Summary and Analysis
Matvei Ilyich Kolyazin was a vain but good-natured man. He had no particular intellect, but was capable of handling his own affairs. He receives Arkady with good nature and invites him obliquely to a ball that the governor is giving in his honor. Arkady returns to the inn and tells Bazarov, who agrees to meet the governor and "take a look at the gentry." On returning from the governor's house, where they go to pay their respects, they meet Viktor Sitnikov, and old acquaintance of Bazarov's.
Sitnikov suggests that they go and meet a progressive woman named Avdotya Nikitishna Kukshina, who according to Sitnikov, will provide them with a real feast. Bazarov is at first reluctant to go but ultimately agrees to accompany them just out of curiosity.
The three companions arrive at Kukshina's house and are received by the lady who advances the most liberal views. She immediately begins to talk about a variety of typical subjects and demonstrates a superficial knowledge of many contemporary authors and opinions. Throughout the conversation she tries to get Bazarov to agree with her, but he militantly maintains his own individualistic opinions.
Madame Kukshina does mention another person of the neighborhood who shares many of her advanced opinions, a Madame Odintsova, who is a widow and a large landowner. While they are there, a large breakfast is served and with it four bottles of champagne are consumed. After a time, Arkady can stand no more and wants to leave. When the three men are alone, Sitnikov seems proud of having been instrumental in providing his friends with good food and champagne, but his companions give him no credit for his accomplishment.
Chapters 12 and 13 function essentially as transitional chapters. Turgenev takes the opportunity to satirize the Russian official who maintains that he is an advanced liberal, but is in reality as much a despot as any of the older officials are.
The characterization of Sitnikov is also satiric. He is the pseudo-intellectual who attaches himself to the fringe of any movement which seems advanced. He is an "idea-taster." He does not comprehend the movement but acts as a parasite so as to gain the attention of people obviously greater than he. In the final chapter, we hear that this absurd person is trying to continue Bazarov's "work" after the latter's death.
Kukshina is also satirized as the advanced and liberated woman. The most cutting remark about her is in the next chapter when she appears at the ball dressed in soiled gloves and dances after everyone else has departed. Kukshina and Sitnikov seem to remain with one another out of desperation in trying to find other companions.
Kukshina's attempt to show off her knowledge of all the contemporary writers in Europe and America indicates the superficiality of her knowledge, since she apparently has not penetrated beneath the surface level of any of these authors.