Fathers and Sons

by Ivan Turgenev
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Compare some locations in the novel, Fathers and Sons, and contrast the inhabitants of each place, especially Marino, Nicholskoe and Bazarov's family home.

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Ivan Turgenev, in his novel Fathers and Sons, wanted to make a distinction to show the vast differences, both political and social, in Russia at a time when there was much turmoil and serfs were soon to be emancipated. 

Arkady's father Nicholai has pre-empted the law change and is satisfied at his seemingly progressive beliefs and his "farm." However, life is hard and the peasants are "in tatters and on the sorriest little nags" (horses) (Ch 1). Nicholai also feels "gloomy" and his run-down property is familiarly known as "Poverty Farm." If he had had the money Nicholai believes his farm could be a great place. Nicholai's brother Pavel hankers after a life he used to have as, "he was a great figure in his day."(ch 4) Although all his money is now spent - much of it to help Nicholai whose poor management skills have not helped the situation on "the farm-" he will return to as close a link to the aristocracy as he can manage when he goes to Dresden.

In sharp contrast to Nicholai is Anna Odintsova. She inherited her estate from her late husband. Here money is no object. It is an example of pure luxury and Anna herself, a woman who insists on a strict routine, " a commanding sort of person."(ch 15) Her lifestyle is very different from the one she seemed doomed to after her father died. She never did care for "domestic and household economy" and marries a wealthy man who leaves his estate to her. 

Bazarov's parents live a simple life, no airs and graces. Bazarov's father had been a soldier and doctor and is an old man. The house is unassuming, consisting "of six tiny rooms.”

So whilst the characters have different lifestyles and different outcomes, they all come from more humble beginnings. Nicholai's father "a crude, almost illiterate, but good-natured type of Russian;" (ch 1) Anna's mother from "an impoverished princely family and Bazarov's father, himself much older, is a humble man "but my work was only on one side; stick to your lancet and be content!" (ch 20)

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