My Name is Red

My Name is Red

My Name is Red Chapter 52 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Master Osman shows Black Bihzad’s needle, and tells him that miniaturists have a duty to try to see the world as God sees it. He adds that when the great masters of history were forced to adopt new styles, they blinded themselves in order to avoid this indignity. Black confesses that he wishes to spend eternity gazing at Shekure’s face. He goes on to look through more books, and thinks about the stylistic choices in a version of Shirin and Hüsrev. Suddenly, a horse in a wedding scene catches his eye, and he immediately rushes to show Master Osman. Black explains that although the painting has been done in the Chinese style, the horses’ nostrils have the same peculiarity as the nostrils in the drawing found on Elegant. Osman asks Black to describe the picture; it is clear he cannot see it properly himself. They look through the rest of the illustrations, and see that the miniaturist has depicted melancholy figures and strange, frightening devils. Osman explains that clipping a horse’s nostrils is a Mongol tradition and that this is what is depicted in the illustration.
Black’s sudden discovery of the horse with the clipped nostrils indicates that Master Osman might have chosen to blind himself at precisely the wrong moment. Although Osman is not yet fully blind, he now needs to rely on Black’s assistance to continue with their mission to identify the murderer, and thus the power dynamic between them shifts somewhat. Black and Osman’s observations about the horse give clues about the murderer’s identity that are not revealed explicitly to the reader, but which invite the reader to make their own judgments. The horse is drawn in the Chinese style, and Osman notes that clipping horses’ nostrils is a Mongol tradition. Note that in the chapter about Olive, Osman said that Olive descended from a long line of Mongol painters.
Themes
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
Creation vs. Representation Theme Icon
Virtue vs. Sin Theme Icon
Master Osman declares that he will stay and stare at these books until he is forced to leave by the Sultan and Head Treasurer; however, Black realizes that Osman is now going blind. He asks Osman who the murderer is, but Osman replies that whoever painted the nostrils in this clipped manner must have been unconsciously displaying a Mongol influence, and that it could have been anyone. Black praises Osman’s ability to unite the royal miniaturists in such a way that he has shaped and defined the Ottoman style in their era. Osman smiles and strokes Black’s arms and face. Black asks again who painted the horse with the clipped nostrils, and this time Osman replies that it was Olive, but adds that he is sure it was not Olive who murdered Elegant. Rather, he believes that Stork is the murderer. He thinks that Elegant must have confessed to Stork his feelings of conflict about the secret book, and that the argument that ensued resulted in Elegant’s murder. Because Elegant had confided his feelings to the Erzurumis as well, they avenged his death by murdering Enishte.
Black feels a sudden surge of admiration for Master Osman in this passage, and the two share a moment of affection. However, it seems that Black’s words of praise may be somewhat ill-advised. Having spent so many hours searching the Royal Treasury for a visual clue that will lead them to the murderer, Master Osman finds such a clue, traces it to one of the miniaturists (Olive), and then discounts this finding because it contradicts his own opinion. Osman is thus more faithful to what he believes about the murderer’s identity (or, more accurately, what he desires to believe) than he is to the actual evidence. Like many characters in the novel, Osman prefers living according to his own idea of reality to living with the truth—even when this truth is right in front of him.
Themes
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
Creation vs. Representation Theme Icon
Virtue vs. Sin Theme Icon
Love, Desire, and Greed Theme Icon
Master Osman goes on to denounce Enishte for leading the miniaturists to betray him. He claims that all the miniaturists deserve to be tortured for what they have done. Black suspects that Osman may have been the one who planned the murders in order to obstruct the creation of the book. He continues to look through the books in the treasury until dusk and then announces to Osman that he intends to leave soon, as they have now figured out the clue of the horses’ nostrils. Together, they admire the picture in front of Osman, a scene from Shirin and Hüsrev. At the time of evening prayers, the door to the treasury is opened and the officers do not notice Bihzad’s needle hidden in Black’s clothes. Walking home, Black is overcome with excitement; now that the murderer’s identity is known, he will be able to share Shekure’s bed. However, when he gets back to Enishte’s house, he realizes no one is there, and he runs off joyfully to find them.
The end of this chapter highlights the weaknesses of both Black and Master Osman. Osman is once again shown to be vain and unforgiving, even going so far as to say he believes the miniaturists should be tortured for their betrayal of him. Black, meanwhile, is naïve and incapable of giving much deep thought to anything other than Shekure. He feels relieved and triumphant that they have supposedly discovered the identity of the murderer through the clue of the nostrils, but in reality Osman has disregarded this clue in favor of what he thought all along. Black’s naïveté creates a sense of foreboding, suggesting that his happy state will not last long.
Themes
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
Creation vs. Representation Theme Icon
Virtue vs. Sin Theme Icon
Love, Desire, and Greed Theme Icon