May 20, 1859, Nikolai Petrovich Kirsanov, a forty-three-year-old landowner who was already middle-aged, worried, awaits his son Arkady, who had just graduated from the university, at the inn.
Nikolai Petrovich was the son of a general, but his military career did not take place. Nikolai Petrovich early married a daughter of an ignorant official and was happy in marriage. To his deep sorrow, his wife died in 1847. All his strength and time he devoted to raising his son, even in Petersburg, he lived with him and tried to get closer to his son’s companions, students. Recently, he was intensely engaged in the transformation of his estate.
There comes a happy moment of meeting. However, Arkady appears not alone: with him a tall, ugly and self-assured young man, a beginning doctor who agreed to stay with the Kirsanovs. His name, as he certifies himself, Eugene Vasilyevich Bazarov.
The conversation between father and son is not glued at first. Nikolai Petrovich is embarrassed by Fenechka, a girl he keeps with him and from whom he already has a child. Arkady indulgent tone tries to smooth the awkwardness that has arisen.
At home, Pavel Petrovich, the elder brother of his father, is waiting for them. Pavel Petrovich and Bazarov immediately begin to feel mutual antipathy. But courteous boys and servants to the guest willingly obey, although he does not even think to look for their location.
The next day a verbal skirmish takes place between Bazarov and Pavel Petrovich, with Kirsanov, the eldest, initiating it. Bazarov does not want to polemize, but nevertheless speaks out on the main points of his convictions. People, according to his ideas, are striving for one or another purpose, because they experience different “sensations” and want to achieve “good”. Bazarov is sure that chemistry is more important than art, and in science the most important is the practical result. He is even proud of his lack of “artistic sense” and believes that there is no need to study the psychology of an individual: “It is enough for one human specimen to judge all others.” For Bazarov, there is no “regulation in our modern life… that would not cause a complete and ruthless denial.”
To Pavel Petrovich, “nihilism”, professed by Bazarov and Arkady imitating him, seems a daring and unjustified doctrine that exists “in the void.”
Arkady tries to somehow smooth out the tension and tells the friend the story of Pavel Petrovich’s life. He was a brilliant and promising officer, a favorite of women, until he met a secular lioness Princess R *. This passion completely changed the existence of Pavel Petrovich, and when the novel ended, he was completely devastated. From the past, he retains only the sophistication of the costume and manners and preferences of all English.
Bazarov’s views and behavior are so annoying to Pavel Petrovich that he again attacks the guest, but he easily and even condescendingly breaks all the “syllogisms” of the enemy aimed at protecting traditions. Nikolai Petrovich seeks to soften the argument, but he can not even agree with Bazarov’s radical statements, although he convinces himself that he and his brother are already behind the times.
Young people go to the provincial town, where they meet with Bazarov’s “pupil”, the offspring of the farmer, Sitnikov. Sitnikov leads them to visit the “emancipated” lady, Kukshina. Sitnikov and Kukshin belong to that category of “progressists”, who reject any authority, chasing the fashion for “freethinking.” They do not really know anything and do not know how, but in their “nihilism” they leave behind them both Arkady and Bazarov. The last Sitnikova frankly despises, while Kukshina “is more champagne”.
Arkady introduces a friend to Odintsov, a young, beautiful and rich widow, whom Bazarov immediately becomes interested in. This interest is by no means platonic. Bazarov cynically tells Arkady: “There is a life…”
Arkady seems that he is in love with Odintsov, but this feeling is contagious, whereas between Bazarov and Odintsova there is mutual gravitation, and she invites young people to stay with her.
In the house of Anna Sergeyevna guests get acquainted with her younger sister Katya, who keeps herself in a state of constraint. And Bazarov feels uncomfortable, he began to get irritated in a new place and “looked angrily”. Arkady is also uneasy, and he is looking for solace in the society of Katya.
The feeling inspired by Anna Sergeevna Bazarov is new to him; he, who despised all manifestations of “romanticism”, suddenly discovers “romance in himself.” Bazarov explained with Odintsova, and although she did not immediately free himself from his embrace, however, after thinking, she comes... to the conclusion that “peace is better than anything else.”
Not wanting to become a slave to his passion, Bazarov goes to his father, a district doctor who lives nearby, and Odintsov does not keep the guest. On the way, Bazarov sums up what happened and says: “… It is better to beat rocks on the pavement than to allow a woman to take at least the tip of her finger.” This is all nonsense. “
Father and mother Bazarov can not breathe on his beloved “Enusha”, but he misses their society. In a couple of days he leaves his parents’ shelter, returning to the estate of the Kirsanovs.
From the heat and boredom, Bazarov draws attention to Fenechka, and, finding her alone, firmly kisses the young woman. An accidental witness to the kiss is Pavel Petrovich, who is upset by the deed of “this hairy”. He is especially indignant also because it seems to him: in Fenechka there is something in common with Princess R *.
According to his moral convictions, Pavel Petrovich calls Bazarov to a duel. Feeling uncomfortable and realizing that he is deceiving principles, Bazarov agrees to shoot with Kirsanov, the eldest.
Bazarov slightly injures the enemy and himself gives him first aid. Pavel Petrovich keeps well, even jokes about himself, but at the same time he and Bazarov are embarrassed. Nikolai Petrovich, from whom they concealed the true cause of the duel, also behaves in the most noble manner, finding an excuse for the actions of both opponents.
The consequence of the duel is the fact that Pavel Petrovich, who had previously strongly objected to his brother’s marriage to Fenechka, now convinces Nicholas Petrovich to take this step.
And Arkady and Katya have a harmonious understanding. The girl discerningly notes that Bazarov is for them – a stranger, because “he is predatory, and we are tame.”
Finally lost hope of reciprocity Odintsovoi Bazarov breaks himself and parted with her and Arkady. In parting, he says to his former comrade: “You’re a nice fellow, but you’re still a soft, liberal barich…” Arkady is distressed, but soon he is comforted by Katya’s society, explained to her in love and assured that he is also loved.
Bazarov, on the other hand, returns to his parents’ penates and tries to forget himself in his work, but after a few days, “the fever of working with him jumped off and was replaced by a melancholy boredom and deaf anxiety.” He tries to talk with the peasants, but nothing but stupidity in their heads reveals. True, the peasants also see in Bazarov something “like a buffoon jester.”
Practicing on the corpse of a typhoid patient, Bazarov hurts his finger and receives blood poisoning. In a few days he notifies his father that, by all accounts, his days are numbered.
Before his death, Bazarov asks Odintsov to come and say goodbye to him. He reminds her of his love and admits that all his proud thoughts, like love, went to rubble. “And now the whole task of the giant is like to die decently, although nobody cares about this… It’s all the same: I will not wag my tail.” He says bitterly that Russia does not need it. “Yes, and who is needed? A cobbler is needed, a tailor is needed, a butcher…”
When Bazarov, at the insistence of his parents, communes, “something like a shudder of horror instantly reflected on the dead face.”
It takes six months. In a small village church two pairs are crowned: Arkady with Katya and Nikolai Petrovich with Fenechka. All were happy, but something in this contentment was felt and artificial, “just like everyone agreed to play some simple-minded comedy.”
Over time, Arkady becomes a father and zealous owner, and as a result of his efforts, the estate begins to bring a significant income. Nikolay Petrovich assumes the duties of a world mediator and works hard in the public arena. Pavel Petrovich lives in Dresden and, although he still looks like a gentleman, “it’s hard for him to live.”
Kukshina lives in Heidelberg and yakshaetsya with students, studies architecture, in which, she said, she opened new laws. Sitnikov married the princess who pushes him, and, as he assures, continues the “business” of Bazarov, struggling as a publicist in some dark magazine.
On the grave of Bazarov often come the decrepit old people and bitterly weep and pray for the peace of the soul of the untimely deceased son. Flowers on the grave mound are not reminiscent of one calm of “indifferent” nature; they also talk about eternal reconciliation and the life of the infinite…