Literary Reflections

Discussion points for Snow

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Leila Golestenah Austin suggests questions and topics to encourage and guide group discussion.



As a returning exile, Ka’s nostalgia for the homeland puts him in an optimistic state of mind.  Does he remain in this mood throughout his stay in Kars? Is his involvement in the affairs of Kars a miscalculation on his part?

In Snow, Orhan Pamuk describes Kars as a place at the crossroads of "two empires now defunct," which has seen "endless wars, rebellions, massacres, and atrocity." The forced westernization of Turkey by Kemal Ataturk and the military has not eased the intense poverty and hopelessness experienced in Kars.  How has this difficult history shaped the aspirations and dreams of the town’s inhabitants?

In conversations with a variety of characters -- Muhtar, Blue, the boys from the religious school, Sheikh Efendi, and Kadife -- Ka explores the gap between traditional Islam and Western secularism. How do these conversations affect Ka's identity as an intellectual and the possibility of his own belief in God?  Why is the realization of his spirituality so unsettling for him?

Throughout the novel, several explanations are given for the disturbing phenomenon of the suicide girls.  Does the novel provide an answer to the mystery of why women are killing themselves in Kar?

What is the significance of Ipek’s love for Blue and Ka? Which does she ultimately love? Was Ka foolish to believe that love would bring him happiness?  

Pamuk effectively communicates the views of the Islamists versus the secularists and nationalists. Do you find your sympathies changing in regards to each group? Do any events in the story make you want to pick sides?  Which side is Ka on?

How to Cite This Page

"Muslim Journeys | Item #285: Discussion points for Snow", July 20, 2024