Fathers and Sons: Book Report

Arcady: His Voyage Towards Individualism In the novel Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev, Arcady plays a major role both in his own life and the lives of others. Arcady, despite the shield he surrounds himself with, is not a true Nihilist like his friend Bazarov through his thoughts and actions we see his change. To begin, Arcady shows signs of Romanticism Early on in the novel despite the announcement of his Nihilist beliefs. For example, Bazarov and Arcady were walking one afternoon in the garden and overheard Nicholas playing his cello. “At that instant the lingering notes of a cello were wafted towards them from the house . . . and, like honey, the melody flowed through the air” (49).

Like a true Nihilist, Bazarov immediately denounced the act of playing music as a purely romantic institution. “Good Lord! At forty-four, a pater familias, in the province of X, playing the cello! Bazarov continued to laugh: but, on this occasion, Arcady, though he venerated his mentor, did not even smile” (50). By this we see that although Arcady looks up to Bazarov, he truly does not uphold the Nihilist beliefs as strongly or as strictly. His acceptance of his father’s cello playing shows that Arcady, unlike Bazarov. does not find music a purely romantic institution, but an enjoyable way ! to be merry. Also this incident shows us that Arcady does not like when others poke fun at his family. Here, he obviously does not think his father’s cello playing is a laughing matter.

Secondly, Nihilist ideas included the belief that love is outdated. Arcady went against this belief when he fell in love with Anna Sergeyevna and later, her sister Katya. Arcady even went so far as to tell Katya, in his own way, that he truly loved her. “It may be all the same to you, but I should like to state that, far from having any preference for your sister, I wouldn’t exchange you for anyone else in the world” (174). Bazarov also fell in love with Anna Sergeyevna but realized that she would not love him back. ” I must tell you that I love you stupidly, madly . . . . You have forced me. Now you know.’ Madame Odintzov was filled with fear as well as a feeling of compassion for him. But she at once disengaged herself from his embrace an instant later she was already standing distantly in the corner and gazing at him. You misunderstood me,’ she whispered hastily in alarm. She looked as though she might scream if he took another step (108).

“And so, he retur! ned to his Nihilist beliefs. Arcady’s falling in love with Katya and his proposal to her was his second step towards becoming an individual. It showed that he no longer followed Bazarov like an impressionable child would an older sibling. He now began to make large decisions on his own which affected his life in a big way. Arcady, through his understanding of Bazarov’s arrogance, took his third and final step towards becoming his own person. “It is not for the gods to glaze pottery . . . . Only now, at this very instant, was the whole bottomless pit of Bazarov’s arrogance and pride revealed to him. So you and I are gods? Or rather, you are a god and I’m a mere lout, isn’t that so?’ Yes,’ Bazarov repeated firmly. You’re still stupid.'” (112).

Not only does this remark allow Arcady to see that Bazarov had never considered him an equal, but also that Bazarov believed himself a god dwelling above all others. This prompted Arcady to reconsider his relationship with Bazarov. He realized they were never friends, but only mere traveling companions on the road of life. Arcady seemed to realize also that he was never a pure and true Nihilist. He had been drawn into that particular way of thinking by his mentor, Bazarov, not his willingness to uphold Nihilism. Turgenev does a very good job in showing the changes taking place within Arcady. His true nature is slowly revealed throughout the book and we see his way of thinking by reading about his actions.

Arcady is truly a dynamic character, as can be seen by his Nihilist beliefs changing into romantic ideas. Arcady enjoys beautiful language and is also a bit of a philosopher. For example, his description of a falling leaf: “Look! A withered maple leaf has left its branch and is falling to the ground its movements resemble those of a butterfly in flight. Isn’t it strange? The saddest and deadest of all things is yet so like the gayest and most vital of all creatures” (134). By the conclusion of the novel, we see that Arcady was part of the novel because he had the most influence on others as well as on himself, and also because he had the most to learn from life’s experiences. He has established a life of his own. A life where he if free from Bazarov’s hold and Nihilist ! ideas, and a life where he is free to be himself. His voyage: completed.

Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons

Fathers and Sons is a story about differences and conflicts, differences in how people think, new vs. old and the conflict that having different views can cause. The story begins with Nikolai Kirsanov and his servant Piotr who are awaiting the arrival of Arkady, Nikolai’s son, who has just graduated from collage and is returning home for a visit. Arkady arrives with a friend that he introduces as Bazarov, Nikolai is pleased to meet the friend of his son and all four begin to head back to Nikolai’s farm that he calls Marino. Arkady and his father get into a separate coach than Bazarov.

On the ride back the father and son begin to talk about how the farm has changed since he’s been gone, and also warns him of the fact that he is living with a servant, which is usually considered inappropriate. We then begin to see Arkadys new way of thinking first show because he shows himself as being unimpressed and not caring and assures his father that their quest Bazarov doesn’t care either. At the arrival to Marino they are met by Prokofitch who is described as a simpering old servant. Arkady is then met by his uncle Pavel, Pavel shakes hands with Arkady but abruptly puts his hand away when he is greeting Bazarov. We can see from the actions of Pavel that he immediately doesn’t like Bazarov.

After Arkady and Bazarov leave to go to their rooms, Pavel begins to ask about the “hairy creature” that is visiting with Arkady, and Bazarov begins to mock Pavel by comments his European demeanor and finds him “terribly affected for someone living so far out in the country”(ch4). Arkady and his father are also having problems at this time, Nikolai tells Arkady of his relationship with Fenichka, Arkady responds with saying that “You know my philosophy of life, and I would hardly want to interfere with your life or your happiness”(ch5). Nikolai can tell that his son has changed and he does not know how to accept these new ideas and is thrown in to confusion by them.

This is the start of a conflict between the two. In the mean time while Bazarov is out catching frogs and Pavel ask Arkady about his friend and is told that he is a Nihilist, Arkady explains that a nihilist is a person who “examines everything from a critical point of view, a person who does not bow down to authorities, who doesn’t accept any principle on faith, no matter how hollowed and how venerated the principle is.”(ch5). Pavel is the extreme opposite and believes that without principles it is impossible to exist. When Bazarov comes back in, a conflict escalates between the two when he is greeted as “Mr.Nihilist”(6) by Pavel.

The argument between the two is a result of their different views. When the two are alone Bazarov makes several comments about Pavel, Arkady defends Pavel by demanding that Pavels life story deserves some sympathy, he then tells the story of Pavels life. Bazarov listens to the story about Pavel and remarks that “a person who stakes his whole life on the card of a womans love, then withers and sinks to the point of becoming incapable of anything when that card is trumped, isn’t a man, isn’t a male.”(7) Bazarov’s statement is important because we see that at the end of the story his own beliefs are dismissed for the love of Madame Odintsova.

After a few more run in’s with Pavel and with Arkady and his father not being able to see things on the same basis, since Nikolai can’t understand Arkadys views even when reading them, the two boys decide to leave Marino and visit Arkady’s uncle Matvei Kolyazin, who invites them to a ball. This is where they meet Viktor Sitnikov an old acquaintance of Bazarov’s. At the ball is Odintsova, a woman who has very liberal views. Arkady talks to Odintsova through out most of the ball and begins to believe that he is in love with her. but she shows no interest in Arkady and wants to know more about his friend Bazarov. When she finds out that he is a nihilist she wants to meet him since she never met “someone who has the courage not to believe in anything”(15).

Arkady agrees to call upon Madame Odintsova at her hotel. At the hotel we see that Bazarov is embarrassed in the presence of her and is bothered that he is in the presence of someone who has a personality as strong as his and tries to cover it up by saying derogatory remarks about her to Arkady after they have left, being invited to meet her at her home. Two days later they arrive at the home of Madame Odintsova, where she lives with her aunt and sister. The sister is a shy girl of about eighteen and the aunt is a noblewoman. Madame Odintsova suggest to Bazarov that they argue about something and sends Arkady to play the piano with her sister.

Arkady enjoys hearing her play the piano, something a real nihilist would’nt do. The two spend about two weeks at the house before Bazarov surprises Madame Odintsova by announcing that he will soon be leaving. By this time Bazarov believes that he is in love with her and claims to her that only there is only one thing that could keep him from leaving and that it is something he could never have and admits to her that he is “madly and foolishly”(18) in love with her, and rushes from the room. This is a important point in the story for Bazarov since he once ridiculed Pavel for the same such actions, he now finds himself a victim of the same passions.

The two leave Madame Odintsovas together on separate coaches, Bazarov is heading to his parents house and Arkady is heading to Marino, but the two join back and head together to Bazarov’s parents where they are happy to see him after such a long time. But because of his failed relationship with Madame Odintsova Bazarov is miserable at home and is bored, and the relationship between the two friends is deteriorating. At one point on an argument about whether a man should have any principles or not, the argument gets out of hand and later Bazarov instigates the fight again by insulting Arkadys uncle Pavel. Bazarov gets so upset that he threatens to quarrel “to the death, to annihilation.” (21) .

Bazarov is so miserable and bored that he decides in only a few days that he wants to go back to Marino to get some work done. On the way to Marino they wind up at the Madames but this time only stay the day. They both return to Marino, but Arkady decides to return back to Nikolskoe, not to see the Madame but to see Katya. While Arkady is gone a conflict arise between Pavel and Bararov, when he is caught kissing Fenichka. Pavel speaks to Bazarov and suggest that their should be a duel. Bazarov accepts and later laughs at the idea. Before Bazarov would have never have accepted the duel since it is against the beliefs of a nihilist.

To duel for ones honor is the height of romanticism. The two duel and Pavel is injured and instead of finishing Pavel off he runs over to help him. This is kind of ironic since earlier at Bazarovs parents house Bazarov wanted a duel and would kill, but know he is unwilling to. It is also willing to note that Bazarov had to compete in something romantic and against his beliefs and in Pavels world before Pavel could notice any worthy quality in him. When Bazarov arrives at Nikolskoe the relationship between the two friends is pretty much over. Bazarov tells his friend that “A romantic would say that I feel our paths are beginning to divide, but I would simply say that we have grown tired of each other.

In the garden the next day Arkady confesses his love for Katya and finds out that she also loves him. In the story it’s obvious to note that gardens play a romantic role. Nicolai went their to remember his wife, Bazarov kissed Fenishka and walked with Madame Odintsova in a garden, and Arkady know pronounces his love for Katya in the garden. Back at Bazarov’s parents home Bazarov is doing some careless work and contracts a fatal disease. He realizes that he will soon die and sends a note off to Odintsova. A extremely romantic role for a Nihilist. As long as he is conscious he refuses his last rights and thus remains true to his beliefs, but comforts his father by reminding him that the last rights can be given to an unconscious man.

Bazarov gives into romanticism when he begins to tell the Madame how beautiful she is and as he becomes delirious, says things that contradict his earlier views. And admits that there are certain types of men that are needed in Russia and, he is not one of them. The story follows a certain path of conflict in that Bazarov who was a Nihilist who believed in nothing and believed that romanticism was nonsense, was turned around and in the end suffered the same conflict Pavel went through in life, the love of a woman he could’nt have and the feelings of love so great that it helped destroy him.

Crime and Punishment and Fathers and Sons: Compare

Brilliance surely comes with a price. Often a protagonist is, in his own right, an absolute genius, but for this gift of vision, he must remain isolated for eternity. Crime and Punishment (1886), by Fyodor Dostoevsky, depicts a poverty stricken young man who discovers a revolutionary theory of the mind of a criminal. Despite his psychological insight, Raskolnikov is alienated from society, and eventually forced to test his theory upon himself.

Ivan Turgenev’s Bazarov, in Fathers and Sons (1862), pioneers the anarchistic philosophy of nihilism, depending entirely on science and reason, but ends up falling passionately in love and then cast out, through death, from the rigidity of thought he held so dear. D-503, the main character of Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We (1921), discovers an immense and rigid counterculture and drowns himself in it, only to surface without anyone with whom to relate. Each author suggests the irony of a prophetic mind being wasted and outcast among ordinary men.

Raskolnikov, a former student, forced to drop out of the university because he is unable to afford the tuition, is forced to work part-time with his friend Razumihin as a translator. Through this endeavor, Raskolnikov, or Rodya as his mother calls him, becomes well versed in the literature and existentialist philosophies of the time. Writing to a local newspaper, Rodya ventures to propose a superman theory similar to that of Nietzsche, made popular around the time Dostoevsky wrote the novel. “I only believe in my leading idea that men are in general divided by a law of nature into two categories, inferior (ordinary) and men who have the gift or the talent to utter a new word.”

This principle, that man is simply either ordinary or extraordinary, limited by rules and boundaries or allowed to transgress these barriers en route to his planned greater goal for humanity, gains Raskolnikov little profit or renown. Though the extraordinary man theory could easily be applied to Napoleon, as is done in Rodya’s thesis, few of Dostoevsky’s characters accept its revolutionary psychological approach to criminal behavior. Only the lead detective, Porfiry Petrovich, comes to accept Raskolnikov’s approach. This parallel epiphany is ironic, indeed, because throughout the novel, Rodya and Porfiry are cast as foils. Even this revelation, though, occurs only after a test subject is provided: Raskolnikov, himself.

Rodya’s deeply rooted depression and feeling of rejection from civilized society eventually lead him to test his marvelous experiment, to find out whether or not he, or any man, can know he is, or even really be, an extraordinary man. Raskolnikov chooses the ultimate transgression of moral and lawful boundaries: murder. To rid society of a disgusting, infected member, who merely preys on the less fortunate, Rodya plots to kill a local pawnbroker. “Kill her, take her money and with the help of it devote oneself to the service of humanity and the good of all.” This plan, designed to establish himself as a superman by overstepping conventional boundaries, and carried out nearly flawlessly, demonstrates the calculated risk Rodya was willing to take to verify his place in society.

Through dramatic irony, Raskolnikov’s seemingly perfect plan goes astray, as his tormenting guilt eventually brings him to confess. Not necessarily disproving Nietzsche, Rodya’s breakdown illustrates his own personal failure to reach the standards set in his own philosophy, those of being able to sustain dominance in spite of external disapproval and being able to continue on a constant, uninterrupted path to a better end, regardless of the obstacles necessary to destroy. Porfiry Petrovich’s initial conversation with Raskolnikov on the uniqueness of the theory foreshadows Raskolnikov’s demise and rapid decent back to the ordinary.

Rodya ultimately admits his failure to himself by reflecting, “I didn’t do the murder to gain wealth and power and to become a benefactor of mankind. Nonsense! I simply did it; I did the murder for myself.” Raskolnikov’s ingenious psychoanalysis of a criminal proves costly for himself, as his only subject, himself, proves the qualities of the superhuman too difficult to reach, even for the theory’s own originator, and merely casts himself as a pariah in the society that he wished to improve.

As a young student at a progressive Russian university, Bazarov of Fathers and Sons has mastered the increasingly popular political philosophy of nihilism. “A nihilist is a person who doesn’t bow down before authorities, doesn’t accept even one principle on faith, no matter how much respect surrounds that principle.” Not only do these rationalists disown all accepted idealistic fields such as romanticism and the arts, they also call for an end to any and all non-scientific, non-rationalistic thought, and the injection of reason into all political and societal action. Just as Bazarov has cleared his mind of all things irrational, a true love enters his life, one whom he cannot shut out using nihilism: Anna.

The two become intensely emotionally attached, bringing about a sharp dramatic irony, as Bazarov appears unfazed by the seemingly obvious self-contradiction. “I love you irrevocably, forever and ever; I love no one else but you.” Even in the couple’s constant dialogue, verbal irony runs high as Bazarov always speaks in short, rational sentences, while at the same time dealing in a subject manner, love, with which his philosophy has nothing to identify. Bazarov’s blind faith for nihilism, while at the same time believing he has fallen in love, acts to alienate Bazarov both from his own parents and from his young disciple, Arkady.

Moments before Bazarov’s death, he remarks, “Strength, what strength I still possess, yet I have to die!,” alluding to his still-strong disestablishmentarianistic views being plunged further and further into romanticism and tradition. Though he clings to nihilism to the end, it is this ideal which casts Bazarov out from his fellow man and cannot explain his natural, human tendency of love.

Zamyatin’s We identifies the protagonist as strictly adherent to the rules of society, not once daring to overstep the boundaries. D-503 is portrayed as the model citizen of the One State, never questioning its genius. Human nature, it seems, intervenes, and with his newfound relationship with I-330, D-503 develops a rebellious side, longing for the freedoms granted his ancestors under barbaric rule centuries before. “There were two of me. The former one, D-503, number D-503, and the other Before, he had just barely shown his hairy paws from within the shell; now all of him broke out, the shell cracked.”

This epiphany of true happiness, not as defined by the One State as the lack of any wants or needs, but rather as ultimate freedom with responsibility toward humanity, sets into motion a quick sequence of events designed to end this supremacist system. Through internal monologue, the reader is shown D-503’s realization of the ironic juxtaposition of the professed magnificence and ultimate wisdom of the One State as opposed to the magnificence and ultimate wisdom of true freedom without boundaries. “And what if – without waiting – I plunge myself, head down? Would it not be the only, the correct way – disentangling everything at once?” Written during the rise of communism in Russia as profoundly democratic propaganda, We highlights the irrationality of absolute rationality under and egalitarian, inhuman regime.

Accompanied by I-330, D-503 works to spread his revolutionary message by use of the One State’s crown jewel of exploration, the space ship, the Integral. Unfortunately, this rebellion is crushed resolutely, and I-330 is brutally murdered by the government, an added social commentary on Zamyatin’s part. D-503 succumbs to torture and identifies his co-conspirators, without having to be put to death himself. D-503 is then reinserted as an arbitrary number into society, without the necessary human faculty of imagination, due to an intense operation given to all citizens of the One State as punishment for the betrayal.

Once cleansed of the threat of freedom, D-503 becomes incapable of irrational thought, and is released as merely a cog in the massive machinery of the One State, paying a severe price for his short-lived experience of natural rights. “I smile – I cannot help smiling: a kind of splinter was pulled out of my head, and the head feels light, empty.” Zamyatin uses dramatic irony, and the inclusion of the innate human will for freedom, to illustrate the absurdity and irrationalism of an infinitely defined rationality.

Through the use of irony, each Russian author, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, and Zamyatin, alienates true visionaries from their natural place at the head of society and implies a theme of the perils of idealism. Raskolnikov discovers a rationale for committing crimes in the name of a greater good, only to also discover the theory’s incredibly difficult guidelines of extraordinary men through self-experimentation. Bazarov’s nihilism and rationality is entirely contradicted by his adoption of romanticism in some circumstances, and the impossibility of nihilism is shown through his ignorance of this contradiction. D-503 awakens within himself a long-absent human nature with unlimited creative potential, only to realize its dangerous, anarchistic possibilities. Each protagonist comes across a revolutionary idea, only to eventually be dismissed, and ultimately forgotten, by society.

Works cited:

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment (New York, NY: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., 1981) 243.
Dostoevsky 63.
Dostoevsky 387.
Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996) 18.
Turgenev 138.
Turgenev 148.
Yevgeny Zamyatin, We (New York, NY: Avon Books, Inc., 1972) 56.
Zamyatin 177.
Zamyatin 231.

Fathers And Sons: Nihilism

Turgenov’s Fathers and Sons has several characters who hold strong views of the world. Pavel believes that Russia needs structure from such things as institution, religion, and class hierarchy. Madame Odintsov views the world as simple so long as she keeps it systematic and free from interference. This essay will focus on perhaps the most interesting and complex character in Fathers and Sons: Bazarov.

Vladimir Nabakov writes that “Turgenov takes his creature [B] out of a self-imposed pattern and places him in the the normal world of chance.” By examining Bazarov this essay will make this statement more clear to the reader. Using nihilism as a starting point we shall look at Bazarov’s views and interpretations of science, government and institution. Next we will turn to the issue relationships. Finally we examine Bazarov’s death and the stunning truths it reveals.

These issues combined with the theme of nihilism will prove that chance, or fate is a strong force which cannot easily be negated.Nihilism as a concept is used throughout Fathers and Sons. To gain a better understanding of the ideas behind this term let’s look at what Bazarov says on the subject. “We base our conduct on what we recognize as useful… the most useful thing we can do is to repudiate – and so we repudiate” (123). The base concept of nihilism is to deny or negate, and as we learn later in the same paragraph, to negate everything. With this ‘destruction’ of everything from science to art there is no building for nihilists, as Bazarov says “That is not our affair” (126).

Nihilists view the current structure of society as concerned with such trivialties as ‘art’ and ‘parliamentism’ while ignoring real life issues such as food, freedom, and equally. Nihilists are aware of these social woes and hence mentally deny to recognize any of the present authority or institutions which only serve to perpetuate a myth. Bazarov agrees with the statement that nihilism “confine[s] [oneself] to abuse” (126). “… I don’t believe in anything: and what is science-science in the abstract? There are sciences as there are trades and professions, but abstract science just doesn’t exist” (98).

For Bazarov anything that is not tangible and concrete doesn’t exist. Psychology, quantum mechanics, neurochemistry would be scoffed at by Bazarov. It seems peculiar that Bazarov would say, “… nowadays we laugh at medicine in general, and worship no one,” (197) while at the same time he pursues a career as a doctor. The medicine that Bazarov uses deals in the ‘pure sciences’, that is his ideas comes from practice not theory. By looking closer at Bazarov we discover that his work confirms his nihilistic ideas. To explain, one only need look at Bazarov’s main focus; the dissection of frogs. Each time he pokes around the anatomy of a frog he notices they all have similar structures (heart, liver, intestine’s etc).

Humans also share a common internal anatomy. Abstract concepts like authority, religion or science to not naturally exist within people and are only made ‘real’ by others. Bazarov knows this and his studies confirm his rebellious attitude. Bazarov says, “All men are similar, in soul as well as in body … and the so-called moral qualities are the same in all of us” (160).As with general science Bazarov feels nothing towards art. “… You assume that I have no feeling for art – and it is true, I haven’t” (159). Art is trivial to Bazarov and accomplishes nothing, therefore he doesn’t recognize it. It is the same with nature, “Bazarov was rather indifferent to the beauties of nature” (169).

There is a saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” What if the beholder has no eye for beauty? Such is the case with Bazarov. The point for Bazarov is that aesthetics in art and nature only serve to divert attention from pressing issues such as corruption in society and structural change. These are what concerns a nihilists, not the latest prose from Pushkin or painting from Alexander.Institutions such as education, government and established authority are scorned by Bazarov. “Everyone ought to educate himself” (105). Since indoctrination of the established society begins with education, a nihilist should view education from behind the barrel of a shotgun. Logic is of no use Bazarov, “You don’t need logic, I suppose, to put a piece of bread in your mouth” (123).

The nihilist agenda, that is, the need for tearing down of structure is beyond logic and is as necessary as eating or breathing. In addition Bazarov believes that what is preached by politicians and so-called leaders is itself without logic. “Aristocraticism, liberalism, progress, principles – think of it, what a lot of foreign words … and useless words!” (123). It is easy for Bazarov to give no credence and thus negate the things which government deems important in society. He sees irrelevance in much of what is said and done by leaders and Bazarov believes that real issues are being avoided.

“We saw that our clever men, our so-called progressives and reformers never accomplished anything, that we were concerning ourselves with alot of nonsense, discussing art, unconscious creative work, parliamentarianism, the bar, and the devil knows what, while all the time the real question was getting daily bread to eat … when our industrial enterprises come to grief solely for want of honest man at the top” (126).Bazarov’s nihilistic nature is a product of the corruption he sees in is nation. Bazarov could choose to live his life and pretend not to be aware of the evils around him. Instead he chooses to be a destroyer of structure, a nihilist in every sense and every thought.

He finds himself in a world which he despises and discovers he must deny everything which results from this world. However, Bazarov’s self-imposed nihilism, which gives him the power to negate, is challenged by something we are all subjects to-chance.When Bazarov meets Madame Odintsov we notice distress within our hero. Up to this point Bazarov has maintained his somewhat icy composure and easily passed the tests of his nihilist convictions. But now, chance deals Bazarov a new hand. By befriending Anna Odintsov Bazarov comes up against feelings which he tries desperately to defeat. In the early stages he feels inspired and this feeling “tortured and maddened him” (169).

Later, sometimes unaware, Bazarov has fantasies wherin his lust for Anna O is quite clear. Bazarov finds that despite his strength in other matters her is overwhelmed and consumed by these ‘shameful’ thoughts. Bazarov would “stamp his feet or grind his teeth and shake his fist at himself” (170). Even after all his teeth grinding and fist shaking, Bazarov cannot seem tocast off his growing passion. “He was breathing heavily; his whole body trembled” (182). It is interesting to watch this fight between Bazarov’s deeply held views of nihilism versus (what Bazarov would call) a trivial and ambiguous entity – passionate love.

This situation between Bazarov and Anna would have been scoffed at by Bazarov himself, had another been in his place. Eventually the “passion struggling in him, violent and painful” (182) is too much for Bazarov to take and he gives into this ‘passionate fury’. This proves that even a nihilist, who heeds no authority, institution, or social conventions and follows no rules, cannot negate the power of love. Life is itself without rules. It is the random, somewhat chaotic nature of life which makes convention attractive. Bazarov sees life for what it is and would rather take his chances with the ‘chaotic’, undefined world than live by rules, norms and standards imposed by others.

Bazarov calls conventional methods of living ‘gliding along the rails’. Bazarov lives at the edge of an abyss and he uses no railing for support. For this reason, Bazarov is a stronger man than most, as he has only himself to turn to. He sees corruption and scandel in many of the structures and fights to tear these down. It is hard for Bazarov to do this alone for nihilism is a “bitter, harsh, lonely existence” (271). What is needed is more strong men like Bazarov to help tear down the institutions. Chance, however finds Bazarov in a time which cannot appreciate his ideas. It is too early and the people have yet to uncover their eyes, and cannot see what is systematically removing their souls.

Bazarov’s gradual demise is foreshadowed by the peasants when “Bazarov the self-confident did not for a moment, suspect that in their eyes he was nothing but a buffoon” (276). Bazarov’s nihilistic ideas do not seem to reside anywhere but in himself. He seems to realize that Russia is not ready to accept his ideas and meets fate with unusual acceptance. When Bazarov becomes infected with typhus he doesn’t stamp his feet or grind his teeth, he merely says, “It’s a fortuitous circumstance, and, to tell you the truth, a very unpleasant one” (281). It’s of little use for Bazarov to deceive himself into thinking he can negate fate. “Yes, just try and set death aside. It sets you aside, and thats the end of it!” (283).

Bazarov, the great nihilist of Russia encounters the strongest negation of all – death. Nihilism as an idea has the potential to create alot of change. By relinquishing all forms of authority, institution and convention of value so that subordination, normality, rules and laws no longer exist, would cause a radically different perception of social conduct and responsibility. Bazarov, by being a nihilist, brings this into existence. Negation, however does have its limits. As Bazarov discovers, there are some things which defy negation. If by chance one falls in love, the sword of negation meets heavy armor. The strength of a nihilist resides in his or her mind. The action potential is in the strength of conviction to these principles. But the overall power of ones ability to destroy is in no way a match for the supremacy of fate – negation in the form of death.