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Arcady: His Voyage Towards Individualism In the novel

Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev, Arcady plays a major

role both in his own life and the lives of others. Arcady,

despite the shield he surrounds himself with, is not a true

Nihilist like his friend Bazarov through his thoughts and

actions we see his change. To begin, Arcady shows signs of

Romanticism Early on in the novel despite the announcement

of his Nihilist beliefs. For example, Bazarov and Arcady

were walking one afternoon in the garden and overheard

Nicholas playing his cello. "At that instant the lingering notes

of a ?cello were wafted towards them from the house . . .

and, like honey, the melody flowed through the air" (49).

Like a true Nihilist, Bazarov immediately denounced the act

of playing music as a purely romantic institution. "Good

Lord! At forty-four, a pater familias, in the province of X,

playing the ?cello! Bazarov continued to laugh: but, on this

occasion, Arcady, though he venerated his mentor, did not

even smile" (50). By this we see that although Arcady looks

up to Bazarov, he truly does not uphold the Nihilist beliefs as

strongly or as strictly. His acceptance of his father’s cello

playing shows that Arcady, unlike Bazarov. does not find

music a purely romantic institution, but an enjoyable way ! to

be merry. Also this incident shows us that Arcady does not

like when others poke fun at his family. Here, he obviously

does not think his father’s cello playing is a laughing matter.

Secondly, Nihilist ideas included the belief that love is

outdated. Arcady went against this belief when he fell in love

with Anna Sergeyevna and later, her sister Katya. Arcady

even went so far as to tell Katya, in his own way, that he

truly loved her. "It may be all the same to you, but I should

like to state that, far from having any preference for your

sister, I wouldn’t exchange you for anyone else in the world"

(174). Bazarov also fell in love with Anna Sergeyevna but

realized that she would not love him back. " ?I must tell you

that I love you stupidly, madly . . . . You have forced me.

Now you know.’ Madame Odintzov was filled with fear as

well as a feeling of compassion for him. But she at once

disengaged herself from his embrace an instant later she was

already standing distantly in the corner and gazing at him.

?You misunderstood me,’ she whispered hastily in alarm.

She looked as though she might scream if he took another

step (108)." And so, he retur! ned to his Nihilist beliefs.

Arcady’s falling in love with Katya and his proposal to her

was his second step towards becoming an individual. It

showed that he no longer followed Bazarov like an

impressionable child would an older sibling. He now began

to make large decisions on his own which affected his life in

a big way. Arcady, through his understanding of Bazarov’s

arrogance, took his third and final step towards becoming

his own person. "It is not for the gods to glaze pottery . . . .

Only now, at this very instant, was the whole bottomless pit

of Bazarov’s arrogance and pride revealed to him. ?So you

and I are gods? Or rather, you are a god and I’m a mere

lout, isn’t that so?’ ?Yes,’ Bazarov repeated firmly. ? You’re

still stupid.’" (112). Not only does this remark allow Arcady

to see that Bazarov had never considered him an equal, but

also that Bazarov believed himself a god dwelling above all

others. This prompted Arcady to reconsider his relationship

with Bazarov. He realized they were never friends, but only

mere traveling companions on the road of life. Arcady

seemed to realize also that he was never a pure and true

Nihilist. He had been drawn into that particular way of

thinking by his mentor, Bazarov, not his willingness to uphold

Nihilism. Turgenev does a very good job in showing the

changes taking place within Arcady. His true nature is slowly

revealed throughout the book and we see his way of thinking

by reading about his actions. Arcady is truly a dynamic

character, as can be seen by his Nihilist beliefs changing into

romantic ideas. Arcady enjoys beautiful language and is also

a bit of a philosopher. For example, his description of a

falling leaf: "Look! A withered maple leaf has left its branch

and is falling to the ground its movements resemble those of

a butterfly in flight. Isn’t it strange? The saddest and deadest

of all things is yet so like the gayest and most vital of all

creatures" (134). By the conclusion of the novel, we see that

Arcady was part of the novel because he had the most

influence on others as well as on himself, and also because

he had the most to learn from life’s experiences. He has

established a life of his own. A life where he if free from

Bazarov’s hold and Nihilist ! ideas, and a life where he is

free to be himself. His voyage: completed.


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