Themes and Meanings

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

This series of novels depicts the unvarying traditions of Turkish village life in a manner that seems broadly typical of such communities; the observation that, for generations, rural folk have migrated across the steppes of Anatolia in seasonal processions suggests cyclical historical movements. Some people seem to be aware of progress in the outside world: There is mention of military jets flying overhead, and even claims (premature for the time frame of the novel) that journeys to the moon are taking place. On the other hand, Muttalip Bey seems amused at the technical ignorance that seems to prevail in the region; tractors and other kinds of machinery seem almost alien to the villagers’ way of life. Most characters appear to operate within a limited frame of reference; there is little talk of events in Ankara or Istanbul, the centers of Turkish social and commercial life. Moreover, the historical memories that are summoned forth by the reminiscences of the older men, such as Halil, deal largely with violence and upheaval in later Ottoman times or during the early years of the Turkish Republic. This oral tradition, which dwells upon acts of brigandage and defiance, is meant to conjure up heroic images from the past. Beyond the chronic struggles that arise with local officials, most people affirm in vague terms their attachment to democratic ideals, which they believe are implicitly joined to Turkish national values; apart from fleeting mentions of prominent party leaders, however, there are few real indications of continuing interest in questions of Turkish politics.

Far more vital influences on the villagers are popular...

(The entire section is 669 words.)