Fathers and Sons: only the decades change, the rest – remains


Ivan_TurgenevYou know when older people tell you that some things were so much different when they were younger? Probably each one of us has heard that kind of story from their grandparents. It always fascinated me what they thought to be so different from nowadays were actually the same. Same values, same problems, same relationships, same situations. It’s always the same, no matter when it happened or is happening today.

This impression of sameness you experience as you read Ivan Turgenev’s novel „Fathers and Sons“. In this novel you read about these clashes between parents and their children, clashes between generations, new ideas, new times and feelings.

19117When two young friends – Yevgeny Bazarov and Arkady Kirsanov comes to Kirsanov’s home to stay there for a while, the first clash between parents and children is observed. Having in mind that the storyline is developed early around the Emancipation reform of 1861 in Russia, it is no strange that young people were full of new ideas (nihilism), that were spread in the air. Even though, Arkady’s father Nikolai and uncle Pavel are aristocratic and intelligent people, this nihilism is strange for them, Pavel is clearly shown to hate Bazarov for his interest in it. Doesn’t it sound familiar? Today (as any other time in the past) we faced lots of that kind of misunderstanding between ourselves and our parents. Maybe the target wasn’t philosophical wave, but it was music (it’s like a child grew up and became a hard rock fan, when none of his parents either listened nor liked that kind of music –> clash), clothing (when teenager starts to dress provocatice and his parents don’t understand it as self expression –> clash), when a child is interested in something higher, like art, or science, and his parents don’t give a damn about it –> clash. It always was, it always will be.

Going further, I can’t escape without mentioning the clash between ideas/believes and love. Bazarov falls in love with this Madame Odintsova – woman of independent means, she is complete opposite to those people of that time. However, falling in love for Bazarov means something that cannot go in hand with his nihilism. This is also the kind of thing that we face in all times. I’m sure you all know someone who thought that he can’t or that it is inappropriate to do, because of his believes, though that inappropriate or wrong thing to do is something nice and could make him/her happy. Completely cliché example: someone doesn’t want to marry someone he/she loves, because he’s/she’s poor, or in some way not good enough. Don’t think this isn’t happening nowadays? Believe me, it happens. It always did, it always will. However, madame Odintsova did not confess to Bazarov that she loves him too, when he finally said that he does love her. Wonder why? Probably she was in the middle of that idea/believes vs feelings clash.

Arkady and Bazarov also visited and stayed for a while at Bazarov’s parents house. And here we could see a clash between the difference of Bazarov’s and his parents behaviour. His parents are shown to be nice and humble people, whereas their son is total cynic. The way his parents behave is strange and unpleasant for him, as the way he behaves is not pleasant to his parents –> clash. Will say that this does not happen today? It’s natural that eventually it will get a bit strange how parents behave or what they are as we grow up, get educated, learn things. The only thing that is sad, that we let this difference be so obvious making us to become distant from each other. It’s like I don’t like how you behave, see things so I won’t see you much or get in touch. These differences are natural, and it should be dealt with them. If there were no such differences, we would be living in a wonderful world, where everybody is happy about each other and everything is fine.

And the final clash I’d like to discuss is love. Again. After Arkady and Bazarov guested at Bazarov’s parents they came back to Arkady’s place. Here, Bazarov started to like Fenichka, a young woman that worked for Arkady’s father, and later gave birth to his son. So, Bazarov likes her, spends time with her and eventually even kises her. But this kiss is overseen by Nikolais brother Pavel (who already hates Bazarov) who gets angry about it, because, turns, out, he is also in love with Fenichka. It’s like a double clash: on the one hand between you and someone you hate, and your feelings for woman you love and your brother and comprehension that your feelings are wrong. I’m not even sure whether I should get into any kind of discussion about this, because the example of this kind of clash in real life would be long and difficult. Mainly because in each case it would depend on every single persons moral values and norms. So, I think here I leave a space for everyone to think about these examples on their own.

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