Fathers and Sons By Ivan Turgenev Summary and Analysis Chapter 4

Summary

Upon arrival at Marino, they are met by Prokofitch, who is described as a simpering old servant. He fawns over the young son of the master and conducts himself in an obeisant manner. Nikolai orders a meal to be prepared immediately and Arkady wants to clean up, but before he leaves, his uncle Pavel appears. He shakes hands with Arkady in a European fashion and then embraces his nephew three times in the Russian fashion.

After Arkady and Bazarov leave to go to their rooms, Pavel asks about the "hairy" creature who is visiting with Arkady.

Bazarov immediately begins to mock Pavel as soon as they are parted. He finds Pavel to be terribly affected for someone living so far out in the country, and in contrast, he finds Nikolai to be very likable. During dinner, Arkady pours himself an extra glass of wine and drinks much more than he usually does.

After returning to their room that night, Bazarov comments about Pavel's affectations and his unique European demeanor. In Pavel's room, long after others have gone to bed, Pavel stays up dressed quite properly and stares about the room. In another room, Fenichka is also awake, but she keeps herself out of sight. In a motherly fashion, she constantly looks in upon her child.

Analysis

Chapter 4 presents the arrival home, but Turgenev lets us know that the event is different from what it would have been in the past. Before the new ideas came into prominence, all the servants would have been gathered around to greet the arrival of the young master, but now this form of activity is frowned upon as being archaic. We do see that Fenichka peeks out of the window and then disappears. More important is the contrast between the two types of servants represented by Piotr and Prokofitch. As noted earlier, Piotr is the new liberated type of servant, but Prokofitch belongs to the old school. Therefore, the latter comes forward and kisses his young master's hand.

We meet Arkady's uncle for the first time. He will stand in contrast to everything that Bazarov represents. Pavel consciously affects European habits of dress and actions. He is an elegant and aristocratic man, immediately repulsed by Bazarov's appearance. Pavel delights in throwing out Prench phrases and makes every effort to appear Europeanized. One should be aware that during a certain period of Russian history, the educated Russian did correspond mainly in French and used Russian only in communication with the serfs or other low-class servants. In fact many Russians could not read and write the Russian language and knew only the necessary minimum to be able to communicate with the serfs.

We notice for the first time that Arkady is uneasy over his return home. He has outgrown childhood, but now returning to the scene of his past, it is difficult to assume his new role. Arkady is drawn between two loyalties: one to his home and his background and the other to his new friend with the advanced ideas. Arkady tries to defend his uncle, whom he respects in many ways and dislikes the fact that Bazarov refers to him as an "archaic phenomenon."

As much as Arkady tries to deny it objectively, we see that he and his father are essentially alike. He acknowledges that his father is a timid man, but the reader also knows that Arkady is himself rather timid.

The chapter ends on Fenichka as she looks at her sleeping baby. Without knowing it at present, we are being prepared for the fact that the child is actually Arkady's half brother even though his father is not married.

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