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Fathers and Sons

Fathers and Sons


by Ivan Turgenev

Fathers and Sons Chapter 17 Summary

  • The chapter opens, "Time (as we all know) sometimes flies like a bird and sometimes crawls like a snail; but man is happiest when he does not even notice whether time is passing quickly or slowly" (17.1).
  • Arkady and Bazarov pass a fortnight (two weeks) at Madame Odintsov's in this manner. They gradually become accustomed to the regime that she maintains in the house.
  • Bazarov disapproves of the elegance and the structure of Madame Odintsov's life, which he calls "gliding along rails" (17.1).
  • Yet when he speaks out to her on the subject, she simply responds that, without all the little comforts, a country woman would die of boredom.
  • Bazarov is not acting like himself. He is easily irritated and sometimes reluctant to talk while Arkady, out of love for Madame Odintsov, "started to abandon himself to a gentle melancholy" (17.1).
  • Arkady settles for Katya's company, since he has no idea how to approach Madame Odintsov, and she shows no interest in him. Katya understands what is going on, but the two of them become friends nonetheless and have many things in common.
  • Since Arkady and Bazarov are each spending time with their respective girls, they spend less time together. Bazarov speaks to Arkady less and less, but Arkady makes no comment on it.
  • Bazarov senses that there is a change taking place in him, but if anyone were to point it out, he would laugh them down. As much as he admires female beauty, he has no interest whatsoever in the romantic notion of love.
  • When Bazarov realizes that Madame Odintsov will not be an easy sexual conquest, he considers turning away from her, but finds that is impossible. As much as he tries to hide it, there is a romantic strain within him. He is furious with himself for not being able to control his "shameful thoughts" (17.3).
  • As for Madame Odintsov, Bazarov interests her and she thinks about him frequently.
  • One day they are walking in the garden, and Bazarov announces that he is going to leave.
  • Though he had not intended to produce a reaction in Madame Odintsov, she goes completely white.
  • The truth is that his father's bailiff, Timofeich, came to visit him and told him that his parents were "expecting and expecting. It makes your heart ache to see them, really and truly it does" (17.18).
  • Bazarov told him to take it easy with the agony and that he would visit very soon.
  • In the evening, Madame Odintsov sits beside Bazarov while Arkady listens to Katya playing the piano. The princess is upstairs since she cannot abide (tolerate) "these new young imbeciles" (17.22).
  • Madame Odintsov asks how Bazarov can leave after promising to give her chemistry lessons. He recommends a book, though she says that there is no replacement for a good teacher.
  • She presses him on the subject of why he must go. Bazarov says he is certain no one will miss him once he's gone, and that, truth be told, he is "a staid, uninteresting individual" (17.40).
  • Madame Odintsov persists that she will miss him when he's gone. Yet Bazarov replies that her life is far too orderly for her to miss him long. She can't stand big disturbances.
  • She tells him the truth is that she is unhappy because "I have no desire, no longing for life" (17.84).
  • Bazarov pretends not to understand. She says that she begins to feel old, that there are "so many memories and so little worth remembering" (17.87).
  • She thinks that if she could just attach herself to something...
  • Bazarov cuts her off and says that she wants to fall in love, but she can't. She asks if he thinks her incapable of love, and he says probably. He says the person who is really to be pitied is the one who falls in love.
  • She asks how he knows that, and he becomes angry and says it is "hearsay" (17.97).
  • Bazarov thinks that she is teasing him and his heart is about to burst.
  • He says that she is probably too demanding, but that he is surprised she has not found what she wants.
  • He says that he thinks the key is "to know how to give oneself" (17.104).
  • Madame Odintsov thinks Bazarov sounds as if he has experienced it all, but he says, "No, words, idle words arising out of our conversation: as you know, all that is not in my line" (17.107).
  • She asks him if he would be able to give himself completely, and he says he isn't sure.
  • Madame Odintsov comments on how late Katya is playing. As soon as he has the chance, Bazarov gets up to go. She asks him to stay and talk with her longer, but he squeezes her hand and gives her a brusque goodnight.
  • After he leaves, she is all out of sorts. She thinks that he squeezed her hand so tightly that she might have screamed, and almost gets up to follow him out before deciding to sit there motionless.
  • When Bazarov returns to his room, he's in a foul mood. Arkady comments that he was up late with Anna Sergeyevna, but Bazarov says only as late as he was up playing piano with Katya.
  • Arkady begins to say that Bazarov was not playing, but stops.
  • "He felt tears welling to his eyes and he did not want to weep in front of his sarcastic friend" (17.122).

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