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Fathers and Sons

Fathers and Sons

by Ivan Turgenev

Society and Class Quotes Page 1

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Quote #1

Piotr, being one of the modern 'up-to-date' servants, had not approached to kiss the young master's hand but merely bowed to him from a distance, now vanished again through the gateway. (2.14)

What do you think has changed between the outlooks of the old servants and the new ones? Why might a servant no longer kiss a master's hand? Is this a sign of greater respect or lesser? How do servants know how to act when an outlook is in the process of changing?

Quote #2

"To the town, most likely. To the tavern," he added contemptuously, and half turned towards the coachman as if calling him to witness. But the coachman remained completely aloof: he was a peasant of the old type who disapproved of the modern outlook. (3.20)

Piotr has been identified as a servant of the 'modern outlook.' He here speaks scornfully of other peasants who seem to be using their new freedom to go the tavern. He tries to enlist the coachman, but the coachman disagrees with his attitude. What exactly is the modern outlook with which the coachman is disagreeing? If he disapproves of the new freedom of the peasants, wouldn't he agree with Piotr? Is he simply showing solidarity with the peasants?

Quote #3

"Well, I have made a change there. I decided not to keep any of the former house-serfs about the place, once they received their freedom; or at least not to entrust them with any jobs involving responsibility." (3.37)

Doesn't it seem paradoxical that Nikolai frees his peasants, but as a result has less trust in them? Why would he free them if he couldn't count on them to work after they were free? Does Nikolai seem to be acting in the peasants' best interest or his own? What, then, is his motivation for acting the way he does?

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