1. The Code in Albania pushes the balance between men and women. In one of the more depressing traditions, the husband is not allowed to wait on the wedding. If by some chance there is a murder, then according to tradition “the bride enters on one side, the dead man leaves on the other” (75). This oxymoronic happy/sad relationship with a dual wedding/funeral shows the extent to which the bessa can disrupt the balance between the living and the dead. A living, happy woman is held with equal regard as a very, very dead man. These extremities in the relationship between the man and the woman in the Code are further highlighted with the “tradition” with the bride’s family.
The husband is given the “blessed cartridge” for “if she proved unfaithful”, the husband would be allowed to shoot her. Here, the woman is again looked down upon. Just like with the murder tradition, the rights of women are again seconded to the rights of men. This disruption in the balance between man and women is also reflected in Bessian and Diana, when Bessian says to Diana “ ‘you are a child’”. Continuing with his rather patronizing tone whenever addressing Albanian culture to Diana, Bessian and Diana’s relationship and interaction reveal some of the frictional components in their marriage. His personality and his inability to understand Diana places his position in their marriage as much higher than that of Diana’s. Thus, the Kanun values men over women.
2. Kanun culture clashes with modern society when Diana and Bessian visit the Prince of Orosh. When Mark Ukacierra meets Diana and Bessian he feels dislike “as soon as he had laid eyes on them” (133). To him, Diana and Bessian epitomize the progressiveness and modernization that even the Prince is beginning to embrace. Ukacieera, however, remains in the trapped blood-feud mentality and is unable to accept changes to his mindset. He was ashamed to admit that he “had felt fear in the presence of a woman” and that arguments about the Kanun “quietly fell apart” when they reached Diana’s eyes. Because Ukacierra has been engrained with the Kanun tradition for so long, his mindset perceives the Kanun as being correct and prevents any change. Thus when Diana appears, her presence metaphorically brings “modern” society and the conflicting viewpoints of tradition versus modernization. Here, Ismail Kadare questions the reality of the Kanun and whether of not it is a way of “safeguarding” culture, or rather simply a destruction of culture (because there is no advancement).
3. Following the trip to the Kullah, Diana and Bessian’s marriage begins to fall apart. Bessian begins to realize that although “he leaned towards the window, could not tell where were” (169). This confusion of the setting reflects on Bessian’s internal confusion with his wife. The window metaphorically shows the troubles of Bessian’s marriage. Although Bessian can see his wife clearly, it is as if he is examining her through a window; although she is right next to him, mentally she is not right next to him.
Thus when Bessian gently nuzzles her, “she did not move, she came no closer nor did she draw away” (169). Here Bessian realizes that something has “broken” in Diana. He hopes that “something might be saved” and goes on to ask himself “what is happening to me?”, not what is happening to Diana. The cause of Diana’s silence and indifference, ironically enough, comes from the experiences she has witnessed because of the oppressiveness of the Kanun (which Bessian so admires). This ultimately “oppresses” Diana to the point in which the Kanun becomes her only reality and she becomes utterly obsessed with Gjorg. Since the Kanun drags families in a reality that has no end, the Kanun also drags both Diana and Diana’s marriage into this reality.