My Name is Red

My Name is Red

My Name is Red Chapter 54 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The storyteller imagines that people will object to him impersonating a woman, but he pays this no mind. He has known four women personally: his mother, his aunt, his sister-in-law (who he fell in love with), and a woman he once saw at an open window while he was traveling. He says that it is important for men not to gaze at women, as this will provoke lust; instead, they should settle for “pretty boys.” In Europe, where the women walk around uncovered, the men walk around in a constant state of arousal, which is why they are so often defeated by the Ottomans in battle. As a child, the storyteller was curious about women and fantasized about dressing up in women’s clothes, however he was never able to express these thoughts. One day, he dressed in his mother’s clothing and fantasized about a man falling in love with him. Seeing his own reflection gave him an erection, and he began to sing a poem about his conflicted identity.
This is the only one of the storyteller’s narratives in which he does not fully inhabit the character he is ventriloquizing; instead, he speaks as himself and his relationship to the “character” of himself-as-a-woman. On one level, this passage is little more than crude nonsense, full of surreal statements and dirty jokes. However, it also contains complex and significant meditations on the nature of gender and identity in society at the time. Because women were “hidden” by conventions of modesty within the public sphere, the storyteller develops an insatiable curiosity about them, suggesting that people are inevitably curious about what they cannot see.
Themes
Virtue vs. Sin Theme Icon
Love, Desire, and Greed Theme Icon
The storyteller announces that he doesn’t care if the Erzurumis hear him singing. He has heard rumors that the Hoja of Erzurum prefers young boys to his own wife. He then tells a story about a Chelebi (gentleman) called Ahment who falls in love with a married woman. He doesn’t tell anyone about his love, but his neighbors nonetheless find out because he gets drunk and cries every night. Eventually, the Chelebi moves away with his own wife, leaving the woman he loves behind, and he is never happy again. The storyteller comments: “Oh, how wonderful love is!” and then exclaims as he notices strangers bursting through the coffeehouse door.
The storyteller’s ironic pronouncement about “how wonderful love is” conveys his disdain for social and religious conservatism as well as his thoughts on the torment of love. When the Chelebi moves away, he honors the dictates of marriage, yet he condemns himself to a lifetime of unhappiness. The fact that the Erzurumis arrive at this moment suggests that it was better that the coffeehouse existed as a place of dissent and freedom, even if it ends in violence and destruction.
Themes
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
Virtue vs. Sin Theme Icon
Love, Desire, and Greed Theme Icon