In 1859, 44-year-old Nikolai Petrovich Kirsanov is the owner of a modest Russian country estate. He waits at an inn for his son, Arkady, a recent graduate of Petersburg University, to arrive. When Arkady’s carriage arrives, he is accompanied by his “great friend” and mentor, whom Arkady introduces to Nikolai as Yevgeny Vassilyich Bazarov, a medical student. Nikolai is overjoyed to see his son, but during the journey home to Maryino, the family estate, he is conscious of a growing divide between them. When Nikolai mentions that his lover, Fenichka, has begun living in the house, he is deeply embarrassed, but Arkady reassures him, feeling proud of “his own more emancipated outlook.”
When Fenichka doesn’t appear at the breakfast table the next morning, Arkady rushes to introduce himself to her, but he compounds the awkwardness when he discovers that Fenichka and his father have an infant son, Mitya. When Pavel, Nikolai’s sophisticated brother, joins the table, Arkady explains to his baffled father and uncle that Bazarov is a nihilist—someone who “looks at everything critically” and takes no principle for granted. When Bazarov appears, Pavel interrogates him about his rejection of all authorities, an exchange that leaves both men feeling hostile.
Over the coming weeks, Bazarov stays at Maryino, working on scientific experiments and befriending many of the servants, although he disdains Nikolai’s and Pavel’s backwater lifestyle and old-fashioned liberalism. Bazarov and Arkady often have philosophical arguments, too. Bazarov convinces Arkady to challenge Nikolai’s love of poetry and Pushkin by encouraging him to read scientific works instead. When Arkady does, Nikolai feels hurt, musing to Pavel that he’d hoped for a closer relationship with Arkady, but that, despite his efforts to keep up with the times, they seem to have drifted too far apart. Pavel continues to pick fights with Bazarov, provoked by his repudiation of principles and institutions.
Arkady and Bazarov take a trip to the provincial town to visit Kolyazin, a politician and relative of Arkady’s. They also see Sitnikov, Bazarov’s shrill sycophant, and Madame Kukshin, an eccentric noblewoman who studies chemistry. Later, at the governor’s ball in Kolyazin’s honor, Arkady becomes infatuated with Madame Anna Odintsov, a clever young widow. Though Bazarov scoffs that “free-thinking women are monstrosities,” he, too, is charmed by Anna and suggests that they go to visit her estate, Nikolskoye.
When Arkady and Bazarov visit Nikolskoye, Arkady soon finds himself dismissed to chat with Anna’s shy sister, Katya, while Anna and Bazarov debate about art and human nature. During their weeks at Nikolskoye, Arkady and Bazarov drift apart as Bazarov and Anna spend more time together, and Arkady imagines himself to be pining for Anna even as he enjoys spending time in nature with Katya. Bazarov feels maddened by his growing attraction to Anna, thinking romance foolish and resisting her attempts to get to know him more intimately. One day, he fiercely embraces her, but she breaks away. When he apologizes, Anna says they have simply misunderstood one another. But when Sitnikov makes an awkward, uninvited visit, Arkady and a brooding Bazarov leave the estate for a visit to Bazarov’s parents.
Bazarov’s parents, Vassily and Arina (a retired army doctor and his wife), are overjoyed to see Bazarov for the first time in three years and welcome the pair with warm country hospitality. Vassily is undeterred by Bazarov’s criticisms of his outdated medical knowledge, confiding in Arkady that he “worships” his only son. However, Bazarov is depressed about Anna and bored by country life, so they leave again within three days, leaving his parents stunned and grieving.
Back at Maryino, Bazarov immerses himself in scientific experiments again, while Arkady finds himself bored with Bazarov and restless to return to Nikolskoye. After 10 days, he hurries off to Nikolskoye on the pretext of showing Anna some old letters that her mother had once sent to Arkady’s mother. When he arrives at the estate, he’s surprised how delighted he feels when he first spots Katya.
In Arkady’s absence, Bazarov befriends Fenichka, who likes his down-to-earth air and his advice on caring for Mitya. One day in the garden, he surprises Fenichka with a fervent kiss and resists her attempt to push him away. Pavel comes out of the bushes, having seen everything. Later that day, Pavel challenges Bazarov to a duel, and Bazarov agrees. It dawns on him that Pavel isn’t fighting him on Nikolai’s behalf, but that he’s in love with Fenichka himself.
The next morning, they meet in a distant copse at dawn. Though they agree on the absurdity of what they’re about to do, Pavel won’t be deterred. Soon they’re advancing toward each other with their pistols; Pavel shoots and misses, and Bazarov shoots without aiming and hits Pavel in the thigh. Bazarov immediately shifts into doctoring mode and determines the wound isn’t serious, but Pavel must stay in bed for a week. Bazarov leaves Maryino the next morning, thinking, “These damned little gentry!” Privately, Pavel begs Fenichka to always love Nikolai, and he later makes Nikolai promise to marry Fenichka, no matter what the world thinks.
At Nikolskoye, Arkady’s and Katya’s friendship deepens. On his way to his parents’, Bazarov stops by to tell Arkady what happened between him and Pavel. He adds that he and Arkady seem to have tired of one another and had better say goodbye. He later talks to Anna, and they agree that there are no hard feelings between them, and that love is “an imaginary feeling” anyway. The next day, Arkady stammers a proposal to Katya, and she happily accepts. Arkady and Bazarov bid each other farewell, Bazarov saying that Arkady isn’t made for a lonely, nihilist existence, being “a good little liberal gentleman.” Arkady is tearful, but he’s quickly absorbed in his love for Katya.
At his parents’, Bazarov isn’t like himself—he seems restless and sad, and he even seeks out his father’s company. Eventually he begins helping his father with the peasants’ medical complaints. One day he conducts an autopsy of a typhus victim and cuts himself. Within a few days, Bazarov is gravely ill with typhus himself. He sends for Anna. She arrives with her own doctor, who confirms that there’s no hope for Bazarov’s recovery. Bazarov spends his last lucid moments telling Anna how lovely she is. He dies the next day.
Six months later, Nikolai is giving a farewell dinner for Pavel, who’s about to leave for Moscow on business. Last week, Nikolai and Fenichka got married, and so did Arkady and Katya. Everyone feels a little awkward and sad, but mostly happy.
Some time later, Arkady and Katya have a baby son named Nikolai. Arkady develops a passion for farming and improving Maryino, and Nikolai travels around promoting land reforms in support of the peasants. Pavel moves to Dresden, living a generous but melancholy life among Russian and English society circles. And in a remote graveyard, Vassily and Arina can often be seen weeping over Bazarov’s grave, tending it with flowers that bespeak “life which has no end.”
Nikolai is Arkady’s father, a landowner from Russia. Nikolai came from a family where his father wanted him to have a military career but he was sent to university because of an injury. His first wife died after ten years of marriage and Nikolai decided to name his estate after her.
Nikolai is described as a kind man, and his kindness led him to be taken as a fool by the peasants under him. Arkady believes that his father has old fashioned beliefs that make him loose money and when he tries to help him, Nikolai doesn’t oppose it.
Nikolai loves Arkady above everything and he cares a lot about his opinion. Nikolai has another child, a young boy with a servant from his house who he eventually marries at Arkady’s request. Nikolai is described as a naïve man, without the mental strength to properly take care of his wealth but with a good heart and a peaceful nature.
Arkady Nikolaevich Kirsanov
Arkady is Nikolai’s only son who left to study at a college. He is malleable and becomes quickly attached to Bazarov who becomes his mentor. Arkady is a highly intelligent man but this doesn’t stop him from respecting his father. Even though Arkady admits that his father’s ways are old-fashioned and ineffective he doesn’t criticize him but rather tries to present his point of view in a respectable manner.
Arkady doesn’t criticize his father for fathering a child outside marriage and even urges him to marry the servant girl. Just like Bazarov, Arkady falls in love with Anna and even becomes a little jealous when he sees that Anna likes Bazarov more than him. Arkady is able to get over his broken heart and finds love through Anna’s younger sister, Katya with whom he has many things in common.
Yevgeny Vassikyich Bazarov
Bazarov is a complex character, characterized primarily by the need to always be better. He is proud and can sometimes easily anger the other characters like Pavel, but at the same time, he is easy to like and the servants from Nikolai’s house like him almost as soon as they see him.
Bazarov becomes Arkady’s mentor and between them forms a strong friendship. Bazarov’s life is turned upside down when he meets Anna and falls in love with her. They never get together because they are too much alike and this unhappy love story affects Bazarov more than he admits.
Bazarov is the personification of the human who thinks himself immune in the face of death but is forced to admit that in the end, we all have to die. His resignation in the face of death makes him human, relatable to the reader and even makes the reader pity him in the end, despite all his flaws.
Anna Sergeyevna Odintsov
Anna is a wealthy widowed woman who meets Arkady and Bazarov at Kolyazin’s ball. There, she attracts the most attention and it becomes obvious that other women are jealous of her. Madame Odintsov is an independent woman and her ideas and views may make her hard to like.
She gets close to Bazarov and Arkady and even starts to like Bazarov in a romantic way. When Bazarov confesses that he loves her, Madame Odintsov is reluctant in accepting his feelings and this pushes him to go to his parents. Despite her coldness, she cares for Bazarov in her own way and when she finds that he is on his death bed, rushes to him with a German doctor.
Despite being successful among men and having many admirers, Madame Odintsov refuses to accept their love and get married. At the end of the novel, it is revealed that she married someone, a man who is as cold as she is.
Pavel is Nikolai’s only brother and Arkady’s uncle. From the start, we find that he is a proud man, who despite his age, continues to take care of his appearance, dressing in an aristocrat way and letting his nails grow long. Pavel had a successful military career and he expected to be respected.
When he first meets Bazaroz, between them forms a mutual dislike, Pavel disliking Bazarov because he constantly disagreed with him and Bazarov disliking Pavel because of his old ways. Pavel is a nationless character, thinking that Russia is the greatest country that exists and when other characters disagree with him, he gets angry.
Despite the differences they have, Bazarov and Pavel have many things in common, especially when it comes to women and love. Pavel’s tragic love story foreshadows Bazarov’s love story with Anna and towards the end of the novel, they get to a level of mutual understanding.
Katerina Sergeyevna Odintsov
Katerina is Anna’s older sister, who is first introduced into the story when Arkady and Bazarov visit Anna’s home. She appears at first as a child, inexperienced and scared of Arkady but with whom becomes close over time.
As Katya becomes more important for Arkady, her character becomes more complex and interesting, morphing from a young girl to a woman. Katya ends up marrying Arkady and at the end of the novel, we find that she already gave birth to a child.
Fenichka is a servant girl in Nikolai’s house who became pregnant and gave birth to Nikolai’s son. In the beginning of the novel, Fenichka chooses to stay away from Arkady and Bazarov but she soon becomes closer to them after Arkady expresses his approval of her.
During Bazarov’s second stay at Nikolai’s house, he and Fenichka become close and he admits that she is the only one he can talk to. Pavel and Bazarov both start to like Fenichka and because of this, Pavel challenges Bazarov to a duel. At Pavel and Arkady’s instance, Nikolai marries Fenichka and the end of the novel shows her surrounded by family, rather than staying isolated.
Arina is Fenichka’s mother, a woman who owned an inn but agreed to go and work for Nikolai when the business was no longer profitable. Arina died after a few years she agreed to serve Nikolai and her daughter remained with Nikolai.
Vassily Ivanych Bazarov
Vassily Ivanych is Bazarov’s father, an old country doctor who lives a comfortable life with his wife. Despite telling Arkady that they are not wealthy people, one of Vassily Ivanych servants tells him that he has more than twenty servants in his house.
Vassily Ivanych adores his only son and idolizes him, thinking that he is the best and that he will end up being a brilliant doctor. When Arkady talks favorably of Bazarov, Vassily Ivanych is clearly pleased.
Vassily Ivanych refuses to think that there is no more hope left for his son after he gets infected with cholera and clings to the idea that he will be saved. Vassily Ivanych and his wife were affected by Bazarov’s death and at the end of the novel, the narrator tells the reader that Bazarov’s parents frequently visit his grave and cry.
Matvei is Pavel and Nikolai’s distant relative. He is wealthier than Nikolai and Pavel, and when Matvei invited the two of them to go and visit him, they deny, thinking that he only wants to see them so he could flaunt his wealth and social status.
When Arkady goes to visit him, Matvei takes care of him and introduces him to many influential people while also expressing his regret that Pavel and Nikolai refused to see him.
Herr Victor Sitnikov
Herr Sitnikov is one of Bazarov’s acquaintances. Sitnikov takes Arkady and Bazarov to Madame Kukshin and then appears one more time uninvited at Madame Odintsov’s house.
Madame Yevdoxia Kukshin
Madame Kukshin is a woman Arkady and Bazarov meet through Sitnikov. She is a free thinker, an independent woman who got separated from her husband and also extremely proud.
When Bazarov doesn’t make an effort to talk with her, she gets offended.
Arina is Bazarov’s mother and Vassily Ivanych’ wife. She is an emotional woman who loves her son more than anything else.
Vassily Ivanych knows how much his wife idolizes her son and it is because of this that he chooses not to tell her that Bazarov is dying. After Bazarov dies, Arina becomes the one who helps Vassily Ivanych get over his grief.
As the central theme in Fathers and Sons love is explored and expressed through a variety of relationships: romantic, familial, and platonic. As the title suggests, the most important relationship explored is between fathers and sons. These relationships reflect the generation gap—both personal within families and socio-political throughout the nation—between older and younger generations in a changing Russia. Before Arkady went to university, he and his father enjoyed a close relationship, bonding over heir mutual enjoyment of poetry, art, and nature. Once Arkady meets Bazarov, however, he takes on nihilistic beliefs that require distancing himself from emotion and romantic ideas. When the newly nihilistic Arkady returns home, Nikolai no longer feels close to him and has no idea how to close the gap. He loves his son deeply and tries to give him space to explore the new ideology without judgment or pressure.
The same paternal love can be seen in the relationship between Bazarov and his father. The distance between them is even greater than between Arkady and Nikolai. Bazarov, far more rebellious, treats his father disrespectfully. He rarely visits, and when he does he avoids engaging in conversation and acts as if everything his parents do is an annoyance. Despite knowing how he breaks his father’s—and mother’s—heart, Bazarov remains aloof and selfish. Even when he thinks he might die in the duel with Pavel, for example, he doesn’t take the time to contact his parents. After beginning a letter to his father, he tears it up, thinking, “If I die … they will find it out; but I’m not going to die.” At the end of the novel Arkady and Nikolai’s relationship has mended, but Bazarov dies without having returned his father’s love.
Bazarov’s nihilistic views of love’s superficiality affect other relationships as well. He offends nearly everyone he encounters: Nikolai, Pavel, Uncle Matvy, even Madame Odintsov at their first meeting. When Bazarov does fall in love, the emotion causes him such internal conflict he nearly explodes. Because he has made such a fuss about the triviality of love, he cannot confide his feelings with anyone. His conflict turns to anger, and he nearly comes to blows with Arkady. He forcefully grabs Madame Odintsov’s hand, kissing her without consent because he cannot control his emotions. When Madame Odintsov fails to return his affection, Bazarov sinks into despair and negligently contracts typhus, which leads to his death. Pavel, another idealistic man who fails at love, nearly meets the same sad fate. When Princess R—dismisses Pavel’s affection, he, like Bazarov, cannot move forward in his life. However, his near-death experience at the duel shakes him out of his stupor and allows him to take up the life he left behind.
Only Nikolai and Arkady succeed at love in happy marriages to Fenitchka and Katya. Unlike other characters in the novel these two men learn not to deny emotions and to balance themselves in the changing landscape, thus leading to their ultimate happiness.
Social changes resulting from the liberation of the serfs provide part of the backdrop for Fathers and Sons.
During a time of great political upheaval, Nikolai experiences familial change as his son, Arkady, distances himself in his search for independence. Once close they seem to have little in common as Arkady chooses to align himself with Bazarov‘s radical political ideologies, leaving behind the love of poetry, art, and nature he shared with his father. Bazarov’s rejection of tradition creates tension with characters like Pavel, whose very identity appears wrapped in social hierarchies and customs and the refusal to accept change.
The generational gap between Arkady and Nikolai, as well as Bazarov and Vassily, reflects the political changes occurring at the time. Progressive landowners like Nikolai turned their serfs into rent-paying land workers, a move that created great social upheaval after centuries of agricultural feudalism. While intentions were good, the results of liberation were less positive for the newly freed serfs who now had to pay rent and work for wages. Landowners like Nikolai and Bazarov do not receive their rents, and some of the newly freed serfs have become openly hostile toward their former masters, who now are their employers.
Just as characters undergo changing relationships, so does society. For the first time in Russian history, class mobility seems possible not only for the liberated serfs but for the middle classes as well. This change can be seen in Madame Kukshin’s presence, and eagerness, at the governor’s ball. Essentially a social climber with little sense, she hopes to rub elbows with gentry despite showing up in “dirty gloves [and] no crinoline.” Likewise, the upper class, who would rather speak French at the ball than their native Russian, allows Bazarov’s presence in a “rather old evening coat” although they don’t exactly welcome him. Sitnikov, too, an inept but rich social climber is tolerated condescendingly, but his presence and pretensions indicate the beginnings of upward mobility in social hierarchies.
The class conflicts in Fathers and Sons reflect a changing Russia. Although serfs have not yet been freed officially, progressive landowners like Nikolai have transitioned from feudal serfdom to the more progressive practice of liberating them into rent-paying laborers. Nikolai, however, struggles in his relationship with his workers throughout the novel as they disrespect his property, do minimal work in the fields, and often refuse to pay their rent. Because they are no longer tied to the estate and thus not “owned,” Nikolai cannot treat them as he might have done previously through force. Nor can he evict them from the land because he would then have no one to do the work.
In the new Russia servants are no longer required to adhere to traditional social etiquette, as exemplified in the description of Nikolai’s servant Piotr with “his pomaded hair of various shades and his studied gestures—proclaimed him of a different age.” Now a “perfectly modern servant,” Piotr bows but does not perform the old-fashioned custom of kissing the master’s hand. Nor does a group of servants gather to welcome him. The older generation, fathers Nikolai and Vassily, fret over their perceived social obligations to guests, although neither Arkady nor Bazarov bothers about these formalities. Rather than criticize—or even indicate displeasure with—his father’s new relationship with a former servant, Arkady welcomes Fenitchka and Mitya into his family. In the old Russia a master would not treat a servant as an equal and certainly would not marry her despite their intimacy. Fenitchka, on the other hand, is uncomfortable with her elevated social status and spends most of her time hiding in the bedroom, coming out to serve tea.
Middle-class Bazarov, in his nihilistic rejection of social hierarchy, attempts to befriend members of lower social classes, who in fact respond positively to the overtures of friendship, whereas real peasants in the “real world” mock the intellectual Bazarov behind his back. Yet for all his pomp about rejecting classism, Bazarov feels crippled by Madame Odintsov‘s rejection and wonders if she cannot love him because he isn’t rich enough. He admits to thinking himself “better” than common men like Sitnikov, telling Arkady, “I need dolts like him. It’s not for the gods to bake bricks.” Bazarov may be an intellectual, middle-class snob, but Sitnikov compounds intellectual snobbery with social climbing. As the son of a rich liquor merchant, Sitnikov has no aristocratic pedigree of any sort and with no winning ways has trouble gaining acceptance into higher circles. Upward mobility may be available in theory, but in practice, despite education, it remains difficult.
Young versus Old Generation
One of the major themes of Fathers and Sons is the Generation Lapse due to changing time with change in ideas, beliefs and approach towards life. While the older generation including Nikolay Kirsanov and his brother Pavel Petrovich function on a set of principles pertaining to marriage, social class and science, the young minds of Bazarov and Arkady deny and disrespect such principles. Calling themselves “Nihilists”, Arkady triumphantly defines ‘Nihilist’ as a “person who does not take any principle for granted, however much that principle may be revered”. Though which approach is better could be debated, there is no doubt that from the first chapter of the novel Turgenev highlights the changing discourse towards life due to change in belief system. Nikolay later ponders how he never thought his father could understand him and now, similarly he fails to understand his son. Turgenev highlights how no two generations could really understand each other. As the title suggest the novel focuses on the relationship between father and son but it also focuses on the comparison between the two. While Nikolay has tried to keep an open minded approach, he still fails to understand the book that his son has subtly substituted and ends up calling it ”rubbish”. Similarly, Old Bazarov has tried to keep up with the changing time, he has also failed to understand and accept the new beliefs of the younger generation. There rises a major contrast between the young, fresh ideas of the city students conflicting with the traditional and conventional ideas of the country-side thinkers
Turgenev was a writer intently interested in social reforms, and as a realistic novelist, he set his work in contemporary Russia. The novel is set in the year 1859 carefully depicts the gradual rise of nihilism through his main young characters, Bazarov and Arkady. The novel focuses on the growing liberalism in Russia, the move to emancipate the serfs in 1861 and the anger and radicalism of the younger Russian generation. This carefully crafted piece of fiction portrays a historical record due to its realistic narrative and style. Parents relate to Nikolay Petrovich attempting to understand his son while the children related to Bazarov and Arkady with their different ideologies.
Being interested in the political situation during his time, Ivan introduces into his novel numerous allusions that point towards the social reforms that took place starting from the 1830s. The most notable allusion is made in reference to the status of the servants who were no longer treated like slaves but rather had rights and could choose how to show their respects towards their masters and the fact that landowners no longer had the power they had half a century ago. These changes created tension between landowners and the peasants, conflicts presented in the novel.
Much of the conflict in Fathers and Sons is intellectual in nature. Throughout the story, the heated discussions over ideas produce numerous allusions. The ideas at the heart of the story are difficult to grasp without an understanding of the historical figures and movements alluded to by the characters. For example, a single conversation in Chapter X contains references to figures such as Büchner, Pushkin, Raphael, and Elijah, as well as movements such as romanticism and materialism. As wide-ranging as the allusions are, it is necessary to understand them in order to grasp the intellectual differences between Bazarov, Arkady, Nikolai, and Paul.
The way Pavel is described creates a unique image of the Russian aristocrat. Pavel is presented as being preoccupied by his clothes and looking down on those who don’t. Pavel is thus portrayed as a proud, vain man, stuck in the past and unable to accept the changes in the present.
Bazarov and Fenichka’s relationship can be seen as a paradox because of the social classes they represent. Bazarov represents the new man, highly intelligent and preoccupied by science while Fenichka is a simple girl, the classic Russian peasant who is subservient to her husband or master. Despite this, Bazarov becomes close to Fenichka and it is hinted that he started to develop feelings for her.
A parallel can be drawn between Arkady and Bazarov, both being the ‘’sons’’ in the novel. Arkady and Bazarov both accepted the nihilist philosophy and the new ideas so until one point, they share a lot of things in common on an ideological level. At one point however, after they meet Anna, a separation produces between the two and they drift further and further away. The differences between the two become obvious when the narrator describes the way the two men behave around their family and how they treat their parents. Arkady remains attached to his father despite his new ideas but Bazarov cannot accept the fact that his parents will remain stuck with their old ideas and beliefs. Arkady is willing to bed his ideas for his family but Bazarov can’t and because of this, he doesn’t find happiness.
Metonymy and Synecdoche
Pavel always exhibits some kind of repulsion towards Bazarov’s behavior and exterior. This repulsion can be considered as being a synecdoche for disgust towards everything outside the accepted norm by the aristocrat class.
As if to complete the picture, the peasants whom they met were all in rags and mounted on the most wretched-looking little horses; the willows, with their broken branches and trunks stripped of bark, stood like tattered beggars along the roadside; lean and shaggy cows, pinched with hunger, were greedily tearing up grass along the ditches. They looked as if they had just been snatched out of the clutches of some terrifying murderous monster; and the pitiful sight of these emaciated animals in the setting of that gorgeous spring day conjured up, like a white ghost, the vision of interminable joyless winter with its storms, frosts and snows .
Narration: The narrator of Fathers and Sons is a third-person omniscient voice, the standard of the 19th-century novel. While the narrator has no personal bearing in the events of the story, it weaves subtly between the external plot and the complex internal landscapes of the characters. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the novel’s narration is the tendency towards occasional maxims. From time to time we are taken aside for brief musings about the nature of time, death, and love. In Turgenev’s hands, these musings delight more than they distract.
Tragedy & Comedy: Fathers and Sons is unique in the way it employs both tragedy and comedy. Tragedy is a dramatic structure first articulated by Aristotle. In a tragedy, the protagonist moves through the world hindered by a hamartia, an unseen psychological flaw. The protagonist makes a series of errors as a result of this flaw and spirals into chaos. The protagonist recognizes the hamartia after it is too late and generally dies at the end of the story. An Aristotelian comedy is a dramatic structure which revolves around fortune and romance. The protagonist learns a series of lessons, develops in character and status, and finds a romantic partner by the end of the story. The two main characters of Fathers and Sons, Bazarov and Arkady, follow these two separate dramatic paths.
Juxtaposition: There are two major sets of juxtaposition in Fathers and Sons. Typically juxtaposition is used to highlight the contrasts or similarities between two characters or ideas. This can be seen in both Arkady’s idea of a good life as compared with Bazarov’s and Bazarov’s futile pursuit of Anna as similar to Pau’s obsession with Princess R. Though Arkady initially supports Bazarov’s cynical viewpoint on a good life—that nothing matters and love is merely a chemical distraction—the distance between them soon grows vast, culminating in Arkady finding contentment with Katya while Bazarov’s declaration of love is rejected and unreciprocated, even on his deathbed. Anna’s refusal to consent to a relationship with Bazarov echoes Paul’s futile pursuit of Princess R—though the two men could not be more different in their beliefs, they are more alike than they care to admit.