Fathers and Sons By Ivan Turgenev Summary and Analysis Chapter 26

Summary

The day after Bazarov's arrival, Arkady and Katya are sitting alone in the garden. He tries to tell her how much he has changed and credits her with being a good influence upon him. He wants to tell her something that will surprise her, but he gets twisted up in his speech so badly that Katya has to tell him that she does not know what he is trying to say.

At this time, they both overhear the voices of Madame Odintsova and Bazarov. These two are discussing whether or not Arkady has an attachment to Madame Odintsova. Bazarov is still certain that he is right, but Madame Odintsova doubts it. She is pleased with the brotherly manner of Arkady toward Katya. At this time, the couple pass out of the hearing range of Arkady and Katya.

After overhearing this embarrassing conversation, Arkady immediately confesses his love for Katya and discovers to his astonishment that she also loves him. The couple are then united "innocently weeping and laughing."

The next morning, Madame Odintsova shows Bazarov a letter from Arkady asking for Katya's hand in marriage.

Bazarov lends his support to the marriage, but announces his intention to rejoice at a distance. He plans to leave that day and return to his father's house. Madame Odintsova bids him goodbye, convinced that they shall meet again.

Bazarov congratulates Arkady and explains that marriage is good for certain types. He feels that Arkady was not meant to live the rough and difficult life demanded by "nihilism." Bazarov refuses to say anything sentimental in parting and only wishes his friend good luck. They embrace and part.

That evening in the presence of Katya, Arkady soon forgot his old companion. Madame Odintsova took great delight in observing the happy lovers, who were spending all their time together and avoiding everyone else's company.

Analysis

Even after Bazarov's arrival, Arkady still chooses to spend most of his time in the presence of Katya. In their talks, Arkady finally admits how much he has changed and how much Katya has been instrumental in his transition. Thus, from the beginning of the novel, we have observed the change that has taken place in Arkady until now he has become a responsible member of society desiring a wife and family.

As Arkady tries to propose to Katya, Bazarov, and Madame Odintsova pass close by, talking about the young couple. This is another example of Turgenev resorting to an artificial technique in order to develop his story. As in an earlier chapter, this technique carries little that is convincing in the realistic sense and strikes the reader as being false. But the overheard conversation does serve to prompt Arkady to make his proposal openly and directly.

The next day, when Bazarov hears about the marriage, he announces at the same time that he is leaving. It is almost too much for him to bear, since he has been so disappointed in his own efforts to earn the love of a woman. As he leaves, Madame Odintsova tells him that she is convinced they will meet again. The irony involved of course is the fact that they will have but one more meeting — at Bazarov's deathbed.

Bazarov does analyze Arkady's character correctly as he is leaving. He tells his friend: "you haven't either the audacity or malevolence . . . you were not created for our bitter, caustic, solitary life." In their final embrace, there seems to be recognition that they have traveled along some good paths together and that they will never see each other again. There is finally no bitterness or regret, just a parting.

After Bazarov leaves, Madame Odintsova reiterates her earlier position that her peace is better than getting involved in his type of life. No one else missed Bazarov or noted his absence, especially Katya and Arkady, who by this time were oblivious to everything but each other.

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