Synthesis Of Ivan Turgenev's Fathers And Sons

1524 words - 6 pages

Fathers and Sons by Russian author, Ivan Turgenev, is set in the Russian countryside in the mid 1900’s. The novel tells the story of a new coming belief and religion that causes a lot of tumult between the age generations in the country. The older individuals continue to follow tradition, while most of the younger generation starts believing a new belief: nihilism. We generally define nihilism as “the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless” (Oxford Dictionary). According to Arkady one of the characters in the book, ”A nihilist is a person who does not take any principle for granted, however much that principle may be revered” (Turgenev, 57). The new and exciting belief attracted a lot of the younger generation of Russia. Those who didn’t like this new faith, stayed true to their aristocratic beliefs. An aristocrat is someone who believes in a government in which traditionally, nobility holds power. In this case, an aristocrat simply believes in the traditions and doesn’t encourage change. The historical context and setting of the novel are very important for the description of the theme in the novel. Through the setting of the story, which included Russia having big economical, social, political and religious disruptions, Turgenev explores the theme of generational conflict and sets the stage for the story.
Turgenev’s theme of generational conflict is derived from social and other reforms happening in 19th century Russia which makes setting vital. Most importantly was the change in ideologies and the western influence. This was difficult for the older generation to accept and created conflict. The preach of an individual to have responsibility for ones own thoughts instead of being influenced by institutions such as the church were emphasized, which slowly formed the disagreements between opinions. Western influence changed the mind of many younger people and helps shape arguments in Turgenev’s theme. In the novel, characters like Bazarov and Arkady are influenced by this idea while elders like Pavel are against it. Pavel believs in aristocracy, while Nikolai wants acceptance from his son Arkady so does not express the old ideas as much as Pavel does. Confused, Nikolai says “now we cannot understand one another” (13) which expresses the fact that he thinks Arkady has forged ahead of him because of his new belief. Due to his desperation to be close to his son, he will ignore his own beliefs. Though he may think the same way as Pavel does about the importance of tradition; he feels the chance for a good relationship between him and his son Arkady if he goes along with nihilism and her ideologies. This explains how people must have felt at the time when being in such a situation. The context of the political reforms in Russia is one of the roots of the theme of generational conflict in the novel, since it lays the basis for the reason for conflict in the first place.
Furthermore, the...

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