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Fathers and Sons

Fathers and Sons

by Ivan Turgenev

Fathers and Sons Chapter 23 Summary

  • After Bazarov sees Arkady off, he "shut[s] himself up in complete solitude; a perfect fever for work had come upon him" (23.1).
  • Pavel Petrovich stops arguing with Bazarov. They quarrel only once, on the subject of the Baltic barons, after which Pavel says that there's no point since they cannot understand each other.
  • Bazarov exclaims, "Of course not! Man is capable of understanding everything – the vibration of ether and what's going on in the sun; but why another person should blow his nose differently from him – that, he's incapable of understanding" (23.2).
  • Pavel Petrovich asks if Bazarov is trying to be witty and promptly walks away.
  • At other times, however, Pavel Petrovich comes to see Bazarov and asks him how his experiments are coming. Nikolai Petrovich comes even more often, and the only thing that keeps him from coming more is his work on the farm.
  • Yet Nikolai Petrovich knows that his brother still dislikes Bazarov. One evening, for example, Pavel Petrovich falls very ill. He refuses to call on Bazarov and when Bazarov asks him the next day why he did not seek his assistance, Pavel says, "Surely I remember your saying yourself you have no faith in medicine" (23.4).
  • Though Bazarov is very isolated, there is one person he still speaks openly with, and that person is Fenichka.
  • Fenichka sometimes comes to ask Bazarov for advice about Mitya, and she feels freer with him than with Nikolai Petrovich.
  • When Nikolai is around, though, Fenichka avoids Bazarov out of a sense of decency. She is most worried about Pavel Petrovich, who seems to be spying on her.
  • Fenichka complains to Dunyasha that Pavel Petrovich's presence is "like having a bucket of cold water thrown over me" (23.5). Dunyasha, for her part, has an enormous crush on Bazarov.
  • Bazarov likes Fenichka as much as she likes him.
  • He notices that "Fenichka [grows] prettier every day. There is a season in the lives of young women when they suddenly begin to unfold and bloom like summer roses; such a time had come for Fenichka" (23.6).
  • Fenichka is very pale and the sun often makes her grow weary. Nikolai Petrovich suggests that she bathe more often, but she complains that there is no shade by the pond, and he can do nothing but agree.
  • One morning, Bazarov comes across Fenichka in the arbour (cluster of trees). She is preparing a bouquet of flowers for breakfast.
  • Fenichka tells him that early morning is the only time that she feels alright outside because of the heat. She worries that she is falling ill, and Bazarov offers to take her pulse.
  • When he does, he tells her, "You'll live to be a hundred" (23.16).
  • Fenichka remembers a grandmother who lived that long and became "only a burden to herself" (23.19). She hopes that she doesn't live that long.
  • Fenichka says she much prefers to be young, whereas Bazarov says he doesn't care whether he is young or old. He says, "What good is my youth to me? I live a lonely life, all by myself" (23.26).
  • Fenichka looks at him sideways, and asks what book he is carrying. He tells her it is a very difficult science book. He suggests that she try reading a few lines, and she says there's no way she'd understand it.
  • Bazarov says he's not concerned with whether or not she understands it. He says, "I want to look at you while you read. When you read, the tip of your nose twitches so endearingly" (23.36).
  • Fenichka laughs and throws the book to the ground. Bazarov continues flattering her, and she wonders why he is taken with her when he has spoken with so many clever ladies.
  • He tells her, "Ah, Fenichka, believe me: all the clever ladies in the world aren't worth your little elbow" (23.43).
  • Fenichka tells him that, ever since Bazarov gave those drops to her son Mitya, he has been sleeping soundly. She asks how she can repay him, and he jokes that she can give him money.
  • She doesn't realize that he is kidding, and then he tells her that it is not money that he really wants.
  • When she doesn't know what he's talking about, he asks for one of her roses. Fenichka is flattered and laughs again. She gives him a red rose.
  • Yet, as she does, she becomes frightened. She thinks that she heard Pavel Petrovich in the bushes. She tells Bazarov that she's frightened of him, and laughs at how Bazarov can turn him every which way in an argument.
  • Fenichka says that no one can get the better of Bazarov in an argument and he says, "But I know a little finger that could topple me over like a feather if it wanted to" (23.71).
  • Fenichka again doesn't know what he's talking about. Bazarov asks her to smell the flower with him and when she does, he goes in for a kiss. She pushes back off his chest, but he persists.
  • There is a cough from the bushes and Pavel Petrovich emerges. In a tone of "malicious melancholy," he says to Fenichka, "It is you, then!" (23.77). He walks away.
  • As Fenichka gathers up her things to leave, she asks how Bazarov could do that to her. He feels ashamed for a moment, but then shakes it off and heads back to his room.
  • Pavel Petrovich waits for breakfast by the copse (a small group of trees). When he enters, his face is dark and Nikolai asks what is the matter.
  • He replies, "You know I sometimes suffer from bilious attacks" (23.81).

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