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The book, Snow, by Orhan Pamuk, is based on a historical evaluation of the significance of the veil to the Muslim culture. The book analyzes the plight of women in Turkish society. Pamuk, at 92 exposes societal issues by describing the social, economical, political, and cultural aspects through the depiction of the headscarf or hijab. In this historical piece of work, Pamuk has presented the various challenges that women who wear the hijab are faced within society (Pamuk, 104).
The Republic of Turkey banned the wearing of the burqa, hijab, or the niqab back in the 20th Century. In 1923, Mustapha Kemal Artaruk declared Turkey a secular state. He promoted secularization in the year 1924.The Turkish government used the law to oppress women by passing unfair legislation. The headscarf according to Mustapha presented resistance to his attempts to modernizing the newly formed Republic of Turkey.
95% of the geographical area of the Republic of Turkey is inhabited by Muslims. The huge percentage of Muslims has in the recent past brought about interreligious clashes like those between the Turkish army and the Muslim fundamentalists. The ban on the headscarf meant that all women working in the public sector like in schools, hospitals, courtrooms, parliament and all government offices would not wear the headscarf. The ban became specifically strict when it came to the procurement of identity cards, passports, or the creation of commercial advertisements by women. An attempt to have the ban on the headscarf lifted has been futile.
In 2007, Erdogan the Prime Minister of Turkey tried to formulate a policy that would lift the ban on the headscarf but the motion was not successful. In 2008, the parliament of Turkey also tried to have the ban on the headscarf lifted but the move also failed.
Thematic presentations of the book, Snow
The purpose of the author is to reveal to the reader of his book the hidden truth about the plight of women in certain states of the world. Fear and oppression are major thematic concerns of the book. Women who do not conform to the law on the headscarf are usually prosecuted. In 1998, there were reports of the expulsion of a Turkish student from the university because of wearing a veil. In certain countries especially in Western countries, veils are just worn for fashion and do not attract any religious conflicts. The author uses his characters to depict the reality, however “harsh” it can be. He analyzes the kind of suffering that women in several states of the world go through in various contextual aspects.
Chekhov, a character in the book is used to symbolize the wasteful nature of certain theological doctrines because he upholds certain religious virtues regarding the hijab without really knowing why the headscarf is important. Men are seen to look down upon women as seen in the pastry shop where they spend a lot of time discussing issues about women.Necip finds a friend’s body lying on the bed. The body is full of bullet wounds and the scene as presented by Pamuk is horrifying. The author uses the incident to show the amount of fear that Turkish society inflicts on women. The fear is manifested in many forms like psychological and fear of women losing their jobs. Women are seen to lose their sense of belongingness in society. Ka, who is a male character in the book flees from Turkey and seeks refuge in Germany.
However, the author strikes a balance when he depicts Finder Eser talking of the love poet named Zain. Pamuk’s story is an indictment of the oppressive nature of Turkish society, especially towards women. He teaches the reader the kind of values that the society should preserve and the vices it should consider discarding in a dynamic society. The veil is used for concealing the identity of women and hence deterring them from participating in beauty contests. It also symbolizes the selfishness of society because it is used to limit the potential of women in the development of society.
The Turkish society is representative of other societies in the world that are oppressive to women. Most Muslim dominated societies have been depicted as unfair to the plight of women. Pamuk seems to be asking whether the oppression of women is what the Muslim culture is all about. I believe that the Holy Quran does not tell Muslim men to be oppressive to their women and definitely, many Muslim societies risk being underdeveloped if they do not integrate women in social and economic programs in the society.
Pamuk, Orhan.Snow, New York City, USA: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2006.Print.