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Fathers and Sons

Fathers and Sons


by Ivan Turgenev

Fathers and Sons Theme of Suffering

Characters suffer quietly in Fathers and Sons, and their desire to hide their suffering often makes it that much more poignant. Pavel Petrovich feels incredibly alone after his failed love affair; Nikolai Petrovich fears that he and his son are growing apart; Bazarov feels isolated because he believes himself incapable of love; Vassily Ivanych feels compelled to hide his love for his son and hence comes to grief. The story is full of anguish, and yet there is a buoyant spirit that ultimately keeps the novel from being a completely black tragedy.

Questions About Suffering

  1. What seems to be at the root of Bazarov's suffering? Are there other characters in the novel that suffer in the same way? Do you think he has a way out of his suffering?
  2. How do characters ease others' suffering? How do they increase it?
  3. Why do you think Pavel Petrovich chooses to suffer alone? Does his role in Nikolai and Fenichka's relationship seem to make him feel better or worse?
  4. Does Anna Sergeyevna suffer in the novel? What is the relationship between the ability to suffer and the ability to love?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Pavel Petrovich is too proud to admit how much he suffers from the loss of Princess R.; the only way he tries to make himself feel better is by acting magnanimous and helping Nikolai and Fenichka.

What is at the root of Bazarov's suffering is his feeling of superiority; he isolates himself because he treats other people as if they are inferior.

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