My Name is Red

My Name is Red


Orhan Pamuk

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My Name is Red: Chapter 50 Summary & Analysis

The two dervishes explain that their picture was previously hidden away in the Royal Treasury, and that they will now tell their story to the patrons of the coffeehouse. They have been dead for 110 years but they stand here today because they were painted in the European style. A Frankish traveler gave them each a silver coin and asked to sketch them; while he was drawing, a hoja came along and demanded to know why the Frank was drawing these two devilish figures. The Frank explained that drawings of “the bad side” of Ottoman culture can be sold for the most money. He finished the painting and took it home to his “infidel city,” which was soon invaded by the Ottomans; thus the painting ended up in the Sultan’s Royal Treasury. The dervishes point out that the hoja claimed that dervishes are “superfluous” members of society. They admit that when the Frank was drawing them, he paid such ardent attention to them that they came to like him. Now they have achieved a kind of immortality through being depicted in a painting. In reality, they died in the middle of a snowstorm. Just before death, one of them dreamed that he was the subject of a painting that entered heaven after thousands of years.
The storyteller continues to slander religious zealots, this time from the perspective of two dervishes. Dervishes are Sufi Muslims who live austere, impoverished lives and use physical methods (such as dancing) in order to reach a state of religious transcendence. At the time the novel is set, dervishes are persecuted by Erzurumis (among others). It is important to note that the hoja in the story denounces dervishes for being “superfluous” members of society. This comment seems to condemn dervishes for not having a productive role within the economy. Like Elegant, who was both greedy and religiously conservative, the hoja’s comment establishes a link between religious fervor and greed. On the other hand, the dervishes themselves are somewhat greedy, as is the Frank, who paints the bad sides of Ottoman culture in order to earn more money.
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
Creation vs. Representation Theme Icon
Life, Death, and Consciousness Theme Icon
Virtue vs. Sin Theme Icon
Love, Desire, and Greed Theme Icon