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Representations of women and writing in Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook and Peride Celal's Uc, Kadinin Romani.


Doris Lessing'in Altin Defter ve Peride Celal'in Uc Kadinin Romani'ninda Kadin ve Yazma Edimi

Hem kadin hem de yazar olma ikilemi, belirli bir yer ve zaman cercevesine konuldugunda ayri bir boyut kazanmaktadir. Bu calismanin ele aldigi iki romaninda karakterleri kadm yazarlar olmakla birlikte her ikisi 1950 ortalarinda yasamaktadirlar. Ancak, Doris Lessing'in The Golden Notebook (Altin Defter) romani Londra'da, Peride Celal'in Kadinin Romani ise Istanbul'da gectigi icin kadinlarin sosyal ve politik konumlari farkliliklar gostermektedir. Bu calismada romanlarin ana karakterleri olan Anna ve Fatma, hem yazar olarak hem de kadin olarak kendilerine nasil bir kimlik yarattiklari acisindan incelenirken, yasadiklari konumun bu kimlik arayisindaki etkisi uzerine durulacaktir.

Anahtar Kelimeler: Dorris Lessing, Peride Celal, roman, kadin yazar karakterleri, Uc, Kadinin Romani, The Golden Notebook.


Being a woman and a writer is a duality that gains particular interest when contextualised in a specific time and place. The novels that this paper aims to analyse both have female authors as their protagonists, and both Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook and Peride Celal' s Kadmm Romam (A Novel of Three Women) take place at around the same time--the mid-1950"s. However, while The Golden Notebook is set in London,Uc Kadinin Romani is set in Istanbul, thereby showing particular difference in the social and political structure. The principal concern of this paper is to offer an analysis of women writers of the times and to discuss their position in these two very different social atmospheres, as depicted in the novels in question. The two central characters in these novels, Anna and Fatma, will be compared and contrasted in terms of how they view their identity, womanhood, and how they are able to overcome this duality of identity.

Key Words: Dorris Lessing, Peride Celal, The Golden Notebook, Kadinin Romani, novel, women authors' characters.


Despite the differences in their form and content, Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook and Peride Celal's Kadinin Romani (A Novel of Three Women) share an integral concept--the problematisation of the role of women. Both novels concentrate on the position of women in their particular contexts, and offer an analysis of the women as writer in their respective times and places. Although their contexts differ (one is set in London, the other, in Istanbul), the novels are approximately close in their dates of publication; The Golden Notebook (1962, but takes place in 1957) and Uc Kadinin Romani (1954). This paper aims to analyze Anna and Fatma, the respective protagonists of the novels, in terms of how their femininity and artistic personality that is, being authors, are constructed. General issues regarding the woman question, marriage, and the relationships of these protagonists, particularly with that of their female friends, will also be analysed in order to emphasise the conflicts among the female characters in question.

Peride Celal has been criticised of writing 'popular' fiction at the time when novels published in Turkey were firstly serialised in newspapers and journals. These were called "tefrika romanlari" and were popular in the 1940s and 50s. Celal wrote, admittedly at great haste, to meet the deadlines set by these newspapers, and, in shod, she wrote for money. As she admits in an interview conducted by the author Selim lleri, "In the first years I wrote ordinary things, a little of what the newspapers wanted [...] I never looked back on them anyway" (1996, p.47). The negative criticism directed towards her was due to her 'simplistic' writing of popular love stories. Uc Kadinin Romani, published in 1954, signalled a slight change in her career, as author, toward a more socially oriented discourse in her fiction. It is, indeed, a love story, and, unlike most of Celal's work, has a happy ending. Nonetheless, it is possible to discern the female author finding a voice in the character of Fatma, who is also an author. The novel actually portrays a transitional phase of Turkish society from a traditional to a modern one, and especially dwells on the position of women in society in flux.

The problematisation of the female author, as Aytac; points out, is a post-modern concept because of its insistence of listening to the suppressed voice of the woman. Aytac states that Celal is perhaps the first female Turkish author who dwells on this problem: "For her to take up this widespread subject of post-modern literature makes her an initiator in some aspects. The questioning of the author--artist identity, how to write, what is the stance towards reality and the world, takes her to the detectable layers of metafiction" (1996, p. 122). Celal's use of metafiction in Uc Kadinin Romani is confined to the stories of Fatma, Belkis and Renan, three entirely different sisters in terms of character, but unified in the novel in terms of their experience of being women. The use of three perspectives, in the questioning of their main role, suggests a fragmental aspect of the novel, which places it into the layers of metafiction yet again.

While Uc Kadinin Romani can be said to be post-modern mainly in its content, Lessing's The Golden Notebook is post-modern in its form. Firstly, it is a multi-layered novel composed of four different notebooks that Anna writes in. Anna identifies these notebooks in terms of colour--the blue notebook is her diary, the yellow notebook is composed of her experimental creative writing, a red notebook for her experience in politics, and a black notebook, in which she dwells on her writing. These notebooks are in essence an extension of her fragmented personality and serve to make explicit the splits in Anna's character. Moreover, there are also the sections entitled Free Women in which a more objective, third person point of view is given to highlight the course of events. Thus, the novel has at least five levels to it, and as Greene also points out, "This situation of an Anna who writes a novel about an Anna, who gives up writing is a closed, self-cancelling circle: like a novel Anna writes about an Ella who writes a novel about suicide or like the 'sadistic-masochistic cycle' in which Soul and Anna are caught" (1994, p.119). The metafictional layers of the novel increase in complication as Anna leaves off writing in her separate notebooks and unifies them in a single Golden Notebook. Furthermore, when the reader confronts the character of Saul at the end of the novel, she/he discerns that he gives Anna the opening sentence of the novel which she intends to write, and which, incidentally, is identical to that of the opening of the novel The Golden Notebook, thus the beginning of the first 'Free Women' section. 'Free Women,' therefore, also appears to be written by Anna.

Secondly, The Golden Notebook is post-modern in the sense that it is open-ended and does not form a clear conclusion. The post-modern concern of leaving the ending to the reader is used in the aim of emphasising the circular motion of the novel. The novel finishes with an entry in the blue notebook (Anna's diary), and then the reader is given the last of the Free Women sections. Therefore the novel has two endings, one as Anna writes in her diary, and the second, the ending that the more objective voice gives, which could also either be Anna or the author herself. In fact, neither provides the reader with a concrete resolution as they both send the reader back to the beginning of the novel, thereby completing the cycle of events.

Taylor states that The Golden Notebook "isn't an explicitly feminist text" (as cited in Greene, 1994, pp. 96-97), and in fact, nor is Uc; Kadinin Romani. What the novels have in common, however, is that they are both centred on the female experience, especially that of the female author. There is a presiding femininity in both novels, in that they both exhibit only the point of view of women and not of men. Male characters lack depth in the novels and appear as puppets with a single explicit characteristic. Neither novel provides a solution to the problem that they set out to question--the roles given to women by imposed norms of society. Of primary importance is the fact that the protagonists accomplish a reunion of their own personality with that of the world around them. While Fatma achieves happiness by consenting to be submissive to her lover, and Anna separates from the man that she loves, the reader is made aware at both instances that the characters achieve a unity in themselves as their conflicts are resolved.

Anna's conflict is made explicit from the very beginning of the novel as she states to Molly, regarding their intimate relationship, that they are "free women", which is also the name of this first section of the book:

'When we're so different in every way,' said Molly, 'it's odd. I suppose because we both live the same kind of life--not getting married and so on. That's all they see.'

'Free women,' said Anna, wryly [...] 'They still define us in terms of relationships with men, even the best of them.' 'Well, we do, don't we?' said Molly, rather tart. (p.26)

Even though both Molly and Anna define themselves as free women, it is evident that the role of the kind of woman that they are acting as does not correspond to what they feel or want. Molly's retort of "we do, don't we?" exemplifies the fact that they are not altogether different from their constructed stereotype of the woman who defines herself in terms of acceptance by men. The title of the section and the way that they talk about being free women becomes ironic as the novel progresses and shows us that Anna is far from being 'free'. As Danziger emphasises, Anna is "essentially dependent, and not at all 'free'--as the ironic title of her interior novel would have us believe. This is a reality that she struggles to escape throughout the novel" (1996, p.68).

Anna is not only a woman struggling to be free, but also a mother, two aspects of her personality that she must reconcile, but which she insists on keeping separated, like the other dualities she also faces: "The two personalities--Janet's mother, Michael's mistress, are happier separated. It is a strain having to be both at once" (Sprague, 1994, p.336). Later on, she accepts the irony of her situation as she relates it also to her concept of writing; "my being 'free' has nothing to do with writing a novel; it has to do with my attitude towards a man, and that has been proved dishonest, because I am in pieces [...] I am left with no more than some banal commonplace that everyone knows: in this case, that women's emotions are all still fitted for a kind of society that no longer exists" (Lessing, 1993, p.283). The fact that this acceptance comes through in her writing (In her yellow notebook, to be specific), as she puts the words into the mouth of Ella, her alter--go, suggests that even though society is changing, it does not want the women to change. Working women, for example, are acceptable, but they still have to cook dinner, wash the dishes, and look after the children at home.

Anna, on some unconscious level, perceives the falsity of her role as a 'free woman' when it comes from the mouthpiece of Ella, both a fictional and an autobiographical character. As Betsy Draine claims, "at the moment when it becomes clear that Ella is self-deluded and self-destructive, Anna as narrator recoils from her creation. Astounded by what she has discovered about herself, she breaks off the narrative" (1983, p.79). Ella serves the role of bringing out those suppressed feelings that Anna wishes to keep hidden because they do not fit in to her role of the free woman. For Anna, Ella "represents her romantic, idealising self--e part of her that wishes to 'put'her intelligence to sleep' and float in a dream world of love and trust" (Draine, 1983, p. 79). Ella is the part of her who identifies herself largely with social norms and male domination, she is the part of her that wants to be dominated. The fragmented Ella of Anna's personality, as Danzier suggests, "is only really happy when lying next to, or cooking for, the strong, admirable man in her life--and this realisation is profoundly disturbing to her" (Danziger, 1996, p.67). Anna, horrified that such a personality exists within her, wishes to eliminate Ella altogether by stopping writing in the Yellow Notebook. This of course does not provide the solution that she needs. The resolution comes when Anna succumbs, towards the end of the novel, into madness, which seems necessary in her need to see her fragments as an onlooker. At the end of the novel, this conflict is finally resolved as Anna finally accepts that Ella is a part of her and becomes "intelligent enough to let [men] go" (Lessing, 1993, p. 570), and thus is at peace in her role as a free woman. For Molly, on the other hand, the situation is reversed as she decides to get married and passively demonstrates that she is not, and perhaps never was, fit to be a 'free woman'.

The role conflict that Anna suffers from is not one confined to that of 1950s London; it is a conflict that could be transferred to any context, even to that of today. Greene states, "Anna is torn between roles of single parent, political worker, writer, lover, [and] friend" (1994, p.97). Perhaps the most essential issue for Anna is the dilemma she faces between her role as Janet's mother and of being a 'free woman.' The question of marriage, and the complications involved with it distress Anna. One of these complications arises because she feels that she would have to accept her need for a male companion, which does not correspond to her role as a free woman. The paradox here is, of course, that she does want a man and in fact, likes looking after one (as can be seen depicted by the character of Ella). The real problem with Anna is that she has to work out the unity that involves the concept of being a free woman. It is similar to that of her problem with the Communist Party--she has to rip off the propaganda and the jargon to see it in its pure form, then she must make her decision, whether she wishes to be a part of it or not. Her concern with the Communist Party is in fact an echo of her dilemma between her roles as a woman. It is again a dilemma of belief, and accentuates the cycle of conflicts in the novel. Therefore, Anna must quit the Communist Party, and indeed does so. Her reconciliation with her identity as a woman comes later, but we see that once she is able to see her femaleness in its naked form in the midst of her temporary insanity, coherence is established between her conflicts of being a mother, an author, and a lover.

As stated before, marriage involves an acceptance of a male partner and, to an extent, foreshadows the loss of individual identity. It is an issue that troubles the minds of all the female characters in both The Golden Notebook and Uc Kadinin Romani. In both novels, the institution of marriage is presented as a union that prevents loneliness. As Cederstrom suggests, "The ability to be alone is a quality Lessing feels few women are capable of achieving, and it is a lesson that Anna Wulf is forced to learn in the course of the novel" (1990, p.119). The reluctance and fear of being alone is best exemplified in Uc Kadinin Romani in the character of Belkis, Fatma's older, unmarried sister. Even though, as Aytac states, "Like the first, the last paragraph is about Fatma" (1996, p.122-123), Belkis is a character developed with great care by Peride Celal, as she is a very true character of her times in her representation of many conflicts that women had to face. The author contextualises Belkis in an interview thus: "She had many models. I have known many people like Belkis. I feel that Belkis is a young girl stuck between a conservative father and modern life. Contextualised in the Turkey of the half-ethical, half-innovative, both conservative and both Americanised Democrat Party ..." (Ileri, 1996, p.54). Basically, the conflict that the Turkish women of the 1950s faced was one between the revolutions of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the doctrines of the Democrat Party. Erendiz Atasu, another female author, explains:
 Women citizens of the Turkish Republic, probably uniquely in the
 world, were offered their legal, social and cultural rights by the
 young Turkish Republic under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal
 Ataturk. It should be obvious that these rights could only really be
 utilized by the relatively privileged groups of people in the
 society such as the upper and middle classes. These classes have
 successfully assimilated the concept of liberated woman, as long as
 it was limited to education, and did not include sexual freedom.
 (1993, p.74).

After the death of Ataturk and the reign of the Republican People's Party (CHP), came the Democrat Party, with its rightist stance:
 1950s opened a new era in Turkey's life. Speedy population growth,
 immigration from rural areas to cities, industrialisation and
 beginnings of a rise in Islamic movements are the main
 characteristics of this era [....] The effects of this social
 panorama on the lives of men and women, created individuals trapped
 between the values of East and West, agricultural life and
 industrialisation, Islam and atheism, tradition and revolution.
 (Atasu, 1993, p.74)

Belkis's character is an example of this entrapment and it is evident that she is unable to grasp the limits of her freedom as a woman, particularly regarding her sexuality. While she is aware of the social pressure regarding her respectability (as she indeed comes from an upper middle class family, and remains a virgin throughout most of the novel), she nonetheless is caught in the conflict of being a liberal woman who is supposed to keep her sexuality to herself, the paradox of her era. Fatma, who appears more conservative and serious than her sister, at least at the beginning of the novel, does not like her elder sister: "She didn't like this stupid, flighty sister who tried to keep it a secret that she was three years older than herself because she still had not married" (1954, I, p.9).

The only way remaining for Belkis to reconcile her sexual energy and the limits of society is to get married. However, her lack of opportunity to achieve this, resulting from her too--high aspirations, sink her deeper and deeper into loneliness. Her poverty explains her search for a man of wealth. She disdains Fatma, because she feels that Fatma is not aware of her happiness, "Fool! As I always say, she's a fool, a fool! I'd see her if she were closeted up in this little house, looking after a sick person and with no money like me! Look at this dress! How old is it? It's practically faded away!" (Celal, 1954, p.57). Belkis is prepared to go to any length in order to escape the confined loneliness of her home, even if it means getting married to a man that she hates. Unable to live out her conflictive identity, she comes to think that husbands are saviours as the institution of marriage will enable her to live as she wishes to; "She looked at Necdet as at a saviour" (1954, l, p. 106). Her fallacy, if it could be termed so, is that she aspires to the higher class and wishes to live a life of luxury with many people around her. She feels that the rich and married are never lonely. She overestimates wealth since she thinks that even if the wife does not love her husband (and vice versa), that wealthy possessions have the power of curing loneliness. Belkis is incapable of being at peace with herself in her loneliness. She is unable to accept herself as she is, as much as she is unable to make herself be accepted by society, and is only able to arrive at reconciliation with her identity in death, as she commits suicide.

Fatma, on the other hand, is lonely in her marriage, a fact that Belkis can not comprehend. However, like Belkis, and also like Ella of Anna's "Yellow Notebook," "she [can] not imagine [her] future without a man." (Lessing, 1993, p. 165). In Uc Kadinin Romani, as Burcu Karahan points out, love is what brings out the inner worlds of the female characters (2002, p. 20). Fatma's fear of loneliness is unconscious and comes to the surface in her inability to remain alone. Most of the time, in her hopelessness, she blames her own selfishness for this, "Should I ever fell in love in anybody?" (1954, I, p. 39), and "What foolish people, what empty thoughts!" (1954, I, p.9). Her relationship with her husband, Mehmed, is paradoxical and changes constantly, both during and after the marriage; "Just yesterday he was the man I got angry with and fought with! Only yesterday he was the man of whose burden I was tired of, of whose badness I was sick of! Both my husband and my enemy! Today? 'I'll die without him,' she thought." (1954, I, p. 13). It is essential to note, however, that the first revelation regarding Fatma in the novel is an emphasis on her loneliness amidst her friends and her husband. The novel opens with a dinner party given by Fatma and Mehmed, and almost immediately, Fatma reflects that, "'Sometime I am going to write all about this' she thought. She was also going to write about her own loneliness. This seemed like a comfort to her. Why? Is it because she was going to renounce all her troubles to the world? Or was it an anxiety of producing a work of art?" (1954, I, p. 7). Thus, Fatma's personalities as wife, friend and author are portrayed from the very start. The irony is her feelings towards Leyla, her best-friend, as she feels that Leyla is the only person capable of understanding her and lets her escape her loneliness: "Fatma felt that she swelled with pride as she looked at her friend. It was a great comfort to know that she was the only person to whom she could pour all her secrets, depression and happiness" (1954, I, p.8). The irony, or perhaps the tragedy, of the situation is that Leyla runs away with Mehmed, leaving Fatma completely on her own. Fatma's relationship with Nail, soon after this event, is purely on the rebound and is instinctive rather than planned or wished for beforehand. This relationship is neither based on an emotional or sexual basis but is a reflection of Fatma's vulnerability and her fear of loneliness. As she understands the faults of her actions, she reflects upon them as follows:

She started shivering in the corner of the car. 'So I needed to be crushed and maltreated by a monster like this, did I? What are these animal-like desires hidden inside of us? I don't even love him!' She wanted to escape from the man's dreams, but still saw herself swinging in his arms, struggling under his crushing lips [...] She had gone, without thought. She had been so distraught at seeing him going away, herself alone at the door. (1954, II, pp. 119-120).

The youngest of the sisters, Renan, is perhaps the 'freest' of the three. Her conflict is different and is one of a hybrid identity, as she is the daughter of her father's second wife; her role is to reconcile the fact that she is the daughter of a Turkish man and a Swedish mother. Her half and half position and the fact that she is educated at Switzerland and then at Paris (Sorbonne), enables her to shape her liberation from the start. Her relationship with Martin, a rural Swedish boy, places her in a position higher than him because of her experience and sense of freedom. When Martin proposes marriage, stating that "A woman always needs a support, a man" (1954, I, p. 190), she retorts with, "I'll be fine by myself, she said. I don't need anyone, and I never will. I'm not one of those parasite-like women: I know how to look after and protect myself" (1954, I, p. 190).

This is perhaps this sort of statement that Anna would most like to make, a statement that a 'free woman' would make. It is ironic in a way that Anna achieves this (the ability to say 'no, I do not need you' to a man) at the end of the novel while Renan is reunited at the end of Uc Kadinin Romani, despite her earlier claims, and the last the reader sees her is as she walks away hand in hand with Martin: "They held hands. They were both happy in their separate thoughts, but they were unified in their youth, in their happiness at being together, and their excitement of their hopes of the future" (1954, II, p. 207). While Anna and Renan's roles are reversed at the beginning of the novels, it is interesting to note that their roles are reversed once more at the resolution. They each become what the other was at the beginning.

Both Anna and Molly have a negative attitude towards marriage; perhaps because they were both formerly married to men they did not love and who did not love them in return. However, despite their negative perspective, they both retain a hope that they could find love and marriage in the future, with men that will treat them at their worth. Nonetheless, they do not hesitate to degrade Marion, Richard's wife (Richard is Molly's ex-husband and father of the son Tommy), and to constantly compare themselves with her. For example, Molly says to Richard, "[...] what about you--you have Marion, the good little woman, tied hand and foot to the boys while you do as you like" (Lessing, 1993, p.37), and again, a few pages later, "Your poor Marion, treated like a housewife or a hostess, but never as a human being" (1993, p. 41). Marion's role in the novel, as both Anna and Molly's attitude towards her makes clear, is to portray the consequences of the conventional marriage pattern--the woman remains at home to look after the children, cook and clean, while the man is outdoors with another woman. Marion, in short, is the type of fabricated woman which the man "uses [...] as a source for everything from mothering to a clean shirt" (Hite, 1989, p. 76).

It seems as if Anna puts up a defensive mask regarding this issue. While she agrees with the points that Molly makes, and would not trade places with Marion for anything, it is crucial that when she does have a boyfriend, she enjoys cooking and looking after him, as stated before. She thus conforms to the stereotype offered by the character of Marion, and her conflicts between her roles as a woman gain a further aspect. As Greene suggests, "Lessing demonstrates that both male and female behaviour represent crippling adjustments to a destructive society, but that men are more crippled because they are locked into postures that prohibit change" (1994, p. 101). Women therefore can not become free firstly because men would not accept them as such, and even if they would, they would not bother to change themselves, and secondly because, as Ella of the "Yellow Notebook" demonstrates, it is how their emotional worlds are constructed as women:

Ella says only: 'My dear Julia, we've chosen to be free women, and this is the price we pay, that's all.'

'Free,' says Julia. 'Free! What's the use of us being free if they aren't? I swear to God, that every one of them, even the best of them, have the old idea of good women and bad women.'

'And what about us? Free, we say, yet the truth is they get erections when they're with a woman they don't give a damn about, but we don't have an orgasm unless we love him. What's free about that?' (1993, p. 404).

Fatma wears a similar mask towards Mehmed, her husband, because she feels that he can not put up with the fact that she is emotional and passionate. She especially tries to hide her jealousy. She tries to appear less emotional, cold and hard towards the outer world, whereas she is burning with jealousy internally. By doing so, Fatma tries to appear much different than she really is: "She always tried to extinguish problems that were hard for her in a cold logic game, to make them go away by breaking them into small pieces, and most of the time she was successful. This time she was trying to the same with Mehmed" (1954, I, p. 82). An essential quality of Fatma is that she has made herself become a woman who lacks the capacity to love someone other than herself (Karahan, 2002, p. 22).

This effort at suppressing emotions has its consequences for both Fatma and Anna; they both end up feeling cold on the inside. Anna again dwells on this issue from the mouthpiece of Ella, but of course she is once more writing about herself, "Ella found herself in the grip of a sensation which, as she examined it, turned out to be loneliness. It was if, between her and the groups of people, were a space of cold air, an emotional vacuum. The sensation was of physical cold" (Lessing, 1993, p.284). Fatma experiences a similar stir of emotion and states, "Ever, nah boyle tas gibiydi. Ici donmustu sanki ... kaskati bir hali vardi" ("Yes, it was as hard as stone. As if the inside were ice ... hard as brick.")(1954, I, p.17).

This refusal of emotion is also bound with the writing process of both women, as Cederstrom also implies.

Anna is suffering from a writer's block which in turn is the result of her refusal to grow beyond the stages in her past that have caused her pain or suffering. She is suffering from an emotional paralysis, a regressive desire to feel nothing at all rather than to suffer pain. It is the end of her affair with Michael that has brought her into analysis (1993, p. 128).

Anna tries to analyse herself by keeping four notebooks, each designed for a different aspect of herself, as she explains, "a black notebook, which is to do with Anna Wulf the writer; a red notebook, concerned with politics; a yellow notebook, in which I make stories out of my experience; and a blue notebook which tries to be a diary" (Lessing, 1993, p. 418). These sections or fragments of her identity are reconciled only when she is able to put them all away to bring them together in the "Golden Notebook," where, as she points out, she is at last able to "laugh at free women" (1993, p. 553).

It is evident that the writings of both Fatma and Anna are affected by the relationships that they are involved in. Anna, for instance, reflects that, "Suppose [Michael] had said to me: 'I'll marry you if you promise never to write another word? My God, I would have done it!" (1993, p. 282). Writing and emotions are interrelated to such an extent for Anna that she is in fact ready to give writing up to be able to get married to the man that she loves. In a similar fashion, Fatma feels that Mehmed restricts her ability to write but still remains with him for a long while because she loves him. It is only after Mehmed leaves her that this idea comes to her mind, "He poisoned and destroyed my life. He prevented my work, my progess. He scorned me. Dirty scoundrel!" (1954, I, p. 82).

The second conflicting emotion that both women have to grapple with is the conflict of motherhood and writing. Anna's motherhood is one of the contributing factors that make up her inability to produce writing, "I haven't moved, at ease, in time, since Janet was born. Having a child means being conscious of the clock, never being free of something that has to be done at a certain moment ahead. An Anna is coming to life that died when Janet was born" (1993, p. 476). At this point, producing a child becomes prohibitive to other kinds of creativity, like writing, and it is only after Anna takes up "The Golden Notebook" that she is able to understand this. After her realisation, she is able to unify her parenthood with the other aspects of her personality, and gives up trying to write. However, because she has stated earlier that, "I shall write another novel. But the trouble is, with the last one there was never a point when I said: I shall write a novel. I found I was writing a novel," it is possible for the reader to feel that now she has given up trying to write she will be able to. It should not be omitted that the multiple layers and thus endings of the novel point the reader to different conclusions. While the ending of the 'Golden Notebook' may point us to a particular conclusion, 'Free Women' points us to a separate one. As 'Free Women' turns out to be the novel that Anna herself has seemingly written, it is evident that she does overcome her writer's block. The conclusion of The Golden Notebook, on the other hand is less evident, and constitutes the endings of all the stories within stories of the novel.

The conclusion of Uc Kadinin Romani is much more evident as it does not share the same concern of fragmentation in the structure of the novel as The Golden Notebook. Fatma, however, shares the same concern with Anna in that she sees having a child as an intrusion to her happiness. Aytac explains that her motherhood signals the crisis of her life:

The betrayal of her husband, her best-friend's infidelity, the tragedies of her sisters; none of these are major enough to be a climax in her life. This comes in the form of Arif Hikmet: he leaves her when she decides to end her pregnancy by having an abortion. The basis of her decision lies in her selfishness, her belief that the role of a novelist is superior to that of a mother (1993, p. 125).

Whereas Fatma had explained before her decision to have an abortion, she changes her mind upon reflection and realises that Arif Hikmet is more important to her: "There was nothing she wouldn't do to keep him. She was ready to beg, to degrade herself, to do anything." (1954, II, p. 237). It is obvious that it truly is real love this time as Fatma is willing to show her emotional and passionate side to this man, an ability that she had not experienced with Mehmed. It is essentially important that Arif Hikmet is the person who reconciles her with her writing, and points out that it is her selfishness that has prevented her from writing pieces of art before:

Oh come on, this is all sentimentality! You never love anyone, only yourself. You want an example? There is Mehmed, Nail, and myself ... you can even see it in your writing ... Why can't you be content? I told you so many times ... you can't write about people without knowing them. A person with a heart as dry as the desert can't write about hearts lit by flame, heart-break, sorrow or happiness of other people. (1954, II, p. 229).

For Fatma, it is Arif Hikmet the poet who is able to reconcile her and she discovers, with his help, the extent of her troubles with writing and identity. She thus sacrifices her pride and comes to the realisation that her ideals were too high as the realist poet brings her down to earth. As she enters the world of reality, she ceases to be a puppet like the characters that Arif Hikmet says that she writes about: "Just like the heroes in your work! They are all dry puppets because of their politeness and understanding, like you" (1954, II, p.230).

The ending of The Golden Notebook, although not a happy one, is nonetheless one of reconciliation, and "the novel ends with Anna's completed individuation" (Cederstrom, 1990, p.134). It is interesting and perhaps ironic that both the reconciliations of the women are enabled by men, what they regarded as the enemy at the beginning of the novels. While Anna is able to explore her inner self and thus reconcile it with Saul's help, Fatma also gains her awareness through her relationship with Arif Hikmet. For both women, unity can only be a result of chaos, and both have to encounter the chaotic sides of their personalities to achieve equilibrium.


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Hite, Molly (1989). The Future in a Different Shape: Broken Form and Possibility in The Golden Notebook. In The Other Side of the Story: Structures and Strategies of Contemporary Feminist Narrative. Ithaca and London: Cornell U P. pp. 55-126.

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Sprague, Claire (1994). Multipersonal and Dialogic Modes in Mrs. Dalloway and The Golden Notebook. Woolf and Lessing: Breaking the Mold. Saxton, Ruth and Jean Tobin, eds. New York: St Martin's Press.

Berkem Gurenci, Instructor, Department of American Culture and Literature, Baskent University, Preparatory School Building, Baslica Campus, Esksehir Yolu, 06530 Ankara--Turkey. e-mail:
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Title Annotation:article mainly in Turkish
Author:Gurenci, Berkem
Publication:Kadin/Woman 2000
Date:Dec 1, 2003
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