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Fathers and Sons

Fathers and Sons


by Ivan Turgenev

Fathers and Sons Chapter 14 Summary

  • Matvei Ilyich is a big success at his ball. He makes conversation with everyone, introduces Arkady around as his "young nephew," and even greets Bazarov, Sitnikov, and Kukshin despite the fact that they are shabbily dressed.
  • The officers dance indefatigably (without tiring) whereas the civilians tend to bunch up along the walls.
  • Since Arkady is a bad dancer and Bazarov does not dance, they take their place on the wall beside Sitnikov.
  • After a few minutes, Sitnikov points out to Arkady that Madame Odintsov has entered. Arkady is taken back by her beauty and grace. Bazarov is also impressed.
  • Sitnikov goes to introduce him, but when they approach it becomes apparent that Sitnikov does not actually know her very well.
  • When Madame Odintsov hears that Arkady is Nikolai's son, she says that she is pleased to meet him. A moment later, an aide-de-camp approaches and asks her for the next dance. She agrees.
  • Arkady, just to make small talk, asks if she dances. She wonders if he thinks her too old to dance, and he says she's misunderstood him. He asks her for the mazurka (traditional Russian dance), and she says "Certainly" (14.17).
  • Watching how graceful she is with the aide-de-camp, Arkady can't take his eyes off of her. He thinks that "he had never yet met such a fascinating woman," and that "her every movement was wonderfully flowing and natural" (14.18).
  • When Odintsov returns, Arkady is shy. After a moment, though, he senses how calm she is and begins talking to her at length – telling her all about his uncles and his life. Their conversation is interrupted from time to time when other young men ask her to dance.
  • Odintsov asks about Bazarov, and Arkady begins speaking of him so favorably that she turns and looks at him. When she stands up to go, she tells him that when he visits her he must bring Bazarov with him.
  • She says, "I am very curious to meet a man who has the courage not to believe in anything" (14.25).
  • Arkady bows to her as she goes out, and, as soon as she does, he bets that she has forgotten his existence; he "was conscious of an exquisite humility flooding his soul" (14.26).
  • When Arkady returns, Bazarov teases him about Madame Odintsov. Arkady doesn't understand his meaning, but tells him that he is going to bring him along when they go to visit her. It is clear that Bazarov is also somewhat smitten with her.
  • He says, "She's got a pair of shoulders the like of which I haven't set eyes on for a long while" (14.33).
  • Arkady tries to disagree with his friend, but, as is often the case, he doesn't say exactly what is bothering him.
  • Instead, he says, "Why are you unwilling to allow that women are capable of independence of thought?" (14.35).
  • Bazarov says it's because his observations have led him to "conclude that free-thinking women are monstrosities" (14.36).
  • The two of them depart. Madame Kukshin is a bit hurt by the fact that they ignored her all night, and stays later than anyone else. The ball ends with her and Sitnikov dancing the polka-mazurka.

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