Shekure explains that she opened the window instinctively when Black rode past, and that his face “dazzled” her “like the sun.” Not only has Black become more handsome over time, but his good nature shines through in his eyes. Shekure tells herself to marry him, even though she’d given the opposite message in her letter. When Black was last in Istanbul, Shekure was 12 and Black was 24. However, he behaved like a child, hiding his face in a book whenever Shekure was around. Shekure admits that at the time, every man who saw her fell in love with her. There is a moment in the story of Shirin and Hüsrev that she and Black discuss regularly in which Shirin sees a picture of Hüsrev and is overcome by her love for him. This moment has been depicted by many miniaturists, including Black, who replaced Shirin and Hüsrev with Shekure and himself and even wrote their names beneath the figures.
Shekure and Black’s love story has a mythic quality, and not only because of the comparison to the story of Shirin and Hüsrev. Shekure’s beauty is described as having an almost magical power, causing every man who sees her to fall in love with her and creating a high level of drama in its wake. On the other hand, Black’s behavior before he left Istanbul is hardly the stuff of epic romances. Rather than behaving like a courageous and charming hero, Black resembles an awkward teenager. Indeed, the fact that he hides his face from Shirin is comically un-masculine. However, now Black returns to fully live up to the role of a romantic hero.
When Black gave her the picture, Shekure felt that she couldn’t love him like Shirin, and told Enishte about Black’s advances. Enishte had been working hard to establish professional connections for Black, but Black was not taking advantage of this help and was acting like an “ignoramus.” After Shekure’s confession, her mother asked Enishte not to break Black’s heart, but Enishte felt that Black had disrespected him and thus did not honor this request. After Black left, Shekure covered up the names “Shekure” and “Black” on the picture, so her husband and father would not notice.
Honor and respect are highly important within the world of the novel. Enishte clearly loves Black and wishes to help him, but is frustrated and offended when Black does not respond to this support in the proper manner. Enishte’s belief that he had been disrespected by Black overrode any affection Enishte harbored for his nephew and caused him to suddenly and harshly cut him off.
Shekure admits that she was sad to hear of Elegant’s disappearance, but she adds that Elegant was the ugliest of the miniaturists, both in appearance and personality. After Black leaves, Shekure asks Enishte if Black gave him any trouble, and Enishte responds that he was “as respectful as ever,” although also “measured and calculating.” Later that night, Shekure embraces both her sons, and Shevket asks why Shekure wore her beautiful purple blouse that day. She goes into the other room and takes it off, and rubs off the rouge she had put on her cheeks. She has spent her life searching for images of beautiful women in manuscripts, and has been disappointed by how few there are and how the women always look embarrassed and apologetic. Shekure dreams that one day people in the future will read about her. She likes the idea that of being “watched” and dreams of speaking to the readers of her story.
Shekure’s thoughts about the readers of her story connect her experience to several of the major themes of the novel. Shekure occupies the paradoxical position of being a beautiful woman in a society that celebrates beauty to some extent, while also treating it as suspicious and even sinful. Shekure’s desire to be “watched” speaks to the fact that she has little real power in the world, and thus finds power and joy in simply being beheld and consumed by others. Her wish for the immortality that comes from being recorded in a book highlights what is both appealing and (from a religious perspective) dangerous about literature.
Shekure explains that Enishte “adores” her; she originally had three older brothers, but they all died. Enishte would have wanted her to marry a rich and powerful scholar who loved art, but instead Shekure married a handsome soldier with whom she had fallen in love. Enishte did not approve of the match because the soldier was poor, but Shekure threatened to kill herself if she could not marry him. After they wed, her husband was awarded 10,000 silver coins for heroism and everyone envied the now-wealthy couple. At first Shekure was not worried by her husband’s disappearance, but as time passed she resigned herself to the idea that he was never going to come home. Despite this, she would comfort her children with false rumors that their father was coming home. They lived with the soldier’s father and his brother, Hasan, who were poor and were forced to sell their slave, leaving Shekure to do the housework. Furthermore, after the slave-girl was sold, Hasan repeatedly attempted to rape Shekure.
Despite the restrictions placed on women in the world of 16th-century Istanbul, Shekure only really feels limited and oppressed due to economic factors. She does not protest the fact that she has to threaten to kill herself in order to marry the man she wants, or even the fact that Hasan attempts to rape her. The only aspect of her life that Shekure truly resents is the period when she has to perform domestic work, which she believes reduces her to the status of an enslaved woman. Of course, it is not the case that Shekure only cares about money—she is also a dedicated mother, and she is very romantic. However, it is important for her to live in a wealthy household in order to not feel oppressed.
Shekure would have gone back to Enishte’s house, but because her husband was still possibly alive his family could have punished her and Enishte if she left. Eventually her husband’s father decided it was time for Shekure to marry Hasan, which would require convincing a judge that Shekure’s husband had died. Shekure realized that if she married Hasan she would certainly not be able to leave the house and its drudgery. In previous years, Shekure had found Hasan sweet, but while she lived in his father’s house he would yell and threaten Shekure as she cried. One night, when Hasan attempted to force down Shekure’s door, she began shrieking that there were jinns (spirits) in the house and made her father-in-law stand guard at her door. The next day, Shekure returned to Enishte’s house, which turned Hasan’s unrequited love into an “inferno.” He wrote Shekure love letters decorated with drawings of sad animals, promising that he had made money and that she would not have to do housework if they married. Tonight, Shekure mixes a drink for her father; he asks if it is snowing, and Shekure is suddenly convinced that it is the last snowfall Enishte will ever see.
As well as being beautiful, Shekure is also intelligent and courageous. She endures the loss of her husband, her confinement to his father’s house, and the sinister advances of Hasan, biding her time until she can leverage the little power she has and leave the house for good. Shekure has declared that Enishte adores her, and it is clear from this passage that Shekure loves her father just as much. She would rather stay at her husband’s father’s house than risk getting Enishte into trouble, and once she does return to Enishte’s house she dotes on him. Shekure’s observation that it will be Enishte’s last snowfall connects to a comment Enishte himself made in the previous chapter, when he brought up the topic of death with Black and admitted that he worries about dying before finishing the Sultan’s book.