,22

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Chapter 20: Summary


Bazarov and Arkady arrive at Bazarov’s parents’ home. Arkady fights back tears as he watches Bazarov’s parents greet him warmly (110). They have not seen him for three years. Bazarov chastises his mother openly because she is very affectionate and cries a lot: “Come on, Mother, really” (111). Their house is small, six rooms, and run down. Bazarov’s father is very kind. They eat a wonderful meal, and then Bazarov wants to go to bed. He asks his father to leave (118). Arina, Bazarov’s mother, loves her son, but she is frightened of him (119).


Chapters 20: Analysis


We see further development of Bazarov’s character through his interaction with his parents. Bazarov shows no emotion to his parents’ affections. The author leaves much to the reader’s own interpretation of Bazarov’s character. The theme of the young versus the old continues when Bazarov and Arkady interact with the old couple. Bazarov gives orders to the servants, listens to his father’s stories, but he avoids any deep conversation with his father. He has nothing to do with his mother. We hear that the mother is afraid of him at the end of the chapter. The very first night, he asks his father to leave his room because he says he wants to go to sleep, but after his father leaves, he stays up for some time.

Again, Turgenev is exploring this theme of relationships, especially between fathers and sons, with Bazarov and his father. What causes the distance between Bazarov and his own father?


Chapter 21: Summary


Arkady and Vasily visit in the vegetable garden where Vasily is digging a bed for turnips (119). Vasily asks Arkady what he thinks of his son. Arkady praises Bazarov and says that Bazarov will be famous someday, and he thinks the world of him (122).


Bazarov comes and he and Arkady are lying in the shade, and they talk about their childhood. Arkady asks Bazarov if he loves his parents, and he says yes.  They end up arguing about little things and almost get into a fist fight, but Bazarov’s father interrupts (128-29). He starts to tell them a story, and Bazarov falls asleep. Vasily wakes him, and they go to dinner.


A priest, Father Aleksey, joins them for dinner. Arina sits by Bazarov and watches him playing cards. Her eyes are filled with “devotion and tenderness” but also “sorrow, curiosity, fear, and meek reproach” (131). Bazarov doesn’t pay any attention to his mother.


Bazarov tells his father the next evening that he’s leaving. Vasily is very hurt because Bazarov has only been home three days after being away for three years. Bazarov does not show any emotion or regret (133). After Bazarov and Arkady leave, Vasily sits down in his chair and lowers his head (134-35). He comforts his wife, holding her in his arms.


Chapter 21: Analysis


Arkady and Bazarov still disagree on some issues, and they almost get into a fight. Bazarov says the reason he’s leaving is because he can’t find any peace and quiet in which to do his work because his father “sticks to me like glue,” and he hears his mother sighing on the other side of the wall (132). The tension between the various relationships in this chapter is like the glue to which Bazarov refers in talking about his father. The characters must come to terms with what is inside of them before they can have a relationship with one another, and we can sense once again a foreshadowing of the climax.


Bazarov tells his father very nonchalantly that he is leaving the next day. The final scene represents a generation that is lost in its own sorrow and one that cannot keep up with the changes that are happening in their present Russian society.  Bazarov has absolutely no remorse or pity or compassion for his parents.


Chapter 22: Summary


On the way to Arkady’s home, he and Bazarov decide to visit Anna again, but it turns out a bad decision. They are unwelcomed, so they only stay a few hours. They return to the farm, and Nikolay is delighted to see his son. Pavel even welcomes them both.


But Nikolay is having some serious problems with the farm. Bazarov does not interfere, but Arkady offers his father some advice and listens to him. Boredom sets in on Arkady, and he decides to go to Anna’s place again. He sees Katya. She is glad to see him. They go to Anna in the garden, and she is delighted also to see Arkady.


Chapter 22: Analysis


Again, the theme of the young and the old continues. In this chapter, the young Arkady displays his sense of immaturity. Arkady becomes bored on his father’s farm, so he goes to Anna’s. To his surprise and delight, he is welcomed by both Anna and Katya. Arkady’s flight to Anna’s farm is representative of Arkady’s own maturation, leaving his father, leaving Bazarov, to discover on his own the “‘why not’ of youth, the secret desire to know his own luck, to try his strength all on his own without the support of another” (139). 

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