S.M.ABDOULLAH-ZADEH # 2
THE THEME OF SIN AND POSITION OF WOMEN IN THE SOCIETY
(based on novels by modern Azerbaijani authors)
The theme of sin has been a topical issue since the birth of mankind. What is the sin and what is its primary source? Answers to these questions we can find in the Holy Scriptures (the Torah in Judaism, the Bible in Christianity and the Koran in Islam). Though the primary source of sin is Satan, i.e. devil, in all the Holy Scriptures, Adam and Eve were banished from the Eden because of the sin committed by Eve, i.e. by a woman. It just explains the attitude of the society, namely of men towards women, since in all times it was considered that namely a woman is to blame for what happens in the society. The problem of moral values that subsequently appeared in the society starts just from this masculine definition.
But when exactly did the unwritten rules restricting, first of all, women’s conduct in the society appear? Let’s look into the history, and if to take into account that literature is also considered to be a part of this history, the answer to this question can be found in works having won the universal recognition like models of world culture and literature. They are: the Odyssey by greatest Homer and Kitabi-Dada Gorgoud (The Book of my Father Gorgoud), the epos of great Turkic peoples. It should be noted that in world culture and literature namely Penelope – Odysseus’ wife, who had been waiting for him for 20 years, is the symbol of fidelity, while Odysseus does not deserve such an attitude towards himself, as he was unfaithful to his wife. We come across such a plot in the Kitabi-Dada Gorgoud epos, where Banychichak had been waiting for her fiancé for 16 years, but he was unfaithful, too.
In Kitabi-Dada Gorgoud there are moral values of the society, which refer to women as well as to men and should be observed by them, and disregard of these values is punishable. Appearance of subsequent types of religious thinking focuses these restrictions on women’s conduct in the society. I conditionally call these standards “wrong”, because they do not fit religion. Even the Koran – the Moslem Holy Book says: “Heaven lies under mothers’ feet”. If a woman is esteemed in such a way in the religion, why is she not properly respected in the society? That’s because such an attitude is justified by studying the religion in a wrong way. And in this case a woman is always at target and under watchful observation of the society, videlicet, of men.
Through the context of perception of ethic standards by the society is just dictated our appeal to such a comparative topic as “sin and women’s position in the society”. The given theme is viewed in novels by modern Azerbaijani authors: “Three friends beyond the mountains” by Ilyas Afandiyev (XIX century) and “The Ravine of Wizards” by Kamal Abdoullah (XX-XXI century). The subject of our research is female characters, who commit sins, basing on moral standards of the society.
In the above-mentioned works women commit sins in different ways contrary to principles of the society. And as we know, breach of common moral values is punishable. What are these women’s faults, and why does the society punish them?
In the novel “The Ravine of Wizards” by Kamal Abdoullah, in the character of beautiful widow Parnisa, a woman incurs punishment, because she really loves. But it is a forbidden love. She loves the faithful and favourite executioner of the very shah, whose army wins a two-day battle against the town, where she lives with her family. Through the oblique fault of this shah (the aggressor attacking their town), she loses her husband, who perishes in the battlefield. What is her fault? In the judgement of the society, she commits a sin falling in love with a warrior of the aggressive side, and what is more, an executioner knowing who he is and regardless of anything, even of the fact that her husband has been recently killed. Being a young widow and lonely woman, she needs somebody’s protection and finds it in the person of Mammadgoulou, a beloved and executioner in one person. The society, where Parnisa is living, would not accept such behaviour, i.e. a widow’s love for a man, and even punishes those, who have trampled down its moral values. And therefore, she has to see her beloved in secret. Just for that reason, even hating Mammadgoulou, the grandmother (pay attention to the fact that she is a woman, too!) keeps from everybody, even from her own granddaughter pretending not to know anything about her affair with the shah’s executioner. However, even if it is a sin, namely Parnisa’s love completely changes executioner Mammadgoulou, and he decides to put an end to his past.
But how is his decision estimated? Deciding to “retire” and start a family, Mammadgoulou goes against his shah’s decree saying: “if anybody of his homagers stays in the town that has suffered a crushing defeat, all of his future kindred will degenerate to the very marrow of their bones, and only those, who do not love their shah, can come to such a decision”. (Abdulla 2006: 103) And such a sin does not remain unpunished. Love of Parnisa and Mammadgoulou costs too dear not only her, but also her husband-executioner and his foster-child Shahverdi, and even their son and his family, in other words, the whole kindred of executioner Mammadgoulou. He takes the punishment for falling in love and starting a family with a woman from the defeated town. Just for this sin Mammadgoulou loses his foster-child Shahverdi, whom the shah has given for his loyalist’s adoption, after he beheads the boy’s whole kindred by his favourite shah’s order for the only reason that the boy’s family has decided to leave the shah’s lands. Foster-child Shahverdi takes the punishment only for being the successor of the executioner, who has gone against his shah’s will and in this way committed a sin. Parnisa herself is killed by hand of her beloved husband, who cannot bear his foster-child’s death and decides to take his wife’s life and commit suicide. Even so, before throwing her from the rock, he holds her over his head as a precious thing, which he has to part with. He realizes that he cannot bear tragic death of the child, whom he has brought up, and beautiful Parnisa cannot live without him. And their son Allahverdi, whom his grandmother has brought up with the single purpose that he will take vengeance for his parents, loses his life and family. Being the shah’s loyalists, he and his wife take the punishment for his attempt to take the life of his shah, to whom he remains loyal, after learning about the connection of the shah’s father with his parents’ death deciding to avenge on him. After all, Mammadgoulou realizes that sooner or later a man reaps the fruits of his own deeds and just these deeds determine his fate in future.
The fate of a loving woman, who is ready for anything, even to go against the society’s canons, draws attention in the novel “Three friends beyond the mountains” by I.Afandiyev. But unlike beautiful Parnisa, in the character of pretty Salima, a woman struggles for her love getting over all the difficulties and obstacles, with which she has to be confronted in the village, where she starts to work as a zootechnician. And the main obstacle is Gulnisa, the mother of Shahlar – the man, whom Salima loves with all her heart. She does everything in her power for her handsome son not to marry this pretty and educated townswoman, who, alas, is two years older than her son and whose Uzbek mother is an ordinary factory worker.
Unlike Shahlar, Salima does not feel shy of her behaviour while going arm-in-arm with her beloved before the eyes of all villagers (since a woman cannot walk arm-in-arm even with her husband in token of “respect for elders”) and in the evenings receiving him at her, even if it is done for Shahlar’s training for exams. She takes the first step kissing him.
Social etiquette does not prevent Shahlar, acting chairman of the collective farm of Kartally Dara village, from loving unconditioned Salima and proposing marriage to her. But what prevents them from getting married? Of course, the society’s moral values. Though Salima loves Shahlar and is ready for anything for him, she does not want to marry to her beloved just out of respect for his mother. However, his mother is not an obstacle for Shahlar, because he is supported by his father, who gives his consent to their marriage. But Shahlar does not forgive Salima for the only thing: Salima takes the side of Ukrainian Mikola, Shahlar’s army friend, who accepts and forgives his ex-wife Margo after she leaves him for another man because of his financial position. Unlike Ukrainian Mikola’s society, in the society, where Shahlar is living, severe punishment is administered to women committing such a sin. But regardless of villagers’ indignation, Salima protects Margo and supports her determination to return and correct her mistake. Allowing Margo to live at her even knowing that she will lose her love forever, Salima makes a choice between love of her life and compassion on a woman, who has realized her mistake. And this step is not perceived by Shahlar just because of the moral standards of the society, where values are dearer than compassion on a woman; if it was Mikola, not Margo, the society would not judge so severely.
Different conducts or behaviour could be considered as sins in different societies. If a woman does not observe ethic standards of the society, yet it does not mean that she has sinned, since if the society consists of people – and there are no ideal men – one must think before observing either this or that canon formed by the very society of non-ideal people. In this case, the characters of Parnisa, Salima and Margo evidence that women as well as men make mistakes, but women also deserve a chance to correct these mistakes.
Abdulla K. Sehrbazlar dərəsi. Bakı, Mütərcim, 2006.