Analysis Pages

Tone in Fathers and Sons

Tone Examples in Fathers and Sons:

Chapter I

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"the reader may care to become better acquainted with his personality..."   (Chapter I)

Turgenev, as the narrator, inserts his own voice into this passage. This creates a less formal, almost storytelling aspect to the tale by showing readers that important information will be given at appropriate times to maintain interest and fully flesh out characters.

"vernal zephyrs..."   (Chapter III)

The adjective “vernal” means “of spring” while “zephyr” refers to a mild breeze. The phrase serves as a poetic version of “spring winds.” Hogarth likely chose such heightened diction to convey Arkady’s rapture as he looks over the spring landscape.

"the girl Thenichka..."   (Chapter IV)

It becomes clear at the end of the chapter that the girl whose face appeared for a moment behind a door at the chapter’s start is the servant Thenichka. Turgenev structures the chapter to create an arc of suspense. A small mystery is introduced at the beginning of the chapter and resolved at the end. This resolution is short-lived, however, for we are immediately introduced to a related, though much larger, mystery: the sleeping infant whom Thenichka watches.

"Finally, seated on a chest..."   (Chapter IV)

This passage represents a moment in which the narration draws attention to its own mechanisms. While the narrator tends to track a single scene, here he concludes the chapter by moving through the rooms of Marino, showing the characters in their various states of reflection. There is a peculiar, collage-like quality to this passage.

"empressement..."   (Chapter V)

Of French origin, the word empressement, when used in the context of speech, means “emphasis” or “gregariousness.” In a clever blending of form and content, Turgenev punctuates the paragraph with a powerful, italicized French word. This formal choice mirrors the way in which Arkady builds toward a strong conclusion to his remark.

"but such an effect does the sound of his own voice exercise upon a human being..."   (Chapter V)

In this passage, Turgenev illustrates a subtle psychological effect. Arkady wishes to discuss Thenichka with Nikolai and let his father know that he casts no judgment. While Arkady is nervous at first to state his views, the momentum of hearing his own voice causes a positive feedback loop: the confident sound of his own voice encourages him to speak more assuredly which, in turn, bolsters the confidence of his speech.

""It may be so," he said at length. "At all events, I presume that—that she prefers, she prefers—in fact, that she is shy."..."   (Chapter V)

In this passage, Nikolai speaks with a stammering tone that reveals his struggle to discuss Thenichka. Unable to explain why Thenichka is not present—as well as his relationship to her more broadly—Nikolai issues forth a series of filler phrases before uttering “‘that she is shy.’”

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