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Curfew

CURFEW

A curfew is a law, regulation, or ordinance that forbids particular people or particular classes of people from being outdoors in public places at certain specified times of the day.

Juvenile Curfews

Local ordinances and state statutes may make it unlawful for minors below a certain age to be on public streets, unless they are accompanied by a parent or an adult or on lawful and necessary business on behalf of their parents or guardians. For example, a Michigan state law provides that "[n]o minor under the age of 12 years shall loiter, idle or congregate in or on any public street, highway, alley or park between the hours of 10 o'clock p.m. and 6 o'clock a.m., unless the minor is accompanied by a parent or guardian, or some adult delegated by the parent or guardian to accompany the child." MCLA § 722.751; MSA § 28.342(1). Curfew laws in other states and cities typically set forth different curfews for minors of different ages.

Curfew laws and ordinances have been sustained as necessary to control the presence of juveniles in public places at nighttime with the attendant risk of mischief. In re Osman, 109 Ohio App. 3d 731, 672 N.E.2d 1114 (1996). Courts have found that curfew ordinances promote the safety and good order of the community by reducing the incidence of juvenile criminal activity. Schleifer v. City of Charlottesville, 159 F.3d 843 (4th Cir. 1998).

Curfew laws have generally been upheld against constitutional challenges on first amendment and due process grounds. Hodgkins ex rel. Hodgkins v. Peterson, 175 F. Supp. 2d 1132 (S.D. Ind. 2001). One federal court held that minors have no fundamental right to freedom of movement or travel that protects them from restrictions imposed by curfew laws. Hutchins v. District of Columbia, 188 F.3d 531,(D.C. Cir. 1999). However, a juvenile curfew ordinance that exempted minors who had graduated from high school was found to violate the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In re Mosier, 59 Ohio Misc. 83, 394 N.E.2d 368, 13 O.O.3d 290 (Ohio Com. Pl. 1978).

In some instances, courts will find particular language in a juvenile curfew law to be impermissibly vague under the "void for vagueness" doctrine (a fifth amendment doctrine that requires all laws to be sufficiently clear that persons of average intelligence will understand in advance which conduct is prohibited). If possible, courts will simply delete offending language from the law so that what remains passes constitutional muster. For example, one curfew law allowed the city's mayor to issue permits for minors to use public streets during prohibited times if the mayor found that such use was "consistent with the public interest." A California state court held that that language failed to provide any standards by which the mayor could lawfully exercise the discretion to grant permits. The court deleted the language but said the mayor could still grant permits when to do so would be consistent with the purposes of ordinance as expressly set forth therein. Bykofsky v. Borough of Middletown, 401 F. Supp. 1242 (M.D. Pa. 1975).

Curfew as a Condition of Probation

State laws typically allow courts to impose curfews on criminal defendants as a condition of pre-trial release, and on probationers as a condition for successful discharge from probation. Defendants and probationers who are subject to curfews can be ordered to pay the cost of monitoring their compliance with the terms of the order. Curfew violations can result in the revocation of probation or termination of the pretrial release bond.

However, curfew orders themselves must be reasonable, and courts must be careful to explain the rationale underlying them. Orders imposing curfews that are harsh or excessive, for example, have been invalidated. People v. Braun, 177 A.D. 2d 981, 578 N.Y.S.2d (1991). Similarly, orders that cite no justification for a curfew have also been overturned. People v Sztuk, 126 A.D. 2d 950, 511 N.Y.S.2d 720 (1987).

Adult Curfews & Strict Scrutiny

Curfews directed at adults touch upon fundamental constitutional rights and thus are subject to strict judicial scrutiny. The U. S. Supreme Court has ruled that "[t]he right to walk the streets, or to meet publicly with one's friends for a noble purpose or for no purpose at all—and to do so whenever one pleases—is an integral component of life in a free and ordered society." Papachristou v. City of Jacksonville, 405 US 156, 164, 31 L. Ed. 2d 110, 92 S. Ct 839 (1972).

To satisfy strict-scrutiny analysis, a government-imposed curfew on adults must be supported by a compelling state interest that is narrowly tailored to serve the curfew's objective. Court's are loath to find that an interest advanced by the government is compelling. The more justifications that courts find to uphold a curfew on adults, the more watered-down becomes the fundamental right to travel and to associate with others in public places at all times of the day.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that this right may be legitimately curtailed when a community has been ravaged by flood, fire, or disease, or when its safety and welfare are otherwise threatened. Zemel v. Rusk, 381 U.S. 1, 85 S. Ct. 1271, 14 L. Ed. 2d 179 (1965). The California Court of Appeals cited this ruling in a case that reviewed an order issued by the city of Long Beach, California, which declared a state of emergency and imposed curfews on all adults (and minors) within the city's confines after widespread civil disorder broke out following the Rodney G. King beating trial, in which four white Los Angeles police officers were acquitted of using excessive force in subduing an African-American motorist following a high-speed traffic chase. In re Juan C., 28 Cal. App. 4th 1093, 33 Cal. Rptr. 2d 919 (Cal. App. 1994).

"Rioting, looting and burning," the California court wrote, "pose a similar threat to the safety and welfare of a community, and provide a compelling reason to impose a curfew." "The right to travel is a hollow promise when members of the community face the possibility of being beaten or shot by an unruly mob if they attempt to exercise this right," the court continued, and "[t]emporary restrictions on the right… are a reasonable means of reclaiming order from anarchy so that all might exercise their constitutional rights freely and safely."

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curfew

cur·few / ˈkərˌfyoō/ • n. a regulation requiring people to remain indoors between specified hours, typically at night. ∎  the hour designated as the beginning of such a restriction: to be out after curfew without permission. ∎  the daily signal indicating this. ORIGIN: Middle English (denoting a regulation requiring people to extinguish fires at a fixed hour in the evening, or a bell rung at that hour): from Old French cuevrefeu, from cuvrir ‘to cover’ + feu ‘fire.’ The current sense dates from the late 19th cent.

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curfew

curfew [O.Fr.,=cover fire], originally a signal, such as the ringing of a bell, to damp the fire, extinguish all lights in the dwelling, and retire for the night. The custom originated as a precaution against fires and was common throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. The curfew has most recently been used in times of turbulence, such as revolution or civil disorders. It is a restrictive measure forcing all persons into their homes to reduce activity against the government or the occupying force. In some communities it has been applied to curb juvenile delinquency.

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curfew

curfew a regulation requiring people to remain indoors between specified hours, typically at night. Originally denoting a regulation requiring people to extinguish fires at a fixed hour in the evening, or a bell rung at that hour, from Old French cuevrefeu, from cuvrir ‘cover’ + feu ‘fire’. The current sense dates from the late 19th century.

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curfew

curfew ringing of an evening bell for the covering or extinction of domestic fires; also transf. and gen. XIII. — AN. coeverfu (mod. couvrefeu), f. tonic stem of couvrir COVER + feu fire :- L. focus hearth.

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curfew

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Curfew

Curfew ★★ 1988 (R)

A young woman rushes home so she doesn't break her curfew, only to find two killers with time on their hands waiting for her. Violent. 86m/C VHS, DVD . John Putch, Kyle Richards, William Wellman Jr., Bert Remsen; D: Gary Winick.

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Curfew

Curfew

by Adalet Agaoglu

THE LITERARY WORK

A novel set in Istanbul and a provincial Turkish city in the violent days just before the September 1980 military coup; published in Turkish (as Üç beş kişi) in 1984, In English in 1997.

SYNOPSIS

An unhappy love affair finks the fall of old aristocratic families in Turkey with the rise of a new provincial business class and the liberation of women.

Events in History at the Time of the Novel

The Novel in Focus

For More Information

By 1984, the year Curfew first appeared in Turkey, Adalet Agaoglu was already an admired and widely discussed author. Although preferring not to identify herself as a feminist (she declares that she is writing about human beings), Agaoglu is a prominent spokesperson for women and deals extensively with women’s issues in her writing. She was born as Adalet Sumer in 1929 to a shopkeeper’s family in a small town not far from Ankara, the newly designated capital of Turkey. After graduating from Ankara University with a degree in French literature, Adalet worked for the State Radio-TV organization, wrote several radio plays, and saw some of her stage plays performed. In 1983 she and her husband, Halim Agaoglu (pronounced A-ah-oh-lu), moved permanently to Istanbul. Adalet Agaoglu is part of the second generation to attend school after Atatiirk’s revolutionary changes in Turkey and her work reflects this revolutionary atmosphere. Her first novel Ölmeye yatmak (1973; Lying Down to Die) tells the story of a woman’s graduating from primary school with the first coed classes. Beginning a trilogy, the novel initiated Agaoglu’s dominant theme of conflict in a rapidly modernizing society and the ensuing difficulties for those who aspire to the status of modern, Western women. In addition to eight novels, Agaoglu has published several volumes of plays, short stories, an autobiography, a book of dreams, and essays. The novels’ dark themes—murder, rape, and flirtation with suicide—are relieved by flashes of humor. In 1996 Agaoglu was severely injured by a speeding automobile, which hurled her into the Bosporus Strait and left her in a temporary coma. Her long, slow recovery involved more than 18 operations, yet she continued an active public life, running (unsuccessfully) for parliament in hopes of forging a truly democratic constitution. By then her political and social voice had already found its way into her fictional writings. Curfew, Agaoglu’s fifth novel and the first to be translated into English, typifies her complex narrative style and reflects her concerns about the changing status of women as well as the effects of politics and society on private lives.

Events in History at the Time of the Novel

The military presence in Turkish political life

After the First World War, military officers, led by Mustafa Kemal, founded the modern Turkish state, and they continue to play a crucial role in Turkey today. The military has stepped in on several occasions to restore constitutional government or to quell disorder, and it stands ready to do so whenever it deems necessary. Its officers see themselves, and are widely seen, as the guarantors of the legacy of Mustafa Kemal (also known as Ataturk), particularly of his commitment to a secular state and a Turkish national identity.

A charismatic leader, Mustafa Kemal commanded the defense forces that fought off the Allied troops at the Dardanelles (a strait between Europe and Turkey), in 1915 during World War I. He also repelled the postwar Greek invasion, rescuing Turkey from domination by the Allied powers in what became known as the War of Independence, taking over the government and then forcing the deposition and exile of the last Ottoman sultan. After moving the capital from the seat of Ottoman power to Ankara, then a village close to the geographic center of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal proclaimed the Republic of Turkey in 1923 and became its first president. The surname Ataturk (“father Turk”), which stresses his pride in his Turkish ancestry, was officially bestowed on him by the Grand National Assembly in 1934.

As president, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk made a clear division between military and civilian rule by insisting that officers who wished to go into politics resign their commissions. Despite this proviso, the military would remain a strong presence in the political life of the Republic. Through periods of quasi-dictatorship and corruption, or perceived threats to the state by radical leftist groups and Islamic or fascistic right-wing nationalists, the Turkish military has stood ready to suspend civilian rule until things are set right and order is restored once again.

Under Atatiirk’s leadership, which can be characterized as a dictatorship despite its parliamentary trappings, radical and symbolic changes in society took place almost overnight. Revolutionary policies such as the adoption of the Latin alphabet, the emancipation of women, the adoption of the Swiss Civil Code, and the abolition of the office of caliph, were swiftly introduced by the single-party government. The government also experimented with opposition parties, at first encouraged by Ataturk but dissolved as soon as they caused difficulty for his ruling faction, the Republican People’s Party (RPP). In November 1938, after a period of increasingly repressive rule, Ataturk died and was succeeded by a close associate, Ismet Inönü, another career soldier and War of Independence hero. Inonii tried to maintain the same tight hold over military and parliamentary power.

In the post-World War II era, in 1946, the Democratic Party was founded by several former RPP members. Initially Inonii and the RPP welcomed the new party as the “loyal opposition” and a logical development on the gradual road to a multiparty system. But RPP members were entirely unprepared for the fierce, unrelenting attacks hurled at them by their erstwhile colleagues. The RPP tried to retain power through various repressive tactics of dubious legality, such as holding elections before the Democrats were ready to compete.

Toward a capitalist economy

In 1950 the Democratic Party assumed control. Its members, like the RPP, had no understanding of multiparty democracy and continued to rule in the highhanded manner of their predecessors. But they differed in one important respect: at their helm was a business-oriented wealthy landowner, Ad-nan Menderes, who believed that prosperity and modernization could be achieved by freeing the economy from government controls and modeling the country on their idea of Western capitalism. The Democrats thus adopted a strongly pro-American foreign policy and early in 1952 joined the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

WOMEN’S RIGHTS IN MODERN TURKEY

A tatürk’s reforms were crucial in the history of women’s rights, but they did not include all the elements we have come to think of as essential to women’s equality with men. in its desire to put Turkey on a par with secular Europe, Atatürk’s government adopted a Civil Code in 1926 that was based on the Swiss Civil Code, and Switzerland is a country where women would not have the right to vote in federal elections until 1971. Some landmark legislation on the road to equality for Turkish women shows that some key advances came as late as the 1990s and 2002:

1923 Declaration of the Turkish Republic.

1926 Adoption of the Civil Code—only monogamous marriages are recognized; and women gain equal rights in divorce, child custody, and inheritance.

1930 Women gain right to vote and be elected to local governments.

1933 Women gain right to vote and be elected to village administrations.

1934 Women gain right to vote and be elected in parliamentary elections.

1935 First elections are held in which women have the right to vote and be elected to parliament.

1971 First woman is appointed minister (extra-parliamentary).

1986 First woman member of parliament becomes part of the ministerial cabinet.

1990 Constitutional Court annuls the law requiring women to have spousal permission to work outside the home.

1990 General Directorate on the Status and Problems of Women is set up (affiliated directly to the prime ministry in 1999).

1993–95 First woman prime minister (Tansu Çiller).

1995 Turkey signs without reservations the Beijing Declaration at Fourth World Conference on Women.

1996 Adultery is no longer a crime for men.

1998 Adultery is no longer a crime for women; law on Protection of the Family contains regulations for protection against domestic violence; requirement that income must be declared by head of the family for taxation purposes is abolished: women and men can declare income separately.

2002 Civil Code law on protection of the family is amended to declare equality of spouses rather than identify the man as “head of the family,”.

alliance of Western nations. The Democrats also attempted to attract foreign capital. Unfortunately the capitalist approach ushered in adverse developments: new wealth led to shortages of goods; profiteering abounded; and Turkey incurred a huge debt, due to loans that enabled it to obtain agricultural machinery. These developments led to inflation and unrest. So dire was the economic situation that the champions of free enterprise had to reintroduce severe economic controls that had been used in the Second World War.

Despite zigzags in economic policy, the decade of the 1950s saw the emergence in smaller cities of a newly wealthy Turkish business class. In Ottoman times Turks had preferred careers in the bureaucracy and the military to careers in business, which they left mostly in the hands of Greeks, Armenians, and Jews. Economic activity, along with politics and cultural affairs, had been centered not in smaller cities but in Istanbul. The rise of smaller cities in the provinces and the creation of a successful provincial Turkish business elite became an economic legacy of the 1950s, although Menderes, the leader whose policy inspired this legacy, was executed for subverting the constitution.

With the rise of Menderes’s Democratic Party, a prosperous business class developed in provincial cities like EskiŞehir, which Agaoglu makes the center of her novel. The wealthy farmers and newly rich entrepreneurs of this business class began to build factories, hotels, and office blocks. Intimidated by Istanbul society, they formed a gentry class of their own and began to look toward Ankara and the Asiatic, predominantly rural heart of the country. In Curfew a member of this gentry has a heart attack—so devastated is he by the ignominious way in which his hero, Menderes, is hunted down, arrested, tried, and executed. His reaction reflects a real-life reverence for the leader. Many of his provincial supporters considered Menderes specially chosen by God and therefore invincible. It was a notion they acquired when he walked away unscathed from a plane crash at Gatwick Airport in England in 1959 after 14 members of his group had been killed. This seemingly miraculous event was exploited to encourage expression of religious fervor and for political gain. Democrats accused the opposition of being anti-Islam.

As the economic situation worsened, the Menderes group became more repressive, clamping down on the press and the universities, restricting the activities of the opposition party and the National Assembly itself, and flouting the constitution along the way. On various pretexts, they declared martial law in the larger cities, a tactic that became part of the governing party’s repertoire for suppressing unruly opposition. On May 27, 1960, members of the military intervened to overthrow the regime. They were exasperated by the inflation that was eroding their salaries, by the lack of improvement in the lives of the peasantry from which the military was drawn, by the vacillating economic policies, and by the apparent trampling on Ataturk’s legacy of a secular state. Junior officers carried out the coup, but the top brass soon co-opted it. Its members appointed a committee to draft a new constitution, whereupon the May 27 coup took on some trappings of a revolution. Menderes and his Ministers of Finance and Foreign Affairs were put to death and other Democratic Party leaders were sentenced to long prison terms. The Democratic Party itself was dissolved.

In their haste to give back control of government to the feuding political parties and thus scotch the radical plans of junior officers, who hoped for a social transformation, the top brass returned Turkey to the pre-coup status quo. As before, there was endless squabbling. Government consisted of confrontational, embittered party politics; nothing much got done and unlikely coalitions had to be pieced together to form a majority. From the ashes of the old Democratic Party there arose a new Justice Party that took over the mantle of opposition against the old RPP. Prior political conditions were reasserting themselves, but before handing back power to the civilians, the military insisted that Ataturk’s old colleague, the soldier Inonii, be prime minister once again.

The new constitution was written by a committee of professors. While not making any fundamental changes in the organization of society, the document gave individuals greater rights, at least on paper. The military took a direct role in government in the form of a National Security Council, a mix of high-ranking officers and some civilians whose function was to assist the cabinet. Also the military joined the capitalists by going into business for itself, setting up a compulsory fund that invested in various industries and joint ventures, making loans to army officers and getting them discounted goods. The constitution explicitly guaranteed new freedoms, such as the right of workers to strike and of people to organize, which led to the formation of socialist, non-communist leftist groups (such as the Turkish Workers Party). A new election law gave small parties more seats in parliament than they would otherwise have had. Thus, the left grew more powerful, but its rising influence, far beyond its actual numbers, provoked a reaction in the generally conservative government. Its leaders would use the activities and influence of the left as a pretext to continue the repressive martial law for years to come.

The Justice Party took the lead in opposing political groups that championed the workers, putting the RPP on the defensive as being “soft on communism.” Led by Suleyman Demirel, an American-trained engineer from a small-town background, the Justice Party managed to oust In-önü and take over the reins of government from the Republican Party. Demirel served repeatedly as prime minister (1965-71 with two short gaps and several times more, ending 1991-93). Under Demirel the government stepped up its repressive policies against the left, while attempting to fend off complaints from some of its own adherents, who, as small businessmen and craftspeople, suffered economically because of intensifying capitalism. The push to industrialization and foreign investment, successful in the short run, kept wages low and thus harmed the workers and small farmers. Massive worker migration to Germany, Belgium, and other European countries with labor shortages only postponed the day of reckoning. Meanwhile, polarization increased between the political parties and among university students and other youth groups. Since 1968, when Europe and even the United States exploded in student-led protests and riots, Turkey had experienced increasing violence among its own young people, both extreme leftist factions and fascistic right-wing nationalists. Already in 1970, with a Justice Party severely weakened by internal factions and Demirel unable to control it, the military was waiting impatiently for its chance to intervene. Strikes, paralyzing demonstrations, kidnappings, and acts of violence gave the military leaders an excuse to again declare martial law. On March 12, 1971, they pressured Demirel to resign and once more assumed control over the government.

Repression and terror

The period between March 12, 1971, and September 12, 1980, provided little respite from the escalating violence that was becoming a way of life in Turkey. The military was dedicated to restoring law and order but went about it by repressing only the left, while fascist groups, both nationalist and Islamist, continued carrying out assassinations and fire bombings. A group of technocrats governed for a relatively brief period, with the military acting as overseer. Almost immediately, however, martial law was declared in much of Turkey because of leftist kidnappings. The military disbanded the Turkish Workers Party and other leftist organizations. On the flimsiest of pretexts, newspapers were closed down or censored while writers had their books suppressed. University professors, journalists, and many prominent writers found themselves being arrested and jailed. Students and faculty alike were placed under surveillance, and the liberal constitution was amended. In response, the RPP swung to the left. Biilent Ecevit replaced Inönü as its leader. The rejuvenated party won the 1973 elections. Despite a strong showing, Ecevit could only form a government with the aid of the leading Islamist party (National Salvation Party), with which a secular politician had very little in common. Ecevit was riding a wave of popularity following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in the summer of 1974, leading to a partition of the island between its Turkish and Greek communities (still in effect in 2004). He, however, made a disastrous miscalculation, deciding to resign in order to force early elections, which, he thought, would return him to power with an absolute majority for his party. He was stymied, though, by Justice Party leader Demirel’s strategy of accommodation with the National Salvation Party, extreme fascists whose street thugs were known as the Grey Wolves. It was a member of this party, Mehmet Ali Agca, who assassinated one of Turkey’s most liberal journalists (Abdi Ipekgi) and later made an attempt on the life of Pope John Paul II.

Ecevit returned to power in the next elections, but only with a coalition government. He had to impose martial law in 1978 when the Grey Wolves set out to destroy entire communities of Alevis (a sect of Shfite Muslims) and harassed RPP gatherings. He also had to impose severe economic restrictions because of an ultimatum from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which was concerned about Turkey’s worsening economy and inability to make payments on loans. In light of the economic belt tightening and measures such as martial law, the RPP and Ecevit were voted out of office. Demirel returned to power and implemented the IMF program while giving free reign to the fascist gangs.

The military finally intervened when concern over the Islamic revolution in Iran and Soviet invasion of Afghanistan made Turkey’s strategic role critically important to NATO, of which Turkey was a staunch member. Many felt the military had waited far too long, given the fact that there were some 20 killings a day. In June 1980, martial law imposed a curfew; many were probably relieved when the military assumed control of the government in September that year (it would retain power for two years). Certainly, after two decades of political anarchy, another military takeover was no surprise.

The Novel in Focus

Plot summary

The novel begins with a conversation echoing in the head of one of the main characters, Murat. It takes us a while to understand who he is and where he is. The novel is told mainly in the third person, but each character also “thinks” out loud. Murat relives his past, comments on the present, and imagines the future—several versions of the future, in fact. The present is one night in June 1980 in Istanbul, close to the start of curfew, which demands everyone be indoors by 2:00 a.m. We are gradually let in on the story. Murat is a young man who regards himself as a failure, and indeed his friends and upper-class family agree. He hopes to recover his self-esteem by an act of courage and responsibility. Murat plans to meet his sister, who has sent him a telegram announcing her arrival in Istanbul by train, but first he must seek out a young man to bring along. The young man, Ufuk, is in love with her. To find Ufuk, Murat must travel across town late at night and risk being attacked by vigilantes or arrested for curfew violation. He also senses his sister is asking him to take some responsibility for her and is unhappy about being forced to apprise her of his total lack of success.

Looking for Ufuk and clutching only a slip of paper with an unfamiliar address, he stumbles about a newly built part of the city—a stretch with vacant lots and no street lights—desperately trying to find the right apartment. It is dangerous for a young man to wander these darkened, unfamiliar streets and fields at a time when vigilantes roam freely and police may mistake a passerby for a terrorist.

The imagined future is told in the present, as a fantasy of Murat’s that is not identified as fantasy. The alternate versions are all intensely real to him, as he “tries on” one vision after another—finding Ufuk, not finding him, finding his sister, not finding her—as if the vision were actually happening at that moment.

The past that Murat recalls includes troubled family relationships, failing friendships with radicalized young men who harshly judge his lifestyle to be self-indulgent, and an unhappy love affair, which began in the city of his birth, EskiŞehir, located between Ankara and Istanbul. While still a spoiled mother’s boy, dabbling in song writing, he fell in love with a nightclub singer from Istanbul named Selmin. This relationship was completely unsuitable for the scion of two prominent families in EskiŞehir. Possibly to help destroy his nephew’s obsession or just to satisfy his own curiosity, Murat’s uncle, Ferit, commits an unforgivable act of betrayal. He seduces Selmin, whom he treats contemptuously, as if she were a high-class prostitute.

Murat has abandoned his family—and his prospects, through the family, for a secure future—to follow Selmin to Istanbul. Now, jealous and possessive, he finds himself deprived of even the grudging company she had been keeping with him. Selmin, who became enamored of Ferit, drinks ever more heavily and turns into a sloven who can no longer support herself, much less her family. She has relatives in Istanbul, an older sister and a widowed, aristocratic mother, who spent all her money on extravagant living. The mother has encouraged her two daughters to form sexual relationships without the promise of marriage, schooling neither of them in how to convince a member of the new business class to propose. The mother is finally reduced to filching meals from her drug-addicted elder daughter.

We last see the soft and sentimental Murat in an open-ended situation that is typical of Agaoglu’s novels. He is either dead or severely wounded and left for dead by vigilantes who mistake him for a leftist terrorist. Perhaps he will survive. One simply does not know.

Murat is only one of seven main characters. After him we meet Kardelen, a young woman of “the people,” the child of a peddler but, owing to the small-city school system, a classmate and close friend of Murat’s sister, Kismet. Kardelen is proud and unashamed of her humble origins. She is also openly in love with Murat, who seems too class-bound to reciprocate. The one who does esteem her, and hires her as his private secretary, is Murat’s uncle, Ferit. Except for his behavior toward Selmin, Murat’s girlfriend, Ferit seems to be an admirable man—an exemplar of the rising business class, but with superior cultural as well as technical education and interests. He has many ideas about how to modernize industry in EskiŞehir and is comfortable in a variety of circles. He would like to help his nephew Murat establish himself, and shows respect for his niece’s friend Kardelen.

Ferit attends a party in Ankara one evening, where he encounters former classmates, who are long on emotional speechifying and short on logic and nonacademic experience. These former schoolmates are mostly academics with leftist attitudes that have become a matter of habit, now with an overlay of cynicism. Light banter and sexual insinuations abound at this gathering, but there is no true dialogue. Ferit tries to communicate his ideas on how best to industrialize Turkey. However, most of the conversation takes place in his own head, since his old friends are not interested in pursuing anything related to business, even in conversation. Ferit would like to see Turkey build factories that produce materials to make the country more self sufficient and not dependent on Europe. The shortsighted businessmen with “shopkeeper mentality,” whom he struggles to interest in his long-range plans, want only to produce soft drinks and pretzels for immediate profit, not concrete pilings and other building materials for long-term gain on a national scale. Although Ferit spent several years studying in Paris, he is not at all taken with the Common Market as the solution to Turkey’s economic difficulties; he sees Europe as interested in exploiting Turkey, not welcoming it as a genuine partner. (In 2004 Turkey has still not been given a definite date when it might be asked to join.) Throughout this section, Ferit’s thoughts wander from his sexual feelings for his wife, to his experience with Selmin and his troubled relations with members of his family, for which he feels responsible: his betrayal of Murat, his misunderstanding of Kismet, and his inability to break through his father’s opposition to an industrial park on family farmland.

Except for Ferit’s wife, a minor character, all of the women in the novel are troubled. Murat’s mother, Turkan, is lonely and bored. She lives out her widowhood with little to occupy herself apart from bathing, shopping, running her household, and worrying about her two children. Kismet, her daughter, is unhappily married to a coarse man, who caused the death of their only child by driving while drunk. So circumscribed has Turkan’s own life been that she does not have the imagination or empathy to think that her daughter could even leave her spouse. Meanwhile, Selmin sinks into alcoholic self-pity with little care for her own relatives. Her mother, Neval, terrorized by her other daughter, lives in squalid conditions. As for Kardelen, socially she is subjected to the snobbery of Kismet’s family; politically she serves a prison term for her leftist political views; and physically she suffers rape by prison guards.

There is, however, movement in the novel toward a brighter future for two sturdy young women. During the few pre-curfew hours in which the novel occurs, Kardelen (the name means “snowdrop,” suggestive of her staunch innocence) sews her wedding dress, looks back on her infatuation with Murat without regret, and looks forward to a loving marriage to a worthy man from a similar background. She also waits and worries about her younger brother, who hasn’t come home yet and is just as spoiled and pampered as Murat. Kismet, in her mother’s house, awaits the right moment to evade her mother’s watchful eyes and flee her marriage before tier husband returns from a business trip. She intends to travel alone by train to Istanbul to meet Murat. Never having lived on her own, she plans to take refuge with her brother.

In the final section, open-ended like the one about Murat, Kismet reveals her former unduly close relationship with her brother and her unhappy marital life and walks away from both. She originally intends to join Murat but changes her mind during the train ride. As the train approaches Istanbul, she decides to step off at a suburb. So even though Murat, because of his misfortune, would never have shown up to meet her at the station, Kismet courageously takes charge of her future (Kismet means “fate”) and strikes out on her own to begin a new life. On the often quoted final page, she “turns and looks back with an apologetic smile at the handful of people she’s leaving behind, far behind her. I wanted every novel I have ever read to end with a true beginning” (Agaoglu, Curfew, p. 247).

The dream and the reality: women’s plight and men’s pressures

In the final scenes on the train to Istanbul, Kismet is traveling alone, without male escort. Not only is she defenseless, she is also guilty of being a woman. She must search on the train for a toilet, and is so unused to being out in the world on her own that she feels acutely embarrassed about calling attention to her bodily functions. This small detail dramatizes the huge leap she is taking into her “true beginning.” Kismet stands at the other end of the spectrum from Selmin, a Europeanized woman of Istanbul who attracts awkward provincial young men at the Hilton Hotel, men who are intimidated by her and yet applaud her for “every form of behavior they condemned back home in their sisters, mothers and wives” (Curfew, p. 137).

Agaoglu has spoken about the guilty feelings that are deeply ingrained in Turkish girls and women, just by virtue of their being female. As the sociologist Deniz Kandiyoti pointed out in 1987, “Women [in Muslim societies] are vested with immense negative power because any misbehavior on their part can bring shame and dishonor to the male members of a whole community, lineage, or family” (Kandiyoti, p. 322). While Agaoglu’s first novel, Lying Down to Die, dealt with a woman whose family moved from a village to the capital city, much of Curfew is set in a small provincial city midway between Istanbul and Ankara. Agaoglu has observed that the lives of young women are often far less constricted in both villages and large cities than in provincial cities. In these provincial centers, close relatives and distant acquaintances alike censor their movements and keep watch over their contacts with men. On the other hand, the anonymity of large cities and the requirements for village women to work in the fields without direct supervision can provide more freedom.

Curfew depicts a society in flux. The aristocratic values with which Selmin’s mother was raised no longer serve her among the newly rich, who have few scruples and certainly do not see impoverished aristocrats as deserving of respect. In the social upheaval of Turkish society, uneducated rough men are able to dictate terms to the kind of young women who would not previously have even looked at them. There is no great value attached to the aristocratic name of Selmin’s mother so she cannot negotiate a marriage for one of her daughters that would trade her name for an upstart’s wealth. In this society in flux, formerly aristocratic women with scant material resources must shift for themselves. The Turkish constitution has given women equal rights, but, as shown by the lives of the characters in Curfew, there is a huge difference between legal ideals and day-to-day realities. The extended family, particularly in provincial cities, still watches over women and regulates their conduct.

Men, on the other hand, carry the burden of upholding male superiority in a society that still endorses it. Murat is clearly unequal to the task, perhaps because he has been pampered by his widowed mother; in any event, he abdicates entirely by running away and refusing to return to take up a position in the family businesses.

Sources and literary context

Agaoglu wrote Curfew to illuminate the birth pangs of modern Turkish society and to highlight its inherent conflicts. None of the characters is based on anyone living or dead, according to Agaoglu, although the author’s personal experience is certainly reflected in many individual portraits. Interestingly, after the book appeared, Ferit Sakarya was likened to a member of the real-life provincial elite, the Zeytinoglu family from EskiŞehir, because they too were enlightened and concerned with the idea of a national economy. Another person from real life, the engineer and later prime minister Turgut Ozal, was pointed to as exemplifying the lightness of Agaoglu’s predictions about the rise of a modern business class.

The Turkish novel had not previously focused on provincial cities. Most pre-World War II novels were set in Istanbul. If they dealt with provincial life at all, it was from the viewpoint of the Istanbul elite. After the war enthusiasm steadily grew for works written by or about the small farmers in physically or psychologically remote areas. These farmers’ crises revolved around feuds over water or women and the unbearably harsh conditions of raising crops and livestock. Their traditional social relationships began slowly to change only with the introduction of mechanized agriculture and the migration of the unemployed to Germany or to the large cities in Turkey. Agaoglu chose the provincial city of EskiŞehir as the primary setting for Curfew because it maintained close ties with Istanbul in the Ottoman period but then, from 1980 on, turned toward Ankara, and in so doing underscored the transformation of Turkish society as a whole.

Another innovation in Agaoglu’s novel is the strategy of having a character project into the future via his or her thoughts, without any transition to warn the reader. For example, in this passage from the novel, Murat is stumbling around in the dark looking for Ufuk’s apartment. Without any warning to the reader, his thoughts shift into the future, fixing on the arrival of his sister, Kismet, after he has failed to meet her train. He internalizes her fears, especially her sexual fears.

The same Kismet tried out a few smiles from the compartment window and stepped down from the train….She stood there on the station steps, her little bag trailing at her feet, unable to decide what transport to take or where to go: Should I take a taxi? But heaven knows where the driver would take me! Better perhaps to take the ferry that’s about to leave. But where and how to buy a ticket? And I don’t know where on earth I’m supposed to be going!… The best thing is to get out of this crowd and find a quiet corner. Wrap myself in anonymity. But that man with the black mustache. Why is he walking towards me in that way? What’s he going to do? Heavens, what does he want from me? “Please, Mr. Gendarme, Mr. Policeman, Mr. Soldier, friend.” What’s he doing? Why is he grinning like that? Why’s he pressing into me? I’m a decent woman.… Kismet felt herself being pressed from all sides.... One of those harassing her said “Here’s a nice bit of stuff.” The other added “She’s drunk.” Two police came up. They took hold of Kismet. “Better search her. All over. Find out what drugs she’s high on.” Kismet struggled.... She thrashed about. Why so many eyes staring at her, when she had hardly taken a step out of the house? So many men’s hands touching her all over.

Murat... tries to rid himself of these thoughts....

(Curfew, pp. 12-13)

Agaoglu explored this technique further in two later novels, Hayir (1987; No) and Romantik: bir Viyana yazi (1993; Romantic: A Viennese Journal). This last novel was much praised and has been referred to in Turkey as the most important work of Turkish fiction in several years.

Reception

Curfew occupies a special place among Agaoglu’s novels because one of its main characters (Ferit) is a successful and powerful businessman. At the time of publication, in 1984, the sympathetic treatment of a businessman was considered an act of betrayal among left-leaning readers and critics who influenced this readership.

Like the majority of important Turkish writers in the early 1980s, Agaoglu herself was pro-left. Although not a member of the Turkish Workers Party, she never hid her sympathy with their socialist aims. The party was banned in 1971, and its leaders were jailed. Because of her political sympathies, she and her husband Halim suffered economic and political pressures, ranging from the loss of his state job as a highway engineer to the suppression for about a year (1981-82) of another of Agaoglu’s novels, the apolitical work Fikrimin ince gulu (1976; Slender Rose of My Desire).

Nevertheless, the distaste among leftists for Curfew’s portrayal of Ferit Sakarya as a highly trained and cultivated businessman able to prevail in discussions with committed leftists, who actually looked up to him, affected the book’s sales and its critical reception. By the rigid code of leftist critics, Agaoglu had “betrayed the cause” and changed her beliefs. What Agaoglu showed, in fact, was the need for and importance of such people, who would turn out to be responsible for Turkey’s progress in the next generation.

Other Turkish critics received the book favorably. They especially liked Agaoglu’s unflinching descriptions of the severe conflicts in a society in transition, her skillful depictions of a range of characters, and the interesting introduction of future-as-present into her narrative style.

In the words of these critics, the novel succeeds on multiple levels: “The history of our recent past will, I think, be written several times and perhaps many times, but as an analysis of a period of history and society in writing... ’Curfew’ will never lose its distinction and power,” prophesied one of these critics. “With her latest novel ‘Curfew,’” observed another such critic, “Adalet Agaoglu continues to perfect the qualities of her narrative art and with expert portraits brings to life Time as the seal of modern form” (Cemal, p. 15; Aytaç, p. 74; trans. E. Ervin).

—Ellen Ervin

For More Information

Agaoglu, Adalet. Curfew. Trans. John Goulden. Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Austin: The University of Texas at Austin, 1997.

Ahmad, Feroz. The Making of Modern Turkey. New York: Routledge, 1993.

Arat, Zehra F., ed. Deconstructing Images of “The Turkish Woman.” New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998.

Aytaç, Gürsel. Review of Curfew, by Adalet Agaoglu. CagdaŞ EleŞtiri [Criticism Today], Mayis 1984, 16-18.

Bugra, AyŞe. State and Business in Modern Turkey. A Comparative Study. State University of New York Press: Albany, 1994.

Cemal, Ahmet. Review of Curfew, by Adalet Agaoglu. Cumhuriyet [Republic], 14 Haziran 1984, 5.

Cosar, Fatma Mansur. “Women in Turkish Society.” In Women in the Muslim World. Ed. Lois Beck and Nikki Keddie. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1978.

Ervin, Ellen W. “The Novels of Adalet Agaoglu: Narrative Complexity and Feminist Social Consciousness in Modern Turkey.” Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1988.

Kandiyoti, Deniz A. “Emancipated But Unliberated? Reflections on the Turkish Case.” Feminist Studies 13, no. 2 (summer 1987): 317-38.

Mango, Andrew. Ataturk: The Biography of the Founder of Modern Turkey. Woodstock, N.Y.: Overlook, 2000.

Tekeli, Şirin, ed. Women in Modern Turkish Society: a Reader. London: Zed Books, 1995.

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