Father And Children By Ivan Turgenev Summary English Literature Essay

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­"In the tarantass the band of a student's cap could be glimpsed, as could the familiar outline of a well-love face." The novel begins with Arkady returning home to, Nikolai, his father's estate from university with his friend, Bazarov. Although Nikolai takes in the two men with open arms, he begins to feel uncomfortable as it is clear that Arkady's views have changed. He is also embarrassed about his relationship with his servant, Fenechka, and his new son, Mitya. Arkady is questioned about Bazarov and he informs his family that he is a nihilist which angered Pavel and caused him to argue with Bazarov. This caused Bazarov to become rude and arrogant towards Pavel even after Arkady explained why Pavel is how he is today. Bazarov and Arkady then travel to a nearby town to visit Matvei Kolyazin who invites them to a ball. Here they are introduced to Anna Odintsova who invites them to her estate.

At Nikolskoe, her estate, Bazarov and Anna begin to bond and form a relationship. Arkady begins to feel left out because of this and thus begins to talk to Katya, Anna's younger sister. It is clear that there is an attraction between Arkady and Katya and that Bazarov slowly begins to fall in love with Anna however, she feels happiness will elude her and rejects him of his love.

Shortly after this, Bazarov and Arkady leave to travel to Barazrov's home to visit his parents who are delighted to see their son. He however, is not himself and seems bored and only wants to focus on his studies rather than life itself because of his rejection. Due to his stubbornness, they leave but Arkady convinces Bazarov to stop at the Odintsova's estate to visit Katya before travelling to his father. They leave immediately and whilst back at Arkady's home, Nikolai shows Arkady letters which were written from the Odintsova's mother to his own. He uses this as an excuse and returns back to their estate. Although Anna is ecstatic to see him, he ignores this as he was previously ignored and sees Katya. Meanwhile, at Arkady's father's estate Bazarov remained focused on his work. One day, whilst Bazarov is collecting frogs for his experiment he and Fenechka are joking around when he reaches in to kiss her. Fenechka is frustrated with Bazarov and Pavel sees the incident and asks for a duel but doesn't tell Nikolai of the incident.

During the duel, Bazarov shoots Pavel in the thigh and Pyotr, Nikolai's servant, calls for Nikolai. Still not wanting to tell Nikolai, the two insist they were arguing about English Politics. Pavel says to Nikolai he should marry Fenechka even though the only reason he hadn't already was Pavel. Bazarov left instantly to Nikolskoe, where he tells Arkady of the incident but assures him that his uncle is alive and well. Bazarov sees Anna after being encouraged by Arkady and informs her that Arkady was first in love with her. However, Arkady proposes to Katya and she accepts. Bazarov then leaves to travel home and although he had nothing pleasant to say, Arkady quickly forgets him as he is no longer led by his influence.

Whilst at home, Bazarov begins to help his father treat patients. One day, he decides to help the local doctor perform an autopsy on a peasant who had typhus but unfortunately cut himself and because the local doctor had no lunar caustic, he contracted typhus and fell sick. Bedridden he wishes to see Anna for one last time who visits with a German doctor. Unfortunately he then dies, after receiving a kiss from Anna on request. The novel then ends with Arkady and Katya's wedding as well as Nikolai and Fenechka's marriage. Pavel leaves the countryside and travels to Dresden and Arkady begins to manage the estate. Bazarov's parents frequently visit his grave although he was a stubborn nihilist. "Whatever passionate, sinful, rebellious heart is hidden in that grave, the flowers which grow on it gaze serenely upon us with their innocent eyes."

Narrative Style

This novel is written in third person singular with an intrusive style as comments such as; "let us introduce the reader to him while he sits" and "the reader will find out about him in the next chapter" are made. The novel is also typical of the nineteenth century for instance; "Heaven only knows where his thoughts meandered but they were not wandering entirely in the past; there was a grim, tense expression on his face and this is not so when a man is absorbed solely by his memories." The pronouns 'he' and 'she' are frequently used and characters are continuously addressed by their names.

Character Analysis

Nikolai: is a caring, devoting old gentleman. This is shown when he waits hours on end for his son to arrive although he could be doing other things that interested him. He is portrayed as kind throughout the novel as he only wants the best for everyone, including his servants. In this way he is seen as non-judgemental as although he disagrees with Bazrov's beliefs he continues to respect him unlike Pavel. Nikolai can also be thought of as unrealistic and distracted. This is portrayed through his indecision over the management of his farm as it is run down and he now relies on rent. It is also portrayed through his constant thoughts of the past of events from long ago such as when he was still married to Arkady's mother.

Bazarov: is a very arrogant and rude man as he is constantly ignorant and impolite to the people in the novel with a lower social status than him. His rudeness is also portrayed when he laughs at Nikolai while he plays the cello although Nikolai is his. Bazarov is also very determined and focused as he desperately wants to achieve his degree in medicine by constantly practicing his studies and always experiments and researching with life's forces. He is also very convincing as Arkady seems to follow Bazarov in what he does, for instance, Nikolai wanted to bond with his son however, Bazarov wanted to research and look for frogs thus Arkady reluctantly followed Bazarov in what he wanted to do. However, his nature soon alters as he falls in love with Odintsova and he becomes a compassionate and loving man.

Arkady: at first is portrayed as an immature, naïve young man as was his father however, Arkady soon develops into an independent young man. Arkady is a lovable, kind and caring person which is portrayed through his defence of his Uncle Pavel when Bazarov offends and judges his character. Arkady also supports Bazarov's nature to be a nihilist even though his father rejects this idea. Arkady soon learns he is well-natured rather than a nihilist through the encouragement and love of Katya, Odintsova's sister. Arkady's caring character is portrayed through dedication in conversations with Katya as he continuously listens to her play piano and makes an effort to form a relationship with her after sadly being ignored by Odintsova.

Language & Diction

Father and Children is a descriptive novel that uses formal language as words such as "imperceptibly" and "physiognomy" are used. Long sentences are used to describe the characters in the novel and their surroundings, for example; "However, the stiff collar of his shirt, which was, it is true, not white but coloured, as was appropriate for morning wear, stuck implacably into his shaven chin." and "But the midday heat passes, evening and night come, and with them a return to the refuge where there is sweet sleep for those who are tired and heavy laden". Short sentences are used more often during dialogue such as; "'What is proper then? Swearing?'" and "Bazarov was silent." In the novel there are also many languages such as French; "il est libre en effet" (In fact he's free) and "s'est degourdi" (Has come out of himself) and Latin; "pater familias" (Father of a family) as well as "suum cuique" (To teach his own). A few words are also spoken in Italian, Greek and German.


The imagery is evident throughout the novel because all stimuli are aroused. Tactile imagery is evident when Bazarov touches Odintsova's hand as "crushed fingers" emphasises on how hard he squeezed her hand; "hastily said "farewell", squeezed her hand so hard that she almost cried out, and left the room." There is a sense of smell when Pavel notices that the room has been redecorated since he had last been in there; "recently painted floor" and "camomile and lemon balm". Visual imagery is foreseen throughout the novel in describing the people and the setting of the novel; "All around lay a sea of golden green-everything, trees, bushes, grass, gently shone and stirred in sweeping waves under the soft warm breath of the wind; on every side larks poured out their never-ceasing trills." Auditory imagery is evident when Bazarov is laid in bed and the house in silent however, he can hear the cockerel from outside; "and a strange quiet set in; a noisily crowing cockerel." It is also evident when Arkady and Bazarov arrive in the countryside; "but his ears had already detected the sound of approaching wheels." Taste imagery is evident when Pavel is drinking red wine; "(he never took supper), taking infrequent sips from a small glass of red wine." One can imagine the taste of the wine as he was not eating therefore the wine was a satisfying diet.


The theme of family is represented throughout the novel as the reader learns about the lives of the characters in the book. First Nikolai's life is told of how he is in the position he is in today and then the reader learns about the life of Bazarov. This theme also links to the title as the generation gap between Nikolai and Arkady is a very dominant theme. Pavel, Nikolai's brother is seen as the character portraying the older generation and often rejects the new generation's thoughts which is portrayed by Bazarov. Pavel is a strong believer in aristocracy whereas Bazarov is a nihilist and this is the main concept of the generation differences. A theme of religion is also apparent throughout the novel as God is often sought to in times of difficulty especially when Bazarov is sick with typhus. Bazarov's mother often prays to God for him to heal her son and his father refers to the Lord in hope that the "crisis has passed." A priest also encourages this theme as when Bazarov dies he visits the house and says rites over his body. Love is a minor theme in the novel but is portrayed in aspects of many characters. This theme is seen throughout the love Nikolai has for his son and Fenechka, the love Bazarov has for Odintsova as well as the love Arkady and Katya have for eachother.


This novel is set in Russia in 1859 at the Kirsanov's house where Nikolai resides. Many references are made to the happenings in the years before and well-known people in that time such as "Macaulay" referring to T.B. Macaulay, an English liberal historian as well as "Catherine's time" which indicates the years 1762 to 1796 when Catherine the Great was the Empress of Russia. The characters names also encourage the setting as they are Russian. When Arkady and Bazarov travel and explore the countryside, their surroundings are explained; "narrow footpath through a rye field, she plunged into the tall thick rye, overgrown with cornflowers and wormwood"


The genre is tragedy and family drama. This genre is evident in the novel as Bazarov is the readers focus throughout the novel however, dies because of his effort to be involved with medicine when he seeks practice in an autopsy of typhus of a peasant in the village. It is also family drama s the reader learns of many households including Bazarov's and the woman who he falls in love with, Odintsova. These households link as Arkady marries Odintsova's sister and Arkady is the reason as to why Bazarov is in the countryside.

Aspects I liked

I enjoyed the fact that Nikolai and Fenechka eventually got married as it is the moral thing to do as they had already conceived a son and the fact that Pavel did not disagree by it. I disliked the fact that, Odintsova only begun to show she cared about Bazarov, after she rejected him of his love, because he was extremely sick and dying. This shows she is superficial and I did not enjoy this about her character as I feel if one must not just care because another is sick. I also disliked the fact that Bazarov was also arrogant and rude to his parents who were just simply ecstatic that he was home. His mother kissed him and hugged him yet he insisted on pushing her away which is wrong as she was just expressing her love for him. I enjoyed the fact that Arkady eventually was not influenced by Bazarov and didn't listen to what he says he must do, I also enjoyed that Katya sees this and tells Arkady of it allowing the reader to recognise this as Arkady was dependent on Bazarov.


I would recommend this novel to any high school student that enjoys a captivating, thought provoking tragedy as the protagonist sadly dies, this is unexpected and keeps the reader interested. I would also recommend this to a reader who wishes to broaden their variety of reading as it is a Russian novel that allows one to understand their style of writing. I would also recommend this novel to one who enjoys an unexpected romance as many of the characters fall in love and the novel ends in their marriage and Bazarov's death which can be said as contrasting themes.