Silent House

Mâye Caferzâde
4 minutes

What do you think marginalization and alienation mean?

Literally, it means humiliating, devaluing and making enemies of those who are seen, behave and act differently from oneself.

People feel, want to feel, that they belong to certain groups. They feel that they have some commonalities with the members of the group they belong to and they often get along.

In order to form an identity in social life, individuals first develop a concept of “I” that defines them. He then focuses on what distinguishes him from others, and in doing so brings out their different sides. Thus, a two-sided process of separation takes place as the “I” identity is formed. When the subject positions others as inferior, this turns into “othering”. The same is true for societies. The phenomenon of marginalization, both at the individual and social level, is also frequently addressed in works of literature. The other is believed to be different, to have behaved wrongly and therefore cannot be understood. They are alienated and segregated because they are not like them and do not behave like them.

Assoc. I would like to quote from an article written by Dr. Soner Akpınar. Dr. Akpınar: “In order to define themselves, people and communities need other people and communities who are not themselves. At the heart of creating culture is creating identity. The formation of a society’s identity as “us” is only possible through the identification of those who are “not like us”. Identity can be achieved by identifying the distinctive features and boundaries between the self and the non-self. In this case, the non-self is attributed the adjective “other” and the other is positioned in a negative space. When defining oneself, a person or a community tends to exclude the “other” by focusing on its bad characteristics (or even attributing bad characteristics to it even if it does not have any).

Orhan Pamuk dwells intensely on the concept of “the other” in his novels. It can even be said that the “other” is the dynamic that provides the element of conflict and intrigue in most of his novels. Especially in his latest novels, he analyzes the structure of Turkish society, which underwent a transformation after 1980 by making a rapid transition to the Western cultural circle with American-type consumption habits. It focuses on the ideological and economic polarizations caused by this unfounded and fast-moving change. Secular-religious, rich-poor, Turkish-Kurdish, etc. He carries the problems caused by the division into various structures into his novels.

In Orhan Pamuk’s novels, these problematics are addressed through various dimensions of the identity-other relationship. The novel The Silent House is the story of three grandsons, one a historian, one a revolutionary and one determined to become rich, who spend a week in their grandmother’s mansion in Cennethisar in 1980. Their grandfather, who had devoted his life to the writing of an encyclopedia, was exiled for political reasons. After the death of their grandfather, the grandmother and the housekeeper were left alone, waiting for the grandchildren who would come from the city that summer as they did every summer. When the grandchildren arrive, after the expected speeches, everyone retreats to their rooms and their own world.

There is no specific theme in the novel and this is partly what makes the story interesting. We follow events, people’s perspectives, thoughts and memories. Based on the idea that the East-West gap can only be bridged by a change in people’s minds and not by an invention, this novel is a very enjoyable read. Well, how did Orhan Pamuk, one of the master writers, address these topics in his novel The Silent House and through which characters? In this novel, the author conveys this message through our heroes Ismail and Recep. Ismail and Recep are two disabled brothers born out of wedlock. Recep is the housekeeper of the grandmother and he is a dwarf. Ismail is a lame lottery seller. Throughout the novel, the marginalization that the characters are subjected to due to their physical appearance is dealt with in detail and its effects on their lives are touched upon. Recep’s very moving and heartbreaking words give us a clue to what happened, even if they are not enough to describe what he suffered because of his physical appearance.

“But I’m not sad because I’m a dwarf,” I said. “I feel sorry that people are so bad that they can mock a 55-year-old dwarf.”

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