Fathers and Sons By Ivan Turgenev Summary and Analysis Chapter 15

Summary

Bazarov agrees to call upon Madame Odintsova at her hotel. When they are admitted to her rooms, they find that she is dressed very simply in a morning frock. Arkady introduces his friend and secretly notices that Bazarov is embarrassed in the presence of this beautiful aristocratic woman. Even Bazarov is annoyed to find himself "afraid of a woman."

Anna Sergeyevna Odintsova is the daughter of a landowner who educated his daughter in the best way possible and when he died left her only a small estate to manage for herself. A very rich man — somewhat older than she — saw her and asked for her hand in marriage. She accepted and when he died six years later, she became an immensely wealthy woman. She traveled a good deal throughout Europe, but finally returned to settle in Russia. She was not liked in the province, since she has always been somewhat distant. In fact, there was quite a bit of nasty gossip about her.

When she meets Bazarov, she expresses her delight in knowing a person "who has the courage not to believe in anything." Whenever she brings up a subject for discussion which Bazarov does not like, she immediately changes to some other topic which suits him. As they are leaving, she extends both of them an invitation to visit her at her estate. Both agree to come, even though Bazarov pretends indifference.

After they leave, Bazarov shocks Arkady by emphasizing only the physical beauty of Madame Odintsova. Two days later they leave for her home, Nikolskoe. Bazarov mentions that it is his "day of my angel" and explains that his parents are expecting him but they will have to wait a while longer.

Analysis

For the first time, we see Bazarov in a situation where he is uncomfortable. He is in the presence of a person who has a personality as strong as his own and this disconcerts him. Formerly everytime we have seen him he was in control of the situation by being coldly aloof and austere, but here Madame Odintsova is the cold and withdrawn one. She seems to be the controlling factor, not Bazarov.

We must also remember that Madame Odintsova is somewhat older than either Arkady or Bazarov, and she has lived more extensively then either student. Arkady is astounded as he for the first time notices a form of contradiction in his friend; Arkady is shocked to see Bazarov in a situation where he blushes. As they leave, to cover up his embarrassment, Bazarov again returns to the subject of Madame Odintsova's beautiful body. He feels on safer ground talking about a woman's anatomy and even wishes, ironically and ridiculously, that he had her body in the dissecting room.

This chapter follows Turgenev's technique of interrupting the narrative to give some background information about a character. We learn that Madame Odintsova has lived a varied life filled with many experiences and finally decided to return to this Russian province to settle down. Furthermore, we hear that she is not liked by the other people. This causes Bazarov later to ask her if she is disturbed by the rumors in the town.

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