Blood Tie Characters
by Mary Lee Settle

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Blood Tie Characters

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Settle's greatest achievement in Blood Tie is her characterization. The characters are authentic and memorable, including the minor characters such as old Attila the donkey driver, who wears a faded Harvard sweatshirt and whose right hand was cut off for smuggling. Settle is as good with the Turkish characters as with the Americans, perhaps better. With the Turkish characters, comes the sense of going inside a foreign culture. With the American and European characters, the reader gets a similar feel for the close-knit expatriate circle.

Even the characters who seem stereotypical have unique features. The old agha resembles a movie Mafia godfather, but he has a definite Turkish accent, worrying about his lemons instead of his tomatoes. Frank Proctor, the local CIA man, obviously works for the company: He is a "team player" who does not question his superior or policy even when they are wrong. But his motives are carefully probed, showing the roots of "bossism" in his paternalistic belief that he is doing good for the Turks (besides, of course, for America).

There is no single protagonist in the novel. The characters who come closest are Ariadne, a divorced middle-aged American who mothers the young people, and one of her charges, the mute Turkish boy Kemal. The good-hearted Ariadne, at home in the Turkish setting and accepted by the Turks, is forced to leave the country for being too friendly with suspected dissidents. Kemal, younger brother of the slain dissident, has risked his life repeatedly to hide and feed his brother. When he loses both his brother and Ariadne, he is so grief-stricken that he breaks out of his muteness. On the book's last page, he stands on the mountainside above the town and screams out "HELE HELE!" — meaning "Tell me the truth!