Monday, January 24, 2011

Post Four: Comparison/ your choice

Dear Marina Nemat,

I was assigned to read your book, Prisoner of Tehran, for a school project. I love to read and have read many books in the past but if I hadn’t been assigned your book I probably would never have considered reading it. I like to read fiction books because when reading a story that has been made up I always know that no matter how bad things get they aren’t real. Also with fiction books the author can always give the readers a happy ending since the author has total control over the story whereas in real life not all stories end in happily ever after. I think one the reasons I love to read is to witness happy endings (even when they aren’t very plausible) so as soon as I’m about a quarter of the way through any book I have a tendency to skip right to the end and make sure the book has a happy ending before continuing. 

Your book is very different than most of the other books I’ve read. Your story is amazing yet terrifying at the same time. Being a sixteen year old girl I could never imagine going through any one of the horrors that you went through at my age, let alone more than one. You came face to face with death so many times in Prisoner of Tehran while I’ve never even attended a funeral. Many of your friends died, you almost died and you lost your husband and child, “My baby was dead. I would have loved him if he had lived.” (Nemat, 231) I’ve lived a very privileged and, what you could call, an easy life. Because of this when reading Prisoner of Tehran there were many times when I wasn’t able to believe that what I was reading was not just a story but actually someone’s life: your life.

From having the privilege of meeting you and hearing you retell your story I learned why you and your husband chose to come to Canada. I learned that you made this choice because you had heard good things about Canada but also because you already had some family living here. I’ve never moved further than a few blocks down the street but by listening to my mother’s stories about her life I can just begin to understand how hard it must have been to leave Iran and start a new life in a foreign country. My mother immigrated to Canada with her family when she was a teenager from her home in Guyana. When my mother left Guyana there was a political conflict going on similar to in Iran. When her family left they had to leave behind most of their money and belongings similarly to what you had had to do, “It was against the law to take antiques, too many pieces of jewellery, or large sums of money out of the country.” (Nemat, 273) This made their lives very difficult at first in Canada but, also like you, they had some family already living in Canada to help them rebuild their lives.     

At the end of Prisoner of Tehran you quote some Canadian students saying, ‘“I can’t wait to get to Toronto”’. (Nemat 274) I can easily understand and relate to these students because I know how it feels to return home after being far away and no matter where you go there is nothing as nice as returning home. Though you and I are very different this is one thing we have in common because we are both Canadians.

I believe that Canada is a great country to get a new and fresh start to your life and to be able to put your past behind you and move forward. The fact that you choose to instead reflect on your past and write the book Prisoner of Tehran was a choice that is very inspiring to see. To be able to write your story and share it with the rest of the world must have taken huge amounts of strength and courage. If I had gone through your past struggles I don’t think I would’ve been able to face the past like you did. As one of your readers I owe you a great thank you for sharing your story with me.  


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Post Three: Community

From chapter 14 to 16 Marina Nemat interacts with many different people in her life. These three chapters focus on Marina’s time with Ali, her family, Ali’s family, her fellow prisoners, the prison guards and Andre.

In chapters 14 to 16 Marina goes from being just another prisoner to being the wife of one of the most powerful and feared prison guards. Marina doesn’t want to marry Ali but she agrees because she is scared of putting her family and friends in danger, “Hamehd, took me for execution, Ali stopped it and then threatened me that if I didn’t marry him, he would hurt my loved ones.” (Nemat, 209) Though Marina doesn’t want to marry Ali she understands that she owes Ali for saving her life and she knows that marrying Ali will make her time in prison lessen and make it less gruesome. At the beginning of their marriage Marina finds it very hard to live with Ali because she doesn’t love him and she sees him as a bad person who works to hurt people. Over time though Marina begins to accept her life and she begins to find some similarities between herself and Ali such as that Ali was once a political prisoner as well, “Ali wore pyjama pants but didn’t have a shirt on. Narrow, white lines covered his bare back from side to side. Scars. There were many of them. Lash marks… For the first time, I felt a closeness between us, a connection” (Nemat, 197)   

Marina's family:
Throughout chapters 14 to 16 Marina begins to become less connected and more distanced from her family. Ever since Marina had been brought to prison she had become more independent because she never wanted to involve her parents in what she was going through. An example of this is when Marina pretended not to understand her parents so that she could avoid telling them how long she was going to be in prison for. In these more recent chapters Marina distances herself from her parents by not telling them about her marriage to Ali, ‘”Ali, I don’t want my family to know anything about the marriage yet.”’(Nemat, 158) Marina does this because she is scared of upsetting them.

Ali’s family:
As Marina distances herself with her own family she is introduced to Ali’s family. At first Ali’s family is not sure what to make of Ali’s fiancĂ© since she is very young and a prisoner but once Ali’s family understands how important Marina is to him they accept her. Mr. Moosavi, Ali’s father, tells Marina that, “I (Marina) had been an enemy of God and of the Islamic government, and that I had deserved to die, but Ali had intervened because he believed I could learn from my mistakes and change.” (Nemat, 172) This shows that Ali’s family doesn't completely agree with Ali’s choice of fiancĂ© but they are willing to accept her. Ali’s mother and sister treat her as one of their own and Marina is able to connect with Ali’s sister, Akram, because she was also forced into a marriage that she didn’t want to be in.  In Prisoner of Tehran, Akram asks Marina why she married Ali and Marina replies, ‘“I married him because he wanted me to.” “That’s not enough.” “Why not? Why did you marry your husband?” “My marriage was arranged.”’ (Nemat, 191) This shows that the two girls understand each other’s situations and what they’re both dealing with.

Marina's fellow prisoners:
When Marina marries Ali she doesn’t tell her fellow prisoners. This is because she isn’t proud of begin Ali’s wife because Ali had interrogated and tortured many of her friends but also being Ali’s wife gave her protection and safety that none of the other prisoners had. Marina wrote, “I didn’t want my roommates to know about Ali’s proposal. I felt guilty and ashamed.” (Nemat, 155) Marina asked to be moved to a solitary cell where she spends a few weeks away from the other girls. In the solitary cell Marina meets another prisoner named Bahar. Bahar is the first person that Marina truly talks to and tells her about what she is going through. After spending time with Bahar, Marina realizes that she misses the other girls so she ends up leaving the solitary cell to go back and live with her friends, “Bahar went back to 246 after spending three weeks in my cell, and I began feeling lonely. One night in mid- September, I asked Ali to let me go back to 246, and he agreed.” (Nemat, 210) This shows that even though it was hard for Marina to face her fellow prisoners in the end she realized that she really missed and needed them.   

Evin prison guards:
From marrying Ali many things in Marina’s life became more difficult and painful but some things became easier. The prison guards, over time, came to respect Marina because of her new status as Ali’s wife. One night when Ali and Marina are leaving Evin to visit Ali’s parents the guards at the prison gate, to Marina’s shock, greet Marina as well as Ali, “This time, after wishing Ali a good night, the guard in charge nodded in my direction and said, “Good night, Mrs. Moosavi.”’ (Nemat, 200) This shows that Marina is no longer just another prisoner. 

In chapter 14 to 16 the book goes back in time to when Marina first met Andre, “Andre, who was the organist, came in. During Mass, although I had sat at the back of the church, I had noticed that he was quite handsome.” (Nemat, 139) Marina tells the story of how she got to know and began to love Andre even though she felt guilty for loving Andre when she had sworn to only love Arash. In chapters 14 to 16 of Prisoner of Tehran Marina gets a chance to briefly see and talk to Andre where he tells her that, ‘“I’ll wait for you,” he said.” (Nemat, 178) One of the reasons why it is hard for Marina to accept her marriage to Ali is because Marina loves and always will love Andre.

Chapters 14 to 16 of Prisoner of Tehran show the struggles that Marina goes through within her community by her relationships with others. These chapters mostly focus on Marina’s marriage to Ali but they also show how this marriage affected her relationship with everyone else in the book.     

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Post Two: Character

This is a mindmap that shows Marina's character. The first bubble says, "Marina Namat is..." and the four bubbles in the second row say, "caring", "inspirational", "trustworthy" and "selfless". 
This is a zoomed in image of the "caring" branch of the mindmap
This is a zoomed in image of the "inspirational" branch of the mindmap
This is a zoomed in image of the "trustworthy" branch of the mindmap
This is a zoomed in image of the "selfless" branch of the mindmap