“Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. Ezekiel 18:19–20
Genetically we are the products of our parents. Add onto that also our upbringing and you will find the perfect example of an imperfect mixture of two people, a woman and a man. Where the mother is usually seen as the better half of the two in most cultures as the nurturer, as the bread winner, the father is most likely to be associated with the things that are wrong or unacceptable with a kid.
There are of course exceptions to this generalization. Perhaps the main reason for the father being blamed for most things is the patriarchy. In societies where the women have so little power, of course they will not be blamed for wrongdoings which they could not have committed anyway. Another reason might be because the father is seen as being responsible for teaching the child to survive, literally or figuratively.
On the Maraşlı series, the “sins of the father” theme was so evident from the very beginning that I have been patiently waiting for this day to come and to be able to write about it. I’m glad I held on to it because the writers of the show have kept putting more and more on it as the series continued. Today let’s take a look at the relationships between the characters and their fathers. Let’s see where those relationships take them and how they determine their paths because of or as a results of their fathers.
Like Father Like Son/Daughter
“And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Dylan Thomas -Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.
At its core Maraşlı is a show about fathers and their children. I mean just look at how much of the show is based on the relationships of different characters with their fathers.
When Mahur asks him about his family in episode 6, Celal describes his father as a good man, someone who never even laid a finger on them and who didn’t ever raise his voice to his mother. When the psychiatrist asks him about his father in episode 24 he says his father is a retired teacher who didn’t want him to become a soldier. He says that later when his father sees him in uniform he settles and accepts it.
He also says that his father does all the things a father should do however he doesn’t describe a perfect loving relationship between him and his father either. It’s interesting to see that all of Celal’s memories are fabricated by Mehmet who kind of grew up without a father and who had a terrible father that abused them and constantly beat Mehmet so fiercely that it left permanent marks on his back.
Mehmet’s father is Hurdacı (Yavuz İnce) and he is presented as a terrible man. Although let’s not forget Mehmet mentions that he wasn’t always that way. One time, we see young Mehmet watch his father get beaten in the local cafe (kıraathane- a type of cafe where the men of the neighborhood hang out). In his defense Hurdacı, before dying in the finale, tells Mehmet that he didn’t know any better. His father treated him the way he treated his own kids. Before this confrontation, at Mehmet/Hurdacı’s house, when Mahur asks him if his father loved him, he answers, “Is it possible for a father not to love his child?” Since he sometimes longingly looks at their family photos, one wonders if Hurdacı ever loved them.
Hurdacı blames Mehmet for taking İsmail from him. He doesn’t pity his wife either. When he finds out that the intelligence agent who is after him is Mehmet İnce, even though he notices it’s his son, he still plans the concert shooting. As he tells Mehmet before dying, he is also just a step on the ladder and has to serve others who are more powerful than he is.
Nothing can justify Hurdacı’s terrible actions and the fact that he has been a terrible father. But how does Mehmet pay for his father’s sins? He does so by his suffering. Suffering to the point that he finds himself taking refuge in the fake identity he created as Celal Kün.
As the series progresses we become aware that Aziz isn’t really a shady businessman. His sin is to frame Ömer, his partner, whom he wanted to get out of his way because he was in love with Sedef. In his selfish and, blinded by love state, Aziz puts drugs in Ömer’s car and calls the police and causes Ömer to serve in prison for 15 years. This betrayal to his friend leads to Ömer getting married years later to a nurse in prison and having a son who we meet as Savaş. Ömer confronts and threatens to kill Aziz after he gets out of prison and gets shot by Necati who tries to save his father’s life. So Savaş loses the father he has never seen outside of prison the minute he gets out of prison.
Necati eavesdrops on a conversation between Sedef and Aziz and hears that Necati’s father was Ömer and not him. Of course later we find out that this was not true but Necati as a kid doesn’t know that and he grows up thinking that he killed his own father. Hurdacı somehow takes advantage of this situation and uses Necati’s anger towards Aziz to his advantage. We are never shown how that happens but we know that later Necati finds Savaş, explains to him that they are brothers and the two men start planning their revenge that they will take from the Türels.
I never questioned Necati’s love for Mahur even though he seemed to be way out of touch with his familial bonds. He always tried to protect Mahur in some way but didn’t hesitate to try to kill Celal whom he knew Mahur loved dearly. Again had he died after being stabbed by Necati, Celal would have been a casualty of Necati’s revenge scheme as well.
İlhan is really innocent at first. But he slides into many mistakes because of Ozan. It would not be correct to say Aziz is responsible for İlhan’s downfall but it’s because of Savaş and Necati’s revenge scheme for Aziz that İlhan fails to notice Ozan’s betrayal about the company and also about Ozan and Dilşad’s affair. In the end İlhan kills Ozan which draws him to a dark path.
Necati commits suicide and later ends up being institutionalized because he loses touch with reality. In the finale we see him having healed and he gets engaged to Behiye.
We don’t know how much Savaş got to know his father. We also don’t know if Ömer has done anything wrong. He seems to be an innocent man who ended up in jail and then murdered after he was released. Although Savaş is not a victim of his father’s sin, he’s a victim of his father’s misfortune. He loses his father at a young age and his mom is not able to handle it and ends up in a mental institution. Savaş grows up in a children’s home and later ends up on the streets. He has a very rough life until he’s found by Necati on the streets. I have an article dedicated entirely to him if you are interested, read it here.
It’s interesting to notice that the father-son relationships in the series are rather hostile, while the father daughter relationships are all loving relationships.
Mahur and Aziz have a very strong relationship and Aziz adores his daughter deeply. Over the series, he is willing to do anything to protect Mahur, nevertheless she risks her life many times because of Savaş, Necati and even because of Celal. After what Aziz did to Ömer is revealed, for some time Mahur blames Aziz for hurting her mother and maybe even causing her to get sick because she couldn’t be with the man she wanted.
Zeliş gets shot at the concert because of Mehmet’s job and remains mute for more than a year. When she is healed she also has to deal with Mehmet’s mental health issues. Mehmet’s transformation to Celal is very confusing to Zeliş but of course she doesn’t express this while she is mute. After she starts talking she really feels bothered by Mehmet acting as Celal. She is the first one who notices this is becoming a serious mental problem.
Behiye becomes a potential victim when Necati starts wooing her to take revenge from Sadık as Aziz’s accomplice in covering up Ömer’s death. However his feelings for Behiye are much stronger to use her in such a dishonorable way. We are not shown how loving Behiye’s relationship is with her father, but if Necati didn’t have pity on her, he would have used her because of Sadık.
Dilara as Fuad’s daughter is again a strong character and she loses her father because of his stubbornness to help Mehmet. I feel like Fuad and Dilara had a lot more to do if the series didn’t have to end so soon. Their father daughter relationship relies on love and loyalty. She probably had a father in jail for most of her life since Fuad was only released because he is terminally ill.
Can The Son/Daughter Be Blamed For His/Her Father’s Sins?
I would not be exaggerating if I said that almost everything that happens in Maraşlı is because of their fathers. When you come to think of it, the death of the prosecutor, the shooting at the concert, all the different revenge schemes of Celal, Savaş and Necati are somehow related to one or more of their fathers. The story tells us that early on with Necati is the hidden narrator of Maraşlı’s story. In one of his famous kitchen talks in the 4th episode Necati says;
“The son cannot be held responsible for his father’s crime. The righteous person will surely be rewarded for his righteousness and the bad person for his wickedness. Our Prophet said, ‘Every child is the secret of his father.’ Nietzsche said, ‘What the father hides is revealed in the son.’ Every son is a victim of his father. We are not sons, but victims of our fathers’ failures. All children are disappointments because our fathers make us partners in their crimes. The name of this crime is to live. Living is the greatest crime. Death will be our greatest salvation.”
He says similar things at the end of the 9th episode while we find out that Necati and Savaş are brothers.
“Every son is a victim of a father. Our fathers make us partners in their crimes. The name of this crime is to live. Living is the greatest crime. Every time our heart beats, we commit crimes. That’s why death will be our greatest freedom because we can only get rid of this crime by dying.”
Another important theme in Maraşlı series is revenge. The characters who do bad things all act out on their revenge. I have talked about this already but let me explain how it relates here. If the father who committed the crime is not available to avenge, then the avenger may try to take revenge from his children or his loved ones. This also happens without intention and they get hurt as collateral.
Something as simple as Sedef lying to Aziz about Necati’s father being Ömer leads Necati to plot a whole revenge on Aziz and all the Türels. It causes him to seek out Savaş thinking he was his brother. It leads to Hurdacı to keep feeding them lies. I’m not exactly sure about Hurdacı’s relationship with them, I think the show could have spent a little more time there on how he manipulated Savaş and Necati to attack on the Türels.
Necati’s inclusion in the crime world and closeness to Hurdacı leads the government intelligence to go after them and makes Mehmet İnce a target. This leads to Zeliş getting hurt during the concert because Savaş and Necati don’t know who exactly Mehmet is and Zeliş gets shot as part of a mass shooting, she is hurt as collateral damage. The shooting causes Mehmet to come up with the secret identity plan. He wants to find the bad guys but he also wants to punish them because he wants to take revenge from the men who wronged him by shooting his daughter.
Necati basically ignites it all and wants to take revenge from everyone. He is even ready to take revenge from Behiye by seducing her because of Sadık. Necati blames Sadık for having helped Aziz to bury Ömer who he thought was his real father.
It’s interesting how he says that the child can’t be held responsible for his father’s sin but then he is the one to attack his own family to take revenge for his father’s death which by the way, he was the one to shoot Ömer even though he was trying to save Aziz. So yes, a child can’t be held responsible for his father’s sins and Maraşlı shows us what happens when that crime is committed.
One For The Price of Two
I love exploring similarities between characters and one of the things I noticed is how Necati, Mehmet/Celal and Zeliş “kind of” have two fathers. Necati’s real father is Aziz but because of Sedef’s lie for years he thought that his real father is Ömer. It is quite tragic how he discovers that Aziz is his real father only to find out later that he is murdered by Savaş with his brother İlhan.
For Necati it probably isn’t hard to love a dead father whom he never met because he could create memories out of thin air. He doesn’t feel challenged by him about anything and he could assume Ömer would love and accept him as he is. He always had a challenging relationship with Aziz because he always saw him as a stepfather who never wanted him in the first place.
Things are different for Mehmet because his father is a really evil man in his eyes. He cuts all ties with his family after leaving the house and never looks back. His imaginary father as Celal is the opposite of his father. Where his real father is a man who is violent and mean, his imaginary father is a teacher, a silent man who looks after his family.
Celal’s imaginary father isn’t a very loving father either or we may say he is an old fashioned father who is distant but he cares for his children. He is calm and not violent even when he disagrees with Celal’s decision to become a soldier and even accepts it happily after seeing him in uniform. These made up details demonstrate Mehmet’s deep desire for his father’s approval.
When it comes to Zeliş, we only find out later that her real father is Mehmet İnce. Consider having a father who is very well educated, speaks different languages, very cultured, witty, talkative and all of a sudden that man changes into Celal Kün. A brooding ex soldier who talks very little and exudes loneliness and anger although he still remains loving and kind to her. How would you feel? After Zeliş starts to talk we find out how she feels. She hates it. She repetitively asks to have her old father back. Zeliş’s breakdown and sadness over Mehmet’s struggle to come back from Celal is heartbreaking and I only feel better about it now that I know how the show ended. If you haven’t read my article on Zeliş and selective mutism you can read it here.
A Tragedy With A Happy Ending?!?
On my first piece about Maraşlı I have said that I think it’s structured as a Greek tragedy and one of the reasons I thought it was is because it clearly presented us with two opposing sides who both have been wronged and wanted to take revenge. At the time I thought the two opposing characters were Celal and Savaş but clearly throughout the series we found out that it was Mehmet and Necati.
There’s no such thing as a tragedy with a happy ending so I guess the writer proved me wrong with that ending but let’s not forget there were many elements he used that were taken from the Greek Tragedy structure. It isn’t uncommon to follow some effective elements of this ancient storytelling genre. One of the most important parts of the Greek tragedy is the catharsis the audience experiences. Aristoteles mentions this catharsis as cleansing. This is where the audience feels pity and fear and identifies with the characters. This feeling causes us to experience an emotional healing of our own.
Mehmet and Necati both feel unloved and rejected by their fathers. They also both want to punish their fathers. Necati wants his father to lose everything and end up poor and even in jail. Mehmet wants his father to pay for treating him, his mother and his little brother İsmail in a cruel way. When he notices that his father is also the criminal he has been searching for all these years he wants to punish him by incarcerating him, he even considers killing him.
In the last episode there are a lot of scenes which serve as a catharsis for Mehmet’s journey and there are also scenes which serve as the catharsis for the audience. Mehmet goes to the house in which he was born. He first faces his brother and his mother alone. He even faces his father. Then he brings in Mahur and tells her everything and they visit İsmail and his mom’s graves. Mehmet explains the process perfectly by saying “ When life gets difficult dreams become a refuge”. Isn’t that so? I mean who could argue with that? We all find ourselves in difficult times sometimes and dreams and escapism are our savior.
Mahur says something memorable too, “The most difficult thing in this life is to be ourselves”. Pretending to be someone else or denying who we are can temporarily be helpful but in the end what we need to learn is to live with ourselves and accept and love ourselves. When they remember their losses, Mahur her mom, dad and brother, and Mehmet his mom and brother, Mehmet asks Mahur to teach him to live with the pain and to remember the good things.
When faced with loss, for most of us the only way to survive is to try to forget the ones we lost. Remembering them vividly is painful because we are faced repetitively with the fact that we lost them. But it’s possible to find a midway where we learn to live with their loss and still can remember them with love and joy.
These scenes were cathartic for me, so were the scenes with Mehmet crying, talking to his mom, his brother and with Mahur. The Greek tragedy formula in Maraşlı has been the story’s biggest asset if you ask me. Even though it wasn’t completely used to perfection, I guess it never was the intention to use it to a t.
My Farewell To Maraşlı
I want to leave you with a poem from the series, from the eleventh episode when Mahur reads Celal’s poetry notebook in the hospital bed. This is a poem by the Turkish poet Özdemir Asaf and it is called “Seni Saklayacağım” (I Will Hide You). Here’s a translation by yours truly and you will see it also expresses how I feel about the show ending. I will cherish and keep it in my heart forever.
As the show ended, I’m more than happy to see that almost everything I said and wrote about Maraşlı makes sense. This of course is thanks to the show’s writing team who had a clear vision and they ended the show according to that vision.
The only episodes I found weaker on a lineup of great episodes were 15,16 and 17. However the show almost restarted itself on the 18th episode and I really found the Mehmet İnce storyline captivating and would have loved to see more episodes on it.
The other day the show’s creator/writer Ethem Özışık shared some scenes after the finale on his social media and said that these scenes were cut. The scenes seem to be similar to Necati’s kitchen talks and in them as always Necati makes some sarcastic remarks about trying to live life as a westerner while being an easterner. One of Ethem’s favorite writers is Oğuz Atay who I mentioned in my previous article on Maraşlı. Atay always explores the dilemma of the Turkish people and especially the intellectuals who have been raised in a country which is at a crossroads of east and west.
Because of this, even when they try to live like a western person, they feel stuck at their country’s eastern culture, traditions and even prejudices. Ethem wanted to show this but I think some of the things he wanted to use in these scenes were seen as offensive (and politically risky because they challenged the current ruling party AKP) and they were not included in the version we watched. I think that even though some of these scenes were cut, the show did still convey its message. The fact that Mehmet who is a very modern guy created himself a second identity as an Anatolian (eastern) guy and the nostalgia Mehmet feels for being a man like Celal is impressive and endearing.
It’s also the show’s success to show us a character like Maraşlı who could have easily been a caricature with his mustache and accent and make us believe in that man, enjoy his taste in music, poetry, his silent demeanor, his blunt honesty and finally his heart of hearts. I think the show did show us our own prejudice about what we think an eastern man is. As a Turkish person the show did help me embrace the eastern part of me with more compassion and love.
As a love story, #MahCel is carved on my heart forever. The last episode was the pinnacle of their relationship with both of them but especially Mehmet stripping off of all his layers and Mahur giving him the ultimate confidence, the trust that she will love him no matter who he is and what he does. From a love story built on lies, they moved to writing their own story, sharing all of their fears and pains with each other. I thought the long MahCel scenes in the last episode were brilliant because for us to believe and understand how Mahur would be able to love and understand Mehmet she needed to hear his complete story.
I also feel like the show really did a full circle on the sins of the father theme and we have completed the Maraşlı story understanding that no matter how we are brought up and no matter what we go through with our parents and with our lives, love and acceptance heals us. Holding on to love always pays off. We may be the products of our parents but we can and should decide our own path. In the end to err is human, we can and will make mistakes but if we accept things and ourselves, remind ourselves that we are not supposed to be perfect and choose to move on instead of being stuck, we will also experience as much love and happiness as pain.
As always I leave you with a song.
Dear reader, this was my last piece on Maraşlı and I feel a bit sad about it. How are you feeling after the finale? Did you cry as much as I did? Saying goodbye to a well loved show is always hard. Thank you for accompanying me on my Maraşlı journey and for supporting me with your kind comments. It has been a great pleasure for me to share my findings and thoughts with you. I’m hoping they allowed a deeper understanding of my culture and my country.
My writing journey continues, so please stay in touch by following me if you enjoy reading my articles. Let me know your thoughts about this piece or Maraşlı in general. You can find me as @edsavaseri on Twitter. Hope you have a great day wherever you are in the world right now. Sending you good vibes from a warm day in Muğla.