The first incident to set off the drama of Fathers and Sons comes when Arkady introduces his new friend Bazarov, whom he admires greatly. Bazarov exerts a magnetic influence over other characters in the story (and perhaps over the reader, as well), and part of the mystery of the story is what makes this stubborn young man so compelling. As the novel goes on, there is another layer of complexity as characters attempt to sort out the difference between feelings of love and of admiration.
The characters that are most admired in the story are those who also incite fear and unease in the ones who look up to them; the gentler a character is in Fathers and Sons, the less respect they get.
Bazarov's pride is a direct result of his parents' over-estimation of him.