Both books Broken April and The Thief and the Dogs revolve entirely around revenge. The revenge in both these books is to the highest degree different. We can see this difference mainly in the motives and methods of the protagonists. In Broken April, ‘the Kanun’1 forced the revenge exhibited by Gjorg. We must remember that Gjorg wanted to end traditional ‘war’ between his family and Zef’s because death made him sick, not just the prospect of dying but also Zef’s death. Also he has nothing against Zef or his family but the fact that he has to kill Zef because legislation called for it.
On the other hand in The Thief and the Dogs, Said felt angry about the way that Ilish reported his thieving activities to the police and the manner in which his wife, Nabawaiyya, was part of the plot to put him in jail. Though he acted as though he had made his peace with it, he was determined to ‘strike like fate’2 as they had besides taking away his freedom, his riches and his pride, had also kept away his daughter, Sana, from him and this angered him the most. The episode that really strengthened his resolve was when Sana refused to recognize and seemed scared of him.
Said felt that ‘prison lashings had not been as cruel as’3 his daughter not recognizing him. This made Said sad but he then felt that the only way to get his daughter back would be to murder Ilish and Nabawaiyya, thus justifying his revenge. The way in which the characters take their revenge has an impact on the society they live in and the way this society expresses their feelings towards these characters is completely different in the two books. In Broken April’ we see that Gjorg was not accepted by society and was shamed and even socially ostracized until he had avenged his brother.
This can be seen in the silent ways that society prodded him to take his revenge such as the manner in which the shirt that was worn by his brother when he had been killed, which was stained with his blood, was hung up unwashed as a reminder to Gjorg that he had not yet avenged his brother’s death. Also there were small things such as people whispering behind Gjorg’s back and the passing of cups below the leg to signify the uncompleted task. Gjorg redeemed himself the day he killed Zef Kryeqyqe, as Albanian society required him to avenge the death of his brother under ‘the Kanun. ‘Gjorg too walked in the procession’4 that was going for Zef’s burial and funeral.
This is very unnatural as after killing Zef he would have been greeted by hostility by the Kryeqyqe clan as he had killed one of them, but ‘the Kanun’ justifies this so that Gjorg could go to the deceased’s funeral even though he was the one who murdered him. ‘A year and a half after the day his brother had been killed, his mother had finally washed the shirt he had worn that day’5 which signified that Gjorg had taken revenge and would now be accepted by society for killing Zef.
In The Thief and the Dogs we see that Said was accepted by society after he had served time for his crime. This is evident from the instance when Said decides to confront Ilish about his daughter and is treated quite amicably by the detective and other on-lookers even if their actions seem slightly superficial. This is also extended to Said’s meeting with Rauf, his old friend, who greets him and offers him food and gives him good advice. Later on he also meets with an old colleague who offers his aid, reassuring Said that ‘if there’s anything he needs,’6 Tarzan would be at Said’s ‘service. 7 In this manner we see that Said is accepted by society even if it is slightly superficial at times. “If I set eyes on you again,” Rauf bellowed, “I’ll squash you like an insect. “8
This is what Rauf had to say after he had caught Said trying to steal from his house. ‘Said’s life was finished, spent to no purpose; he was a hunted man’9 because his attempt at killing Ilish had been unsuccessful and he had killed a Shaban Husayn instead and was now being closely pursued for a murder he had committed by mistake. The papers accused Said of being mad, craving for power and blood’10 as he had bungled yet another murder attempt this time on Rauf.
Rauf used this opportunity to turn the people against Said by giving interviews and showing him in a very bad light for having killed, now, two innocent bystanders. These incidents drove society to shun Said Mahran once again as in their eyes he refused to reform himself. While analysing the deaths of Said and Gjorg, a major coincidence I found was that both were killed when they were in pursuit of certain women, Nur and Diana respectively.
Their ‘love’ for the women brought them out of their hiding places and into vulnerable positions. Gjorg left the road on which killing of men under the blood feud was prohibited. Gjorg heard from someone that the ‘black carriage’11 had been seen there and this was the carriage with the ‘pretty woman. ’12 This is what motivated Gjorg to leave the protected road and go to a road where the blood feud was allowed.
As soon as he got onto this road he heard the fateful words,’ Gjorg, give my greeting to Zef Krye… 13 Said also left the refuge of the Sheikh’s house to meet Nur one last time because he was very sure that his death was near. He did not meet her and was killed in the graveyard overlooking her house. This is an odd similarity where both men tried to meet the women in their lives but were killed before they could. ‘For a moment the world seemed to have gone absolutely still’14 for Gjorg as he was shot dead. But as we see the rest of the paragraph that Gjorg seems to be subconscious and is aware of what is going on around him.
He slowly becomes aware as does the reader that the ‘hands’15 that turn him on his back, that keep the rifle close to his right in ‘accordance with the rules’16 are Gjorg’s himself. This points to one possible conclusion that Gjorg is not so conscious to what is happening around him but is simply reliving or remembering certain landmark events in his life. ‘Slowly the silence was spreading, until all the world seemed gripped in a strange stupefaction’17 in Said’s mind and he seemed rather calm much like Gjorg at then end of his life.
But Said’s train of thought is slightly different at this point as he still seems slightly concerned about getting away and hopes that ‘he must have won. ’18 This contrasts from Gjorg’s death as Said doesn’t seem to be thinking so much of his life and succumbs to his wounds quicker than Said. Thus we can see that though both protagonists carry out revenge for very different reasons and do so in very different ways they meet the same end, as justice seems to have been served. If the two characters are compared one tends to sympathize with Gjorg for his helplessness and chide Said for his recklessness