Father's And Sons

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