Pavel is a "dated" aristocratic gentleman who belongs to a rapidly fleeting era in Russian history. He is caught in the dilemma of having to witness the facts of social change without being able to accept them either emotionally or intellectually. Needless to say his reaction to Bazarov and the new "nihilism" is fierce.
Pavel is the true fop, meticulous about his dress and general deportment, but totally hollow in his adherence to the ideals of the aristocracy, and ineffective in all of his actions. For all of his gentility and correctness, he serves no useful function in this life. The only advice he can offer Nikolai when the latter's estate is falling into ruin is "Du calme! Du calme!" But our judgment of Pavel is not really too harsh. At times we cannot help pitying this man who has experienced a tragically sad love affair and who sees his way of life crumbling about him. Also, he does exhibit something of a magnanimous spirit when he finally condones, if he doesn't actually approve, the marriage between his brother Nikolai and the servant girl Fenichka. By the end of the novel he has not changed in the least, however, and we leave him playing the role of an aristocratic, bored nobleman in Dresden.