My Name is Red

My Name is Red


Orhan Pamuk

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My Name is Red: Chapter 35 Summary & Analysis

The horse announces that it has been “galloping for centuries… in countless illustrations.” It admits that it is proud to have been painted so often, and brings up the question of whether being depicted in a realist style is sinful. The horse itself has been depicted in the Islamic miniaturist style, such that there is theoretically no difference between its image and that of other horses in miniature paintings. It might seem strange that miniaturists take pride in illustrating horses in the exact same way over and over again, but this is because they are trying to see the world as Allah sees it. The horse suggests that the European style is paradoxically more in keeping with Islamic teaching, even though Europeans themselves may be infidels who commit all kinds of sins, such as immodesty. The horse accuses miniaturists of painting horses not as they really are, and concludes with a story about a prince who grew up imprisoned in a single room. When he was finally let out, the prince demanded that someone bring him a horse; yet when a beautiful horse was brought to him, the prince was so enraged that it did not resemble illustrations of horses that he ordered all the horses in the kingdom to be slaughtered. Without a cavalry, the kingdom was defeated in battle and the prince was killed.
In this chapter, the horse presents a new perspective on the religious ethics of different styles of painting. It admits that Islamic miniaturists use an unrealistic, uniform style as a way of honoring the vision of Allah. However, it then suggests that this is a perversion of the world as it truly is. Surely the truest way to honor God is to depict the world as God created it—even if this is mediated through the lens of human perception. In this sense, the horse advocates a view of religion that is strikingly liberal and contemporary. According to the horse’s argument, if God created something, then it cannot be sinful—however, the horse itself contradicts this point by arguing that Europeans sin by refusing to sufficiently cover up their bodies. On the other hand, the horse’s argument seems to be deliberately provocative, so perhaps it does not matter that it is not logically coherent.
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
Creation vs. Representation Theme Icon
Virtue vs. Sin Theme Icon