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Fathers and Sons

Fathers and Sons


by Ivan Turgenev

Fathers and Sons Chapter 16 Summary

  • The Odintsov's house is very nice and traditional, made in the classical Alexandrine style according to the late Monsieur Odintsov's specifications.
  • Inside, Bazarov and Arkady find that the house is well staffed and managed. Bazarov asks a servant for a glass of vodka while they wait.
  • Arkady thinks she is very kind to have invited the two of them to her house, and Bazarov notes that it's especially kind in his case since he is merely the son of a "village sexton" (16.8). They wonder if they should not have dressed more nicely.
  • After half an hour, they go back into the drawing room where they find Madame Odintsov waiting. Seeing a picture of her dead husband, which "seemed to stare disapprovingly at the visitors," Bazarov suggests jokingly that they make a bolt for it (16.10).
  • Madame Odintsov thanks them for coming, and announces that she lives with her younger sister and her old aunt. A neighbor is coming over shortly to play cards.
  • As they sit down, Madame Odintsov begins discussing Arkady's mother with him. It turns out that her mother was friendly with Arkady's before she died.
  • Bazarov sits there, looking through albums and thinking that he has become a "tame cat" (16.12).
  • A few minutes later, Katya comes running into the room, and Odintsov introduces her.
  • Katya curtsies and their dog, Fifi, goes up and greets the visitors. As Anna makes small talk with her sister, the narrator notes that Katya is "still innocently fresh," and that "she was constantly blushing and apt to catch her breath" (16.19, 20).
  • Madame Odintsov turns to Bazarov and tells him that he is only looking at the albums out of politeness and that he really must come over and sit with them so they can start an argument about something.
  • Bazarov is surprised that she considers herself argumentative. Madame Odintsov says he must simply ask Katya if he wants confirmation of that.
  • To start the argument, Bazarov says that she thinks he couldn't enjoy the pictures of the Swiss Alps because he has no appreciation for art. Yet he says they retain interest from a "geological standpoint" (16.31).
  • He goes on "A drawing shows me at one glance something that takes ten pages of text to describe" (16.33).
  • Madame Odintsov asks how Bazarov can possibly get on without any appreciation for art.
  • He asks her what its use is in the first place and she says "Well, at least to help one to know and understand people" (16.37).
  • Bazarov argues that people are not so very different from one another, "like trees in a forest: no botanist would dream of studying each individual birch-tree" (16.39).
  • Katya looks up at Bazarov with confusion, then blushes.
  • Madame Odintsov asks him, then, if there is no difference between a smart and a stupid person, between a good and a bad one.
  • He says that there is, but it's analogous to the difference between the sick and the healthy. He suggests that they should "reform society and there will be no diseases" (16.42).
  • After bickering with Bazarov for a moment, Madame Odintsov asks what Arkady thinks. He says that he agrees with Bazarov.
  • Madame Odintsov says that they amaze her with their opinions but that they must stop the discussion because her aunt is coming down.
  • Her aunt, the Princess, quickly slumps into a chair and begins complaining about how she couldn't sleep on account of Fifi. Katya puts the dog outside and prepares tea for everyone, serving her aunt first.
  • Arkady and Bazarov realize that everyone is respectful to the Princess, but at the same time they more or less ignore her.
  • When the Odintsov's neighbor, Porfiry Platonych, appears, Madame Odintsov requests that Bazarov join them at cards. She warns him, however, that he will lose.
  • As for Arkady, she tells Katya to play him something. The two of them go to the piano only reluctantly, and Arkady feels like Madame Odintsov is trying to get rid of him; "he felt that vague, oppressive excitement in the heart which is the foretaste of love" (16.61).
  • After a brief discussion, Katya decides to play Mozart's Sonata Fantasia in C minor for Arkady. At first, she is stiff and mechanical but as the piece continues she begins to put some motion into it.
  • Arkady is struck by the end of the sonata, "the part where the bewitching gaiety of the careless melody is suddenly invaded by gusts of such mournful, almost tragic grief" (16.69).
  • Arkady thinks, though, that his admiration has more to do with Mozart than with Katya. All the same, he notes that she does not play badly and that she is fairly attractive.
  • When Arkady tries to discuss Mozart with Katya, she becomes withdrawn. He has to call Fifi over and pet the dog in order to give himself the appearance of being at ease. Katya goes back to working on her flowers.
  • At cards, Bazarov loses more than he would like to, just like Madame Odintsov predicted.
  • At dinner, she asks Bazarov to take her on a walk the next morning in order to teach her the Latin names for flowers.
  • When he asks why she wants to know that, she says, "System is needed in everything" (16.74).
  • When the two of them are alone in their rooms, they both begin singing Anna Sergeyevna's (Madame Odintsov's given name and patronymic) praises. Yet after a moment Bazarov says that he prefers Katya to Anna. Arkady is confused, and, as he climbs into bed, he is left "pondering his own thoughts" (16.81).
  • Anna Sergeyevna is also thinking about her guests as she prepares for bed. There is something about Bazarov that excites her curiosity.
  • The narrator says that Anna Sergeyevna is a strange woman. She is by turns curious and indifferent, subversive and conventional. Perhaps if she had not had such an easy life she would have pursued some great passion.
  • For now, though, "Her soul would be filled with sudden daring and begin to seethe with noble aspirations; but then a draught would blow from a half-open window and Anna Sergeyvna would shrink back into herself, feel plaintive and almost angry, and at that instant the one thing she cared for beyond all others was to get away from that abominable draught" (16.83).
  • The narrator thinks that, "like all women who have not succeeded in falling in love she hankered after something without knowing what it was" (16.84). Her dislike of her first husband had gradually bloomed into a dislike for all men.
  • As she nods off in her luxurious bed, she keeps thinking about how strange Bazarov is. She falls asleep "all pure and cold in her pure and fragrant linen" (16.86).
  • The next day, Arkady stays with Katya while Bazarov goes walking with Madame Odintsov. When they return, Arkady feels a pang in his heart. He sees Madame Odintsov twirling a wild flower, and he thinks that Bazarov looks as calm and confident as ever.
  • He is only more insulted when Bazarov comes in and mumbles a greeting to him before wandering off. Madame Odintsov, likewise, simply presses his hand before walking past him.

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