Fathers and Sons: Notes

Fathers and Sons: Notes

Fathers and Sons: Notes

Fathers and Sons: Notes


The original CliffsNotes study guides offer expert commentary on major themes, plots, characters, literary devices, and historical background.

CliffsNotes on Fathers and Sons explores the social pressures and conflicts of mid-nineteenth-century Russia. When first published, the novel stirred terrific uproar, from conservatives and liberals alike.

Follow the story of a nihilist as the novel's central figure, a person who "examines everything from a critical point of view... a person who does not bow to any authorities; who doesn't accept any principle on faith, no matter how hallowed and how venerated the principle is." This concise supplement to Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev's book about conflicts between generations covers the overall structure of the novel, actions and motivations of the characters, and the cultural context of the times. Features that help you study include

  • Background on the author
  • Chapter-by-chapter summaries and commentaries
  • Descriptive character analyses
  • Critical essay on the book's structure
  • An interactive quiz and suggested essay topics

Classic literature or modern modern-day treasure - you'll understand it all with expert information and insight from CliffsNotes study guides.


Nikolai Petrovitch Kirsanov and his servant Piotr are waiting the arrival of Arkady, Nikolai’s son, who has recently finished his studies at the University of St. Petersburg and is returning to his country home for a visit. Nikolai is a landlord with a moderate estate. He is the son of a Russian general who had achieved a degree of fame in the front lines of 1812. Unlike his brother Pavel, who excelled in military service, Nikolai “could never distinguish himself by his courage.” Later, the two brothers shared an apartment in St. Petersburg, where Nikolai finished his studies at the university.

Nikolai married the daughter of his landlord in spite of the objections of his father, and settled in the country, where Arkady was born. His wife died prematurely, leaving Nikolai lonely and isolated. When Arkady came of age, his father went with him to St. Petersburg and remained there with him for three school years while Arkady pursued his studies. the final winter, Nikolai was unable to remain with Arkady and is now nostalgically recalling the past while waiting for the arrival of his son. During his daydreaming, the coach carrying Arkady arrives and the father and son lock in an embrace.


Turgenev was a writer intently interested in social reforms, and as a realistic novelist, he set his works in contemporary Russia. Thus, the background and the social changes going on in Russia at the time do function in his novel. Ultimately, Bazarov must be seen as one of the rising new middle class that will dominate the scene in Russia for the next generations. Previous to the 1840s and 1850’s, the middle class was virtually nonexistent as a social power, but during these decades, this class began to produce its own intelligentsia that asserted itself in many areas of Russian life. the contrast between a member of the old school such as Pavel with Bazarov, the new middle class, will be developed at length later in the novel.

The relationship between the great landowner and the serf was undergoing a tremendous change also. the situation in Russia during this time is analogous to the conditions found in the . . .

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