Fathers and Sons

by Ivan Turgenev

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From Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev, compare and contrast the various locations and inhabitants of Marino, the Kirsanov’s run-down but recently reorganized “farm,” the wealthy estate of Nicholskoe and the modest homestead of Bazarov’s elderly parents.

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In Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev, there is much contrast not only in the physical premises occupied by the families but in the opinions and viewpoints in a time of upheaval and change in Russia. There is a clear distinction between the class levels, a tired aristocracy and also between the older generation and Arkady and Bazarov's generation who consider themselves progressive, even "nihilists."

Nicholai Petrovich Kirsanov thinks himself a forward-thinker, having a "farm" but his attitude and particularly that of his brother Pavel, shows that they think themselves superior to the "peasants." Despite grand ideas, Nicholai's farm, Marino, is run-down, not having "flourished, very little water had collected in the pond, and the well water had a brackish taste."(ch 5) The farm is badly managed by Nicholai and the workers take advantage. Fenichka, Nicholai's young mistress feels sharply out of place and even offers to move "into the side-wing again"out of respect to Arkady, Nicholai's eldest son.

Madame Odintsova owns Nicholshoe: "magnificent, luxuriously furnished and... a beautiful garden with conservatories." (ch 15). Despite Bazarov's apparent infatuation with her, he still recognizes that "She's a real Grand Duchess, a commanding sort of person; she only needs a train behind her, and a crown on her head," such is her class. Her estate is far grander that the Kirsanov's farm with "a peculiar dignified fragrance such as one encounters in ministerial reception rooms."(ch 16)She is of the "grand genre," the gentry, as pointed out by Bazarov. Anna had known Arkady's late mother, even being her confidante, suggesting that there was a time when the families mixed in the same circles. Unlike the relaxed, even disorganized Kirsanov farm, Nicholskoe has a very regimented routine which Anna is not prepared to sacrifice for any reason.

Bazarov's parents' home is a stark contrast to both Arkady's and Madame Odintsova's. The friends are not ushered in by servants and there is no restraint; Bazarov's parents are clearly pleased to see him, his mother almost beside herself. There is no expectation of "anything grand: we live very simply here, like military people." (ch 20 ). Arkady cannot help but enquire "How many serfs has your father?" Bazarov, unimpressed by wealth believes there to be "fifteen serfs, if I remember." As a former soldier, Bazarov's father recalls serving in Arkady's grandfather's brigade. 

Bazarov's mother is a homely woman, devoted to her son and quite emotional; very different from Anna Odintsova. There is also a contrast with Fenishka, Nikolai's young mistress who stays away from the activities of the household. According to Arina Vlasyevna, Bazarov's mother, "the world is divided into masters whose duty it is to command, and simple people whose duty it is to serve"(ch 20) revealing a further contrast between the three settings and the expectations and blatant differences which are exposed.

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