Type: History
Pages: 5 | Words: 1449
Reading Time: 7 Minutes

The bridge at Visegrad was constructed in the 16th century. Austrians later damaged it in 1914 before the Serb/Bosnian conflict led to its complete destruction (Ivo, 1977, p. 1). The introduction of the book tells about a small Serb boy who is separated from his mother. The boy was coming from a Christian family. However, the rituals of the place demanded that the sultan’s subjects pay levies. The mothers could follow the young boys until a river where the children were ferried away. Upon the separation, the children were automatically converted to Muslims. The character under focus is named Mehmed. After turning sixty, Mehmed decided to construct a bridge across the river to mark his separation from the mother (Ivo, 1977, pp. 1-12). The author is using the bridge to portray the power differential between the two divisions. The intent is to reconcile the two parties. However, it becomes clear that the bridge does not achieve its goal as it proves to be a faulty unifier. It is argued in this paper that the modernity process is a daunting experience.

The construction work was completed after five years, signifying a crucial link between the Turkish Empire and Bosnia and Herzegovina (Ivo, 1977, pp. 1-12). The completion contributed towards the replacement of the unreliable form of transport (boat) with alternative ones. The serfs were forced to work during the construction of the bridge. The serfs, however, conspire to sabotage the bridge’s construction due to the poor working conditions. The construction of the railway line is a significant sign of development that depicts the move from the traditional to the modern way of life.

It becomes apparent that there was no tension among the various sections of residents in the region. The Turks (Muslims), the Serbs (Christians), and the Jews co-existed peacefully. The solidarity of the residents became clear during the times when the Drina River floods. However, it emerges that the initial peaceful co-existence was to be disrupted from time to time. For instance, after a century, Austria conquered Hungary and some parts of Yugoslavia. This signaled the beginning of a crisis in the Turkish Empire. The extensive construction work meant that the bridge stood without repairs for a long time. The initial signs of discontent emerged in the 19th century. At the time, the Serbian uprising in Belgrade took shape. Soldiers from the empire decided to deal with the dissenting Serbs and other potential rebels by beheading them.

The Young Turk revolution took place in the Empire, as threats to the integrity were high. The people were agitating for reforms. It was, thus, not surprising that people from all parts supported the revolution when it eventually broke out. Out of the revolution, the then sultan was forced out of office. The exit of the sultan paved the way for the reintroduction of the constitution, which had been suspended by the sultan upon assuming office. With the success of removing the sultan, hopes were high as people expected sweeping changes. In truth, the revolution achieved much since all Balkan ethnicities were included in government as elections were held paving the way for a multi- ethnic parliament. However, the deposed sultan attempted to take power without success. As time passed, the ideas of the Young Turks were replaced by nationalist views. During the same time, Austria-Hungary took the opportunity to annex Bosnia-Herzegovina from the Ottoman Empire. Hence, in the novel, the attack on the bridge by Austria is mentioned as an attempt to destroy the bridge.

At the time, the main idea of building the bridge was born out of the pursuit of forgiveness. The author portrays the bridge as a tool that posses the power to bridge the divisions among the people. However, in the end, it became clear that the expectation was elusive. The incorporation of Bosnia into Austria-Hungary was a tremendous frustration for Serbia. However, Serbia was obliged to accept the reality despite agitation to the contrary by the anti-Habsburg Serbian nationalists. In the ensuing scenario, Serbia had to look elsewhere notably, the Old Serbia.

Following the victory of Italy in the war against the Turks, the Young Turks lost power. This turn of events gave the Balkans an opportunity to launch attacks on the Ottoman Empire. With support from the Russians, Serbia and Bulgaria concluded a deal to surprise the Ottoman Empire. It was, however, clear that the war against the empire was always going to be difficult since accessing reinforcements could prove a setback. However, it was only Greece that had the capacity to prevent the use of the Aegean Sea. Having realized this condition, Greece and Bulgaria agreed to sign a pact on the issue.

The aspects of modernity are also aptly reflected in the novel. The building of the railway, the opening up of university education, an increase in local trade, and the adoption of the Austrian ways of governance equally emerge. Every time a new aspect of life emerged, the reception was mixed. In the case of the Balkans, the new forms of transportation and education were embraced. With the railway in place, the neighboring communities were able to expand their trading capabilities. Similarly, the people from the region were able to move into and out of their original homes. Thus, they were placed in the world map by the incoming events.

During the first revolution, the Serbs from the two sides of Danube conspired against Janisarry leaders. They did this after finding out that the Janisarry leaders had overseen the rounding and murdering of several Serbian noblemen in Valjevo (Ivo, 1977, pp. 201-52). This act outraged the Serbs and prompted them to stage an uprising in Belgrade. The uprising emphasized the need for unity among the Serbs in the pursuit of their freedom. In the views of the Serbs, the Muslim Ottoman Empire was an obstacle that obstructed the realization of their full rights. In this pursuit, the leaders of the revolution asked the Serbs to boycott paying taxes to the Ottoman Empire. The Serb leaders felt that basing the taxes on the Islamic religion was disrespectful of their fundamental rights. The Serbs succeeded in subduing the Turks through incessant attacks across the region. This led to the liberation of the region.

The bridge has also contributed towards the understanding of the colonial history. It emerges that the bridge was never stable or determined, upon reading the novel. However, insistence is made regarding the permanence of the bridge. This may capture the identity of the people given the conditions of the residents at the time.

In the final episodes of the novel, the Austria-Hungarians destroyed the bridge. This could emphasize the main point of the author regarding how modernity comes up in a moment of destruction. In recounting how goods are scattered and broken, the author brings out the observation that the bridge was no longer tenable or sustainable. “The broken arches longed painfully towards one another across the break, opined”. Reference to “black pain which cut into his breast” is a direct attempt to show that the bridge reflects measures to resolve the original historical injustices.

In the pursuit of promoting the Serbian nationalism, the revolutionaries referred to myths and issues surrounding the Kosovo battle. The Serbian revolution took the line similar to the French revolution. However, the leaders of the revolution emphasized the role of the Christian religion in the construction of their identity. The appeal to the Christian identity centered on the historical Kosovo battle that saw the killing of a Serbian prince. Famously known as prince Lazar, the Serbs saw the prince as a mythical representation of a god. Hence, by killing the prince, the Turks had killed their god. Although, the Turks were the ones who killed the prince, any person who converted to Islam was also seen as culpable for the tragic event. In brief, conversion from Christianity to Islamic religion was a sign of betrayal. Thus, those who converted to Islam were seen as traitors of both race and religion. Moreover, since the Turks subjected the Serbs to suffering, conversion to Islam was viewed as abetting subjugation and exploitation. Thus, in pursuing their nationalism, the Serbs used religion as a primary aspect.

The Bridge on the Drina reflects the process of modernity. It clearly emerges that those people who were the witnesses of modernity faced several hurdles, upon reading the story. Progress is costly and painful based on the recounts of the author. Issues of tradition and reverence also came up as critical aspects that influence the development process of a region. However, as it is seen, power and desire to rule play a crucial role in changing societies. This is established based on the number of revolutions and battles that were fought in the region.

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