Reading Lolita in Tehran 1. Explain the Blind Censor. How does Nafisi use the Blind Censor to help express what she and her girls hope to do when they meet at her house every week? The book informs the reader that the Blind censor was “the chief film censor in Iran up until 1994″ and before that, ” he was the censor for a theater and he would sit in the theater wearing thick glasses that seemed to hide more than they revealed. ” We were also told that he had an assistant who sat by him who would explain the action onstage, and he would dictate the parts that needed to be cut.
In 1994, this censor became head of a new television channel where he perfected his methods and demanded that the scriptwriters give him their scripts on audiotape; they were forbidden to make them attractive or dramatize them in any way. He then made his judgments about the scripts based on the tapes. The censor comes from the word censorship which means the deletion of material that may be harmful which is determined by the censor. The blind censor believed literary works were symbols of Western decadence and imperialist tendencies, which was believed to be a part of the plan to bring down their culture.
By coming to Nafisi’s class every week, her home was like a shield guarding themselves against the blind censor to read some famous literary works. The girls discovered that they were all like Lolita: Trying to escape and create freedom for themselves. When they meet at Nafisi’s house every week they discover true appearances of other girls. They realized that its normal for other girls to have different opinions about how they should live their life open spaces.
When they were at Nafisi’s class, they were worry free of the demon censor which allowed the girls to feel like they finally know how it feels what a free world is. 2. Why does Sanaz’s brother always insist of driving her everywhere? Sanaz’s brother is the youngest child and is spoiled. One of his greatest pleasures in life is spying on Sanaz and monitoring her actions to prove his masculinity. From listening to her phone calls to driving her places. He always wants to drive her places because he wants to make sure she is not going rendezvous.
During this time period, the Iranian culture was very strict on women. They were not able to converse with any men unless they were men of the family or unless they were called upon. At this time, Sanaz was planning on an engagement with a childhood sweetheart. Her brother respected this man and which always looked out for her with the fear that she might cheat on him. 3. How do the students explain Nabokov’s word “upsilamba”? Nabokov invented the word “upsilamba” out of upsilon, which is the twentieth letter in the Greek alphabet, and lamba, which is the eleventh.
It was used in his book Invitation to a Beheading. In the book Reading Lolita in Tehran, Nafisi asked her students what the word meant to them. Nafisi said that she associated the word with impossible joy of a suspended leap. Yassi, who had an obsession with playing with words, thought that it should be a dance. Manna said that the word summoned the image of small silver fish leaping in and out of a moonlit lake. For Azin, it was a sound, and for Mahshid it was an image of three girls jumping rope shouting “UPSILAMBA! with each leap. When Mitra heard the word, it made her think of the paradox of a blissful sigh and to Nassrin it was a magic code. Upsilamba became part of the girls lives as they gradually created a language of their own. 4. Describe the group of girls that Nafisi chose to come to her class. As Nafisi begins her dream of holding a private literature workshop she selects seven girls to discuss some literary works. These students were selected because of the distinct combination of fragility and courage that Nafisi sensed in them.
Nafisi described them “loners” who were not a part of a particular group and she admired their ability to survive because of their companionless lives. These girls were her most committed students and they were all different. At first the workshop was taciturn because all of the girls were shy but then they warmed up to each other and were able to discuss their opinions of the literary works. It was interesting to hear the life stores of the girls and how they are all extremely different. 5. Discuss the situation for women in Iran during the time period which the book takes place.
Women in Iran practice the use of the veil, which had to be worn in public or when males that were not related to them were around. They were viewed by society to be confined to the home where they manage the household and raise the children. The regime defines women only as Muslim women. Many women in Iran walk through the streets with fear for they have to be careful their veil is worn properly, they cannot look at others of the opposite sex when they pass them, nor can they socialize with them. It was neat when Nafisi described two of her students on the first day of the literary workshop.
Mahshid wore the veil before the revolution and was in jail for five years because of her “affiliation with a dissident religious organization”, whereas Azin was described as wearing colorful clothes bright lipstick and large golden earrings. There is major contrast between these two girls demonstrated and their opinion on how they should dress which shows the difference among the beliefs of what an Iranian women should look like. Their ideas are prevailed though by being a symbol for the regime. CRITIQUE I believe that Reading Lolita in Tehran was an incredible well-written book.
The inspiration and passion that Nafisi had for the books epidemic and I love hearing about her motive wanting desire for intellectual freedom. This book is a perfect example someone pursuing their dream. It was proven in this book that the power of literary work can improve people’s lives. It is hard to believe that in other cultures our ordinary pleasures such as reading novels have another meaning. For instance if women in Iran were found reading Western literature it was scene of a sign of rebellion against the culture and husbands beat wives for performing these actions.
The students in the group identified themselves with Lolita because they have been deprived of their past and their individuality. They are forced to represent and fulfill the desires of their husband and men of the family but Nafisi helps them change their lives unlike Lolita. Throughout the book, Nafisi stresses to the girls, “we were not Lolita, the Ayatollah was not Humbert. ” I greatly enjoyed this book and it really made me appreciate the freedom that I am able to have.