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Fathers and Sons

Fathers and Sons

by Ivan Turgenev

Fathers and Sons Chapter 18 Summary

  • At morning tea the next day, Bazarov does not look at Madame Odintsov for a long time. She retreats to her room, and then returns for lunch.
  • Arkady begins reading from the journal at lunch, which shocks the princess, though he pays no attention to her.
  • Finally, Anna Sergeyevna asks Bazarov to come to her room so she can write down the name of that chemistry textbook.
  • The princess, again, is appalled, but Arkady pretends not to notice. Arkady and Katya exchange glances and he goes on reading.
  • In her room, Madame Odintsov asks for the title of the book. When Bazarov begins to give it to her, she stops him. She tells him that the truth is she wanted to continue their conversation from yesterday.
  • He rudely asks what they were discussing and she says happiness. She asks why when one is enjoying a beautiful evening or a good companion "it all seems no more than a hint of some infinite felicity existing apart somewhere, rather than actual happiness" (18.10).
  • Bazarov retorts with the saying "Happiness is where we are not" (18.12). He claims that no such thoughts ever enter his head.
  • Madame Odintsov says she has wanted to have a frank conversation with him for a long time. She wants to know about his life and where he grew up. She thinks that he has far too much ambition to just be a country doctor.
  • He replies, "I am not in the habit of talking about myself, and between you and me there is such a gulf" (18.25).
  • She tries to get him to speak of the future and he says, "Why this eagerness to talk and think about the future, which for the most part does not depend on us?" (18.27).
  • Madame Odintsov replies that perhaps they can talk about what is happening in him now, but Bazarov thinks "happening" is an absurd expression.
  • He says that anyway a man can't always be expected to speak what is in his heart. She says that she does not see why not, and he tells her that she is more fortunate than he.
  • Anna Sergeyevna persists that all of his constraint cannot be for nothing. She thinks that his reserve will eventually disappear.
  • Bazarov stands up and goes to the window. He says that he will tell her the reason for his reserve if she will not be angry.
  • He says, "Let me tell you then that I love you idiotically, madly... There, you have forced that out of me" (18.45).
  • Bazarov is trembling, not out of timidity or relief but out of anger with himself.
  • She begins to mutter his name, and he suddenly turns to her and takes her in both hands.
  • She says, "You have misunderstood me" (18.50). Bazarov bites his lip and storms out of the room.
  • Later, he sends her a note asking if he should leave that evening or if he can stay until tomorrow. She returns a note telling him to stay and saying that they did not understand one another. Privately, she thinks that she did not understand herself.
  • Anna Sergeyevna wonders why she forced Bazarov's declaration. She realizes that she is to blame and blushes when she thinks of Bazarov's "animal expression" when he grabbed her (18.53).
  • She closes by thinking that this was not something to trifle with, and that above all one must value the quiet life.
  • As the narrator closes, "The pressure of various vague emotions – the sense of life passing by, a longing for novelty – had forced her to a certain limit, forced her to look behind her – and there she had seen not even an abyss but only a void... chaos without shape" (18.56).

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