It was only a matter of time before my love of 19th century Russian literature lead to me to read Ivan Turgenev. Honestly, even while reading Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, I haven’t heard of Turgenev. Father and Sons caught my eye because the title interested me; I think the psychology of a family relationship is fascinating, especially between a father and his son. And after discovering who Turgenev was, I was excited to read his most famous novel.
While and me and my father have a close relationship, the generational gap between us sometimes acts as a barrier in our mutual understanding. I think we have a close bond where we can work around this “gap” easily, but there is still some struggle to communicate unique issues that we face as we belong in different generations. I also shrug away at strong emotion from my family, much like Bazarov does with his family. But the way this novel explores this relationship has made me seen mine different. I learned that the generational gap is never going to go away, but there are ways to make it less of an obstacle. We need to learnt to realize that arguing over different values is futile, especially with ones that don’t really affect one another. We need to understand that even though one can be family, they can be very different and thats fine. In this, we can also help understand our emotion towards family. We shouldn’t be afraid to show it if we mean it, for we never know what more happen. In addition, this emotion shouldn’t be seen as an act of weakness, but as an act of strength.
This novel also explores other philosophical questions, like contrasting emotions and happiness. Arkady, the protagonist, often struggles with his thoughts and views. He once considered himself a nihilist, but learns that nihilism is not the answer to his life. Through this, I learned that philosophy is abstract and fluid. We shouldn’t be afraid to enjoy something, even if it goes against our “philosophy”. We should be more concerned about what makes us happy rather than get caught up in labels. We can also apply this understanding to our position in life. We shouldn’t get caught up in how much progress we made, as long as we have enjoyed the process. Bazarov’s father has a simple life, but finds pleasure in it, and that’s what truly matters.