Summary and Analysis Chapter 20



As the two friends step down from the coach, Vassily Ivanovitch Bazarov and his wife Arina Vlassevna smother their son with kisses and embraces. The mother is so ovedoyed at seeing her son for the first time in three years that she can hardly control herself. The father tries to calm her so as not to make Bazarov feel uncomfortable. Arkady is introduced to the parents and taken to his room in the "humble military home." Vassily Ivanovitch is very apologetic about the house, but Bazarov thinks this is affected and explains that they are not nobility but only good simple people.

Bazarov's father tries to impress his son by relating his attempts at reform on the farm and by expressing an interest in the latest scientific and medical discoveries. He explains that he no longer practices medicine, but he does give free advice and often administers to the peasants. Arina Vlassevna treats the two young men to a magnificent feast accompanied with champagne.

When they retire for the night, Vassily Ivanovitch comes to speak with Bazarov, but his son dismisses him because of his preoccupation with his recent experiences with Madame Odintsova.

"Arina Vlassevna was a true lady of the olden days; she should have lived two hundred years ago in the days of old Moscow." She is a very kind, devout, simple, and superstitious woman who dotes upon her son.


Bazarov makes everyone feel uncomfortable except Madame Odintsova. Even Bazarov's parents feel intimidated by their son, who apparently cares very little about how sensitive they are. Bazarov comments about his own father in the same way that he commented about Nikolai. He scorns his own father in almost the same way that he laughed at Nikolai. Both fathers have attempted to keep up with modern developments and Bazarov cannot appreciate the efforts. Bazarov's father mentions some medical theories that he has recently read, but Bazarov says that he scorns all medical theories and pays no attention to any authority. Of course, part of his behavior toward his parents may be due to his disappointment with himself as a result of his unrequited love for Madame Odintsova.

Bazarov's mother is similar to Fenichka, that is, the old Russian who is concerned with the household and with looking after her husband. She is ripe with superstition and peasant customs and her sole concern is keeping her family happy. Sadly, Turgenev notes, "Such women are disappearing now. God knows whether one should rejoice over that."

Back to Top