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.)