Sunday, November 25, 2007

Reading Lolita in Tehran Period 6


Members:

Linda Y6
Shuyi G6
Erika R6

November 26
Finish Chapters 1 and 2
pg. 1 - 154

November 26 to 30
Blog on Chapters 1 and 2

December 3
Finish Chapter 3
pg. 155 - 254

December 3 to 7
Blog on Chapter 3

December 10
Finish Chapter 4
pg. 255 - 340

December 10 to 14
Blog on Chapter 4

December 17
Finish Epilogue

December 17 to 23
Blog on Epilogue and Overall Thoughts on the Book

32 comments:

Shuyi G 6 said...

Hi, Linda and Erica,
How you guys like the book? I think the book is sometimes deep when Nafisi describes her feelings and explains the conflict between the Islamic republic and the people. However, I think Nafisi was brave that she refuses to wear the veil and never gives in to the Islamic republic force. On the other hand, the Islamic republic is gradually invading the people’s lives everyday. It does not at once force you to change or follow all the things. Instead, it encroaches on the society day by day. As described on pg 153, Nafisi admits the situation of woman wearing veils is slowing conquering, “Soon we would be forced to wear it [the veil] everywhere.” And in fact, by forcing people to follow directions, the Islamic republic not only mistreats the people physically but also blinds their thinking.

Erika R. 6 said...

Hi guys how are you? I was kind of confused at the beggining because the narrator starts talking and describing some other books and then she goes talking about Lolita. Anyways I think that the book is special because these women were just trying to be what they are, women who just want to express themselves. What Nafisi does for the girls is nice, not only is she teaching them about literature, but she is also letting them express her feelings and dress the way they want at her house and I think that this really means a lot to the girls. At the same time the girls at helping Nafisi a lot. I mean she is not working at the university anymore and I assume that for a teacher it most be hard not doing what they love, not being able to express their passion which is teaching, and the girls coming in to her house every Thursday morning most had been a happy visit for Nafisi, and also she was doing what she knew how to do, teaching.
Another thing that called my attention was when Yassi was describing the lecture the teacher had given at the university about muslim girls and christian girls. And then one of the girls in the class said "No wonder more and more Muslims are converting to Christianity." I think the mayority (if not all) of the girls at the university felt humiliated. They were not even allowed to get in the university by the main entrance, instead they had to be search before they could get in to the school. I think it was really unfair for them...

Shuyi G 6 said...

I agree with Erika that the girls and Nafisi help each other, because they suffer from “both the tragedy and absurdity of the cruelty.”(23). They lost their freedom and are even forced to comply. And they do not found a way to escape the “cruelty”. In order to survive, they have to “poke fun at our [their] own misery.” (23) In other words, they have to search for fun in their lives in order to keep get moving, because the thinking of “cruelty” is not going to bring them anywhere or giving them any accomplishments. The girls and Nafisi need positive beliefs as well knowing the existence of “cruelty”. For them, they believe that literature is meaningful and comforting; therefore they meet every Thursday to discuss literature. And Nafisi explains the reason they choose literature is that it is “not a luxury but a necessity.” (23).

Linda Y 6 said...

Hey Erica and Shuyi,
So far, the book’s really entertaining and it’s great to read about other cultures. Like both of you, I thought it was unfair on how women are not allowed to express themselves. Women are usually the “lesser” gender in many cultures, but the Islam Republic of Iran seems to be taking it too far. To be honest, which is better: the actual government or the rebels? The character Nafisi is truly strong and independent. She seems like a role model for the group of female students. Of course, the students truly are brave for gathering to read these “radical books” that we in America read.

Moving on from my initial reactions of the book, I like Erica’s quote, “No wonder more and more Muslims are converting to Christianity.” In my opinion, the reason why Nafisi added that line in is to emphasize how women are becoming more and more suppressed. Apparently, young women are fed up with their own religion. They would rather just convert to another religion to be able to express themselves. Expression of oneself seems to dominate their faith because their religion has become too corrupt. Religion no longer has meaning to them and they are looking for a replacement to be themselves.

The reason why they chose Lolita to be the first book is because it relates to their own lives. The character Lolita, “on her own has no meaning; she can only come to life through her prison bars.” When we think about the group of students, they are trapped in a society where they cannot be themselves. Like the students, Lolita cannot free herself. Humbert is similar to government. The government controls their lives and is obsessed with trying to find the real Islamic religion.

Erika R. 6 said...

Hey guys! Refering back at what were saying about girls coverting to other religions where they could feel free and without so much pressure or where they could simply feel "women" and not something that cannot be seen or heard, I think that it was also very hard for them. I mean how could they just covert to another religion society was so not understandable with women. I think that if a women converted or something she could be seen as a punishment from god or something. Anyways my point is that if a girl coverted, then she wouldn't be seen with any respect by society, well it's not like by being muslim it was any different, but I think that people wouldn't even talk to girls who converted because then they would be seen as part of their society... Well that was just a thought...

Talking more about how Nafisi describes Lolita, she says, "Take Lolita. This was the story of a twelve-year-old girl who had nowhere to go. Humbert had tried to turn her into his fantasy, into his dead love, and he had destroyed her. The desperate truth of Lolita's story is not the rape of a twelve-year-old by a dirty old mand but the confication of one individul's life by another...Yet the novel, the finished work, is hopeful, beautiful even, a defense not just of beauty but of lige, ordinary everyday life, all the normal pleasures that Lolita, like Yassi, was deprived of" (33). I really like the way she describes Lolita's story in this passage. I compared this passage of Lolita's story with the teacher and the girls story as well as the story of a everyday women in Tehran. Women were deprived any pleasure, they could not even get in to the university through the main door but instead they had to go through the side and be checked before they could even get in. Under that regimen I think that women felt like Lotita and that's why Nafisi compares Yassi to Lolita, to give an example of many examples of how women felt in that society...

Mr. G said...

Hello ladies--you are off to a great start, but you are very behind in the pacing you all set up for yourselves. I'd say that this is about a half to a third of the amount you need for the first session. Your schedule has you finishing the 2nd session by tomorrow, so pick up the pace please.

And please remember page numbers after all quotations--it makes discussion easier.

Linda Y 6 said...

In response to Erica, “I mean how could they just covert to another religion society was so not understandable with women. I think that if a women converted or something she could be seen as a punishment from god or something,” I want to argue that the position religion plays in the Iranian society must be so corrupt that women intentionally convert. Apparently, personality and expression of oneself means more than religion. This shows the restrictions to being a Muslim in Iran. The women probably do not care about the Islamic religion and look for more freedom. In a way religion seems to be taken for granted?

Shuyi G 6 said...

Hi Linda and Erika,

Sorry that I’m blogging so late. But I got some cool quotes to share. First, I want to emphasize the difference between Nafisi’s and some women’s view toward the veil and others’ view toward it. On pg. 164, she describes Mr.Bahri’s view, “Mr. Bahri could not understand why we were making such a fuss over a piece of cloth. Did we not see that there were more important issues…” Mr. Bahri, as a man, does not care much about the veil and he thinks that women should just put them on to make peace. Obviously, he does not consider the veil as a big issue. However, Nafisi and some other women conclude that the veil is a significant issue that affects their freedom, respect and dignity. They’re sure that once that give in to the veil issue, which is a visual representation of their compliance, more unreasonable requirements would be enforced. Also, on pg. 167, Nafisi describes the actually look after she wore the black robe, “a very wide black robe that covered me down to my ankles, wide and long…my whole body disappeared and what was left was a piece of cloth that shape my body that moved here and there, guided by some invisible force.”, which the force symbolizes the unreasonable requirements from the Islamic Republic, and it’s “invisible” because the Islamic republic does not show its authority which seizes people’s freedom to express , but it exists behind all the physical controls.

Shuyi G 6 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shuyi G 6 said...

Hi guys, It’s me sharing again..

I found a funny passage on page 201 that describes a lame conversation between the translator of Daisy Miller and the writer, Mr. Davaii. In it, the writer messes the background of translator and the knowledge of literature, “the novelist says, Your name is familiar- aren’t you the translator Henry Miller? No, Daisy Miller. Right, didn’t James Joyce write that? No, Henry James. Oh yes, of course, Henry James. By the way what’s Henry James doing nowadays? He’s dead- been dead since 1916.” (201) I think this is a fantastic example to reflect what the Islamic Republic is doing to the American Literature. Like the writer who offends both the translator and the literature, the Islamic Republic offends the Americans and their literature. It automatically depreciates the American literature without ever exploring the American literature, getting into depth it and opening for positive views. It condemns the American literature with only the negatives view on its mind and savagely dictates others’ thinkings. Also on page 205, Mr. Forsati explains why the Iranians dislike Henry James, but not James Joyce: “That’s different, they respects Joyce the way they respect Tarkovsky. With James, they think they understand him, or that they should understand him, so they just get angry.”(205) I agree with Mr. Forsati that the Iranians are acting as the writer who thinks he knows the background and the literature, they think that they know James and understand him. Therefore they felt free slandering James. And according to Mr. Forsati, the Republic only “treats something with respect”(205) for the “less it understood.”(205) In fact, I believe this is not only true with the Islamic Republic, but also true with us that we are afraid to offend things that we not yet have knowledge on. However, we are different that we don’t condemn things that we only thought we have knowledge on.

Erika R. 6 said...

Hi guys... I wanted to discuss about how women were so discriminated, Nafisi says that, "...once Nassrin had been sent to the disciplinary committee to have her eyelashes checked. Her lashes were long, and she was suspected of using mascara. That's nothing, said Manna, next to what happened to my sister's friends at the Amir Kabir Polytechnic University. During lunch three of the girls were in the yard eating apples. They were reprimanded by the guards: they were biting their apples too seductively!"(59). Can you guys believe this?... I mean it seems so funny to me, and when they are discussing this in their group they are all laughing and it really is funny how could they be biting their apples "too seductively"? It seems so unfair to me, and I think that Nafisi tells this so the reader realizes how hard it really was for a woman in that society. I mean they could do almost nothing...not even bit an apple in public...

Erika R. 6 said...

Me again... Nafisi married very young and she also passed for hard moments. Even though now she was independent and pretty much did want she wanted there, before she hard to live with a man who didn't care about her or her interests. "When my father was jailed, I went back home and was allowed to stay for a year. Later, I was insecure enough to marry on the spur of a moment, before my eighteenth birthday. I married a man whose most important credential was that he wasn't like us...and he was so sure of himself. He didn't value books...he was insanely jealous... The day I said yes, I knew I was going to divorce him. There were no limits to my selfdestructive urges and the risk I was prepared to take with my own life"(83). Poor Nafisi. Her life was not as easy as it seemed. I mean if you read the begining of the book where she talks about her class and how she was waiting for the girls to arrive and seeing the girls having to get to her house in big large robes and then changing you think that the girls were suffering in a certain way, but if you look closer to Nafisi she has really come a long way since she got married so young. I think that now that she had the class she was feeling in a certain way realized. And this husband that she had was so mean, he felt better than everyone else. I think that fe affected her life a lot, and when she could finally leave him she even had to give him the carpet, the car and the money they had in their bank account... what a guy...

Erika R. 6 said...

"At the time, students and faculty were differentiated mainly by their political affiliations. Gradually I matched names to faces, and learned to read them, to know who was with whom against whom and who belonged to what group. It is almost frightening how these images appear out of the void, like the faces of the dead come back to life to execute some unfulfilled task" (94). I think this quote is really interesting because I think that Nafisi points this out to let the reader know how politics affected the country in every sense. Not only were the student politically active but that was how they were actually recognized. At the university that was how teachers used to know the kids and how they were able to identify them. You get the feeling that even at school it was a constant war and that there was no peace. So problems were not only at home or with their own families but they had to face problems with many people that perhaps they didn't even know. It seems really sad for me, and I don't know but I think this could be a reason for women to feel kind of insecure or not protected at all. For them was even harder and they could do nothing to change that. They couldn't even get out from their country. Nafisi tells how she wanted to come back to America but she couldn't because they wouldn't let her get out. Another thing that I think relates to this is this guy that was killed and his charges were the following: "Being Westernized, brought up in a Westernized family; staying too long in Europe for his studies; smoking Winston cigarettes; displaying leftist tendencies"(96). So people could not get out of the country, and this guy was raised in a foreing country and when he came back from his studies he was sentenced to death penalty and he was also accused for doing what humans do? It was a very tough time in Iran in those days and the fact that Nafisi was being able to have her class at home and that the girls were strong enough and had the courage to do it was pretty amazing and I think that's the reasong for Nafisi talking about this.

Shuyi G 6 said...

I definitely agree with Erika that “women were so discriminated”, because I found that quote to be astonishing when I was reading it too. I also compared us against them. I found that most of us, people who live in the United States, often take our freedom for grant. We use our freedom of speaking to slander, to complain and to contaminate the communicative world. We also use the freedom of acts to commit unnecessary things, we fight, we steal, and we even murder. While we are misusing our freedom, ironically, the women in Iran wouldn’t even dare to think of owning freedom. They just simply hope to live peacefully. In their mind, not having big events happened, neither exciting nor depressing, would contribute to the greatest celebration.

Shuyi G 6 said...

I’m just having a question here:
In one of Erika’s quote, she says that Nafisi’s husband is mean that he needs Nafisi to “give him the carpet, the car and the money they had in their bank account.” Is this man Bijan? Also, I feel like Nafisi was having a relationship with her magician while she’s married to Bijan. Isn’t it? I somehow feel that way...

Shuyi G 6 said...

When Erika says “You get the feeling that even at school it was a constant war and that there was no peace.” she reminds me a quote that’s says “They started shouting slogans... ‘War! War! Until Victory!” (211) This quote clearly serves as an evidence for the fact that there was always war and has no peace. The Islamic Republic is determined to win that they would not stop until they see “victory!” This is totally unacceptable to me because it’s not a modicum of people who suffer from the war; it’s the whole country that’s suffering.

Also, the student who burned himself leaves me a strong impression. He burns himself to represent himself as a sacrifice to the death of Khomein and termination of war. He holds his cloth of the slogan while burning himself “Whether we kill or are killed we are victorious! We will fight! We will die! But we won’t accept compromise!” (251) This is aggravating because it escalates the determination for war. The student is a prime example of those extremes who never gives up war until “Victory!” And in fact, the extremes explain why “there’s always war and there was no peace.” Because even though the actual war has stopped, there might be many others supporting wars are stubborn to have “victory!” They fight not only in their mind, but also fight in the society. They sway the public opinion as the student did while burning himself.

Erika R. 6 said...

hey guys... Yes Shuyi... I think that Bijan is the same guy she married, see in the first part of chapter 2 of part 2 of the book she starts describing this guy she married when her father was put in jail, and she describes him as being "...he offered a way of life which, in contrast to ours, seemed pragmatic and uncomplicated' and he was so sure of himself..."(83). Later in that chapter she starts kind of describing why his dad was put in jail and at the end of that same chapter she talks again about that guy she married, she says his name in that moment which she didn't say before. "The fall of 1977 was memorable for two events: my marriage in September and the Shah's last official and most dramatic visit to the United States in November..."(86). This is when she moves to the USA with her husband who was Bijan. Then she goes on and says something about him that she already said in the first part of the chapter. She says, "...I fell in love with him for all the wrong reasons: not because of his revolutionary rhetoric but because he possessed a sense of confidence in himself and his beliefs that went beyond the hysterics of the movement..."(86). So here she also describes him as being sure of himself and having that strong confidence in himself.

Shuyi G 6 said...

Hi Erika, I found the answer!! It’s on page 298, when Nafisi says to Nassrin, “You know…with my first husband, Yes, I was married before Bijan, when I was barely eighteen. You know why he married me? He told me that he liked my innocence- I didn’t know what a French kiss was.” Bijan is not the villain that Nafisi married, he’s good!! He even gave up his job and life in Iran to grant Nafisi’s wish to come to US: “In the end, Bijan had agree that we should leave…he kept himself busy with dismantling eighteen years of life and work…” (316) Sorry that I confused you and maybe Linda too, my fault!

Shuyi G 6 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shuyi G 6 said...

Hey guys, I found a very interesting quote on pg 313-314, it says “We were unhappy. We compared our situation to our own potentials, to what we could have had, and somehow there was little consolation in the fact that millions of people were unhappier than we were. Why should other people’s misery make us happier or more content?” People living in Iran are “unhappy”, because they compare to people are living in peaceful countries, and they’re still under the control of the Islamic Republic. Even though the war ended, there’re Revolutionary Guards who investigate and arrest those who do not follow the Islamic rule. A number of people were suspected to be killed by the Islamic Regime. The “best-known expert on ancient Iran” (310) , Jahangir Tafazoli, the “well known translator and publisher” (309), Ahmad Mir Alai, and a “well know leftist journalist, the editor of a popular magazine” (309) were the suspects, but they are ironically claimed to be dying in accidents. Writers in Iran were severely threatened everyday, fearing that they’ll lose their lives.

However, people living in Iran became happy when they think of others who are living more badly than they are. “Why do they feel this way?” was the question asked at the end. In fact, the Iranians could only comfort themselves by thinking of others who are worst. They know how their situation really is: they don’t only lack freedom, but their chances to continue living are also in doubt. In their situations, they find no hope, so they either comply or rebel. In Nafisi’s case, she chose to rebel. She can not silence herself as Mrs. Rezvan suggested “we should be used to all of this.” (313) Nafisi has her dignity, she says to her self that “I [she] can’t live like this anymore” (313). And in fact her dignity provides her wisdom and opportunity. She knows that once she conform or “be used to all of this” (313), more will be asked. As the veil issue that demanded women to wear the veil in the University, but “Soon we [they] were forced to wear it [the veil] everywhere.” (153). Nafisi also had the opportunity to go to US, which is “a road that is open and full of light” (337)

Shuyi G 6 said...

Hi, me again!
This quote is also worth to see, “To him [Nassrin’s father] these people [the regime guards], no matter what we think of them, they’re our people”. (321) I’m surprised when I saw this quote. I couldn’t understand how the father can still endure the wrong doings of the regime. The regime seizes its people’s right: freedom, and lives. It forces them to wear the veil, despise Western literature and give up their right to speak up. It also harms them brutally: the guards strike, arrest and even murder. The mistake and damage the regime made was huge that they shouldn’t be ignored. And the mind of Nassrin’s father is not acceptable.

Also, I found his father to be contradicting himself when he defends the regime and says “they’re our people” (321) and on the other hand, he is blaming on Nassarin for seeking a better life, “My father says that if I [Nassarin] insist on going ahead with this crazy plan, I’m [Nassarin is] on my [her] own.” (321) So, her father is saying that Nassarin is not even his people then? Since he depends “his people” but not Nassarin. He further more complains that he loses two daughters: he loses one when “it was the class” (321) and the second one “now” (321) when Nassarin decides to go for London. In fact, all Nassarin wants is just a better life, a life with hope and freedom, and a life that every Iranian wants, but not everyone dares to seek.

Nassarin declares that hope is what actually encourages her to live on. She says “I miss the sense of solidarity we had in jail, the sense of purpose… I miss the hope. In jail, we had the hope that we might get out, go to college, have fun, go to movies.” (323) Ironically, Nassarin is more hopeless after she gets out of jail. She is “secret and hidden” (323) that she can not express her own thinking. She is forced to comply under the regime. And most importantly she does not understand the meaning of living and “what it means to love”. (323) In Iran, Nassarin is corrupted, restricted, and “hidden”. And she only can leave to pass her “ordeal of freedom” (323)

Linda Y 6 said...

Hey sorry that I haven’t been posting much. You two can continue on and ignore me as I catch up on all my postings since they don’t make sense with your discussions...

First I would like to point out a certain quote, “What we have here is the first lesson in democracy: all individuals, no matter what contemptible, have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” In relation to the book Lolita, “the villain is the one with the imaginative mind.” I find it strange that although the description of democracy is used, it seems to describe the wrong person. Lolita is the victim yet Humbert is the one imagining. Well in a way, Humbert is controlling Lolita’s mind by restricting her of everything. He seems to be the totalitarian ruler. It is very much unlike the situation at hand with the girls where they are the victims of the cruel government yet they are the ones with the imaginative mind.

I find the book Lolita interesting after reading this book although it may seem sickening. The language and the rhetoric used shows how well the author wrote it. The use of language controls our thoughts and persuades us even if it is morally wrong.

Erika R. 6 said...

Hey guys... I wanted to discuss about the war and how people were thinking about others during that period. "The war in Irak began that September... The polarization created by the regime confused every aspect of life. Not only were the forces of God fighting an emissary of Satan, Iraq's Saddam Hussein, but they were also fighting agents of Satan inside the country. At all time, from the very beginning of the revolution and all through the war and after, the Islamic regime never forgot its holy battle against its internal enemies..."(158). So now was not only Hussein consider the enemy, but everyone inside the country who had opinions or beliefs that were different from those of the regime. Nafisi goes on saying that "All forms of criticism were now considered Iraqi-inspired and dangerous to national security. Those groups and individuals without a sense of loyalty to the regime's brand of Islam were excluded from the war effort. They could be killed or sent to the front, but they could not voice their social or political preferences (158-159). So nobody could talk or express their feelings. If someone said anything about the regime that went against it, then the regime was going to make sure that the person paid for it by either being killed by the regime or in the front fighting. For the regime, people who were against them instead of with them should be punished because "There were only two forces in the world, the army of God and that of Satan" (159), so anyone who didn't agree with them had to stay quite. I think Nafisi wants to show the reader how far this "revolution" kind of thing was going. I mean how could they be fighting a war in the name of a god? If the same god at last created them all, why then would god want them to be fighting. They thought they were right and that they had the protection of god, and that's why many of them even gave their lives for the cause and they just thought that Satan was the one sending the people other people from the same country just because they didn't think the same way...

Linda Y 6 said...

I agree with Erica about fighting a war for God. Of course religion takes a major portion of their life, but I find it ironic that some people are religious enough to sacrifice their lives for a war while others are willing to give up the Islamic religion. I guess it would depend on what role religion plays on their lives, their perception of God, and the actual person. Some people would rather have their independence yet some people believe that the Islamic religion is everything. Religion seems to be so corrupt in Iraq that it has caused people to do opposite actions.

In response to Erica’s older quote, “"When my father was jailed, I went back home and was allowed to stay for a year. Later, I was insecure enough to marry on the spur of a moment, before my eighteenth birthday. I married a man whose most important credential was that he wasn't like us...and he was so sure of himself. He didn't value books...he was insanely jealous... The day I said yes, I knew I was going to divorce him. There were no limits to my self destructive urges and the risk I was prepared to take with my own life"(83) I want to ask why did she marry him? Yes, he was different from everyone else? Was it as sign of revenge to the Iranian government? Was it to prove that she was no longer being suppressed? In a way, is she taking being independent for granted? She’s able to marry whomever she wants yet she marries someone just because he’s different.

Erika R. 6 said...

hey guys... Well Linda first I wanted to address your first paragraph to say that it is true, and I agree. People were just like blind and I wanted to talk about that because in my beliefs about religion (which ever one it is) people should feel like the person next to you is your brother or you sister. This people were living in the same country and yet they couldn't trust one another, and the regime was even thinking about killing those who they thought were against them. Why would they fight a war in name of religion if religion is suppose to teach peace...???

Well about the guy she married, I believe the reason she married him was so his dad could get out from the jail, that's why as soon as her dad got out from jail she divorced him. While I was reading that part, I felt that her tone was more like he is different in a bad way. I don't think she married him because he was different and she liked that about him. He was mean and he thought he was better than everyone else... Hope I answer your questions, maybe Shugy could give you her point of view...

Erika R. 6 said...

So the guy Nafisi married was powerful or at least he had money so I guess she married him so he use move his influences and the take her dad out of jail.........

I found a quote about how women felt about the veil and why many of them didn't want to use it. Nafisi went to talk to Mr. Bahri and she respected him a lot, but he friend had already resigned and now it was Nafisi's turn to choose whether she was going to stay in the school and wear the scarf around her hear or just quit her. She was saying that "What did he imagine our students would think of us if they saw us wearing the veil we had sworn never to do so?..." (165). This was something serious and Nafisi was not going to wear the veil, first because she would be letting down her students and their cause and second because she explained that "it was not the piece of cloth that I rejected, it was the transformation being imposed upon me that mede me look in the mirror and hate the strange I had become" (165). So imagine how Nafisi felt about having to choose between keeping her job or failing her students and herself....

Erika R. 6 said...

While I was reading through chapter 3, I was deeply touch by the way Nafisi expressed her feelings. She explains how she feels now that she cannot wear what she wants or now that she she has no rights, now that she is just like a ghost walking down the streets, now that she has to wear that veil and all she can wear is a long robe. The way she tells things, and her tone make me feel as if she feels like the most miserable person. She says, "I had not realized how far the routines of one's life create the alusion of stability. Now that I could not wear what I would normally wear... This new feeling of unreality led me to invent new games, survival games I would now call them..." (167). Nafisi feels like she is not herself anymore, now all she does is what the law tells her she is "allowed" to do, like wearing the veil. Inside she does not feel human, she feels like a robot that is receiving order from the government and has to do what they tell her to. She then goes on to describe the part when this idea of creating the "game of survival" came from. "The beginning of this game I can trace back quite specifically to the day I went to the Ministry of Higher Education with a friend who wanted to have her fiploma validated... The female guard told me to hold my hands up, up, and up, she said, as she started to search me meticulously, going over every part of my body... My face was burning and I felt dirty..." (168). For me this really sound terrible. Nafisi is being "sexually molested", and not only her but I guess this happened to every other woman. This people didn't care and her rights as a human being were being violated... Nafisi's tone in this part makes you think about it really serious. How could she stand this? I think that she expresses this in this way because she wants to let the reader know how hard it was for women in those days, and also to let the women readers feel very thankful for being able to live free and have rights.

Shuyi G 6 said...

Hi Erika and Linda:

First of all, Merry Christmas!! Then, Happy New Year!
Ok, that’s good! Now, let me say that I have to agree with Erika. Nafisi married her first husband because she couldn’t handle the situation that her father was in jail and she was so innocent back then. Also, I believe that women of that period didn't have much freedom to choose who to love or to marry. Nafisi might have suffered from the lack of freedom that she needed to marry her first husband in order to release her father from jail.

For epilogue, Nafisi says that “I left Tehran on June, 24, 1997, for the green light that Gatsby once lived in.” (341) Nafisi chased “green light” as the way Gatsby chases it. She wanted freedom as Gatsby wanted the love from Daisy. And she is as stubborn as Gatsby. To Nafisi, freedom is the most important. She rather leaves her country, but not gives in to the authoritarian control of the Islamic Republic.

Nafisi also concludes that the “shape of our [Iranians’] future” (341) is determined by the “children of revolution”. (341) She believes that the hope for Iranians to save themselves from the authoritarian power lies on the shoulders of the young, and points out that they should be the ones to run Iran.

At last, I was touched by the last couple sentences that Manna says, “Each morning with the rising of the routine sun as I wake up and put on my veil before the mirror to go out and become a part of what is called reality.”(341) Manna’s giving in to the veil represents an act of reality. She gives in to the Islamic public for saving her job, her status in society and her life. And this is called “reality”. (343) However, Manna has “another I [she]” (343) who does not exist in reality and who does not give in to the Islamic Republic. She lives in a “fictional world” (343) and she is “naked on the pages of a book” (343). Manna has created another herself to make up for her disloyalty to her beliefs - she wore the veil to fight against her mind. Manna satisfies her mind in the “fictional world”. She releases herself by expressing her thinking and sharing them on the “pages of a book”, since in the “fictional world” the Islamic republic cannot control Manna’s mind. The Islamic republic cannot read her mind, cannot stop her mind from thinking, or force her mind into thinking something. Therefore, Manna will stay with us in the “fictional world “as long as you keep me [her] in your eye” (343) as the way Nafisi stays with us as long as we understand her thoughts.

Shuyi G 6 said...

Hi guys, after reading “Reading Lolita in Tehran”, I feel like I have taken the freedom to read for granted. I have been some many times offered books, but I have rejected all of them. I honestly don't like reading. I always think that reading is boring, and useless, so I’ve never hit on books. Plus, I think that I can always get the book I need, it is either in libraries or in bookstores. I have never imagined reading to be impossible. I thought that it is and has always been available to people. But after reading this book, I learned that there are really some people who have no choice to choose what they read. Like the students in the University of Tehran, they were forced to read only certain books and they were told to only memorize. They didn't have a choice, “From the first day they had set foot in elementary school, they had been told to memorize. They had been told that their own opinions counted for nothing.” (220) The students are only to listen and follow the Islamic republic. Therefore, the Iran can never reset its governing system if no young is going to speak up or revolt.

After reading the book, I also learned books are some times crucial to people, they are just like their medicines. I believe Nafisi is one of those people who need books as medicines. On page 170, Nafisi says that “If I turned towards book, it was because they were the only sanctuary I know, one needed in order to survive, to protect some aspect of myself that was now in constant retreat.” (170) Books are the element that Nafisi needed for “surviving” and “protecting” her thinking. She needed books to express her and to speak up for righteousness. Although her thinking “was now in constant retreat” (170), Nafisi has never given up on them or reading. She holds on her beliefs no matter what happens. I truly appreciate Nafisi’s persistence on books even though I don't like reading books. She was brave enough to gather around her students to read every Thursday in the danger of being arrested. However, Nafisi’s persistence on books is actually advantageous for her. In a time of censorship, she needed her persistence to satisfy her desire. Because she loves reading so much, she needed to stand side for the books in order to quiet her conflicts. As the book says “we must for dear make our own counter-realities.” (216) And Nafisi has made her “counter-realities” by establishing her class to reading the "forbidden books".

Shuyi G 6 said...

It’s me again! I think this is very funny, “I said to him that I wanted to write a book in which I would thank the Islamic Republic for all things it has taught me- to love Austen and James and ice cream and freedom.” (338) This is amusing because Nafisi says this in an ironic way and the fact that she was actually writing the book to report the mistreating of Iran to its people. She is obviously not thanking the Islamic Republic. She thanks it because it forced her to love things she is grateful to have. The things that Nafisi loves are Austen, James, ice cream and freedom. Austen, because Austen’s novels are innovative that women in them are “rebels”. (307) They do not obey to the choices their “silly mothers and incompetent fathers” made for their marriages. Austen’s novels are risky that the women stake their life on their own choices for marriages, “they risk ostracism and poverty to gain love and companionship.” (307) Nafisi loves the way Austen openly writes her novel and she appreciates Austen’s boldness and writing skills.

Nafisi loves James, because James, as Austen, is brave to suggest his idea that “we must for dear life make our own counter- realities.”(216) He disliked “political power” (216), but favored “cultural power”. (216) He says that “independence of thought” (216) is a man’s “greatest freedom” (216), therefore he enjoyed the invincible freedom to wander his mind. Overall, Nafisi loves writers who are brave enough to write about the truth and to write with their choices, because she is one herself.

Nafisi lastly loves ice cream and freedom. I think this is very funny: Ice cream and freedom together? Well, I love ice cream too; it’s even my favorite food. But, I’ve never thought of comparing it freedom. This is why I say Nafisi is an open and bold writer as Austen and James?

Shuyi G 6 said...

Hi guys, How was Christmas? I hope your guys had a great Christmas and will be having an awesome New Year!! And since there is still time, I want to post one more entry. It’s on pg. 327 and is continued with Erika’s thought that women were mistreated during the time of the book. “The worst fear you can have is losing you faith. Because then you’re not accepted by anyone – not by those who consider themselves secular or by people of your own faith.” It is true that losing faith could be the “worst fear”. A person loses his/her religion is usually discriminated, which at the end causes him/her to feel misery. This is the exact situation of Mahshid and Yassi. They are born Islamite, and they “guarded” (327) Islam. Ironically, they did not “guard” Islam because of their passion to it, but because of fear. As Yassi says “ever since we [Mahshid and she] could remember, our religion has defined every single action we’ve taken.” (327), she reveals that they first believe in Islam because they are born with it. They did not have a choice. They know that their religion is authoritarian; it controls their “every single action”. And they indeed no more feel God, no more feel sanctified and no more find purpose. They know that they no more truly believe. (327) However, they still “believe”- physically follow the things Islamite do, because they fear. They fear that they will not be accepted, and they doubt of lives with changed religion. As a result, they hide their true feelings in heart, but continuing to suffer from “believing” a religion that they find no meanings.

Also, Mahshid writes in her diary that “During the Shah’s time, I felt I was the minority and I had to guard my faith against all odds. Now that my religion is in power, I feel more helpless than ever before, and more alienated.” (327) Mahshid and Yassi feel “helpless” because when Islam at first was lack of power, thus, they were forced to keep believing in it, they needed to “guard” it. But, when Islam is in power now, it does not change anything, Mahshid and Yassi still had to believe in it. They know that they might never be able to escape from Islam. Mahshid and Yassi feel “alienated” because they saw that their once-minor religion is no more weak, it is even outrageous now. When they saw the Islamic republic destroying others, they recognize no more the meek countenance of the republic; they saw a countenance now with evilness and savage. At the end, Mahshid and Yassi lost track of thinking, they became “alienated” as the republic doesn’t know them or they have known the republic at the first place.

Mr. G said...

Overall I was interested by your discussion, but I think where you were most interesting (all of you) was when you went into depth (the length of your posts seemed to matter) because the depth of what you had to say seemed to be better. Anyway, engaging conversation at times and glad to see you work through some mis-readings together.