Fathers and Sons: Chapter 5,6,7

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Chapter 5: Summary

Bazarov is out frog hunting for his experiments. Nikolay and Arkady are having morning tea together. It is revealed in this chapter that Nikolay and Fenechka had a child together. Nikolay is embarrassed in front of his son. Arkady leaves his father to go to Fenechka’s room to introduce himself to her. He returns excited and embraces his father. Pavel enters the room. He asks Arkady about Bazarov. Arkady says that Bazarov is a nihilist. Nikolay explains his definition of the term: “That comes from the Latin nihil, nothing, in so far as I can make out. So the word must mean a man who . . . who acknowledges nothing, mustn’t it?” (23). Pavel then adds his own terse definition: “Say rather, a man who respects nothing” (23). Arkady corrects then both: “The nihilist is a man who bows down to no authority, who takes no single principle on trust, however much respect be attached to the principle” (23).


Fenechka brings cocoa for Pavel, and he frowns at her. She leaves the room embarrassed.

Bazarov enters carrying a bag of frogs. Pavel makes a sarcastic comment about him. Then he proceeds to talk about farming.


Chapter 5: Analysis

There is a growing sense of animosity between Pavel and Bazarov, and Nikolay is torn between remaining honorable to his son while keeping a woman and their new baby under his roof. But Arkady loves and respects his father. The author makes this known through Arkady’s comment to his father: “Anyway, a son doesn’t sit in judgment on his father, particularly a father like you who has never constrained my freedom in any way” (21).


Arkady is very willing to please his father. He goes off to Fenechka’s room to meet her. Even Pavel is affectionate toward Arkady. Yet Arkady also has a mysterious liking for his friend Bazarov, against Pavel’s approval. Nikolay’s silence here perhaps is because he feels he is no one to judge his son’s choice of friends.


Pavel and Bazarov exchange some rather rude comments toward one another, and the chapter ends with Pavel trying to redeem himself by talking about farming.


Chapter 6: Summary

Pavel and Bazarov have a conversation. Pavel asks Bazarov about his beliefs and opinion about politics and science. Bazarov makes a rude comment toward Pavel, and Nikolay enters the conversation. He and Pavel leave the room, and Arkady tells Bazarov that he was “too rough with him” (28). Arkady proceeds to tell Bazarov all about his uncle in the next chapter.


Chapter 6: Analysis


Turgenev reveals Bazarov’s true revolutionary character through Bazarov’s insolent behavior and remarks toward Pavel. Bazarov’s tone is actually described by the narrator as “coarse, almost impertinent” (26). Bazarov interrupts Pavel with his sarcastic comments. The finale that leads to Nikolay’s wise and saving ways is Bazarov’s rude interjection toward Pavel: “What is this, a cross-examination?” (27). Finally, Pavel retreats with a noble gesture in the form of a compliment for the “cleverer” younger generation. The reader clearly anticipates nothing but trouble from Bazarov in future chapters, and we see the developing theme of country versus city, tradition versus modern, through Pavel and Bazarov.


Chapter 7: Summary


Arkady tells Bazarov the story of Pavel’s life. We learn that Pavel had been in love with a married woman. He was good-looking and possessed a self-confidence that exemplified itself in his courage and agility. The woman he loved he was never able to completely have. He became obsessed with her and followed her around for ten years. She died in Paris, and Pavel was heartbroken. He went to live with his brother Nikolay, gave Nikolay all his money, and continued to dress handsomely. But he had nothing to do with women. Bazarov still has no sympathy for Pavel. Arkady insists that “it is wrong to despise him” (33). 


Chapter 7: Analysis


Often when a person dislikes another person, it is because something in that person reminds him of a quality he may dislike in himself. This could be easily said of Pavel and Bazarov. The narrator describes Pavel as having a “slightly mocking and sardonic wit” (28), not so different from Bazarov. As Pavel grows older, he argues with men in society. He becomes a lonely bachelor, and people find him arrogant (32). He is honest, but his honesty is “irreproachable” (33).


Bazarov, likewise, is irreproachable as Arkady tries to convince his friend that Pavel deserves their sympathy. Bazarov has no part in this, hence he states his opinion of Pavel: “I am certain he seriously imagines himself to be an intelligent man because he reads old Galignani and once a month gets a peasant off a flogging” (33).


He continues to make facetious remarks about Uncle Pavel, much to Arkady’s dismay.

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