Analysis of ‘Reading Lolita in Tehran’ by Azar Nafisi

The real Azar Nafisi

Reading Lolita in Tehran is a book written by Azar Nafisi and talks about the struggles of a woman was born in Iran moved to the United States to study abroad. She got most of her education form the US and the UK. She moved back to Iran in the late 1970’s and she found here country was in a revolution and war was everywhere. The book it divided into four parts Lolita, Gatsby, James, and Austen each tells a part of the story and her life. She goes on to explain what has happened to her country and the teachings that she has done.

Nafisi used to teach at different schools in Iran but the school board found her teachings wrong and expelled her. She was fed up so she got some of her best students and brought them over her house each week to discuss about all sorts of different books. Everyone there used the classes as an escape from reality of Iran’s rules and control because they were able to discus about all they wanted and to let out what they felt about their dreams wishes without anyone judging them, Since they were all woman and woman’s had no rights in Islam.

One moment I the book that stood out to me in part one was when Nafisi’s mother, a person who is nothing like a Muslim woman marries a proper Muslim man they somehow work it out. Her mother loves to wear a chador because she feels is something very special to her. What gave me a shock was when the mother taught her daughter English instead of Arabic and that the father allows her. Back then woman weren’t forced to wear a chador so u can tell how much she loved her husband.

During the time Nafisi was teaching the seven students at her house why she was so shocked to see her students come out of her shell or in her words “I could not get over the shock of seeing them shed their mandatory veils and robes and burst into color” (Azar Nafisi 5) She wanted to teach what the schools deemed wrong so she got her seven best students and used the teachings to release all of their ideas, emotions, and frustrations with each other as they discussed books and other literary works. In the article titled “The book club” by Sam Munson she explains how when Nafisis was teaching in the schools the government started to decide what was allowed and didn’t like what Nafisis was teachings so she got expelled and that is what got her to make this small club with some of her students. Soon each one of here students started to open up to each other “Gradually, each one gained an outline and a shape, becoming her own inimitable self” (Azar Nafisi 5)

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In part two of the book you start to see all the different type of personality’s that her students have and how special they are. It also shows that Nafisis knew them very well before she picked them. She let her students be the judge and jury of the books even though she knew the answer. Even if the students didn’t talk for the books she got them to start thinking for themselves and not just follow someone. In Iran they only allowed works from Tehran to be read. Nafisis got the books and asked her students to evaluate them based on their writing and literature they also focuses a lot of their time on Gatsby to review and learn from it.

Why was Nafisis having trouble with her marriage? Her father went to jail so she was left alone and during that time she said “I was insecure enough to marry on the spur of a moment, before my eighteenth birthday” (Azar Nafisi 83) She married a man who “wasn’t like us” (Azar Nafisi 83) she thought of him as he was full of himself and that he was crazy jealous this prompted Nafisis to want a divorce with him. The only way she could get a divorce was to get the approval of her father and he agreed when she said she would not sue for alimony. In the article “Lolita in Tehran Author Goes Silent” by Madeline Brand said that Nafisis had suffered all her life. Her mother died when she was so young and her father was put in jail. That might be the reason to why she wanted to marry at such a young age.

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Because the author is from Iran you can see a lot of the connections made in the story. The struggles she faces and how she overcomes them and also when she moved to the United States she sees the world different since it’s a new place. She then goes back to Iran and it’s under war and she can’t teach anymore since she got expelled. It is related to the novel in a big way since she has a lot of experience with her home country and her background of a hard life, how her mom died when she was young and her father put in jail. She was left alone. In the biographic article titled “Azar Nafisi” by Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter he wrote a wonderful article on her struggles and her biographical of her young age and what she went through.

The tone in the novel is morel like rebellious because the woman are under oppression and they want to be free so they try to go “against the man” most of the time and it relates a lot with the characters since most of them are female. Nafisi especially, she teaches at a school then the school no longer allows her to teach there because of her content so in order to rebel she gets some of her best students who are also female and brings them over to her hose for the weekend to discuss the books and topics that she was discussing when she was still teaching. The article “Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books. (Arts & Letters)” by Christopher Byrd he states “Nafisi convincingly argues, pose an even greater threat to a despotic orthodoxy than any open display of political rebellion.” Showing her rebellious nature, she doesn’t want to feel inferior and the tone of the novel is set around not being oppressed she shows it a lot in the story.

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The relationship about this novel and the topic of literature is that in the novel Nafisi Loves to teach and on her first day of school asked if fiction is even important in literature. The way it’s related is by how the novel is being presented it’s not just a story it tells the story of a person and the hardships they went thru. The story itself is an expression of individual thought and the feeling of accomplishing from the creative process. Authors wish to share their experiences with their novels and books, their understanding and observations. It’s like making music you share what you are feeling using words in a song.

In conclusion the book Reading Lolita in Tehran was a good read, it talked about the struggles Nafisi had in her life how she became a teacher moved to the united states then came back to her home town of Iran to find out it’s at war and she can’t teach anymore so she starts her own “club” where she picked some of her best students and discussed with them about books. It also talks about some parts of The Great Gatsby in part II and the reactions it had with the people from her weekend club. This book was interesting and I would read it again if I had to.

Work Cited

Nafisi, Azar. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, 2003.

Kindle file.

Books, Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in, and Sam Munson. “The book club.” Commentary

116.2 (2003): 72+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 26 Apr. 2014.

“‘Lolita in Tehran’ Author Goes ‘Silent’.” Day To Day 29 Dec. 2008. Literature Resource Center.

Web. 26 Apr. 2014.

“Azar Nafisi.” Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter. Vol. 313. Detroit: Gale,

2012. Literature Resource Center. Web. 26 Apr. 2014.

Byrd, Christopher. “Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books. (Arts & Letters).” The Wilson

Quarterly 27.3 (2003): 126+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 26 Apr. 2014.

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