(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

A young boy’s entrance into full-fledged manhood is accompanied by social realizations that lead him onto what, by official standards, are wayward paths; still, most people in his native village regard him as a local hero. Eventually his name takes on semilegendary connotations. Along the way a number of odd encounters take place which dramatize the distinctions between formally constituted authority and the basic notions of justice that common people in Turkey actually hold. The story begins with nce (Slim) Memed, who has grown up without a father and has spent much of his time with his mother, Deuneh, or with other relatives in nearby villages. Rather early, his relationship with Hatce, a neighbor girl, blossoms into a full-scale love affair; she finds a way around every obstacle her family puts in the way of their courtship. Soon her songs to him have become known throughout the area. It is not long before they become engaged, and in a breathless fit of passion they make love under the open sky. In other ways, however, their lives are complicated by the grasping intrigues of Abdi Aga, a dubious character whom the others disparage as a sallow, goat-bearded old man. This local grandee insists upon returning a smaller share of the wheat crop to Memed’s mother than he allows the other villagers to retain; he routinely beats those he considers to be beneath him, and he mishandles Memed severely. One of his ambitions is to have Hatce married to his nephew Veli. By a ruse Memed thwarts this plan before the arrangements can be completed and spirits away Hatce. Abdi sets his men to tracking them as they would wild animals. When they catch up with Memed, he opens fire with his rifle on Abdi and leaves him badly wounded. During the same exchange of shots, Veli is left dead; the others capture Hatce while Memed is making his escape. After Hatce is thrown into prison, Abdi, in an effort that amounts to the subornation of perjury, has his men testify that it was she who fired the fatal shots.

Memed joins that peculiar informal brotherhood of outlaws which seems to flourish perennially in the region. In the course of a rough-and-ready existence he comes across some rather picturesque individuals. For a time he joins the band of Mad Durdu, a highwayman who specializes in forcing travelers to divest themselves of all of their clothing, including their underwear. Memed also becomes acquainted with Sergeant Recep, a renegade policeman who has often been on the wrong side of the law, and who seems to want to assist the younger man. In time Memed turns away from the wholesale and senseless aggression Durdu practices: When the...

(The entire section is 1073 words.)

Memed, My Hawk Summary

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

In a village called Deyirmenoluk, located in the Taurus Mountains of Turkey, Slim Memed and his mother, Deuneh, live at the mercy of their cruel landlord, Abdi Agha, who terrorizes them and takes two-thirds of their crops annually. Unable to endure the agha’s beatings, Memed flees from his village, escaping over the mountains to the ranch of Old Süleyman. For several weeks, he lives as Süleyman’s adopted son, herding goats and enjoying himself. One day, however, he drives the goats too far and encounters a man from his village. News soon spreads that Memed is alive, and Abdi Agha goes to Süleyman’s ranch and forces the boy to return. As punishment for Memed’s disobedience, his family has to forfeit three-fourths of their crops, and they nearly starve that winter.

Several years pass, and the oppression continues. As he matures into manhood, Memed grows bitter and callous under the agha’s reign of terror. Only fifteen-year-old Hatche, the most beautiful girl in the village, can inspire tenderness in the young man. Soon after Abdi Agha announces the girl’s engagement to his nephew, Memed and Hatche elope. They make love in the hollow of a rock during a rainstorm.

Furious at Memed’s disobedience, the agha enlists Lame Ali, a skillful tracker, to find the couple. In a violent encounter in the forest, Memed wounds Abdi Agha and kills his nephew, then flees from the scene. Hatche returns to the village, only to be arrested by the authorities for the nephew’s murder. She is taken to the nearest town and imprisoned.

Memed makes his way to Süleyman’s ranch, where he receives a warm welcome from his old friend. Advised by Süleyman to hide in the mountains, Memed joins Mad Durdu’s band of mountain brigands. Durdu is notorious for stopping travelers on the road, ordering them to strip naked, and stealing their money and underclothing. Although Memed does not approve of these tactics, he obeys his leader. As Durdu grows more reckless, however, Memed begins to worry. In one bloody exchange with the police, several of Durdu’s men are killed or wounded, and Memed barely escapes. When Durdu later tries to rob Kerimoghlu, the proud leader of a group of nomads, Memed intervenes, and Durdu vows to avenge the insult.

Accompanied by two comrades, Jabbar and Sergeant Rejep, Memed embarks upon a career...

(The entire section is 972 words.)