|Anatolia Publishing Web Site|
NOVEL BY ORHAN KEMAL
An immigrant who moved to Turkey in the 1925s from the Greek town of Alasonya, Mourtaza is a man of his honor unlike the other immigrants who are after their slice of the cake. The noble blood of his heroic uncle, Captain Hasan, runs through his veins and he has chosen to lead a heroic life like his uncle. In fact, he expects the same dedication from all the citizens and from his sons, being MOURTAZA THE WATCHMAN!
While he thinks he is doing his job in the best possible way, things always get messed up and he repeatedly finds himself ridiculed. Despite having the ideal features of a watchman, the public has started to get annoyed with him. Because he has been forcing the residents to sleep at a certain hour. And the reason: A weary citizen who has not slept well would fail in performing his civil duties!
Finally his superiors convince him to guard a factory, as he is desperately needed there!
Yet things also get messed up at the factory. Having declared war against the undisciplined behaviors disrupting the order in the factory, Mourtaza is at peace with no one in the entire staff. He catches his daughters working in the same factory, as they take a nap and beats them up. In the end he causes the death of his own daughter. And the reward he gets is a bonus and three days off! This tragic event becomes the turning point of an uprising in the factory, forcing Mourtaza to resign.
Now, his family has also turned against him. Actually an already solitary figure, Mourtaza finds himself in complete isolation…
Is Mourtaza, one of the most significant figures in Turkish Literature, a comedy character or on the contrary, a tragic hero in our social life?
Mourtaza is a comedy character in all aspects, because he does not change; he resists. He is an icon of the loss of human dignity. He stands as a testimony to how open a person can be to exploitation and to abuse. He is an icon of a militaristic order and discipline that erases all the differences with total disregard for the individual. Mourtaza is the incarnation of government patrolling the streets. His sense of duty ties in with the ideals of a class, but definitely not of the poor. Nearly all the people he perceives to be a threat are poor.
Mourtaza is detested by the rich and the poor alike. He is an outsider for them, like an alien! They all mock him. He never gets to be accepted from the heart; everyone finds something to complain about him. No one defies him directly, but everyone plots against him behind his back. Mourtaza virtually turns into a signifier of people’s decadence. He easily reveals people’s hypocrisies, lies and their lack of virtue. Such a person would naturally become the unwanted man!
It may be said that Mourtaza carries out an important catalytic function on an ethical ground. He serves as a criterion in terms of duty, patriotism, honesty and virtue in this context.
The experience of simultaneously laughing and crying while reading the novel is caused by the contradictory personality that Mourtaza conveys.
Here, we may see Mourtaza like Don Quixote. But rather an anti-Don Quixote! It may be thought that he conveys an utterly despotic personality with his behaviors, mindset and the force he exerts on people in the name of order; but it must not be forgotten that this personality emerges only for the sake of codes of duty.
Mourtaza the novel, may be one of the dramatic and, in a way, the most tragicomic stories regarding the degeneration of men and this dog-eat-dog world. It has been adapted to the big screen twice and put on stage many times. Currently, it continues to be performed by the Semaver Kumpanya theater group.
as an Ideal Citizen and Mentality
Orhan Kemal Kültür - Sanat Merkezi