Blood Tie Analysis
by Mary Lee Settle

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Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The fine characterization in Blood Tie is related to Settle's main narrative technique, a shifting third-person point of view. The point of view allows for detailed exploration of each character, including the character's past. Then the point of view shifts every few pages, resulting in the same treatment of a whole range of characters. How many times Settle returns to the same character depends on how important the character is to the action. The action itself is slow-moving and fragmented, deepening and coming together only through the different points of view.

For readers wanting fast action and immediate explanations, the technique is frustrating, though it does offer some suspense, like the old Victorian novels with several lines of action. The technique is superb, however, for showing multicultural perspectives and the normal little misunderstandings of life — such as Huseyin's notion that the rich American girl is admiring him from a distance, when she is practically blind without her contact lenses. Most of all, the technique places the action in context, mirroring the complex nature of reality. The hidden aspects of reality, its historical and cultural contexts, are symbolized by the undersea landscape containing ruins and by the mountain overlooking Ceramos. The mountain is honeycombed with secret passageways and tombs (maybe the tomb of the mythical Endymion) which only Kemal and his brother know about and to which the rest of Ceramos, except for a young German archaeologist who suspects their existence, is oblivious.

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Reviewers admired the convincing way Settle portrayed Turkish characters and society in Blood Tie, which is set mostly in and around Ceramos, a fictional small town on the southwest coast of Turkey. Settle lived in the area for a couple of years, but in addition she found plenty of parallels in Turkish society to Appalachian coal towns and even to the seventeenth-century British society in Prisons (1973), which she had just finished writing before Blood Tie. The main social concern in Blood Tie, as elsewhere in Settle's work, is the domination of society by bosses, whether they are called landowners, mine operators, padrones, or aghas (as in Turkey), and the consequent stifling of democracy.

Ceramos is dominated by Duriist Osman, the old agha, and his corrupt son Huseyin. They are the local landowning aristocracy, but here, as in Settle's other books, the aristocrats have grimy and disreputable origins. The high and mighty agha began his career as an ibne, the kept boy of a homosexual German military attache. Trying to forget his days as a powerless orphan, the agha now exercises power ruthlessly. Nor is the agha's power merely local. He can also reach into the national government and influence its decisions, suggesting that the real national government is a network of good old aghas, despite the democracy supposedly installed by Ataturk. The entrenched agha system seems an unhappy legacy of a country where, as one character jokes, two of the national heroes are Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan (the Turks are descendants of historic marauders from the central Asian steppes).

In Blood Tie, the boss system has an international dimension, naturally...

(The entire section is 793 words.)