Arina Vlassyevna is passionate about her love for her son. When she first sees him, she is so moved that she begins weeping convulsively. Vassily Ivanych is embarrassed, but as time goes on, we find that he is just as sentimental. He often credits his wife with caring too much for Bazarov or being too concerned with religion when, in truth, he is exactly the same way.
When Bazarov leaves after just three days and Vassily Ivanych collapses into grief, it is his wife who comes to comfort him. Later, when Bazarov falls sick and then dies, Vassily Ivanych waits to tell her because he doesn't think that she can handle it. Yet, once she learns what is going on she takes on an almost stoic strength, simply sitting on a hard wooden stool at the end of Bazarov's bed, leaving from time to time in order to pray. Though she is never shy about hiding her emotions, it is clear that Arina Vlassyevna is a very tough woman. Without her companionship, it is hard to see how Vassily Ivanych would have the strength to go on.
Not long after her introduction, the narrator goes into a long description of Arina Vlassyevna in which he makes it very clear that he admires her greatly. She is exceedingly kind, loves her family dearly, and is both religious and superstitious. In short, she is the perfect example of a Russian gentlewoman, a woman who embodies many things that the younger generation either rejects or outright despises. The narrator laments the passing of women like Arina Vlassyevna, saying, "Nowadays such women as she have ceased to exist. Heaven only knows whether this should be a matter for rejoicing!" (20.20).