Because of his stories about Džem’s ambitions to overthrow his brother, Ćamil is arrested under suspicion of plotting against the Sultan.
He is taken to a prison in Istanbul, where he tells his story, to Petar, a monk.
“I” is a word, we are told, which fixes the position of the speaker in such a way that the exercise of will is no longer possible, and the speaker strength is exceeded – strength, presumably, to break out of the identification that all his past actions and thoughts force upon him when he uses the word. The fact that the novel passes the reader on from one narrator to the next rather suggests that the author is taking constant evasive action, lest he betray himself or his reader into the kind of “personal confession” which seals the fate of Ćamil.
What exactly this game of form flirting with meaning signifies, must be left to the individual reader.
There is an interesting passage that helps to explain this method, at the moment when Ćamil starts narrating Džem’s story in the first person.
Andrićeve likove recimo nikada ne vidim kao ži Kad god čitam Andrića, prva misao mi je koliko je njegov tekst raskošan (svaki put mi je baš taj atribut u glavi: raskošan).