Sunday, November 25, 2007

Reading Lolita in Tehran Period 5

Ricki L5

Doris T5

Natalia A5
Stephen T5

Edmund H5

Nov. 29th Finish reading Section Lolita
Sat December 1st: Have blog on Lolita completed
December 6th: Finish Reading Gatsby
December 8th: Have blog on Gatsby completed
December 13th: Finish Reading James
December 14th: Should be starting Austen
December 15th: Have blog on James completed
December 19th: Finish reading Austen
December 21st: Have blog on Austen completed

Group members are encouraged to read ahead and take 10-20 minutes a day checking the blog and posting comments, questions, answers, etc.


Ricki L5 said...

How's everyone's reading going? I really enjoy this book so far, and I have a passage on page 26 I'd like to connect to.

On page 26, the very last paragraph before chapter 8, the author writes how her and her students created their own worlds outside their own, strict life as women in Tehran. She asks an intriguing question: "Which of these two worlds was more real, and to which did we really belong?" (26). I connected to the fact that, and this may sound crazy, but that I too live in and out of my own created realm, a place where I belonged when in the real world I didn't. What do you think the author means by her question? Is it wrong to have such independent thoughts about being somewhere better? These women had to have their own worlds because in their society, there wasn't much else they could have to call their own.

Edmund H5 said...

I also thought of writing about the quote you choose. "Which of these two worlds was more real, and to which did we really belong?" (26)

When I reading that line I was thinking about how the girls' lives are controlled by the government. They live in Tehran and all they are allowed to do is just exist. They're lives are the dreams of another person, and they can't act to their own dreams. The women in Tehran must abide to strict rules of conduct, and in the process those women are being kept from their individuality. What is living without the ability to express beliefs?

In the small house of their former teacher, they are allowed to move freely. They are allowed to remove their dark cloaks that hide everything that makes them different. In this room they express their thoughts without repercussion from the government. They are finally able to live for a moment and have a taste of what living is like.

What I'm saying is that freedom is an illusion. These girls have expressed more in their teacher's room than in the course of their lives living outside in Tehran. Their lives have more meaning in that room, since they are speaking without anyone to censor their words. So to answer the question, the author wants to say that while these girls are living and breathing they aren’t allowed to live their own lives, but in their teacher’s room they are living but living through the works of fictional novels.

Ricki L5 said...

I agree with your ideas Eddie on how the girls live an illusion and are free to express themselves within the safe walls of Azar's home.

After reading the part "Lolita", I am now interested in reading that one too! But anywho, as Azar describes the novel "Lolita", I couldn't help but compare the girl Lolita's trapped life to the girl's lives outside Azar's home. Both parties are forced into a tyrancy of men, and bot parties long for a world outside their own. Yassi on page 32 is depicted as Azar tells the reader about her life. Yassi in my opinion is most similar to "Lolita". "All her life she was shielded. She was never let out of sight; she never had a private corner in which to think, to feel, to dream, to write. She was not allowed to meet any young men on her own" (32). Yassi also is the only one to wear a veil in the safety of Azar's home.

All the characters suffer in a way, and all have the situation where they cannot be free outside their sanctuary of novels.

Doris T5 said...

Hi guys sorry for blogging so late. So in regards to Ricki’s quote on page 26, I too believe that these women have two very different worlds. One world is very sheltered and controlled while the other feels liberating and this provides the women with a sense of happiness that there is a better life. Hey like the saying goes there is a better life outside these walls but in the case of Azar and the girls their life is better within the four walls. The real world is one that feels free and one where dreams are accomplished.

I have a quote that was mentioned before Ricki’s quote. Azar said “This class was the color of my dreams. It entailed an active withdrawal from a reality that had turned hostile.”(11) The colors of my dreams was a phrase a painter had told Azar. When Azar calls the class the colors of her dreams it symbolizes that the class is a place where dreams are achieved through a variety of ways. The class was one place or color in her dream where she believed any thing could happen. As she continues to say that the only way that this dream can be achieved is by withdrawing from reality. The reality in this case is life in reality. The life that is full of hostility and control.

Doris T5 said...

I was wondering what you guys thought about how the author or Azar describes each character as they walk through the door of Azar’s home. The women have their own sort of identity. Some are dressed conservative and hesitate to take off their veils and scarves while others are relieved as soon as they walk through the door. Each woman is a different array of color in the sense that each brings a different personality to the class.

For example Mashid is proper and very graceful. She is very quiet and doesn’t like to share her experience in jail. Maybe this class will allow Mashid to finally open up and be expressing. Another array of character is Nassrin.
Nassrin is probably the most conservative character. She is very by the book meaning she follows the rules. All her clothes are dark colors and very huge. To me she seems to hide behind her dark clothes. The only bright thing about her is her face. She has a small, pale face that stands out because of her face. Her character too is very shy and traditional and conventional.
The characters that stood out to me as free and very enthusiastic were Azin and Sanaz. Azin arrived to the class with the veil and black robe but as soon as she took them off, she looked carefree and casual. She was wearing jeans underneath and a white blouse. Along with that attire came earrings and lipstick. These things belongings were very unusual for a women in Tehran but the fact that she came to class wearing those clothes and accessories underneath means that she has been thinking about looking differently. Azin believes that the class will allow her to be carefree and not worry about what is right and what is wrong in Terhan. She can leave that life behind even if it is for an hour or more. That time is very precious to her
Sanaz is the other character that is very open and ready to be carefree. She too, like Azin, had different attire. She wore jeans as well and a bright orange t-shirt. When she takes the robe off she had “the most radical transformation”(16). The clothes made her look more radiant and made her features softer as opposed to being emancipated and almost stiff.

Ricki L5 said...

I agree with Doris' last post in that the author describes each character as they enter her home. If you notice as it draws the end of the first section, the characters are becoming more defined. For example, one finds out stories behind each of the characters and how their lives before and outside Azar's home and how it has affected them. For example we find out how Mashid is jailed in the first place and how this effexts her views.

I think the author describes each girl's entrance to give a sense of character to each. She is showing how these aren't just under priveledged girls living in Tehran, but women who have been through alot and all share the common longing of being free from restraints.

Edmund H5 said...

Darn I was about to go there. I was going to explain that the speaker said that she was going to explain the girls' story since she says that it wouldn’t be “Reading Lolita in Tehran” if we the reader didn’t have any background information of her students.

Also the characters are first introduced when the speaker is looking at an old picture. The character introduction moves from the person next to each other in the photograph. But as the story picks up the characters are given more depth when they are entering the house of their teacher.

Ricki L5 said...

Hello all. I Hope we're up to date with our reading. Those who haven't posted, please do so we can hear aout your opinions and thoughts.

Anyways, I'd like to pick a passage that I think is very powerful, and portrays a very important theme in the novel. The passge is on page 103, bottom paragraph and it begins with "I told him about my grandmother, who was the most devout Muslim I had ever known, even more than you, Mr. Bahri, and she still shunned politics, She resented the fact that her veil, which to her was a symbol of her sacred relationship with God, had now become an instrument of power, turning women who wore them into political signs and symbols. Where do your loyalties lie, Mr. Bahri, with Islam or the state?" (103). Throughout the part of "Gatsby", political events occur, and anti-American ideas form around Azar's world. But how does the state influence many to burn American flags when Islamic women are subjected to a life with limited rights? How can the state turn a symbol of their people's faith into a tool of power?

I also chose this passage because it portrays the author, relating to her grandmother, how strong of a woman she is standing against men in her society. She realizes how the state is using women for control of the people, and in many ways, the author is a rebel.

Mr. G said...

Ricki, Doris, and Edmund--if this were half way thro the first session of posting, I would commend you all on your discussion. But you should be finishing up the halfway point. My biggest recommendation for you all is to put more time into this. The start is fabulous, but you could lengthen the posts and take more attention to the text. Definitely longer posts.

Make sure you catch up to the pace you have set for yourself asap with the same type of attention and care that you started with--but with much more length!

4-5 posts per session...

Natalia and Stephen, we're still waiting to hear from you!

Doris T5 said...

Hey guys sorry about blogging so late. I had trouble finding a computer. Anyways I am going to respond to Ricki’s quote in a moment but first here is a quote that I found.

This quote I think is very important to the text. The context of it is Nafisi is at college in Tehran where Islamic Republic has taken over the school. The descriptions of the school after the take over are seen as dreadful, appalling and shocking. People are being killed over reasons we in America would think are stupid. As we know Nafisi has experienced life both in Tehran and the United States of America. In this quote she mentions what the difference is in what is said and done in one place over the other.

Nafisi writes “When in the states we shouted Death to this or that, those deaths seemed symbolic…as if encouraged…but in Tehran in 1979, these slogans were turning into reality…”(97 Gatsby). I felt that this quote was important to the novel because it displays reality in one place over the other. She writes that in the United States saying something like death to this or that is not taken as seriously as if it were said in Tehran. The deaths so to speak seem symbolic and nonfigurative. What is said is not necessarily going to become actuality. She continues to write that we say what we say because we are “encouraged”. We know that there is no possibility to it ever becoming true. In Tehran it is quite the opposite. What was said, for example death to any person, became actual reality. People died as a result of what was whispered and thought. She describes this reality as with “macabre precision” meaning done with gruesome accuracy.

At this time during the novel is in Tehran and after she mentions the differences, she says that she feels “hopeless: all the dreams and slogans were coming true, and there was no escaping them”(97Gatsby). Her tone seems very miserable and gloomy. Nafisi also goes as far to actually put “dreams” and “these slogans” in the same sentence. To me this is a contradiction. The slogans are full of hatred and disgust while dreams are meant to be joyful and give meaning to an idea that is meant to achieve sometime in life.

Anyway what did you guy’s think of this quote.

Doris T5 said...

I agree with Ricki’s idea about the quote. To Nafisi Mr. Bahri is a person who she can get along with and appreciate. As Ricki mentioned, the Gatsby chapter deals more with the political side of the novel. All these political events are taking place and people are separated at the college. At the college people are dying and being assassinated because of the Islamic party and their views. There all these anti-American ideas coming form the people of Tehran and Nafisi doesn’t know what side to agree with. She likes America but then again Tehran is her home no matter how dangerous it is there. In this part of the story Mr. Bahri tries to make Nafisi understand what political Islam meant and Nafisi responded in a negative way. Her tone seemed agitated and said that she rejected it.

When she says “my grandmother was the most devout Muslim…and she still shunned politics” symbolizes that there were some people who are fully religious but couldn’t agree with the affairs of the church. Then the quote mentions the veil. The veil is a symbol of the woman’s religion as well as the loss of freedom at the same time. To her grandmother the veil was a symbol of her sacred devotion to god. But like the quote mentions the veil is now a symbol of power. The veil symbolizes power because it allows there to be control no the woman and there is no respect to the woman. The government turned the veil to be a symbol of influence and mostly authority. I have the same question as Ricki. How can one turn a symbol of faith into a symbol of power? It is very outrages and that’s why in some countries there is no church-and-state for this reason. The veil is very important in this book along with religion and the government. They are major themes in this novel. The veil is what allows Azar’s students to become free of the pressures of the government. These two objects are connected and sometimes negate each other.

I agree that this is where the author finally mentions a family member. She feels that she can relate to her grandmother and her ideas. Her grandmother was a strong and very courage women for believing in this idea.

Ricki L5 said...

At the beginning and middle of part Gatsby, Mike Gold is mentioned several times by the author. I looked up information about him, and figured that his life and works are well worth mentioning and have a great deal of connection to the novel.

Mike Gold was a Jewish, American literary critic, who was part of the left wing. Left wing is a political term which refers to the political ideals that states the importance and priority of achieving social equality through numerous rights of citizens, as opposed to private, individual interests, a traditional view of society, represented on the right policy. In general, the left-wing tends to uphold a secular (state separate from church) society, egalitarian (equal) and multicultural.

On page 107, the author mentions a passage from Mike Gold's "The New Masses". "The New Masses" is a publication of leftist works and it set up radical theater groups. I believe the author mentions Mike Gold in the novel because his ideals go along with the author's struggle in a society where it seems to hold traditional, religious values which are used against the people, especially women.

Ricki L5 said...

I'd like to look at a few passages on page 169, starting with the very first paragrapgh. "This was when I went around repeating to myself, and to anyone who cared to listen, that people like myself had become irrelevant" (169). Then she goes on to explain what it means to be irrelevant. "The feeling is akin to visiting your old house as a wandering ghost with unfinished business. Imagine going back: the structure is familiar, but the door is now metal instead of wood, the walls have been painted a garish pink, the easy chair you loved so much is gone. Your office is now the family room and your beloved bookcases have been replaced by a brand-new television set. This is your house, and it is not. And you are no longer relevant to this house, to its walls and doors and floors; you are not seen" (169). This first passage is interesting because the description of becoming irrelevant connects to the fact that Nafisi is losing all items precious to her, such as freedom to teach American literature, freedom to not have to wear the veil, and her profession. Its as if Tehran, her once called home, is becoming an unfamiliar place wear her feelings and others do not matter anymore due to the changing rules of the society, thus becoming irrelevant.

In the next paragrapgh, the author questions what do the irrelevant do? The last sentence connects to the beginning of the novel, Lolita, and how she manages to keep her dreams and beloved items. "Or they will escape inwardly and, like Claire in "The American", turn their small corner into a sanctuary: the essential part of their life goes underground" (169). That is exactly what Nafisi does; she creates a day where her best female students can escape the reality of their lives and dwelve into a world of fiction.

Ricki L5 said...

During James, there is one passage where Nafisi is reading her novel, "Daisy Miller" in the middle of the night while explosions could be heard in the distance. Naturally, Nafisi is fearful of her life and her family's. However, while reading the novel, she picks out a passage that seems to alive some of her fears. "And in a scene I will always remember-not only because of that night-Daisy tells Winterbourne: " 'You needn't be afraid. I am not afraid!' And she gave a little laugh. Winterbourne fancied there was a tremor in her voice; he was touched, shocked, motified by it. 'My dear young lady,' he protested, 'she knows no one. It's her wretched health.' The young girl walked on a few steps, laughing still. 'You needn't be afraid,' she repeated' " (187). I picked out this certain passage because I believe it's significant to Nafisi's life after the revolution in Tehran that takes place in James. In the beginning section, Lolita, Nafisi seems to show no fear in reading forbidden western books with her students. I believe part of this is because of that night, reading her fiction novel that gave her strenght and to not be afraid. This goes along with the other students as well, since when reading fiction, their lives under the state mean nothing as long as they are into a good book.

Doris T5 said...

Well Ricki I like that you looked up Mike Gold. It was interesting to see how he related to the situation that is happening in Tehran to Azar. Mike Gold’s Ideals are entirely different from Tehran’s government.

Like Ricki found out his ideals are based on social equality through citizen’s rights not individual’s rights. He believes in a secular society, one separate from the church. In this government rights are not handed to anyone but mostly men and men with high power. Women in this society are controlled and restricted to do anything they want. The other ideal of Gold, secular society, does not apply to the novel’s society as well in the chapter section of Gatsby. This society is very focused on religion that it is in fact a non-secular society. The state is not separate from the church. Most of their decisions are based on faith and religion. This very separate from what Mike Gold’s novel’s were about. So why did Azar feel the need to read the book as part of a lesson assignment? Well I think that she wanted her students who were currently living in a present non-secular society to see what the other side was like. Azar wanted the readers to gain knowledge of other societies that exist and for them to see why there is a war going on in their own state. The war is based on western influence and why it is wrong and different form their society.

Doris T5 said...

I was looking at this quote to Ricki and found it very valuable to the story. In the first passage when Azar describes herself as being Irrelevant she is talking about being fired from the university. Azar felt that when she taught at the college she had some point or relevancy in the world. She could use her knowledge of literature to teach others. Now that life has been striped from her, Azar feels that she is not important any moiré to any one or anything. Once the government expelled her, Azar lost all she dreamed.

Then when she talks about what it feels like to be irrelevant, she uses an analogy to describe it. She writes “The feeling is akin to visiting your old house as a wandering ghost with unfinished business. Imagine going back: the structure is familiar, but the door is now metal instead of wood, the walls have been painted a garish pink, the easy chair you loved so much is gone. Your office is now the family room….”(169). She uses going back to a childhood home a place that you haven’t been in for a long time as a substitute for the feeling of being irrelevant. I agree with her analogy because when you go back home, everything is familiar yet there has been a change. This change effects how one sees this place now that was once relevant. The same goes for her job at the school and her life now. If she does go back to teaching, it will feel familiar but yet it has changed. Being gone for so long affected this change. The feeling that was once there is not truly there any more. She end’s the passage by saying, “This is your house and it is not. You are no longer relevant to this house”(169). This shows that the house is not important to you anymore because of the changes. It wasn’t like it used to be. The same goes for Azar’s life. After being expelled along with other professors life is not what it used to be. The government and war changed all that when they expelled Azar from her job because of her liberal views. There is no going back and one becomes of less importance.

Doris T5 said...

I agree with Ricki about the second passage where Azar mentions, “What do people who are made irrelevant do?”(169). When a person feels this way they will at most times figure out something different to do. They will try to regain what they originally had. These people will “assimilate characteristics of their conquerors”(169). I agree with this quote. Some times in order to adhere and move on they will incorporate their conquerors personality in order to achieve their goal.

I like how you connected the first chapter with the chapter of Gatsby. I totally agree with you about the last part of the second passage. Azar says “Or they will escape inwardly and turn their small corner into a sanctuary: the essential part of their life goes underground”(169). I agree that the fact that she creates a class with the women to escape reality. The underground part in this quote is symbolizing the act of being secret. Azar’s secret is the class that she teaches in secret to women. This class allows the women to escape reality and become free to delve into the world of fiction.

Doris T5 said...

I like this quote as well. Very well picked out.

This book for Azar seemed to calm and interest her very much. This is the very first time where we actually get to see Azar read one of her books. This book, Daisy Miller, seems to interest Azar and somehow keep her safe. Azar knows and sees and feels what is happening in the outside world. There are explosions in the background and Azar tries to tune them out as she reads the book. The book provides Azar with comfort and reassures her of her life. Azar while reading the book focuses on one part the novel that say’s “You needn’t be afraid”(186). These words soothe Azar and make her comfortable. It is the first time in the novel where she truly is afraid. The section of James is before the beginning chapter. So before she starts up her class, Azar is terrified and scared. The book provides her with the strength needed to create the class on fiction novels. She was able to persevere and not let the darkness so to speak ruin her life. Daisy Miller sets up the life she is living in the Lolita chapter. Those words at the end of the passage are of importance to her perseverance.

Ricki L5 said...

In Austen, the final section of the novel, I want to look at a passage, that like many oher posts, deals with how in the society treats women as inferior.

Page 259 starting with " 'How about a temporary marriae?' " up to the following paragrapgh " 'She isn't forced into it' ". In the passage, Nassrin refers to the law which allows men to have many temporary marriges in order to have their needs satisfyed when their wives couldn't comply. I'm going to agree with the "reactionaries" who believed that "the temporary marrige is a sanctified form of prostitution" (259). One can't help but notice the irony in this passage concerning Islamic rule. According to their rule, prostitution is punished through a variety of methods. Yes their law allowing men to have temporary lives would be equivalent to adultery, something else which is punishable. The law complies with men's sexual needs but debilitates a woman's rights of freedom.

Mr. G said...

Some interesting ideas, but you vary widely in your attention to the text of the book and the assignment.