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Fathers and Sons

Fathers and Sons


by Ivan Turgenev

Fathers and Sons Chapter 8 Summary

  • Pavel doesn't stay long at the interview with the bailiff, who constantly agrees that the peasants were a useless bunch.
  • The estate has just recently been put on a new system "whose mechanism still creaked like an ungreased wheel, and cracked in places like home-made furniture of unseasoned wood" (8.1).
  • Nikolai, for his part, knows that things could not be improved without money, which he does not currently have.
  • Pavel has, as Arkady told Bazarov, helped out his brother on more than one occasion. Pavel would never tell Nikolai this, but he thinks him impractical; he thinks that he mismanages his estate.
  • In contrast, Nikolai greatly admires Pavel's practical ability. He tells him, "you understand people. You see through them with the eye of an eagle" (8.1).
  • After leaving the meeting, Pavel goes to visit Fenichka. He asks her if she will tell the servants to get him some green tea.
  • Fenichka agrees, and Pavel notes that she has changed the curtains. She says that Nikolai replaced them for him.
  • Pavel says that the room looks quite cozy, and Fenichka says that it is only due to Nikolai's kindness.
  • Pavel continues to question her about the difference between old quarters and new. Fenichka keeps thinking that he is about to go away, but he makes no move.
  • After a pause, Pavel asks if he can have a look at the little child. Fenichka is delighted and has the servant Dunyasha bring her child, Mitya, over to her.
  • Fenichka goes with Dunyasha to dress the child, and Pavel observes the room. It is well decorated, including some unflattering pictures of Nikolai and Fenichka, and a menacing looking one of their father, General Kirsanov.
  • When Fenichka reappears, it is clear that she has neatened up both the infant and herself. The narrator thinks, "Is there anything more captivating than a beautiful young mother with a healthy child in her arms?" (8.24).
  • Pavel tickles Mitya's chin, and Fenichka points to Pavel and whispers to Mitya that he is looking at his uncle.
  • Pavel asks how old the baby is, and she says almost seven months. Dunyasha thinks that it is eight, but Fenichka snaps that it is seven (shouldn't a mother know how old her baby is?).
  • The baby takes Fenichka's nose in its hands and she jokingly exclaims, "You little rogue!" (8.32).
  • Pavel thinks that the baby looks very much like his brother.
  • A moment later, Nikolai appears. He has been searching for Pavel.
  • Pavel sees how happy Nikolai is and tells him he has a fine little infant. He then leaves without saying anything.
  • Nikolai asks Fenichka if Pavel came of his own accord. Nikolai asks if Arkady has come again, but she says that he has not.
  • Fenichka wonders if she should move into the back-wing, but Nikolai says no, that it's too late. If she was going to move, they should have done it before.
  • He bends down and kisses her hand; "Her expression was lovely as she peeped from under her eyelids and laughed tenderly and a little foolishly" (8.48).
  • Nikolai met Fenichka when he was staying in an inn in a remote provincial town. He was impressed with the cleanliness of his room, and fell into conversation with the landlady, Arina Savishna.
  • After the re-arrangement of his estate, Nikolai had little interest in employing his former servants. For her part, Arina was disappointed with how few people came through the inn.
  • Nikolai suggested that she come to work for him, and shortly after she moved in with her daughter at Maryino.
  • Arina was a good worker and brought order to the farm. For the first year, she kept Fenichka out of sight, except for Sundays when she would come out for church.
  • One day, Fenichka got a spark from the stove in her eye. Arina brought her to Nikolai, and he made up an ointment for the girl and, tearing up his handkerchief, showed her how to bathe it.
  • Arina told Fenichka to kiss her master's hand, but she was confused and so Nikolai leaned forward and kissed her forehead.
  • After that, she was shy with him, but she had made quite an impression on him and he couldn't get the sight of her gentle face out of his head.
  • Suddenly, Arina died of cholera. Fenichka was left out all alone, and, as the narrator says, "There is no need to describe what followed" (8.53).
  • Nikolai again clarifies that Pavel dropped in of his own will. Fenichka says yes, he did, and Nikolai, very happy, picks up his young child and begins tossing it toward the ceiling. The baby is delighted, but the mother is frightened.
  • Meanwhile, Pavel returns to his grey room, and throws himself down on the sofa. He remains "staring at the ceiling with an expression verging on despair" (8.58).

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