The novel “Snow” by Orhan Pamuk is an intense reading. It is intense not due to the difficulty of the language used, but because it is full of action and constant tensions of various kinds. This becomes even more tangible under the circumstances of the remote city blocked from the outer world by a snow storm. This condition is crucial for the book, since under circumstances of complete isolation people start to show their true selves. While some individuals were taking off their masks, someone was remaining the same – suicide girls.
The significance of the suicide in the beginning of the book is in female resistance against political manipulation of religion and gender in their culture. Being traditionally deprived of wide freedoms and self-estimation, Muslim women had found their hope in religion, traditions and family. On the other hand, governmental flirting with the West resulted in the fact that the most vulnerable group of society had to pay for it. In this context, women were deprived of the dignity they had – modesty, belief in Allah and innocence.
Particular feature of the book is that, irrespective of being vulnerable and unprotected, women (suicide girls) possess the greatest will. Even being deprived of everything, they remained in control of their death. This will is even more visible in contrast to the main hero’s character. Ka is weaker than they are. He is scared of his identity, of the woman he had loved. Unlike suicide girl Teslime, Ka is not firm in his convictions – thinks about loving and being helpful to everyone, but in the end his jealousy and lack of self-confidence make him give up Blue to the secret police. His moral values are far from those of Teslime (Pamuk, 356).
Concerning the city of Kars and its culture, the book shows culture and sociopolitical struggles in Turkish society in general. It shows a huge disagreement and tension in the society about practically everything, including female suicide. The main theme of the novel is struggle in any possible form. It is Ka’s struggle with the fears of his past, Blue’s radical fight against authorities, Teslime and Hande battle for their femininity and even authorities’ struggle to correspond to the imposed norms of being equal to the Western countries and being able to enter the Western world.
The motive of suicide, as a protest, is constantly felt through the whole novel. It is not only mentioned when the suicide of Teslime happens, it is sensed in the air of the book. We can basically see it, when Hande explains the rational of the suicide to Ka. It is sub-consciously felt, when the head-scarves are taken off during the play. In other words, the image of head-scarves gained a symbolism of a suicide. The comprehension of the rational in girl’s suicide is improved when it is compared with a staged suicide of Zaim (Pamuk, 412). Zaim’s suicide is felt entirely different than the one of Teslime. There is no pity or regret, no matter how horrible it may sound. His action was entirely selfish and conducted out of personal vanity and desire to die young. It was not dictated by despair and lack of space to develop, rather by satiety and inability to control the eternal rivals of dictators and man of power- time and aging.
Another interesting issue of the book is the place chosen for the events staging. There might be a few reasons to choose this town. First of all, it is small and located in the Eastern part of Turkey, were religious beliefs are stronger than in the capital and European side of the country. Thus, the resistance to changes would be more severe here. Also, it might be due to the name of the city, which suits the name of Kar – snow, innocence, in this context. On the other hand, maybe Pamuk wanted to connect it to Ka-mer – Turkish social group helping female victims of family abuse and social injustice.
Pamuk, O. Snow. London, LD: Faber and Faber. 2005. Print.