Chapter V

Next morning Bazarov was the first to awake and go out of doors.

"Ah," thought he to himself as he gazed about him, "this is not much of a place to look at."

When apportioning allotments to his peasantry, Nikolai Petrovitch had found himself forced to exclude from the new "farm" four desiatins of level, naked land, and upon this space had built himself a house, quarters for his servants, and a homestead. Also, he had laid out a garden, dug a pond, and sunk two wells. But the young trees had fared badly, very little water had risen in the pond, and the wells had developed a brackish taste. The only vegetation to attain robust growth was a clump of lilacs and acacias, under the shade of which the household was accustomed to take tea or to dine. Within a few minutes Bazarov had traversed all the paths in the garden, visited the stables and the cattlesheds, and made friends with two young household serfs whom he happened to encounter, and with whom he set forth to catch frogs in a marsh about a verst from the manor.

"For what do you want frogs, barin?" asked one of the lads.

"To make them useful," replied Bazarov (who possessed a peculiar gift for winning the confidence of his inferiors, even though he never cozened them, but, on the contrary, always treated them with asperity). "You see, I like to open them, and then to observe what their insides are doing. You and I are frogs too, except that we walk upon our hind legs. Thus the operation helps me to understand what is taking place in ourselves."

"And what good will that do you?"

"This. That if you should fall sick, and I should have to treat you, I might avoid some mistakes."

"Then you are a doctor?"

"I am."

"Listen to that, Vasika! The barin says that you and I too are frogs. My word!"

"I don't like frogs," remarked Vasika, a barefooted boy of seven with a head as white as tow, and a costume made up of a grey blouse and a stiff collar.

"Why don't you like them?" asked Bazarov. "Do you think they will bite you? Nay! Into the water, my young philosophers!"

Nikolai Petrovitch too had left his bed, and, on going to visit Arkady, found him fully dressed; wherefore father and son proceeded to repair to the terrace, and there seated themselves under the shade of the awning. Amid nosegays of lilac, a tea-urn was simmering on a table by the balustrade, and presently there appeared upon the scene also the damsel who, on the previous night, had met the arrivals on the verandah. She announced in shrill tones:

"Theodosia Nikolaevna is not very well this morning, and cannot come to breakfast. So she has told me to ask you whether you will pour out tea for yourselves, or whether she is to send Duniasha?"

"I will pour it out myself," Nikolai Petrovitch replied with some haste. "Will you have cream or lemon in your tea, Arkady?"

"Cream," he replied. After a pause he continued:


Nikolai Petrovitch glanced confusedly in his direction.

"Yes?" said he.

Arkady lowered his eyes.

"Pardon me if my question should seem to you indiscreet," he began, "but, owing to your frankness of last night, I am emboldened to return it. You will not take offence, will you?"

"Oh no! Pray go on."

"Then I feel encouraged to ask you whether it—whether it is because I am here that she—that is to say, Thenichka—has not joined us at breakfast?"

Nikolai Petrovitch slightly averted his face.

"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."

Arkady glanced at his father.

"But why should she be shy?" he inquired. "In the first place, you know my views" (he uttered the words with no little complacency), "and, in the second place, surely you cannot suppose that I would by a hair's breadth intrude upon your life and your habits? No; sure am I that never could you make a bad choice; and if you have asked this girl to reside under your roof, that is tantamount to saying that she has well deserved it. In any case, moreover, it is not for a son to summon his father to judgment—least of all for me, who possess a father like yourself, a father who has never restricted his son's freedom of action."

At first Arkady's voice had trembled a little, since not only did he feel that he was doing the "magnanimous," but also he knew that he was delivering something like a "lecture" to his father; but such an effect does the sound of his own voice exercise upon a human being that towards the end Arkady pronounced his words firmly, and even with a certain degree of empressement.

"I thank you, Arkady," Nikolai Petrovitch said faintly as his fingers began their customary perambulation of his forehead. "Nor is your conjecture mistaken, for if this girl had not deserved the invitation, I should not, of course, have—in other words, as you imply, this is no frivolous whim on my part. Nor need I have spoken of the matter, were it not that I desired you to understand that she might possibly have felt embarrassed at meeting you on the very day after your arrival."

"Then let me go and meet her," exclaimed Arkady with another access of "magnanimity" as he sprang from his chair. "Yes, let me go and explain to her why she need not shun me."

Nikolai Petrovitch also rose.

"Arkady," he began, "pray do me a favour. Hitherto I had not warned you that——"

But, without listening to him, Arkady darted from the terrace. For a moment or two Nikolai Petrovitch gazed after him—then, overcome with confusion, relapsed into a chair. His heart was beating rapidly. Whether or not he was picturing to himself a strangeness of future relations with his son; whether he was imagining that, had his son refrained from interfering, the latter might have paid him more respect in future; whether he was reproaching himself for his own weakness—it is difficult to say what his thoughts were. Probably in them there was a combination of the feelings just indicated, if only in the form of apprehensions. Yet those apprehensions cannot have been deeply rooted, as was proved by the fact that, for all the beating of his heart, the colour had not left his face.

Soon hasty footsteps were heard approaching, and Arkady reappeared on the terrace.

"I have made her acquaintance!" he shouted with a kindly, good-humoured, triumphant expression. "That Theodosia Nikolaievna is not well to-day is a fact; but also it is a fact that she is going to appear later. And why did you not tell me that I had a little brother? Otherwise I should have gone and kissed him last night, even as I have done this moment."

Nikolai Petrovitch tried to say something—to rise and to make an explanation of some sort; but Arkady cut him short by falling upon his neck.

"What is this? Again embracing?" said Paul Petrovitch behind them.

As a matter of fact, neither father nor son was ill-pleased to see him appear, for, however touching such situations may be, one may be equally glad to escape from them.

"At what are you surprised?" asked Nikolai Petrovitch gaily. "Remember that I have not seen Arkesha for several centuries—at all events, not since last night!"

"Oh, I am not surprised," said Paul Petrovitch. "On the contrary, I should not mind embracing him myself."

And Arkady, on approaching his uncle, felt once more upon his cheek the impression of a perfumed moustache. Paul Petrovitch then sat down to table. Clad in an elegant morning suit of English cut, he was flaunting on his head a diminutive fez which helped the carelessly folded tie to symbolise the freedom of a country life. At the same time, the stiff collar of the shirt (which was striped, not white, as best befitted a matutinal toilet) supported with its usual rigour an immaculately shaven chin.

"Well, Arkady?" said he. "Where is your new friend?"

"Out somewhere. He seldom misses going for an early morning walk. But the great thing is to take no notice of him, for he detests all ceremony."

"So I have perceived." And with his usual deliberateness Paul Petrovitch began to butter a piece of bread. "Will he be staying here very long?"

"Well, as long as he may care to stay. As a matter of fact, he is going on to his father's place."

"And where does his father live?"

"Some eighty versts from here, in the same province as ourselves. I believe he has a small property, and used to be an army doctor."

"H'm! Ever since last night I have been asking myself where I can have heard the name before. Nikolai, do you remember whether there was a doctor of that name in our father's division?"

"Yes, there used to be."

"Then that doctor will be this fellow's father. H'm!" And Paul Petrovitch twitched his moustache. "What exactly is your Bazarov?" he enquired of Arkady.

"What is he?" Arkady repeated smiling. "Do you really want me to tell you what he is, Uncle?"

"If you please, my nephew."

"He is a Nihilist."

"A what?" exclaimed Nikolai Petrovitch, while even Paul Petrovitch paused in the act of raising a knife to the edge of which there was a morsel of butter adhering.

"A Nihilist," repeated Arkady.

"A Nihilist?" queried Nikolai Petrovitch. "I imagine that that must be a term derived from the Latin nihil or 'nothing.' It denotes, I presume, a man who—a man who—well, a man who declines to accept anything."

"Or a man who declines to respect anything," hazarded Paul Petrovitch as he re-applied himself to the butter.

"No, a man who treats things solely from the critical point of view," corrected Arkady.

"But the two things are one and the same, are they not?" queried Paul Petrovitch.

"Oh no. A Nihilist is a man who declines to bow to authority, or to accept any principle on trust, however sanctified it may be."

"And to what can that lead?" asked Paul Petrovitch.

"It depends upon the individual. In one man's case, it may lead to good; in that of another, to evil."

"I see. But we elders view things differently. We folk of the older generation believe that without principles" (Paul Petrovitch pronounced the word softly, and with a French accent, whereas Arkady had pronounced it with an emphasis on the leading syllable)—"without principles it is impossible to take a single step in life, or to draw a single breath. Mais vous avez changé tout cela. God send you health and a general's rank, Messieurs Nihil—how do you pronounce it?"

"Ni-hi-lists," said Arkady distinctly.

"Quite so (formerly we had Hegelists, and now they have become Nihilists)—God send you health and a general's rank, but also let us see how you will contrive to exist in an absolute void, an airless vacuum. Pray ring the bell, brother Nikolai, for it is time for me to take my cocoa."

Nikolai Petrovitch did as requested, and also shouted for Duniasha; but, instead of the latter, there issued on to the terrace Thenichka in person. A young woman of twenty-three, she was pale, and gentle-looking, with dark eyes and hair, a pair of childishly red, pouting lips, and delicate hands. Also, she was clad in a clean cotton gown, a new blue kerchief was thrown lightly over her rounded shoulders, and she was carrying in front of her a large cup of cocoa. Shyly she placed the latter before Paul Petrovitch, while a warm, rosy current of blood suffused the exquisite skin of her comely face, and then she remained standing by the table, with lowered eyes and the tips of her fingers touching its surface. Yet, though she looked as though she were regretting having come, she looked as though she felt that she had a right to be there.

Paul Petrovitch frowned, and Nikolai Petrovitch looked confused.

"Good morning, Thenichka," the latter muttered.

"Good morning," she replied in a low, clear voice. Then she glanced askance at Arkady, and he smiled at her in friendly fashion. Finally she departed with a quiet step and slightly careless gait—the latter a peculiarity of hers.

Silence reigned on the terrace. For a while Paul Petrovitch drank his cocoa. Then he suddenly raised his head, and muttered:

"Monsieur Nihilist is about to give us the pleasure of his company."

True enough, Bazarov could be seen stepping across the flowerbeds. On his linen jacket and trousers was a thick coating of mud, to the crown of his ancient circular hat clung a piece of sticky marshweed, and in his hand he was holding a small bag. Also, something in the bag kept stirring as though it were alive. Approaching the terrace with rapid strides, he nodded to the company and said:

"Good morning, gentlemen! Pardon me for being so late. I shall be back presently, but first my captures must be stowed away."

"What are those captures?" Paul Petrovitch inquired. "Leeches?"

"No, frogs."

"Do you eat them? Or do you breed them?"

"I catch them for purposes of experiment," was Bazarov's only reply as carelessly he entered the house.

"In other words, he vivisects them," was Paul Petrovitch's comment. "In other words, he believes in frogs more than in principles."

Arkady threw his uncle a reproachful look, and even Nikolai Petrovitch shrugged his shoulders, so that Paul Petrovitch himself felt his bon mot to have been out of place, and hastened to divert the subject to the estate and the new steward.


  1. In the original Russian, the phrase here is an утреннего туалета, which translates as “morning toilet.” The adjective “matutinal” means “of the morning,” but it has fallen out of modern usage. Additionally, the use of “toilet” here refers to Paul’s grooming and dressing himself rather than the conventional, modern use of the word. So, this phrase could be recast as “which was striped, not white, as best befitted a morning outfit.”

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. A bon mot—French for “good word”—is a wittily phrased remarked. Paul’s bon mot addresses how Bazarov “believes in frogs more than in principles.” Despite having had little direct contact with Bazarov, Paul already openly criticizes him in a manner that Arkady and Nikolai find distasteful. Paul’s criticisms only grow.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. The image of mud and marshweed on Bazarov’s outdated clothing represents his character and values. His interests in science, which led him into the marshes, overshadow his concern for formalities or appearances. In this way, he contrasts greatly with his foil Paul, who is always properly groomed and dressed.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. Thenichka occupies an unclear area between roles and classes. On the one hand, she is a servant, a member of the working class. On the other, she is Nikolai’s lover and, as such, feels that she has “a right to be there” among Nikolai, his family, and company.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. Again, Paul calls for the young men to experience life beyond the rational categories promoted by Hegelians—also known as Hegelists—and nihilists. In a telling detail, Paul orders a cup of cocoa to punctuate his remark. The pleasures of food and drink evade rational understanding, and yet are crucial to a fully-lived life. Paul does not state this explicitly; he implies it through action.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  6. Hegelists are those who subscribe to the ideas of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, a German philosopher writing at the turn of the 19th century. Hegel was a seminal philosopher who worked on a number of intellectual areas, including metaphysics, logic, and phenomenology. As a university student, Turgenev studied Hegel’s work extensively. The apparent similarity between Hegelian and Nihilistic philosophy lies in the question of meaning. One of Hegel’s central ideas is that life is inherently meaningless, a fact which is in itself also meaninglessness. In this way, Nihilism evokes shades of Hegel for Paul.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  7. Mais vous avez changé tout cela = [French] “But you have changed all of this.” Speaking in French, Paul discusses the way in which the young generation has caused a shift away from a principle-based life. Paul raises a genuine philosophical problem when he goes on to wonder “how you will contrive to exist in an absolute void, an airless vacuum.” It is by no means a simple philosophical question to answer. It is, in a sense, one of the central questions of the book: in an age that is increasingly secular and non-traditional, where does one locate values?

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  8. Arkady has pronounced “principles” the way we would normally do so in English, with an emphasis on the first syllable: principles. Paul, however, replies with the French form of the word, with its emphasis on the second syllable: principes. Perhaps Paul’s use of French is a rhetorical choice that demonstrates his principled nature.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  9. As Arkady points out, nihilism is not a strict moral structure. It is a philosophy less concerned with traditional categories of right and wrong and more concerned with dismantling pre-existing value structures in the name of utility and practicality.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  10. Nihilism is a mode of philosophical thought which developed over the course of the 19th century before emerging as a political movement in Russia in the 1860s. Some of the essential tenets of nihilism are that traditional sources of meaning and value ought to be abandoned, that all that is real can be rationalized, and that utility matters more than principles.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  11. In the phrasing of this question, Paul’s language subtly dehumanizes Bazarov. “What” suggests that he is a a thing and “your” suggests that he is a possession. Throughout the story, Paul is both repulsed and fascinated by Bazarov. It may be the case that Bazarov’s cold, nihilistic demeanor leads Paul to view him as more of an object or oddity than a person.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  12. Paul’s central character flaw is his vanity. The narrator recognizes the ways in which Paul uses the details of his dress to convey a specific mood or attitude. Ironically enough, the tie is “carelessly folded” in a carefully studied manner.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  13. A fez is a style of hat with origins in the Ottoman Empire. In the 19th century, the fez became popular throughout Europe and eventually the United States. For many Westerners, it symbolized romanticism and exoticism. Paul’s choice to wear the stylish, romantic fez contrasts greatly with the “ancient circular hat” Bazarov sports in a way that illustrates the differences between the dandyish Paul and the straightforward, idealistic Bazarov.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  14. After Tsar Alexander II liberated the serfs, the landowners were obligated to provide them with land to work for a living. Many of these allotments were apportioned unequally or in such ways that the serfs were still indentured through taxation to the land-owning aristocrats.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  15. Nikolai is so pleased to be physically and emotionally close with his son again that he claims he had not seen him “for several centuries.” Though Nikolai had technically seen Arkady “last night,” the reference to “several centuries” subtly reveals that Nikolai and Arkady had not been so emotionally unrestrained in a long time.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  16. While Nikolai had been worried that Arkady would judge him harshly for having taken a lover and fathered a child, Arkady reacts with joy. The phrase “falling upon his neck” suggests that Arkady embraces Nikolai, wrapping his arms around his father’s neck. This is a key moment in that it marks a relinquishment of Arkady’s adopted nihilistic attitudes and a return to a state of pure affection between father and son.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  17. This passage reveals the searching nature of the narrative voice in its attempts to draw meaning from surface details. With his heart pounding, Nikolai is nervous about the thought of Arkady meeting Thenichka and discovering his infant brother. At the same time, his normal complexion reveals his resilience.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  18. This detail subtly reveals Nikolai’s thoughtful nature. As he considers the question of telling Arkady about Thenichka, he worriedly touches his forehead. The word “perambulation” is clever in this case. To perambulate is to survey a property, an action which Nikolai is no doubt familiar with.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  19. 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.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  20. 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.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  21. Arkady recognizes that his comments to Nikolai are somewhat pedantic and patronizing. To do the “‘magnanimous’” is to extend forgiveness and compassion to someone with less power. While Arkady is uncomfortable lecturing his father, he also feels it is justified. His mixed feelings on the matter can be seen as a result of his being between youth and adulthood, between being Nikolai’s son and Nikolai’s peer.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  22. This remark by Arkady reveals a significant philosophical divide between him and Bazarov. While Arkady carries a fundamental respect for his elders, particularly his father and uncle, Bazarov believes in no cause for such respect. Archetypically speaking, Bazarov thinks it is the son’s role to “summon his father to judgment.” This tension between generations is one of the novel’s central themes, as suggested by the title.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  23. 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.’”

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  24. It is unusual for Arkady, hungry as he is to distinguish himself as a man, to refer to his father endearingly as “papasha.” Thus Nikolai reacts with surprise. It is likely that Arkady uses “papasha” because of the delicacy of the topic he wishes to discuss: Nikolai’s relationship with Thenichka.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  25. A “tea-urn” is a sort of kettle or carafe designed to hold hot water for tea. The word is somewhat outdated.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  26. A “nosegay” is a small bouquet of flowers, usually selected for their fragrance. The word derives from “nose” and “gay,” as in “brilliant”; the idea is that a nosegay is brilliant to the nose.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  27. This passage introduces us to Bazarov’s materialist understanding of the world at large and of humankind. To Bazarov, humans are like frogs, organisms to be dissected, diagrammed, and understood. This materialist philosophy holds that reality can be divided into rational categories and that nothing escapes rationality. Poetry, aesthetic appreciation, love, and affection are human experiences which evade rational categorization; Bazarov dismisses all of them.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  28. The noun “asperity” refers literally to a roughness of texture. In this passage, Bazarov’s quality of asperity refers to his plainspoken, inelegant style of communication. His informal style adds to his appeal to the peasants.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  29. To “cozen” someone is to cheat or deceive them. Though Bazarov enjoys winning the favor of the peasants, he does not do so in order to take advantage of them.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  30. The adjective “brackish” describes water that is both freshwater and saltwater. Nikolai’s wells failed in that they draw up brackish, as opposed to purely fresh, water.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor