When Virginia Woolf discussed Fathers and Sons, she noted how the human characters do not exist in isolation from the natural world. As she put it, their struggles take on all the more significance because they are not the whole of the scene, but only a "part of the whole." The novel is full of beautiful descriptions of the Russian countryside, and characters are often distinguished by their attitudes toward nature. Being able to appreciate nature becomes linked with a feeling of wonder and awe for existence in general.
Nikolai Petrovich and Vassily Ivanych seem to have an appreciation for the land, in part because their livelihoods depend on it; with time, this sense of dependence blooms into full-scale romanticism.
The lengthy natural descriptions in the novel remind the reader of how insignificant human drama is when viewed from the perspective of nature.