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Fathers And Sons Essay

1905 words - 8 pages

Fathers and Sons
Submitted by Charles Heaverin

“Fathers and Sons” is a story about change, the changing of a nation and the changes of a young man. The story represents how the revolution of a society can sweep some away while leaving others to flounder between the old and the new. In “Fathers and Sons” you see the struggles of Arkady, a recent university graduate, grappling with the new modern thoughts of independence and morale upheaval. He goes through a series of changes from a young traditional boy, to a suspecting university student, back somewhat to his roots of homespun traditional values. It is a battle between friends, values and generations. In the end tradition ...view middle of the document...

Literature and the arts were very important. However these things were considered a waste of time to the nihilists. This uppity view of life was the very thing that oppressed the lower class. Science and reason, separated from romance, religion and superstition, would open the world to free thinkers that lived “outside the box”. Reform, or revolution, was needed to free people from the aristocrats of old and break the oppression of stuffy Anglo thinking. A rather odd character in the book, Pavel Petrovich Kirsanov, was the embodiment of the traditional life. In just about every scene that he is introduced into, his dress, hair and sometimes fingernails are described. Pavel represents the traditional, European gentleman. Interestingly, Pavel becomes one of the central figures in this generational struggle, and he is not even the father. Pavel is a character that makes you question how they could afford the life of luxury and travel (following his love around as a young man) when there did not appear to be any work done. This example of the “haves” (aristocracy) was the very thing the nihilists were fighting against in their philosophies.

Pavel’s nemesis in this novel is Evgeny Vasilevich Bazarov. He is the quintessential nihilist hero. Bazarov enjoys the role of antagonist by questioning everything and declaring most beliefs, ideas and motivations as meaningless and vanity. Bazarov was of the persuasion that everything was up for questioning, no matter how sacred, superstitious or traditional. Bazarov’s character identifies the struggle for reform that young Russians of the mid-19th century were going through. Russia was immersed in a dangerous class struggle between the nobles (landowners) and the huge peasant population. Prior to the Crimean war, nobles began to sense that their power was failing and that peasant could revolt at anytime. A previous work of Turgenev, “A Hunter’s Sketches” put human faces on the downtrodden peasant class and their noble oppressors. This began to awaken the need for class reform in Russia[1]. In “Fathers and Sons” he continues his peasant fight by having Nikolai Petrovich Kirsanov, Arkady’s father, give land to the peasants, promoting the emancipation declared by Alexander II.

However, the tension of this period is exhibited in the main character, Arkady Nikolaevich, son of Nikolai. Arkady met Bazarov while at the university. He basically fell under the spell of Bazarov and became a protégé of sorts. While at school, Arkady bought Bazarov’s arguments hook, line and sinker. Arkady followed his mentor’s every words and began to argue for the nihilist mindset. Arkady appears at the beginning of the book to follow Bazarov without question. This is evident in chapter five when Arkady and Pavel discuss Bazarov’s views. (22-23) Pavel explains to Nikolai that nihilists do not respect anything and Arkady quickly corrects him by stating that nihilists are people “who approach...

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