Fathers and Sons

by Ivan Turgenev

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Characters Discussed

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Yevgeny Vassilyitch Bazarov

Yevgeny Vassilyitch Bazarov (ehv-GEH-nihy vah-SIH-lihch bah-ZAH-rof), a nihilistic young medical school graduate and Arkady Kirsanov’s closest friend. Arrogant and ruthless, Bazarov believes only in the power of the intellect and science. As a revolutionary, he feels himself far superior to Nikolai Kirsanov and his brother. To him, they are hopelessly antiquated humanitarians. He tells them: “You won’t fight—and yet you fancy yourselves gallant chaps—but we mean to fight. . . . We want to smash other people.”

Arkady Kirsanov

Arkady Kirsanov (ahr-KAH-dihy kihr-SAH-nof), Nikolai’s son and Bazarov’s naïve young disciple. For a time, he worships his leader and echoes everything that Bazarov says; however, Arkady lacks the necessary ruthlessness required for a revolutionary spirit. He is unable to believe, as Bazarov does, that a good chemist “is twenty times as useful as any poet.” After Bazarov’s death, he marries Katya and settles down to a prosaic life on the family estate.

Nikolai Petrovitch Kirsanov

Nikolai Petrovitch Kirsanov (NIH-koh-li peht-ROH-vihch), Arkady’s gentle, music-loving father. Possessing a liberal, well-meaning spirit, he is happy to free his serfs and to rent them farm land. In his ineffectual way, he attempts to run the estate profitably. Unfortunately, the newly freed serfs take every opportunity to cheat him out of his rent.

Pavel Kirsanov

Pavel Kirsanov (PAH-vehl), Nikolai’s brother. A dandified patrician, he has little liking for Bazarov or his revolu-tionary ideals. Believing strongly in the aristocratic way of life, he considers Bazarov a charlatan and a boor. In his own heart, however, Pavel knows that the new must supplant the old. Finally, dissatisfied with provincial life, he moves to Dresden, where he is much sought after by the aristocrats.

Katya Loktiv

Katya Loktiv (KAH-tyah lohk-TIHF), Anna Odintsov’s attractive young sister. Although she is shy and somewhat afraid of her sister, Katya becomes interested in Arkady. When he asks her to marry him, she readily accepts his proposal and shortly afterward becomes his wife.

Anna Odintsov

Anna Odintsov (AHN-nah oh-DIHN-tsof), a haughty young aristocrat, a widow. Because of her beauty, even the unsentimental Bazarov falls in love with her. At first he interests her, but he is never able to pierce her cold exterior for long. She does show some feeling for him as he is dying and even brings a doctor to his deathbed. Unable to help him, she unbends enough to kiss his forehead before he dies.

Vasily Bazarov

Vasily Bazarov (vah-SIH-lihy), a village doctor, the father of young Bazarov. Like the other fathers, he is unable to bridge the gulf between his generation and his son’s; in fact, he has no desire to do so. Doting on his son, the old man thinks Yevgeny to be beyond reproach.

Arina Bazarov

Arina Bazarov (ah-RIH-nuh), Yevgeny Bazarov’s aging mother. In her way the old woman, although quite superstitious, is clever and interesting. She also loves her son deeply. When he dies, she becomes, like her husband, a pathetic, broken figure.

Fenitchka Savishna

Fenitchka Savishna (feh-nih-CH-kuh sah-VIHSH-nuh), Nikolai’s young mistress. At Pavel’s urging, Nikolai finally marries her and thereafter lives a happy life with the gentle, quiet girl.


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Father Alexey
Father Alexey is a nice priest who comes to visit Bazarov’s parents; he wins money from Bazarov at whist, a card game.

ArishaSee Arina Vlasyevna Bazarov

ArkashaSee Arkady Nikolaitch Kirsanov

Arina Vlasyevna Bazarov
Arina Vlasyevna, Bazarov’s mother, adores her son and is crushed at his tragic death. When she was younger, Arina was part of the Russian minor nobility, but since she has married, she has turned over...

(This entire section contains 2827 words.)

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all of her affairs to her husband, Vassily. She is still horrified at the upcoming reforms, however, which will divide up the land of the nobility. When Bazarov comes home to visit for the first time in three years, she smothers him with attention, and, as a result, he leaves after three days. When Bazarov comes back for a longer stay, she is more discreet and does not bother him as much. Vassily does not tell Arina about Bazarov’s typhus until he is sure his son is infected. After Bazarov’s death, his parents visit his grave often, weeping for their son.

Vassily Ivanovitch Bazarov
Vassily Ivanovitch is Bazarov’s father and like his wife, Arina, he adores his son. Vassily worked as an army surgeon under Arkady’s grandfather, who was a general at the time. In his retirement, Vassily and his wife live in a small country homestead, where Vassily still administers treatment to the peasants for free. When Bazarov comes home, it is the first time he has seen his son in three years, and Bazarov only stays three days, a fact that makes Vassily very sad. When Bazarov comes back, Vassily is overjoyed to hear that Bazarov will be staying for six weeks. Bazarov starts helping his father with his patients, and in the process takes the opportunity to dissect a man who has just died from typhus. When Vassily sees the cut on Bazarov’s finger that he gets during the autopsy, he is frightened that his son has caught the disease. A few days later, Bazarov dies, and Vassily’s fears come true.

Yevgeny Vassilyev Bazarov
Bazarov, as he is known throughout most of the work, is the friend of Arkady, and he dies at the end of the novel from a typhus infection. Even from the beginning of the novel, Bazarov, a young medical student, is expected by almost everybody to do great things. His unflinching manner and severe conviction to the strict tenets of nihilism—a type of scientific rationalism—have given him many disciples, of which Arkady is one. At the beginning of the book, Bazarov comes to stay with Arkady and his father at Maryino. The visit is full of conflict, as Bazarov’s harshly radical ideas clash with Nikolai’s brother, Pavel. Bazarov is completely unapologetic, even when Arkady tries to appeal to him. In fact, even though he wounds his friend with his sarcasm, Bazarov does not make amends. He states to all that he does not believe in his own emotions and should not therefore spare others. Bazarov and Arkady leave for a provincial town to meet Arkady’s second cousin, who invites them to the Governor’s Ball, where Arkady meets Anna Odintsov. The lady has more interest in Bazarov, however, and soon Arkady and Bazarov are staying with her at her country estate.

Although he tries to deny his feelings for Anna, they overcome Bazarov, who professes his love to her on the eve of his departure. She shuns him, however, and he goes instead to stay with his parents. They smother him with their emotion, and he leaves after three days, eventually going back to Maryino. Although he is content at first to busy himself with his scientific experiments, his eyes begin to stray, and at one point, he kisses Fenitchka, Nikolai’s mistress. She is not interested in his affections, however, even though she was friendly with him. Pavel sees the kiss and challenges Bazarov to a secret duel. Bazarov accepts and walks away unharmed, although he shoots Pavel in the leg. Bazarov immediately takes care of the wound. He leaves Maryino shortly thereafter, and, after one more brief visit to Nikolskoe to see Anna, he bids his farewell to Arkady and goes to his parents’ home. He tries to busy himself with his experiments, but finds himself being more social instead. He also starts to help his father, a retired army surgeon, with the peasant patients who come to him. In the course of performing an autopsy on a typhus victim, he cuts himself and gets typhus himself, which kills him a few days later. On his deathbed, he sends for Anna, who sees him before he dies.

EnyushaSee Yevgeny Vassilyev Bazarov

FenitchkaSee Fedyosa Savishna

The Governor
The Governor throws the ball where Arkady meets Anna Odintsov. He is also the employer of Arkady’s second cousin, Matvy Ilyich Kolyazin. Princess Avdotya Stepanovna H—— Princess H—— is the rich and grumpy aunt of Anna and Katya, who comes to live with them after their father dies. Nobody likes her, and nobody remembers her when she is dead.

KatyaSee Katerina Sergyevna

Arkady Nikolaitch Kirsanov
Arkady Kirsanov is Bazarov’s friend, Nikolai’s son, Pavel’s nephew and eventually, Katya’s husband. When the book begins, Arkady, who is quite impressionable, is under the influence of Bazarov, and is trying desperately to adopt his friend’s nihilistic ways. However, it is apparent from very early on that, although Arkady thinks he wants to be a radical, he still enjoys music, nature, and other “irrational” pursuits that distance him from Bazarov and nihilism. In fact, he and Bazarov get in many arguments throughout the novel about their conflicting beliefs. Still, in most cases, Arkady is willing to follow his mentor and does so to many destinations. At the Governor’s Ball, it is Arkady who first meets and makes the acquaintance of Anna Odintsov. However, even though he is smitten with her, she only has sisterly love for him, and wants to meet Bazarov. As the two young men stay at Nikolskoe, Anna’s country estate, the divide between them grows deeper, as Bazarov spends more time with Anna, and Arkady finds himself increasingly more attracted to Katya.

When Bazarov gets ready to leave Nikolskoe, Arkady is torn. He wants to follow his friend, but he also wants to stay with Katya. He follows his friend, first to Bazarov’s parents’ house, and then back to Maryino. However, Arkady cannot sit still for long. Finding an excuse to visit Nikolskoe again, he does so, where he finds Katya overjoyed to see him. After staying there for a little longer, Arkady finally gets up his nerve to propose to Katya, which he does after a few attempts. She happily accepts. When Bazarov shows up at Nikolskoe and says his farewell to Arkady, he tells him that he never would have made a good nihilist, and that he should pursue family life. Arkady and Katya are married in a ceremony with his father and Fenitchka. After this, they move into Maryino with the other couple, and Arkady takes over the management of the farm, whipping it into a profitable enterprise once more. At the end of the story, Arkady and Katya also have a son, Nikolai.

Marya Kirsanov
Marya Kirsanov is Nikolai’s deceased wife and Arkady’s deceased mother. Nikolai names his estate, “Maryino,” after her.

Nikolai Petrovich Kirsanov
Nikolai Kirsanov is Arkady’s father and Pavel’s brother. Nikolai and Pavel’s father was a general, so they were both expected to go into military service, which Pavel does. Nikolai, however, breaks his leg on the day he is supposed to leave for service, and is unable to serve. Instead, Nikolai gets his university degree and then works in the civil service position that his father finds for him. However, directly after the mourning period for his parents’ deaths, Nikolai quits the civil service position, marries Masha, the daughter of his landlord— something his parents did not approve of—and moves to his country estate to live. When their son Arkady is born, they are joyous but ten years later, Masha dies. Nikolai spends more time with his son, even going to stay three years in town to be by his son while he is attending college, getting to know his son’s friends.

For his son’s last year, however, he does not stay, so he is surprised by the arrival of Bazarov at Maryino when Arkady graduates and comes home. Nikolai is gracious to Bazarov, but is also distressed at the young man’s nihilistic views. Nikolai feels the generation gap widening between him and his son. Meanwhile, he has had a child with Fenitchka, the young daughter of his old housekeeper. Although he has held off from marrying her out of respect for his brother, Pavel, whom he does not think believes in marriage. Pavel eventually encourages him to marry. Nikolai gets married to Fenitchka in the same ceremony where Arkady marries Katya. This double wedding, and Arkady’s choice to start running his father’s farm, helps to close the generation gap.

Pavel Petrovich Kirsanov
Pavel Kirsanov is Nikolai’s brother, Arkady’s uncle, and Bazarov’s opponent; when he challenges Bazarov to a duel, the younger man wounds him, then tends to the wound. When he was younger, Pavel had a promising military career, which he ruined when he resigned his commission to chase after a married woman, Princess R——. Although the two do have an affair, it is torturous for both and she eventually ends it, after he has chased her through many countries, and they have one final meeting. Pavel tries to resume his normal life but he is a broken man. The only remnant of his disciplined officer days are the smart clothes and nail polish that he wears, even when lounging casually around Maryino, Nikolai’s home, where he lives. Pavel occasionally bails Nikolai out when he has money problems.

When Pavel first sees Bazarov, he does not like him, an animosity that grows as Bazarov gives his nihilistic beliefs. They get in many arguments and on Bazarov’s second visit, they appear to be at peace. When Pavel catches Bazarov kissing his brother’s mistress, however, he challenges Bazarov to a secret duel with pistols. Bazarov accepts and walks away unhurt. Pavel, however, gets shot in the leg. Through the experience of getting shot, getting tended by Bazarov, and recuperating in Maryino, Pavel is able to finally put his past behind and get on with his life. After the dual wedding of his brother and nephew, Pavel goes to Moscow, then finally settles in Germany, where he renews his old social habits for which he was famous as an officer.

Ilya KolyazinSee Matvy Ilyich Kolyazin

Matvy Ilyich Kolyazin
Matvy Ilyich Kolyazin is Arkady’s second cousin, a high-ranking official and the one who invites Arkady and Bazarov to the Governor’s Ball where Arkady meets Anna Odintsov. Kolyazin is the cousin of Nikolai and Pavel, and originally extends the visitation invitation to them, but they turn it down. Arkady and Bazarov go in their place.

Madame Evdoksya Kukshin
Madame Kukshin is a friend of Victor Sitnikov, who tells Arkady and Bazarov they should seek out Anna Odintsov. Arkady and Bazarov only agree to meet Kukshin with the promise by Sitnikov of free alcohol. Kukshin tries to impress Arkady and Bazarov with her advanced ways of thinking. She is an independent woman who runs her own affairs now that she is separated from her husband. At the end of the novel, she goes to Heidelberg, Germany to study architecture.

Sergay Nikolaevitch Loktev
Sergay Loktev is Anna Odintsov’s father, who loses much of the family fortune playing cards, prompting Anna to marry for money after his death.

MashaSee Marya Kirsanov

Mitya is the child of Nikolai and Fenitchka. The child is born out of wedlock, but the couple marries by the end of the story.

NellieSee Princess R——

Avdotya NikitishnaSee Madame Evdoksya Kukshin

Fedyosa NikolaevnaSee Fedyosa Savishna

Madame Anna Sergyevna Odintsov
Madame Anna Odintsov is the love interest of both Arkady and Bazarov, and ends up shunning both. Anna acts like a mother to her sister Katya, ever since their father’s death. After his death, Anna marries a wealthy man to better her financial position and she and Katya retire to Nikolskoe where they live in isolation. Anna’s neighbors do not like her because of the rumors that surround her and her father’s scandalous gambling debts. Shortly after they move into Nikolskoe, their aunt Princess H——, a surly woman whom nobody likes, moves into Nikolskoe. Anna takes it all in stride and sticks to her principles of keeping everything orderly, including people.

Anna first meets Arkady at the Governor’s Ball, where he talks to her at length, but she shows only sisterly interest in him. She does, however, ask to meet Bazarov, and does shortly thereafter when Arkady and Bazarov come to her hotel room. While she is calm, Bazarov is struck by love and behaves irrationally for perhaps the first time in his life. She invites them to come see her at Nikolskoe, her country estate, and they do so a few days later. Although Anna, Katya, Arkady, and Bazarov start out in each other’s company, over the next fortnight they split into two couples—Anna and Bazarov; Katya and Arkady. When she is alone with Bazarov, Anna flirts with him, but then rejects his advances when he professes his love for her. She is scared of his passion and wishes to live her orderly life. After she approves of Katya’s marriage to Arkady, Anna eventually remarries also, this time to a politically powerful lawyer—as before, it is out of opportunity, not love. She responds to Bazarov’s deathbed summons, seeing him one last time before he dies.

Piotr is one of the few freed serfs that Nikolai keeps employed at Maryino. Piotr also serves as the witness at the duel between Bazarov and Pavel.

Porfiry Platonitch
Porfiry Platonitch is the card-playing neighbor of Anna Odintsov’s, and one of few regular visitors to Nikolskoe.

Princess R——
Princess R—— is the woman with whom Pavel Kirsanov falls in love. Both are tormented by the relationship, which she finally ends by running away from Pavel. On her deathbed, she sends Pavel back his ring.

Fedosya Savishna
Fedosya Savishna, also known as Fenitchka, is Nikolai’s mistress. Fenitchka is the daughter of Nikolai’s housekeeper, who comes to live with Nikolai while Arkady is at school. Although she is shy around Nikolai at first, at one point, he helps to heal her eye from a spark that has flown into it. After this, she starts to warm up to him. When her mother dies from cholera, Nikolai begins to have his affair with her, which results in the birth of Mitya. When Arkaday comes home from school, he has heard about Fenitchka, but has not met her. Although Fenitchka is shy around him, and indeed around everyone, she gradually starts to open up. Bazarov introduces himself as a doctor, after which she comes to see him for various questions about Mitya. At one point, in the garden, Bazarov oversteps his bounds and kisses her. Although they had been having playful conversation, she did not want this, and lets him know. Pavel witnesses the incident, and later confronts her on it, but it is only to make sure that she is truly in love with Nikolai. Pavel encourages Nikolai and Fenitchka to get married, which they do with Arkady and Katya. At the end of the book, Fenitchka loves nothing more than conversing with her daughter-in-law, Katya.

Katerina Sergyevna
Katerina Sergyevna, also known as Katya, is the sister of Anna Odintsov, and marries Arkady Kirsanov. When Anna first introduces Katya to Arkady and Bazarov, neither one is interested in her. They are both in love with Anna. Bazarov views her as a pupil, who could be molded into whatever they want. However, after a while, Arkady’s love for Anna fades, and, through a slow but steady friendship at Nikolskoe, Arkady falls in love with Katya, denouncing many of his nihilistic beliefs in the process. When he proposes to her, it takes him a few tries to get the words out, but she gives him an immediate “yes.” Katy and Arkady are married in the same ceremony as Fenitchka and Nikolai.

Victor Sitnikov
Victor Sitnikov is the overeager disciple of Bazarov, who introduces Arkady and Bazarov to Evdoksya Kukshin. Sitnikov wants to be a true nihilist, but shows too much emotion for Bazarov’s taste. For their part, both Arkady and Bazarov treat Sitnikov badly, ignoring him, making sarcastic remarks, and deliberately taking a carriage other than his.

VasyaSee Vassily Ivanovitch Bazarov