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Fathers and Sons

Fathers and Sons


by Ivan Turgenev

Fathers and Sons Chapter 24 Summary

  • Two hours later, Pavel Petrovich goes to Bazarov's room and interrupts his scientific studies. He wants to know what his opinions are on dueling.
  • Bazarov says, "From the theoretical standpoint, dueling is absurd; but from the practical standpoint – well, that's another matter altogether" (24.8).
  • Pavel Petrovich says that he is relieved. He says that he was in a state of uncertainty, and announces to Bazarov that he has decided to fight him.
  • When Bazarov asks why, he says, "I could explain the reason to you, but I prefer to keep silent about it. To my way of thinking you are not wanted here; I cannot endure you; I despise you" (24.18).
  • Their eyes flash, and Bazarov accepts. Pavel Petrovich says he is relieved because now he will not have to resort to more violent measures (beating Bazarov with his cane).
  • They begin to discuss the conditions of their duel. They decide not to give the exact reason of their debate, to simply say that they cannot endure one another.
  • When Pavel Petrovich suggests they fight the next morning at six behind the copse at ten paces from one another, Bazarov says, "At ten paces? That will do; we can detest one another at that distance" (24.30).
  • They decide to move it to eight paces, and Pavel Petrovich suggests they each leave a letter in their breast pocket in case they die.
  • Bazarov thinks that sounds too much like a French novel. To avoid accusations of murder, they decide to have a witness – the servant Piotr.
  • They agree on the arrangement and, since Bazarov does not have a pistol, Pavel Petrovich offers to loan him one.
  • Pavel Petrovich bids him good day. After Bazarov sees him out, he thinks to himself that they've been acting a ridiculous farce. Yet there was no way he could have refused; "Bazarov pales at the very thought: all his pride reared up within him" (24.49).
  • He wonders what on earth could have infuriated Pavel Petrovich so, and he decides that he is in love with the young Fenichka. Thinking of Arkady and Nikolai Petrovich, Bazarov knows that it's going to be bad business.
  • The next day passes quietly. Pavel Petrovich is exceptionally polite to everyone, and Bazarov begins writing a letter to his father before deciding that he is not going to die anyway.
  • Before going to bed, Bazarov asks Piotr to wake him early. At night, he has confused dreams: "Madame Odintsov kept appearing in them; now she was his mother, she was followed by a kitten with black whiskers and the kitten was Fenichka; then he saw Pavel Petrovich before him, like a huge forest which, for all that, he had to fight" (24.50).
  • The next morning, Piotr wakes him at four and they go out.
  • It is a beautiful morning. Bazarov leads Piotr down behind the copse (cluster of woods) and tells him why they have come there. Piotr goes green with fright even though Bazarov encourages him by telling him, "And just think what an important part you have to play" (24.51).
  • As Bazarov waits for Pavel Petrovich, he keeps thinking of the stupidity of what they're doing. A peasant passes in a carriage and does not doff his hat to Bazarov. Piotr takes this as a bad omen.
  • A moment later, Bazarov looks up and sees Pavel Petrovich coming down the walk. After brief greetings, they decide to proceed.
  • Pavel Petrovich loads the guns while Bazarov measures out the paces since, as he says, "My legs are longer than yours" (24.63).
  • Piotr is trembling and Bazarov tells him he can go behind a tree and blocks his ears so long as he keeps his eyes open.
  • Bazarov draws a line in the ground with his boot to measure the paces. As Pavel Petrovich hands a pistol to Bazarov, Bazarov says, "You must admit, Pavel Petrovich, that our duel is unusual to the point of absurdity? Just look at our second's countenance" (24.69).
  • Pavel Petrovich admits that their duel is strange, but warns Bazarov that he intends to fight him in earnest.
  • Bazarov replies, "Oh, I don't doubt that we are both resolved to annihilate each other, but why shouldn't we laugh too, and combine utile dulci" (to unite the useful with the pleasant) (24.71).
  • They count out their paces and begin. Pavel Petrovich shoots first, aiming straight for Bazarov's nose, but the bullet goes whizzing by his ear.
  • Without aiming, Bazarov fires back and hits Pavel Petrovich in the thigh. He immediately runs over to see if Pavel Petrovich is wounded.
  • Pavel Petrovich says it's no big deal and that he wants to proceed, but Bazarov insists on postponing the duel. The question is settled when Pavel Petrovich blacks out.
  • When he comes to again, Bazarov examines him and shows him that the wound is mainly superficial, touching only one muscle, the vastus externus.
  • Watching on, Piotr thinks that Pavel Petrovich is dying. Bazarov calls on him to fetch some water, and Pavel Petrovich tells him "It was only a momentary vertigo" (24.90).
  • Pavel Petrovich agrees not to resume the duel, and says that, at least today, Bazarov has conducted himself honorably.
  • Bazarov tells him that he will bind up his leg and then make his departure at once. He sends Piotr to fetch a carriage, and Pavel Petrovich warns his servant not to bother Nikolai about it.
  • Pavel Petrovich is ashamed of how he has acted and has trouble making eye contact with Bazarov. Yet he thinks that things have ended fairly favorably, especially because he will be leaving soon.
  • There is some agreement between them, but "such mutual recognition is agreeable between friends but most disagreeable between enemies, especially where it is impossible for them either to thrash things out or to part company" (24.94).
  • They decide to tell Nikolai that they fell out while discussing English politics. Seeing the peasant return, Pavel Petrovich wonders aloud what he could be thinking.
  • Bazarov asks "Does anyone understand him? He does not even understand himself" (24.99).
  • Looking up, they are both dismayed to see that Piotr has returned with Nikolai, who is completely pale-faced.
  • Pavel Petrovich explains that they had an altercation when Bazarov insulted the Englishman Robert Peel. He says, "It was I who challenged him" (24.105).
  • Nikolai is shocked to see blood on his brother's trousers, but Pavel Petrovich says, "And did you suppose I had water in my veins?" (24.107).
  • They load Pavel Petrovich into the carriage and, at Nikolai's request, Bazarov attends to him. Nikolai walks on behind.
  • When they return the house is in turmoil. Only Pavel Petrovich continues to joke, especially with Bazarov.
  • Bazarov attends to Pavel Petrovich as little as possible and is in a gloomy mood. When the town doctor comes to help Pavel Petrovich, Nikolai slips him money and tells him that it was simply an accident (so as to avoid gossip).
  • Nikolai keeps visiting his brother throughout the night, though Pavel Petrovich tells him to get to sleep.
  • Toward morning, a slight delirium sets in. Pavel Petrovich says to Nikolai that he thinks Fenichka resembles his old love, Princess R., and Nikolai is amazed at "the persistent vitality of old passions in a man" (24.117).
  • Pavel Petrovich exclaims that he loves that simple creature and "will suffer no insolent upstart to dare to lay a finger..." (24.118).
  • Nikolai doesn't know what he's talking about.
  • The next morning, Bazarov comes to see Nikolai before he leaves. Nikolai, though a bit tongue-tied, tells him that he understands that the whole thing was Pavel Petrovich's fault, and tells him that he has done everything he can to avoid publicity.
  • Bazarov leaves his address in case there are any further complications. He tells Nikolai to say good-bye to Arkady in case he misses him.
  • Pavel Petrovich says good-bye to Bazarov, but "even now Bazarov remained as cold as ice; he realized that Pavel Petrovich wanted to play the magnanimous" (24.128).
  • He doesn't say goodbye to Fenichka, and both Piotr and Dunyasha are extremely upset at his parting.
  • Riding away in his carriage and smoking a cigar as he leaves the Kirsanovs' farm for the last time, Bazarov mutters to himself, "These damned little gentry!" (24.128).
  • Pavel Petrovich begins to feel better over the course of a week. Nikolai and Fenichka care for him, and everyone in the house is shocked at his behavior, except for Prokofyich, for whom duels used to be a matter of course.
  • Fenichka had no moral qualms about what happened, but she was worried about what actually caused the fight: "She grew thin from constant inward agitation and, as always happens, she looked even prettier" (24.130).
  • One morning, as Fenichka is bringing in the tea, Pavel Petrovich asks her to sit with him. When she does, he asks her why it is that she sometimes seems afraid of him. He asks if her conscience is clear.
  • Fenichka goes crimson, but says there is no reason why her conscience should not be clear.
  • Pavel Petrovich asks if she loves Nikolai, and she says, "I love Nikolai Petrovich with all my heart" (24.145).
  • He presses her, and she says, "If I did not love Nikolai Petrovich I would have nothing to live for" (24.147).
  • When he continues to press her, Fenichka becomes confused. Pavel Petrovich tells her that she saw what happened between her and Bazarov, and she goes completely red.
  • Sobbing, she passionately says that she was not at all to blame. When Fenichka looks back at Pavel Petrovich, she is astonished to see a tear rolling down his cheek.
  • He tells her never to stop loving Nikolai, and takes her hand and squeezes it.
  • "At that moment the whole of his wasted life stirred within him" (24.165).
  • The stairs creak and Nikolai enters carrying Mitya. Fenichka rushes to him and embraces him. She usually isn't very affectionate, and Nikolai is taken aback.
  • He asks if anything is the matter.
  • After a pause, Pavel Petrovich asks Nikolai to carry out one request. He tells him that he is an upright man and that he must "Marry Fenichka... She loves you; she is the mother of your son" (24.178).
  • Nikolai steps back and throws up his hands. He tells Pavel Petrovich that the only reason he hasn't already done so is because he didn't want to displease his brother.
  • Pavel Petrovich tells him that he was mistaken. He says, "enough worrying about appearances and what people think: we are quiet, elderly folk now; it's high time we laid aside the vanity of the world" (24.181).
  • Nikolai rushes to him and embraces him. He praises his kindness. Pavel Petrovich asks him to be careful of his leg.
  • Nikolai wonders what Arkady will say, and Pavel says he is certain that Arkady will be delighted.
  • They embrace again.
  • Pavel Petrovich thinks that Nikolai should go tell Fenichka his decision at once, but Nikolai says that now that everything is set there is no reason to rush. As he leaves, he thanks Pavel Petrovich again.
  • Pavel Petrovich wonders why Nikolai thanks him since it is entirely his own decision. He thinks that after they marry he will go somewhere far away and wait to die.
  • He leans back on his pillow and "In the glaring daylight his handsome emaciated head lay on the white pillow like the head of a dead man... And, indeed, to all intents and purpose, so he was" (24.196).

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