Fathers and Sons Study Guide

Fathers and Sons Study Guide

Original title:
Отцы и дѣти

The novel that became a jewel of Russian literature tells us about the generation gap and the misunderstanding with older people and the revolutionary and sometimes harmful views of youth. The main characters are the middle-aged landlord Nikolai, his brother Paul and Nikolai’s son Arkady with his friend Bazarov.

Nikolai tried his best to have a good parental relationship with Arkady and used every chance to visit him in college - but it seems to be in vain, while Arkady returns home with Bazarov - a young man devoted to the ideas of nihilism. Bazarov becomes a role model for Arkady and his father now has a hard time understanding his son’s new cynical and harsh attitude.

Everything becomes much more complicated when Arkady and Bazarov meet Odintsova’s sisters, both young and beautiful, but very different in nature. Madame Anna Sergeevna Odintsova is an alluring and independent, while Katya is reserved and kind-hearted. The love shakes the very ideas of nihilism that both young men are so proud of, and this inner fight between feelings and philosophy changes the lives of both Arkady and Bazarov a lot.

In the meanwhile, the life of the older generation is turbulent to the same extent, but Nikolai and Paul are more old-schooled and reserved in their feelings. Nikolai’s mistress, Fenechka, who already gave birth to his child, is secretly adored by Paul who never dares to speak about it due to respect to his brother and Fenechka. But when Bazarov, prone to his philosophy, starts to look at her with something more than the politeness of a guest, the barrier between the generation can break, turning everyone, disregarding of their age, into a lovesick hothead.

The story, though divided from us by the whole century, still can be relevant for the modern people. It depicts the conflict between generation and philosophies very accurately, and also shows that sometimes young people need some time and experience to adopt or at least to understand the values of their parents. Even now Arkady’s rebellious behaviour, Nikolai’s desperate attempts to understand his son again and to shield him from his poisonous friend and the love triangles and rectangles are something we all can clearly relate to.

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