Discussion Question Answers – 118-142 The Passport

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Discussion Question Answers – 118-142
The Passport – p. 118

  1. What had become a bigger conflict than the war against Iraq? How does this manifest itself?

  • The internal war: anyone who opposes the regime is being persecuted.

  1. How long were the borders of Iran closed?

  • 3 years, from 1980-1983

  1. Give an example of irony on p 118.

  • Since his son left the country, Marjane’s Uncle Taher has had 2 heart attacks and continues to smoke. Smoking has proved to be a greater stress to him than the violence.

  1. What surprising philosophical comment does Marji make to her parents? What is your reaction to her statement?

  • That at 14 a child no longer needs her parents. (Her parents have commented that Marji’s cousin, who is 14, is abroad, alone with no parents.

  • Answers will vary.

  1. How do Marji’s parents view their daughter’s defiance differently?

  • That she is stubborn, but that this trait will help her later on.

  1. What ominous news does the phone call bring?

  • Uncle Tahir just suffered his third heart attack.

  1. In front of the hospital, what request is made of the Iranian people? What is the double meaning here?

  1. Describe Marji’s reaction to the hospital experience?

  • She feels angry and embarrassed.

  1. What dilemma faces hospitalized patients because of the war?

  • They are not able to leave the country to go abroad for better health care because of the war. Marji’s uncle needs heart surgery, but the Iranian hospital is not equipped to perform the surgery. He needs a permit to go to England.

  1. How did the government delegate positions of power? Describe the encounter between Marji’s aunt and the Minister of Health?

  • Positions of power are given to anyone who fully adopts the beliefs of the regime.

  • The Minister of Health wisas Marji’s aunt’s former window washer. All he had to do to get a position of authority was grow a beard and put on a suit.

  1. Where did many of the seriously wounded travel for treatment? Why is this ironic?

  • To go to England, a western country. This confirms that the west, although denigrated by the Iranian fundamentalists, has better health care.

  1. Why is Marji’s aunt so angry at Dr. Fathi’s explanation of the war?

  • He says he can’t treat her husband because they are busy treating victims of chemical warfare.

  1. Why did Marji’s dad visit Khosro? What was Khosro;s motive for assisting him?

  • His brother and Uncle Anoosh had been in prison together. Khosro makes fake passports.

  1. Where is Khosro’s family? Why does he help Niloufar?

  • Khosro’s wife and daughter left right after the revolution.

  • Niloufar is a communist who would be the same age as Khosro’s daughter. Her brother was Khosro’s messenger boy. He lets her hide out and live in the basement. \

  1. What is the cost of Khosro’s services?

  • $200

  1. What is Taher’s only wish? What prevents him from realizing his dream? What happens three weeks later?

  • To see his son again before he dies.

  • Niloufar is spotted, identified as a communist and executed.

  • The authorities ransack Khosro’s house and he flees to Sweden.

  • Three weeks later, Uncle Taher dies, and the next day, his real passport arrives.

Kim Wilde – p. 126

  1. When did Marji’s parents receive their passports? What was one provision listed?

    • A year after her uncle died, they reopened the borders and her parents ran to get passports.

    • Strictly forbidden to travel in occupied Palestine.

  1. How did Iran accommodate for its need for imports during the war?

  • All imports came from Turkey.

  1. What problem do Marji’s parents face as they return from their trip to Istanbul? How does Marji’s mom show her ingenuity?

  • Her parents are bringing illegal items back into Iran: Kim Wilde and Iron Maiden posters.

  • Her mother sews them into the dad’s coat!!

  1. How would you describe the mood at the airport?

  • Authoritarian. They wanted to make sure no one was smuggling anything.

  1. How does Marji’s reaction to the Kim Wilde poster reinforce an existing conflict? How does Marji’s attitude change?

  • She originally said Turkey is uncool. Now that the posters and other illegal items have come from Turkey, she says she loves Turkey.

  • She also now thinks her parents are cool and genius for bringing her the items.

  1. How did Marji’s mother compare to other Iranian mothers? How does Marji’s relationship with her mother seem to reflect typical parent-child issues?

  • Her mother was more permissive than most mothers, allowing her 13-year-old daughter to go out alone..

  1. How had Iran’s food shortage been resolved? What was appealing about Gandhi Avenue?

  • Food is being sold in the black market on Gandhi Avenue.

  • Other items, like music tapes, also are sold.

  1. What was the purpose of the Guardians of the Revolution? What happens when they encounter Marji? How does Marji respond?

  • The purpose of the Guardians of the Revolution is to “put us back on the straight and narrow by explaining the duties of Muslim women.

  • They are critical of Marji, saying that she is not properly dressed, her head not properly covered.

  • Marji lies and makes up excuses aas to why she is wearing basketball shoes; why she has tight jeans, etc.

  1. Why will Marji have to go before the Committee? What would happen there? How does Marji avoid going before the committee?

  • The Guardians of the Revolution hold it as their job to make sure everyone is dressed right. If taken in, Marji could be held for hours with no notification to her parents. She could be whipped; really, anything could happen.

  • Marji, as explained in the previous question, lies. She says that her mother is dead.

  1. Analyze Marji’s behavior when she returns home.

  • She doesn’t want to tell her mother because she knows her mother will never again let her out alone.

  • She just goes up to her room and listens to the tapes that she got away with.

  • Answers will vary:

    • Marji is emotionally escaping from her terrifying experience.

    • The resilience of youth – put the bad experience behind you – believe you’re safe.

The Shabbat – p. 135

  1. What was the new strategy? How does the author characterize Iranians? How does she characterize her father? Her mother?

  • The new strategy is that Iraq will use ballistic missiles again Iran, supposedly attained from the Soviet Union.

  • Iranians are champions at gossip.

  • Her father is optimistic. He can see something happen but will only believe it when the BBC confirms it.

  • Her mom is more pessimistic..

  1. What did the sirens signify? What did Marji realize for the first time? What does this show?

  • Sirens mean they have three minutes to know if the end had come. She realized how much danger they were in, that it didn’t matter if they went to the basement or not, they would be killed if a missile was dropped on their building.

  1. How does the picture on the top of page 137 reflect the mood? Where does Marji’s only hope lie?

  • The city is deserted. It is a large picture of trees and an empty street.

  • Marji’s only hope, in her parents’ eyes, lies in a French education that she can get only in Teheran.

  1. What motivated the Baba-Levy family to stay in Iran? Why is this so unusual? What was Neda’s dream? What ironically happens?

  • The Baba-Levy family is Jewish, and they said their ancestors had come 3,000 years ago and this was their home so they were staying.

  • There are few Jewish people in Iran.

  • The daughter Neda romanticizes about a blond-hair, blue-eyed prince saving her. Marji’s mother says that they probably weren’t at home during the bombing because they weren’t religious, but they were.

  • Jews are supposed to stay at home on Saturday, the Sabbath. A bomb hits their building, and they are killed.

  1. What happened to Iran’s economy during the war? Is this unusual?

  • The currency (tuman) loses its value.

  • Yes, that is usual.

The Dowry – p. 143

  1. What did Satrapi learn about the government in her new school? How did she respond?

    • She is sent to the new school after hitting the principal when she tries to take Marji’s bracelet.

    • In her new school, the teacher lies, saying that there are no political prisoners anymore. Marji argues, saying that under the Shah there were 3,000 prisoners. Now, under the new regime, there are 300,000.

  1. How does Marji’s dad respond to her behavior at school? Her mom? Why? What is Marji’s reaction?

  • Her father is proud – says “she gets that from her uncle.”

  • Her mom says “maybe you’d like her to end up like him too? Executed?”

  • Her mom explais what had happened to Niloufar, the girl living at Khosro’s house (the man making passports). Her virginity had been taken and then she was executed, and the man sent a dowry to her parents (proving marriage), to make sure her fate was understood.

  • Marji is scared into not rebelling.

  1. What happened to Niloufar?

  • After she was arrested, a Guardian of the Revolution married her, had sex with her, and then killed her because killing a virgin is illegal.

  • After she was killed, the Guardian paid the required dowry for a wife to Niloufar’s family.

  1. Where do they send Marjane?

  • For Marjane’s safety, her parents decide that it is best to send her out of the country, to Austria, where there is a French school and where her mother has an old friend.

  1. What is her grandmother’s advise?

  • If someone hurts you, realize they’re stupid – don’t react to their cruelty because there is nothing worse than bitterness and vengeance.

  • Keep your dignity and be true to yourself

  1. What does her father say to her?

  • Don’t forget who you are or where you came from

  1. What is her last memory of her parents before leaving?

  • Of her dad holding her collapsed mother in his arms. She was so sad.

  1. What is your prediction?

  • Answers will vary.

    • That they will never live together again.

    • That they will never see each other again.

    • That she will write a book.

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