At the end of the novel, Hasan is asked by the Cardinal to marry a beautiful Grenadian woman, raised in a nunnery. At first Leo is hesitant, but after speaking and seeing to her, Leo is overcome by her, and thus he takes on another wife and family. Soon after, a new Pope comes to power. This new Pope is much more conservative than the previous Pope was, for example, the new Pope mandated that all men be clean-shaven, he also believed that art was a sin. The Pope faced much opposition by the Romans. Hasan too, was against him, even refusing to comply by not shaving his beard. People looked to Hasan as a leader of opposition; one day Hasan was caught with a propaganda pamphlet (anti-pope) and was imprisoned for it. The new pope was poisoned and the Cardinal who had setup Hasan and his wife was named Pope. Hasan was let out of Prison for some involvement he had with the conflict between the Turks and France. Hasan seeks refuge with friends and has plans to relocate his family to Tunis.
I found 2 things about this very interesting. The first was just how conservative this new pope was, chastising art and beautiful things made by humanity. It seems as if he is taking a step back from modernization. I also found Hasan’s inability to shave interesting. I understand it is an Islamic tradition not to shave, but he was no long Muslim, so what was the big deal?
My two questions are: Is it possible Hasan was being too self-centered? He endangered his life and his family because he would be embarrassed to succumb to the Pope after all the years of having a beard. I find it bizarre that he favored his beard over his family, and family was important to Hasan. Also what would have happened to Rome and Italy itself if the Pope had stayed in power? I think it’s possible that much of the architecture and artwork that came out of Italy and makes it unique would be gone.