“Mourtaza” as an Ideal Citizen and Mentality 

By Dr.Mehmet Nuri Gültekin


Translated By Academy Group



 “-What’s your duty?

-My name is Mourtaza!

 -I did not ask your name. Your duty?

- Mourtaza means duty, duty means Mourtaza. ”


Mourtaza who is not only one of the most important types of Orhan Kemal but also the Turkish Literature, is a character which is used many times because of the years that the events take place, the actuality and the mentality he represents. Is the“Mourtaza” character or “being Mourtaza” a comedy character in our social life, or on the contrary, is he a tragic hero? We will try to answer this question in our forthcoming analysis. Before this, it is beneficial to glance the articles about “Mourtaza”.

Some critics evaluate Mourtaza as a real person. Such that, it is possible to meet him everywhere in the street, at work, in the coffee shop at any time. At every stage of life, you will definitely meet someone like him. If the exaggeration in the novel character is evaluated as a problem, like by the ones who are searching an exact equivalent, when compared with the features of a real person, some faiulures may arise. But there has to be a lot of qualifications of the novel that separates it from the one-to-one concreteness of real life: Lukacs say that, a dramatic comedy is the figural result of every aspect of life.

The name of the hero (“Mourtaza”) has a literary success aspect which becomes identical with itself. A character which was created with a different name would have been less convincing, without leaving the narration aside. The comedy character in the novel, as in “Mourtaza” has a characteristic which does not get out of the lines he has, does not become conscious and which is hard-headed. The possibility of change can be his end. Therefore, Mourtaza is a comedy character in every aspect; because he does not change, he resists. He does not avoid any behaviors that would make him more ridiculous. When we approach from a different angle, Mourtaza 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. But, it should not be forgotten that Mourtaza is a result; there is a social reality that created him. Like in social life, it’s a total insanity to be alone within the plot of the novel and this fact exists in Mourtaza excessively.

The author describes who Mourtaza is with these words: “…I have asked myself many times: in addition to being a funny character, is Mourtaza a clown? And I immediately answer it to myself: No! Well, what is Mourtaza? In my opinion, in a society, or a world, where it has started to be seen ordinary to walk on hands, Mourtaza is someone who walks on his feet, and forces others to walk the same way, and who totally believed in himself.. For a man who comes agains the society he lives in every second, who has endless contradictions, the society is roughly divided into two with a thick line; the wealthy and the poor. (...) Mourtaza, without regarding that he is one of the poor, has been on the side of the wealthy. Mourtaza tries to be favorable to the wealthy although, this group does not want anything from him and almost does not require him at all. Is there anything he expects? No. If there is, Mourtaza would not be “Mourtaza”.

There is a continuity that we come across often in Orhan Kemal novels. We can mention many transitions and common situations in the events, places or the characters. Or events that are left in the middle, continues in the other novel by composing the main plot. This atmosphere makes it possible to narrate the phenomenon from different aspects and from the lives of different characters. The general lines of the atmosphere in the novel, resembles the ambiance of the Gemile, The Cobbler and His Sons and Dünya Evi (World House). We can say this with an intuition that, Mourtaza and the Topal Eskici’s kids and the cobbler himself, the neighborhood of Gemile and most of the workers know each other! Because their characteristics are similar. And this feature will be also confronted later again in novels which we will analyze.

The way that Mourtaza perceives himself, the society and the government is not that of a sick personality, in and of itself, it is the product of representation of a serious and real time.

The portrait of Mourtaza, which is being drawn, is a portrait of someone who is integrated with his job. The main reasons that bring him into existence are the formality, the job, absolute obedience to the masters and the orders. He is a type that reflects the general ideals of 1940s with all his existence.

Mourtaza’s personality is best described by these expressions: “coughing with importance” or “walking with his stomach in, his chest out and his eyes right straight ahead”!

His duty philosophy correspond the ideals of a class, but definitely not of the poor. Nearly all the people he perceives to be a threat is the poor. His talking with himself includes important data, where he actually talks to the ‘government’ or the authority in himself. This is the out reflection of the way Mourtaza, as a civic servant, perceives the citizens - especially the poor.

Another striking point is that Mourtaza combines concepts like government, power, honor, decency in one pot and puts an attitude against the women.

We see that Mourtaza has a patriarchal mentality and it concretizes this by showing an absolute and unconditional obedience to the government or the superiors. For Mourtaza who neither appreciates the authority nor the warrior abilities of women, they are creatures not to be cared for in social relationships. Thus the unquestionable personality, traditional values, judgments of the hero arrives to position to recreate the continuity of a political power.

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. This government is the government of the 1930s and 1940s. An individual is devoted to the government with all his/her being. Mourtaza, in fact, is an ideal citizen who should be in every district and street.

            Besides the traditional patriarchal culture, the thought of having a strong discipline and government authority, makes Mourtaza a scary type. Vulgar behavior towards the women, with the absolute dominance advocacy is a situation which overlaps with the military’ emphasis we will mention later. Especially in the poor neighborhoods, ‘the tricky citizens’ who have identified the incarnated forceful government with the fear and repression are the main targets. Because, he has ‘Puritan’ approach against the rich. The rich have that wealth because they definitely worked very hard and were never lazy (like some tricky citizens!) and therefore they deserve respect and protection. But this fact can not be valid for the poor (‘some tricky citizens’). Right here, this mentality pushes Mourtaza to the wanted and ideal citizen status. Because, it is possible to be the member of a ‘classless and united mass’ without questioning the authority (the wealth). The otherwise is not possible anyway.

            We meet with a narration overlapping with the sociological and historical reality in the novel. The race of grabbing an estate at the exchange era, the struggle of the native public to share the left-overs from the enforced migration and the treasure is a situation encountered in the other Chukurova novels of Orhan Kemal. Here, there is the reflection of the phenomenon in an esthetic way rather than the novel-narration being a historical document.

Throwing away the opportunities that the time has offered him, honesty, the ‘martyr’ uncle figure resemble the role in tragedy, the effect of it determining everything before happening causes Mourtaza to find himself in complete isolation.  Everyone including his family see him as someone foolish, stupid, who don’t know what he is doing. In reality Mourtaza don’t know the ‘jobs’ they know.

Mourtaza is a deviation, a deviation from the time, economic conditions, the base of political mechanism and the traditional relationships. Therefore, he is left in ridiculous situations. But the difference here is, he does not care much about this ridiculous situation, sees everyone else other than himself on the wrong path (and, mostly they are), and becomes more and more lonely as he gets away from practical benefit and advantage. Because he is the one who turns his back to the any kind of ‘amoral shares’ and is the person of different space and time; being in novel he is ‘real’ and being real he is a novel, too.

            It is Mourtaza who is “incompatible” in every aspect. While the people that he immigrated with (exchangees), exaggerated their wealth and settled on wealth that they never had or could have had and changed social statuses, he chooses the “honor”. One of the reasons for it is that while he was the imaginary heroic Captain Hasan, his living in a time that he does not belong to. Because, he is described as someone who damages the functioning in every aspect and who is excessively realistic, he turns into a fairy tale hero; become a caricature. “Having Honor”’ in Mourtaza’s world is a straitjacket that brings disasters and poverty. However, the same honor while turning him into a duty machine causes him to be exploited.


            The ideas like land, honor, duty, martyr that Mourtaza has been defending and symbolizing completes with his behaviors like his carelessness of his mothers death, and later his behavior towards his daughter where he caused the death of his own daughter because he caught her as she take a nap while at work (we will come back to this subject again). Because he is a bookish person; even a faultless duty book. He is a legal duty book without a question and never letting sensuality that would open the doors of irrationality. Here we face a dialectic contrast: Since Mourtaza is social both with his values (his still being proud of his commander uncle, who was a martyr/hero and honesty) and his complying fully with honesty of the mind and logics-so to say the laws- ; but with reality of the current objective conditions of the society, he is ‘out of date’ (out of time). He does not live at his own time, he can not. May be there will never be a time that he will live/has lived in. This fact is part of the reasons of his contradiction with his environment and the time he lives in, his not-being accepted, and after all his being exploited.

            From his angle (Mourtaza) the second and most important duration for him was to move from the village to the town, which he did not harmonize with or will never harmonize with, for a temporary time. This is a migration which is accustomed to and classical; but a very important process for Mourtaza’s ideal. Because, he gets to know that he needs to have a duty to dominate over people and to be respected. This ideal duty will most definitely be like ‘the Captain Hasan style’.  And this is the watchman’s duty, which is in his caliber. His life pours towards that duty.

            The author sends Mourtaza and his brother to two different paths, two different ideals and tests the results of conditions and reality. Whoever succeeds, the other inevitably will lose. We can anticipate that it will not be his brother from his fellow countryman that he has turned to and who had nothing when he came from Greece, but now who is very rich. Another reason is the reality that Mourtaza is ‘alone’ and will be alone. With this separation, the wisdom, ideals and the practical benefit clash. While his brother is searching for advantage and benefit in the physical life, Mourtaza is searching for big ideals in a very small life.


Mourtaza, as an individual, harbors all the totalitarian, single-type features of the single political party era. The biggest reason for him to insist for being a Watchman is his wanting to differentiate himself from the “public”, meaning the poor majority.


As we mentioned before at the regard to woman, although he is close to the dominant powers, because of his longing to militaristic discipline, he wants a kid (male) who is always going to be a soldier. What he expects from a woman (his wife) is limited with the condition of giving birth to a baby boy, as this is not something that the patriarchal culture is unfamiliar to. Becasue while he is getting married, as a citizen who has his ideals, he is after the features that emphasize on soldiery, Martyrdom and - most definitely - masculinity. These expectations and behaviors save Mourtaza from being a utopian character and make him a social being. He becomes a representative for the social reality he lives in. He gets married to an immigrant girl like himself. He is not pleased with the kids he has. After three daughters (Firdevs, Gemile, Zehra) his son Hasan was born. He is disappointed because ‘although’ he gives his uncle’s name to his son, the boy’s mind was more into crafts and football, instead of being in soldiery (uniform). He’s after a son who will go to the military school, grow up and like his uncle Captain Hasan, “pour his holy blood to the sacred homeland ground”.


The “Watchman” Mourtaza is included and a part of the political, cultural and economic functioning of the society he lives in.  The political party which was united with the government and formed the government of the era is CHP (Republic Public Party). And naturally, Mourtaza is a follower of the government namely CHP. He does not much care about the rest.


The street that Mourtaza lives in and the condition of the other parts and streets

of the city is the residence of contradictions that actually brings Mourtaza into

existence. Sharp distinctions imprison Mourtaza and his idea to class distinctions

which can not be passed over. It only gives him a chance to exist by only being

devoted to the authority unconditionally. So Mourtaza is a rational obligation

in his own conditions. his view to the society and to the classes besides his own

society reflects the form and discriminations that the class which Mourtaza  

belongs to wants it to be perceived and  that the dominating idea tries to see as

non-existent. As mentioned above, we see that as the micro representative

of the government, Mourtaza is almost with a “Puritan” attitude far from the

liberal, tolerant and questioning behavior against the class and wealth.


What bring Mourtaza to the ideal citizen status are his ideas. His manners against two different classes are (naturally) his reason to exist. With his behaviors against the poor, the people from his own neighborhood, with his own words the ‘the tricky citizens’, and against the “beloved servants of God”, he is someone who ‘knows his place’. The citizen he wants to be is actually the citizen type that the rich want him to be, so to say, like someone who appreciate them and does not want anything from them and does not need to question them…


            These citations that show the subconscious of Mourtaza are at the same time ideas that make him a ‘type’. He is not such a special and rare person; he is just like anybody. We can see how he perceives himself. He shows the most respect to his elder ‘the elder that he has been trained by and learned virtue from’ that he serves. His individualistic reason for existence, as much as ‘being trained’ and ‘virtue’, in other words as much as authority and duty is Captain Hasan. But he is unable to evaluate the conditions of his uncle and come to a conclusion. He only takes what’s given and applies them; he does not and can not produce anything.


            As a matter of fact, we know that he protects the ‘neighborhood of his elder’ from the ‘the tricky citizens’. But another important point is that he put it on the top of his list/book to protect the neighborhood from the animals as much as from the poor and lazy people.


His apprehension pattern other than the elder and the superiors is certain. He hates the guise of the poor like the neighborhoods. He does not only do his watchman’s duty in the rich neighborhoods; since he looks from the eyes of the rich, (with a consciousness as in the Lukacs meaning ‘a tragic consciousness’), he sees for them too. It is natural that the one who he questions and has power to defeat is always the poor.


The public and community that have gathered against Mourtaza always seem as lacking quality. Mourtaza is sort of ‘an alien’ in that environment, since he is a rational citizen who has returned the bribe offer rigidly, does his job according to the laws and is a government employee. He is ‘estranged’ according to the others, since he is out of the traditional watchman-civil servant mentality; he is separated from the comprehension and functioning of the society that does not work legally. But the irony here is an irony which can always be reversed. While the rational and legal Mourtaza is ‘bad’ and left alone, the crowded public draws a portrait of irrational but ‘good’. This is reflection of social functioning and subconscious.


            While Mourtaza is only the applier of the laws, he struggles against the crowd. What makes him a negative but a rational hero is this attitude of him that does not comply with everyone.


            His absolute and steady ‘superior’ consciousness emerges at all the conditions that he faces. Whatever happens he only thinks about the rules up to the limit of his duty and status, he does not much care about the rest. Like the authority wants him to be, he is an ideal man of his duty who does not ask and most importantly and does not see a necessity to question.


            While the author is describing the neighborhood people (unqualified mass or the tricky citizens) contrary to Mourtaza, he always uses the negative and lower qualifications of the poor classes. This is not a coincidence; being against Mourtaza, namely being against the government, the law, the regulation, is qualitatively caused by making some of the deficiencies obligatory.

            Since the Free Political Party event, the neighborhood people who has been acting individually and living in tension become united against Mourtaza. This is an interesting sign; it is remarkable in order to show the structure of the operation and mentality. The thought which is here and all over the novel is, besides Mourtaza being always lonely (although the people who use him seems to support him), the rationality or everything lawful and bookish is discussed by degrading to a humorous level. It can be humorous, because the mentality of the majority is different and operates differently. The reality of the society can only let Mourtaza (and his mentality) exists in a humorous situation. What lies beneath the authority hang-up and assimilation of Mourtaza is his aptness and familiarity towards the bureaucratic mentality, so to say the rational mechanism. The important thing for him is the institutes rather than the people in the position. What is described above is the reflection of the ‘tragic consciousness’.

            The author describes from which social class Mourtaza comes and protects the interests of which class as below:


 “Rightfully, he fought with many wrong things in the neighborhood, and made life very hard for the outcasts and evil people. And this neighborhood does not mean only the worn out houses which look like they have bended to their sides, are sitting cross-legged and clinged while collapsing. The real neighborhoods, rather the people who dominate the neighborhood, are the owners of the big apartments on the main street. They were very pleased with Mourtaza: they were saying “this neighborhood never had such a watchman before.” “From the cars we park in front of our houses to the trash cans everything we own is in security. And what’s most important is that he protects and cares for our possessions and lives more than us. What else can we ask for... ” (2003: 54,55)



                        The duty philosophy that brings him into existance is now his life:



“-He said, on duty you will not even keep your child apart. You will not protect him or her. You will not say my child, my beloved. Why? Because any duty is more sacred than any child! (...) A good civil servant does not feel sorry for the public. His eyes do not see his child. Why? Because the qualification of a good civil servant is to keep the superior happy. What does the ignorant public understand from self interest? I want to see each as steel chest and bronze fist. But they can not appreciate these fine points; they had no training, no firm education!” (2003: 60,61)



In the neighborhood, by making a complaint on Mourtaza who does what is necessary for everyone elses job-excessively-, it is thought to move him from being a watchman and appoint him somewhere else. For Mourtaza the government and authority, as in the meaning of ‘duty’ can be in a non-official establishment, not only in an official place.

It is always possible to talk about a conformity and familiarity between the rich and the official employees. In this sense, the reason of Mourtaza being more on the side of the rich citizens instead of the poor ‘tricky’ ones can be understood. Because the relationships of the official government employees and the local wealthy class is easy and the other wealthy ‘elders’ are aware of Mourtaza. When we pay attention to the terms as duty, discipline, homeland, classes, money, poverty, superior-order, we can face an ‘acceptable Turk’ situation that has fallen into daily life from the first term lecture books.

While everybody is two-faced against Mourtaza, he is honest. One of the elements that complete the paradox here is this characteristic of him. There is not even the littlest tension between his stand and attitude. He does what he thinks and thinks the way he acts. It is natural that honesty bears ‘stupidity’, insanity and being exploited in the conditions and social relationships of those days.

His guide in his private life the martyr Uncle Captain Hasan is not a simple image. Captain Hasan is at the same time the one that creates him within the novel, (non) ‘imaginary’, ‘existent’. For Mourtaza, as mentioned before, it is a mythological character peculiar to tragedies. He is the symbol of homeland sympathy, honesty and sacrifice. He is the ideal guide for ideal citizen Mourtaza. On the other hand, for even the ones who do not care much about Mourtaza, he exists as an image they use while defining Mourtaza. This is the source that brings him into existence. He never starts out with a straight logic from his own family history, he makes selections. (He didn’t even cry when his mother died!) He idealizes the homeland, transforms it into mythos. When we look at the social-historical actuality era of the novel where the Mourtaza is being described, we see that, such an idealization, (the citizen definition where the homeland and the nation is in the center) is not a new reference. This intellectual situation is an intellectual reality that composes to be ‘Mourtaza’.

From his watchman’s duty in the neighborhood, he is send to the fabric-knitting factory as a night watchman. There will not be a different environment from the neighborhood in the sense of mentality.

For everyone Mourtaza is “insane” or “freak” but the assignment to correct all the distorted operations is given to him. He is a civilian soldier, where the seriousness is engraved to every moment and every cell of his life. He is submission without any questioning. With these features, he has a “fascist” individual mentality; he defends the government and the power without any question and zeros the individual.

There is not much of an important character in the novel other than Mourtaza. Everyone as opposite of Mourtaza, other than the class differences, are identical with each other. Only Mourtaza and his uncle Captain Hasan are discrete. One of them does not exist; and the other is an “insane” who does not want to accept that he does not exist.

            The contradiction of social reality with Mourtaza is not only at the outlook. As another part of the mechanism, despite his behaviours that are seen as absurd , Mourtaza keeps their inner feelings like submission, obedience and fear of authority alive. He activates the submission potential that exist secretly in every individual of the society against the militaristic discipline.

The ones that fool with Mourtaza or the ones that tease him all the time have a serious insecurity and fear of authority. (A theme similar to this one is brought to life in the “Müfettiþler Müfettiþi” novel of the author with the “Kudret Yanardað” character.) Here we face a ‘fascist’ individual mentality, incarnated in the figure of Mourtaza. Terms like submission, government, order are blended and compose Mourtaza and his ‘mass’. Individuals with a steady and gratuitous loyalty to the government authority, indisputable submission to the orders, and individuals who follow the rules without commenting or seeing a neccessity to comment on them, individuals who are lined up to one level...These apparent features do not seem much possible with the strong opposition and resistance of the poor but this secret may come up even with an ‘order’ scene similar to the one in the coffee house. In the government citizen relationship that Mourtaza represents, the individual is devoted to the government in every aspect, lives for the government.  Secret service tracings, follow-up, government employees in disguise.... All of these are built on the ‘fears’.


After being moved to the factory, the wealthy or the superiors continued to use Mourtaza for the discipline and order. The Science Manager of the factory asks him to control the workers and watch the materials that are stolen from the factory and resold. The basic idea that sends him to search for imaginary enemies and makes him a Don Quixote is the passion of duty and discipline. A steady submission to the superiors serves well for the Science Manager in the factory.

            Everybody seems like fooling with Mourtaza, but if there is a ‘self-interest’, everybody moves to his side immediately. Mourtaza does not go anywhere, he does not change. His own ideas are extremely strong. The main problem is the immediate move of the ones that do not like Mourtaza and fool with him to his side (even for just using him). Mourtaza applies the wisdom and the orders not for self-interest, but in reality just for it is the rule and the duty and he completes with it. In this sense, he is the most honest character of the novel.

            What isolates Mourtaza and transforms him into a ‘weird’ character is derived from him trying to apply the duty, the discipline and the wisdom in a completely bookish way in a social reality or place where everything functions traditionally.

            The view of the Factory Science Manager to the situation is pragmatist. And this reflects the mentality of the ones that use the capital at the time that Mourtaza lived, besides the fellow citizen relationships.

The traditional functioning and thinking style shows itself in every area of life like in people, settings and in the use of symbols. The pictures on the wall of a tea house in Anatolia have meanings that reflect the reflection forms of the tradition to us.

                In the factory that Mourtaza is hired, it is possible to see the results of the social change on throwing the individuals to different positions. In the new social order, we see the personalities of the individuals in the new conditions that tried to live by holding on to the nobility and the history of the family. Kontrol Nuh is a good representative of the traditionalism and craftiness. Arnavut Kâtip and the other workers become the other characters. In the new social situation, the emphasis and references made towards the past do not work much. The hardship of the physical conditions erases and sweeps the longing towards the past which is still strong in the memories of the old Ottoman civil servants. It is possible to meet the ‘fallen’ characters in Orhan Kemal like the types in Balzac novels.

            The employee portraits like Sarý Ýbrahim, Yassý Bekir, Ensiz Necip in the factory are types that we meet frequently in Orhan Kemal novels, who lack employee consciousness, continue their acts with traditional craftiness relationships. Therefore they reflect daily self-interests. Their view to Mourtaza is in this direction. For the most of the employees, the rotten meals do not mean anything and they have no other thought than settling with what they have. In the factory environment, with this work and job ethics, the job that was given to Mourtaza is the encounter of the two different values system and philosophy. Nuh and other employees represent a traditional, Anatolian employee behavior and working culture. Mourtaza is modern, rational (definitely industrial intellect) and bookish. He is a bureaucratic type. The factory becomes the battle field of these two different mentalities. The mechanism that the workers can not comprehend is: the capital or the representatives of it will use the traditional relationships and the loyalty (!) as long as it will work for them, even it is craftily. After a point, the reality is that the boss who is conscious of the capital, namely his benefit (truely), has moved/ will move the undeveloped consciousness level of the worker to his advantage. We witness that the conditions as countrymanship, relationships or the familiarity are used quite intensely in Chukurova factories. The author reflects this mechanism quite openly. This is a realistic condition. Because as in the other novels of Orhan Kemal where he describes the rural characters of the industry workers, even in a novel, we do not see a consciousness quite often. For the employees, who work in the same factory for some time in the 1930s and 1940s, to become ‘conscious’ and recognize the interests of their own class, not as a result of the objective conditions of life, but as a speculative conclusion, is going to be an esthetic reflection far away from the historical reality. The author does not exhibit consciousness (“Bildungsroman”) in his novel. He is more loyal to the actual mechanism.



            In such an ambient, Mourtaza appears to be a rational but a tragic character with all his actuality.

            Despite of this duty consciousness and normatily of Mourtaza, the jobs in the factory are more close to the traditional mechanism because of the reasons we mentioned above. What is determinative here is the self-interest requires this.


            As in the sense of another social class and values, the character that is ‘left from the Ottoman times’ is “Azgýn Aða” who works as a toilet watchman in the factory. He is a character which is sunken in every aspect, but tries to hold on to life with his past. He is irrational and naturally against Mourtaza. He is someone who carries and lives the ideas like traditionalism and nativeness the clearest. We again face some values like “Turkishness”, “Purity”, “Islamism” in his opinions.


            When we look at the terms and values “migration” phenomenon is a situation that is not accepted fully in the society yet. It is easily highlighted especially in the simple self-interest struggle between the workers. It is put forward as a ‘difference’.

In the social life formed or envisioned to be formed, there is a secret competition between the immigrants who came from old “Ottoman property” and the locals. This competition can be seen easier especially in tension times. Even though the circumstances experienced have left the workers to make a living with their own labor, we see that there is an environment that feeds these tensions. It resembles the one in the ‘cobbler’s shop’, the past image of “Azgýn Aða” and the local-immigrant discrimination is an expression of a tense memory in the physical social life. The ones, who were altruistic in Ottoman times or at the ‘Liberation War’, have been convicted to poverty. Who had profited in this era can be described as the ones who did not go to war, the war riches, (except for Mourtaza) the immigrants or the ones who got a hold of the possessions of the ones who have migrated away. But despite all these (traditional and simple discrimination as local-immigrant), none of them are important for Mourtaza. He never looks at the job he does or the society he lives in from a traditional window. For him, rationally, there is only duty and orders. He does not comment. He approaches both to the immigrants or the locals with the same scale: the degree of them doing their job. Therefore Mourtaza is a lonely man. In reality, neither the immigrants, nor the locals like him. And he is aware of his isolation.


The separation of old-new does not only emerge in conditions about the immigrants. The Republic era and the Ottoman era also become as facts that are compared in the novels. But these transform into an East fable, by the transformation form in the traditional memory as far as possible from reality. Like the consciousness level of the workers for their objective realities, the close political, economical and the historical past of the country breaks in this mirror of consciousness, changes and wraps into a tale-like atmosphere.


            As mentioned before with the before and after of “Mourtaza” fact happening through the II. World War times, brings us to make a connection in between the two. Furthermore we see that many facts like the discipline, race, motherland, job, labor, government, strong leadership that the ‘German’ symbolizes are reflected here. And Mourtaza is already a German admirer (he is a “Alamancý”). Although towards the end of the war he has gotten out of the axis of Germany in a fast way, because of the historical dimension, where its roots are reaching to the decline of Ottoman, the effect did not change easily at the public level. The resemblances between the elements that compose Mourtaza and the qualities of Germany are both surprising and also not a coincidental result.  Although the ‘German’ favor of Mourtaza is because his ‘superiors’ so to say the government administrators are in that direction. Later, Mourtaza will to wait for his ‘superiors’ political decisions to determine his route.  It is very clear that not only Mourtaza, but everybody in the society has been confused towards the end of the war. What was expected to happen and what has happened is a result that like many people Mourtaza and his environment had not expected.


            Eventually, Mourtaza receives another job and responsibility: “The Factory Sport Liable Commandership”.

This job is the most suitable one for Mourtaza’s personality until now. The factory which had a lot of units from the band sets to the other sport utilities, this job which has turned Mourtaza into a ‘ceremonial’ identity, serves him to be more authoritative.

            The situation of the worker neighborhood before the 1950s, has a complementary role in the picture. Since we can not talk about a full establishment of institutions, the grocery shop assembles the functions of many institutions at itself: it performs functions like shopping, lending out money, gathering, communication. Another function is that it is a small ‘market’ where different ethnical and cultural structure of the neighborhood meets. It is an element that completes the factory.

            We meet with Recep again, the brother of Mourtaza who had a different path. But this time, since Recep has separated from Mourtaza and made his “way”, he has made money. He had profit, because he did not obey the wisdom and honesty in other words his brother Mourtaza. As a dramatic reality, this is a meaning that flows parallel to the novel. The dialogue that he has with his brother shows Mourtaza’s personality clearer. He is never someone naive who does not know anything. The poverty and isolation he has is because of the endless loyalty he has to the wisdom, law and duty.




            The description of the factory that Mourtaza works in is the description of the industry in the 1940s. This is an industry functioning established solely on exploitation of the cheap labor, namely the woman and the children who do not have any security. This theme always exists in many novels of Orhan Kemal. The workers being unconscious, hundreds of thousands of cheap labor waiting (ready) in the line are some of the factors that complete our picture. The working conditions, the condition of the industry, which is just growing up besides the agriculture, are like the worker neighborhood. These facts are the objective conditions that the author emphasizes commonly in his different novels. As we will see later, many factors that combine with cheap labor politics will direct and flow the people in the cheap labor (wage) sea to the cities....

The sharpness, rationality, the purification from all the traditional and emotional ties in the way Mourtaza perceives duty, his actuality in the order-command functioning emerges at his behavior towards his daughter at the factory. There is not even the slightest protection or favoring. What’s important is the rational functioning to proceed within the job frame, without being questioned. The solidity he expects/requests (that he himself has) from everyone in the factory, on their duty is far from any sensuality or ‘weakness’. In a bookish meaning, however one should be in the bureaucratic functioning, however it is written, Mourtaza is like that. There can be even a slightest deviation of him from the rules.


In the factory, when he saw his daughter (yet a child) take a nap ‘while she was supposed to work’, we face one of the most dramatic moments of the novel and the ‘Mourtaza’ fact. He beats his daughter up to death and he emerges in front of his ‘superior’ (the factory manager).

The daughter of Mourtaza who he has beaten up dies in a few days.

In the third part of the novel, the author starts to narrate the events in a totally different social reality. Towards the end of the World War II, while the discomforts from Ismet Pasha, CHP or Germany are being expressed loudly, after the establishment of DP, the fact becomes something totally different. Now there is (real) politics; the ideas and the sides are changed without even needing to hide like before. Mourtaza stays in all these developments as a ’machineman’ who always keeps his line, never changing, just functioning with duty and order. But the transforming power of the facts isolates him even more. Because the quality of the duty and the ones who assign the duty would start to change. However, Mourtaza does not have the capacity to comprehend this process; or a ‘duty’ like that is not assigned to him by his ‘superiors’.

            Political developments cause a Ismet Pasha opposition, (even) with the immigrants. Mourtaza can not accept this. Everyone takes their share from strong winds of change. Mourtaza becomes isolated more and more. A very interesting resemblance is the crossing paths of CHP and Mourtaza in the 1940s. Maybe, Mourtaza is not a ‘party member’, but at that time, since everybody is ‘naturally’ accepted as a member of the party, there is a similarity in the intellectual meaning too. He always perceived himself as the representative of formality for a long time. The other workers have identified him with the government. The Science Manager, who represents the dominating power, namely the active political anxiety and economical interest, smells the changes well. At last, the manager joins the DP as it is the ‘fashion’ and Mourtaza is pushed to loneliness even more and becomes a target. Because, the masses in the centers have found targets and Mourtaza is the closest, the most reachable and beatable one of these ‘targets’.

As in “Gemile”, the wrong consciousness of workers that do not hit the target comes out here too. Orhan Kemal uses this consciousness reflection to reveal the thinking structure of social reality. In reality, both the workers and Mourtaza have a wrong consciousness. The quick changing lines of the representatives of the dominating power and signing up to the new political party (DP) is a very live fact. It is an indicator that the capital will always find a place to use its power and influence. But, what is important here is the distance of the workers to the consciousness of their real interests.

The rebellion of the workers against Mourtaza hits the ‘real consciousness’ wall of the capital. The factory manager, who is a member of Democratic Party, refuses their request to get Mourtaza, his best man, fired; what is important is to have someone that useful. The Party is not important.

            The consciousness of the factory manager of his own interest shocks the workers who lack their own consciousness, but this will not make a ‘revolution’ effect on them. Such that, even with the littlest friction of the workers with each other, the roots or some other ‘discriminators’ emerge.


            The way that the Factory Manager understands and uses Mourtaza is rational. He knows how to manipulate everything for his own advantage. The crowds that flip and rebel are only interested with the image, since they do not have any information on what they are doing in reality. Mourtaza leaving the factory is seen as the main intention. They are lacking a talent to analyze the role of Mourtaza in the factory.

In some of the novels of Orhan Kemal, the rise of DP is seen as a ‘salvation’ in the beginning for some of the workers and the village people who has no land. But they face the reality later. The “DP phenomenon” becomes determinative by the end of the 1940s. The big land owners or as in here, the big capital owners always act more active, and they are the ones who always win. Therefore while the rise of DP takes place as an important fact for the transformation of social structure in Orhan Kemal novels, the same phenomenon, as experienced before, is described as far from providing the necessary gains for the poor public sections and the workers.

The environment which brings Mourtaza as the reflection of social fact is the events that we face with his individual history.  The ‘immigrant cobbler’ character in the “The Cobbler and his Sons” shows us one of the results of the population moves in the Republic era. Mourtaza also has a similar journey. But, what make him different from the others are his features. Mourtaza is so honest to the degree that it’s not worth anything. He finds it enough to have come to Turkey. Although he came in the first years of the exchange, he did not want anything. He kept the service for the government and administration above everything. The only thing he wants is a uniform.

If we need to refer to again, the migration to Anatolia, which has started long time before the Republic with the combination of all the types of people that appear in Turkey takes an important place in Orhan Kemal books. With immigrants or with locals, as a result the citizen or individual type is emerged. Mourtaza is the most important representative of this fact that has glided with an esthetic creation from the reality of the novel . The conflicts of the interests show itself in different ways, whether as possessing realty or as an obligatory reflection of the fast changes. In the modernizing society, the enforced individual (subject) type will emerge. But we do know that this individual is determined by every society’s distinctive objective conditions. In this sense, Mourtaza is a very distinct example. He is like a perfectly functioning cogwheel that puts wisdom instead of sensuality, and puts duty, responsibility and orders instead of traditional loyalty. He does not question the connection of these duties and orders with his ‘real interest’, he leaves that to the rationality of the people who assigned him that duty. He is someone in the society, who in the bureaucratic rationality sense is not interested in the proportion or the monetary earnings of the duty assigned to him and is an “ethical” type within these ambiances.  He elevates the duty, the authority, the government, the administration, the war and he has an endless ‘faith’ against them- and if necessary to say it as a novel reality, he is someone who stands very close to the general mentality of the 1930s and 1940s Turkey, and in the world, he especially stands close to the general understanding of Germany, politically (thus, directly socially), culturally, economically does not care about and degrade the individual- a ‘fascist’ subject. The unquestionable loyalty against the duty, law, rule raises him to the status of the right ‘ideal citizen’ status in the eyes of the dominating, although he is mocked by the others.

            In his own meaning world Mourtaza is a rational and modern type. He is ridiculous. He is right. But as a general mentality, he is someone who carries all the lines of his own time. Mourtaza is a rational monument. His being so contradictory to his own conditions is because he is an ideal that has come true.