Fathers and Sons: Chapter 8,9,10

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Chapter 8: Summary


Pavel and Nikolay are talking to the bailiff. Nikolay is having financial difficulty again. Pavel leaves Nikolay in his study and goes to Fenechka’s room to ask her to order him some green tea from town. Pavel notices some changes in the room. He asks Fenechka if he can see the baby, Mitya. She leaves to get him. Pavel observes the room with its elegant furnishings.


Fenechka returns with Mitya. Pavel speaks to the baby. Nikolay comes in to find his brother. Pavel returns to his indifferent self and leaves the room. Nikolay takes his son to rock him.


In this chapter, we learn how Nikolay and Fenechka met. Nikolay hired a landlady of an inn to come work for him as a housekeeper. Her name was Arina. She came with her daughter Fenechka and was Nikolay’s housekeeper for a year. Then Arina died of cancer.


The chapter ends with Nikolay holding his son and Pavel back in his own room “staring at the ceiling almost in desperation” (40).


Chapter 8: Analysis


The author reveals much more about Pavel’s character in this chapter. His sense of longing for a family of his own is evident by his desire, almost persistence, to see Fenechka’s baby. Then again at the end of the chapter, we see a lonely man sitting on his couch staring at his ceiling “in desperation,” the narrator says (40). We see the contrast between the two brothers’ characters: Nikolay is “soft and weak,” but Pavel has “practical sense” (34).


Pavel’s compassion and concern for Fenechka and her situation is further revealed when he asks her if she’s comfortable in her room. Nikolay is pleased when he finds his brother visiting Fenechka and the baby.  We get a sense that Nikolay is wiser than his brother.


Chapter 9: Summary


Bazarov meets Fenechka and Mitya at the opening of this chapter. Arkady warns him to be careful, but much to Arkady’s surprise, the baby doesn’t cry when Bazarov holds him. Bazarov checks the baby’s teeth; he tells Fenechka he is a doctor, and immediately she trusts him. Arkady explains the situation to Bazarov, and Bazarov is filled with admiration for Nikolay. Arkady then attempts to hold the baby, but he cries.


Bazarov and Arkady discuss the matter of Nikolay and Fenechka. Arkady thinks his father should marry Fenechka. Bazarov chastises Arkady’s opinions about his father’s situation; he accuses Arkady of being jealous of Mitya. Then Bazarov tells Arkady all that is wrong with the farm and his father’s hired hands, to which Arkady takes offense.  Suddenly they hear someone playing a cello in the distance. When Arkady tells Bazarov it is his father playing, Bazarov starts laughing. Arkady doesn’t even smile (43).


Chapter 9: Analysis


Tension grows between Bazarov and Arkady. Bazarov’s gallant behavior with Fenechka and Mitya stirs jealous feelings in Arkady. Then the remarks Bazarov makes about Arkady’s father and the poor handling of the farm offends Arkady. Distance grows between the two friends.


Arkady appeals to his friend’s appreciation of something as beautiful as the sunset, but Bazarov’s reply is that “nature too is nonsense . . .,” and that “nature isn’t a temple but a workshop, and man is a workman in it” (43).


The chapter ends with Bazarov laughing at Arkady’s father playing the cello. The reader is not sure if Bazarov’s reaction is just surprise at a farmer having musical talent, or if it is downright disrespect for a man of a lower class than Bazarov, according to Bazarov, to have such talent. Arkady does not find humor in his friend’s reaction.


Chapter 10: Summary


It is two weeks since their arrival at the farm, and Bazarov is gaining everyone’s fondness, especially Fenechka’s. She awakens him in the night to nurse Mitya for convulsions. Bazarov stays with him for two hours. Pavel, however, hates Bazarov and thinks he is “arrogant, insolent, cynical, vulgar” (44). Nikolay is afraid of the young nihilist and is concerned for his son. Bazarov and Arkady are arguing a lot.

It is spring, and Bazarov takes walks to collect insects and things for his research. One afternoon, Nikolay sees Arkady and Bazarov, but he hides because they are talking about Nikolay. Bazarov says to Arkady that his father is a “pensioner from another age,” and that “he’s had his day” (45). When Arkady does not respond, Nikolay leaves.


Nikolay tells Pavel his concerns for Arkady and himself, that he feels he and Arkady are drifting further apart. Pavel says it is Bazarov’s fault. But Nikolay defends Bazarov.


That evening Pavel starts an argument with Bazarov, and they both become very volatile with one another. Pavel is offended when Bazarov slanders the aristocrats and the Russian people. This makes Pavel angrier. Pavel wants to know in what principles Bazarov and the younger generation believe.

Bazarov’s reply is that they are guided by whatever they feel is useful (49). In the next breath, Bazarov says that they “reject” everything. Pavel is flabbergasted. It is here that Nikolay joins in the argument: “you reject everything, or more precisely, you destroy everything . . . But one must also build” (49). Arkady and Bazarov respond with, “That’s not our concern” (49). Arkady replies with “. . . we don’t have the right to satisfy personal egoism” (49). Bazarov does not like this statement.


They continue arguing about their different opinions about the Russian people. Pavel says that Bazarov and Arkady are going against their own people. Bazarov does not deny that he holds the peasants in contempt. Bazarov goes on to say that they are denouncers. He then gives a lengthy speech about Russian society, how men speak of “art, unconscious creativity, parliamentarianism, the bar, . . . when what’s at stake is people’s daily bread. . .” (51).


Pavel says that they are just nihilists, wanting to just destroy everything. Arkady gets angry and says that “we destroy because we’re a force,” to which Pavel replies, “Wretched boy!” (52) Pavel says they are not enough in number to conquer a whole nation.


Pavel and Bazarov continue until Bazarov finally ends the argument. He and Arkady leave the room, and Nikolay and Pavel remain. Nikolay relates an argument he once had with his mother, how she wouldn’t listen to him. He said to her, “You can’t understand me; we belong to two different generations” (54). Nikolay makes a comparison between him and Pavel, the older generation, and Arkady and Bazarov, the younger generation and how they too cannot understand one another. But Pavel thinks that they are right, and the younger people are wrong. Fenechka comes to the door and asks if they want more tea. Pavel leaves the room.


Chapter 10: Analysis


Turgenev pushes the plot forward in this long chapter with detailed, explosive dialogue. The theme of young versus old continues to develop here between Pavel and Bazarov. Arkady joins in, much to his father’s disappointment. Everyone likes Bazarov, or tolerates his eccentric personality, but Pavel hates him. Could it be because Bazarov is a spitting image of Pavel himself? They share many idiosyncrasies, which come out for all to see in their argument.


However, the reader can see a soft side to Bazarov in his caring for the baby when he gets ill one night. Nikolay also enjoys Bazarov’s experiments and how he talks about them. All the servants like him, despite the way Bazarov teases them. But Pavel continually is annoyed by his presence.


Pavel states that Bazarov has a “repellant self-esteem,” yet most of his societal friends say Pavel is arrogant. Pavel’s anger seems to be at something that already exists within himself, perhaps a sense of self-denial for the situation of his country, which Bazarov describes so eloquently. In essence, the Russian government is so worried about the bureaucracy that the people’s basic rights go unnourished. We have here a sad analysis of Russian society, and Pavel cannot deny it. But he continues to insult Bazarov.


Bazarov challenges Pavel to find an institution that does not deserve to be rejected, and he and Arkady leave the room. Pavel and Nikolay have received their comeuppance, yet Pavel reassures himself that he and Nikolay, the older generation, are right, and the younger generation is wrong. 

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