Fathers and Sons By Ivan Turgenev Summary and Analysis Chapter 14

Summary

At the governor's ball, Arkady's uncle shines like a true French courtier — amiable to all present and especially favorable to the ladies. Endless swarms of people dance and many speak an affected French. Kukshina arrives, but is not appropriately dressed, her gloves being dirty and her dress extremely disheveled.

Suddenly Sitnikov stops and announces the arrival of Odintsova to Arkady, who is immediately impressed and wants to meet her. When introduced, Odintsova acknowledges that she has seen Arkady's father and has heard about him. He becomes completely enraptured with her and chatters on as though he were a stagestruck schoolboy. She asks him who his companion is, and he rhapsodizes about Bazarov. His enthusiasm for Bazarov moves Madame Odintsova to express her wish to meet the friend. Arkady promises to come for a visit and bring Bazarov with him.

Arkady speaks to Bazarov about Odintsova, but his companion is very cynical about this grand lady. Bazarov's sarcasm annoys Arkady. Kukshina is also annoyed because no one paid any attention to her. The ball ended at four a.m. with Sitnikov and Kukshina dancing a polka-mazurka.

Analysis

Chapter 14 serves to introduce the reader to Madame Odintsova and to satirize the type of provincial Russian ball where the participants ape western culture by their mannerisms and affected French.

The first appearance of Madame Odintsova emphasizes her physical attractiveness. "She carried her bare arms beautifully to set off her graceful figure." Since Bazarov will at first be attracted only by her bodily attributes, it is apropos that Turgenev introduces her with emphasis on her physical beauty. The other quality emphasized is her coldness and severity. Arkady is immediately attracted to her and wonders if she dances. Vaguely, it is suggested that dancing is not an art that a nihilist would practice, and Bazarov does not participate in any of the dances. But when Arkady asks Madame Odintsova if she dances, he is unconsciously associating her with the nihilist viewpoint that is opposed to dancing, but she thinks that he is referring to her age.

At the end of the chapter, Bazarov tries to cover up his attraction for Madame Odintsova by saying derogatory things about her and by emphasizing how attractive her body is.

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