The novel “Forgotten Fire”¯ by Adam Bagdasarian is a story of a 12-year-old Armenian boy, Vahan Kendarian. It is 1915, the beginning of the World War I. Vahan’s family lives in Turkey, where Armenians have always been humiliated and deprived of their rights. Vahan is the youngest son in a very influential Armenian family. He believes that the exceptional status of his family will last forever. He does not know about the tragic history of the Armenian people in Turkey as well as he is not aware of his future. Vahan loves the land where he lives: “As far as an Armenian from Bitlis was concerned, Bitlis was the center of the world: Her mountains were the highest, her soil the most fertile, her women the loveliest, her men the bravest, her leaders the wisest.”¯ (Bagdasarian, 5) He lives in his own world and does not want to realize that his world is a kind of a fairy tale. “In my real world, there would always be this house I loved, the laughter of brothers and sisters, uncles and cousins. In my real world, I would always belong, and I would always be happy.”¯Ā (Bagdasarian, 6)
Vahan’s father, a wise and just man, tries to put his son on the right track. He asks him: “What kind of man do you think you are going to be?”¯ (Bagdasarian,15) Vahan has not chosen his future profession but he knows perfectly well, that he will be a prominent man. “I knew that time and destiny were my allies, the twin magicians of my fate: Time would transform me into the tallest, strongest man in Bitlis, and destiny would transform me into one of the wealthiest, most admired men in Turkey.”¯ (Bagdasarian,10)
However, the destiny has prepared another kind of transformation for Vahan. Years of sufferings, tragic losses and disappointment in life awaited him. During the World War I Turkish authorities decided to annihilate the Armenians, Vahan’s father was taken away and Vahan’s brothers were shot before the eyes of the family. Vahan became an orphan, he would be a prisoner, a servant, a beggar, his perfect world ruined and he saw another world full of injustice and cruelty.
Throughout the novel, we witness three years of Vahan’s life that changed him drastically. At the end of the novel he says: “I knew that I was free, and that I would never be free.”¯ (Bagdasarian, 270) From my point of view, Vahan means that three years ago when the war did not interfere with his life, he was the happiest person in the world. He felt free and powerful and as every child thought that no evil would touch upon him and his family. “I walked with the confidence of a boy who has grown up in luxury and knows that he will always be comfortable, always well fed, always warm in winter and cool in summer.”¯ (Bagdasarian, 200)
However, his world shattered and after years of troubles Vahan became much older and wiser. He said: “loneliness transforms the heartiest of souls into a living ash of spiritual doubt and despair.”¯ (Bagdasarian, 130) In his bitterness, he realized that he would never be free, because he belonged to a minority that would always be humble in Turkey. He was deprived of his rights and actually, he was no one in that world.
The great message of the novel is that all people should try to find great strength and will inside them to struggle with the difficulties and only due to this inner fire people can survive.