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Fathers and Sons

Fathers and Sons


by Ivan Turgenev

Fathers and Sons Chapter 13 Summary

  • Sitnikov, Bazarov, and Kirsanov go to Madame Kukshin's, where they are greeted by a companionable fellow wearing a cap (a sure sign that Madame Kukshin is a progressive lady).
  • When Sitnikov introduces Bazarov, Madame Kukshin thinks that she knows him. Bazarov frowns.
  • Although Madame Kukshin is not an ugly woman, her expressions are unnatural, and "it always struck one that it was the opposite of what she wanted to do" (13.9).
  • Yevdoxia (first name of Madame Kukshin) offers them cigars, and Sitnikov promptly requests food and a bottle of champagne to go with them.
  • Laughing, Yevdoxia says Sitnikov can't possibly consider himself a liberal when he's a sybarite (one who is devoted to luxury or pleasure).
  • Bazarov disagrees with her and says that meat is better than bread, even from the point of view of chemistry. Yevdoxia seizes on the opportunity for conversation and tells him that she is also interested in chemistry and that she has designed a new adhesive.
  • Madame Kukshin stars pouring out questions. She wants to know what Bazarov knows about women's liberation, and she wants to know what Arkady does.
  • Arkady announces "I don't do anything" (13.20). She laughs.
  • As they begin smoking, Madame Kukshin tells Victor that she is upset with him for going around praising George Sand (French novelist and feminist), who she thinks is out of date.
  • Madame Kukshin asks Bazarov to sit next to her on the sofa. She says she is afraid of him because he is such a critic, and goes on talking about how unfortunate it is that she had to settle in such an unbearable little town.
  • Bazarov says he has no problem with it, but she says that it's nothing like Moscow. She tells him she's thinking of going abroad to Paris and then Heidelberg. She begins name-dropping, but he doesn't know what she's talking about.
  • The maid comes in with lunch, and as she sets it out, Bazarov asks if there are any pretty women in the town.
  • Madame Kukshin says that there are a few, such as Madame Odintsov. She says he wouldn't be interested though because "she has no independence of outlook, no breadth, nothing" (13.43).
  • Sitnikov delights in making scathing comments and says that none of the women in town could even understand their current conversation.
  • Bazarov, however, says it doesn't matter if pretty women understand them.
  • Madame Kukshin asks if he is a follower of Proudhon (a French philosopher who thought anarchy is the goal of the free development of society). Bazarov says he doesn't need to follow anyone because he has ideas of his own.
  • Kukshin keeps trying to stand up for feminist thinkers while Sitnikov delights in putting her down. When she says that she is merely speaking "for the rights of women which I have sworn to defend to the last drop of my blood," Sitnikov admits that he supports her conviction (13.54).
  • Kukshin accuses Sitnikov of being a Slavophile, a despot in disguise who loves the whip.
  • Bazarov says that a whip is an excellent thing and that they've gotten "to the last drop..." (13.59). Kukshin thinks he is going to say "of blood," but he is only referring to the champagne.
  • Kukshin says she can't stand to hear women attacked, and then suggests they speak of love. Bazarov ignores her and asks about Madame Odintsov. Sitnikov butts in that "she's charming," but "not sufficiently advanced yet" (13.65).
  • They all get very drunk, though Kukshin and Sitnikov do most of the talking. When the two of them gather by the piano and begin doing Seymour Schiff's ballad Granada lies slumbering, Arkady snaps, "Gentleman, this is approaching Bedlam" (that is, chaos) (13.68).
  • With a yawn, Bazarov stands up and he and Arkady begin to leave.
  • Sitnikov jumps up. He wants to know what Bazarov thinks of Kukshin, whom Sitnikov calls "a highly moral phenomenon" (13.70).
  • Bazarov asks if Sitnikov's father's liquor store is a moral phenomenon, and Sitnikov lets out a shrill laugh to hide the fact that he is embarrassed.

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