There is a case to be made that the protagonist of the novel is actually Arkady, though as the novel goes on it becomes clear that the narrator is more drawn to the character of Bazarov. If by mere force of personality, Bazarov's storyline comes to be the focus of the narrative. It's slightly strange because, in many ways, Bazarov is at a distance from the other characters in the novel. Though Arkady and Sitnikov worship him, he tends to upset the people that he visits and, as the book goes on, he feels more and more isolated. Yet when Arkady leaves for Nikolskoye to see Katya, the narrative stays with Bazarov at Maryino. It is the fascinating and intense character of Bazarov that propels the story from start to finish.