Funny in Farsi

Firoozeh Dumas Character Analysis

The protagonist and narrator of Funny in Farsi, Firoozeh is born in Iran, but spends most of her childhood living in California. She’s a bright, funny child, and much of her book consists of stories about her childhood—especially her interactions with her father, Kazem. As a child raised in two very different cultures—Iran and the United States—Firoozeh has a lot of insight into both, as well as the feeling of being a constant outsider. Some of the funniest and most insightful scenes in Funny in Farsi are about the differences and surprisingly similarities between Iran and the U.S., and about what it can be like to navigate one’s way between both countries. Firoozeh grows up in America and ends up studying at Berkeley, from which she graduates with honors—something she would never have been allowed to do in Iran. However, Firoozeh continues to feel a deep affection for Iranian culture and tradition.

Firoozeh Dumas Quotes in Funny in Farsi

The Funny in Farsi quotes below are all either spoken by Firoozeh Dumas or refer to Firoozeh Dumas. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Immigration and Cultural Assimilation Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Randmom House edition of Funny in Farsi published in 2004.
Chapter 1 Quotes

To him, America was a place where anyone, no matter how humble his background, could become an important person. It was a kind and orderly nation full of clean bathrooms, a land where traffic laws were obeyed and where whales jumped through hoops. It was the Promised Land. For me, it was where I could buy more outfits for Barbie.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker), Kazem
Page Number: 3-4
Explanation and Analysis:
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The problem was that my mother, like most women of her generation, had been only briefly educated. In her era, a girl's sole purpose in life was to find a husband. Having an education ranked far below more desirable attributes such as the ability to serve tea or prepare baklava.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker), Nazireh
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 3 Quotes

He and his siblings survived through teamwork, and now, even though they are well into their seventies and have many kids and grandkids, they remain the central players in one another's lives. They have supported one another through deaths and illnesses and rejoiced in one another's good fortune.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker), Kazem
Page Number: 13
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Chapter 4 Quotes

Because we were new to this country we were impressed not just by the big attractions but also by the little things—smiling employees, clean bathrooms, and clear signage. Our ability to be impressed by the large selection of key chains at the souvenir shops guaranteed that every place we saw delighted us.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker)
Page Number: 17
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I had no idea where the screamer was from, but I knew he wasn't Iranian. A gerbil would never mistake a hamster for a gerbil, and I would never mistake a non-Iranian for an Iranian. Despite the belief of most Westerners that all Middle Easterners look alike, we can pick each other out of a crowd as easily as my Japanese friends pick out their own from a crowd of Asians.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker)
Page Number: 21
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Chapter 6 Quotes

When my parents and I get together today, we often talk about our first year in America. Even though thirty years have passed, our memories have not faded. We remember the kindness more than ever, knowing that our relatives who immigrated to this country after the Iranian Revolution did not encounter the same America. They saw Americans who had bumper stickers on their cars that read "Iranians: Go Home" or "We Play Cowboys and Iranians." The Americans they met rarely invited them to their houses. These Americans felt that they knew all about Iran and its people, and they had no questions, just opinions. My relatives did not think Americans were very kind.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker), Kazem , Nazireh
Page Number: 36
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Chapter 7 Quotes

Have you noticed how all the recent serial killers have been Americans? I won't hold it against you.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker)
Page Number: 40
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Chapter 9 Quotes

Everywhere I went, I saw the same carved coconuts, the same seashell frames, and the same hats, all made in the Philippines. I tried to hang loose, but Waikiki felt more like 7-Eleven-by-the-Sea.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker)
Page Number: 54
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Chapter 11 Quotes

After three months of rejections, I added “Julie” to my résumé. Call it coincidence, but the job offers started coming in. Perhaps it's the same kind of coincidence that keeps African Americans from getting cabs in New York.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker)
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 12 Quotes

When I was eight years old, we went to Switzerland to visit my aunt Parvine, my mother's sister. Aunt Parvine has always been considered something of a deity in our family because she managed, despite being an Iranian woman of her generation, to become a doctor and to set up a successful practice in Geneva. The woman overcame so many hurdles to reach her dream that she deserves to have her likeness carved in marble.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker), Aunt Parvine
Page Number: 71
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Chapter 13 Quotes

During our Thanksgiving meal, my father gives thanks for living in a free country where he can vote. I always share gratitude for being able to pursue my hopes and dreams, despite being female. My relatives and I are proud to be Iranian, but we also give tremendous thanks for our lives in America, a nation where freedom reigns.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker), Kazem
Related Symbols: Thanksgiving
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 15 Quotes

He also had a new dream, in which the treasure was no longer buried. He dreamed that someday, he would return to America with his own children. And they, the children of an engineer from Abadan, would have access to the same educational opportunities as anybody else, even the sons of senators and the rich.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker), Kazem
Page Number: 95
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Chapter 16 Quotes

Times being what they were, Sedigeh was not allowed to pursue her education past sixth grade and was married shortly thereafter. All her brothers became engineers and doctors. My father found this a huge injustice. He always told me that if his sister had been able to pursue her education, she would have become the best doctor of them all, for not only was she smart, she was resourceful as well.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker), Kazem , Aunt Sedigeh
Page Number: 100
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Without my relatives, I am but a thread; together, we form a colorful and elaborate Persian carpet.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker)
Page Number: 103
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Chapter 19 Quotes

Nobody asked our opinion of whether the hostages should be taken, and yet every single Iranian in America was paying the price. One kid throws a spitball and the whole class gets detention. For my father to be treated like a second-class citizen truly stung. If there were ever a poster child for immigration, it would be Kazem.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker), Kazem
Page Number: 118
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Chapter 20 Quotes

As college approached, I stumbled upon a talent better than selling popcorn or polishing silver. I started writing scholarship essays. I wrote essay after essay about my life and my dreams and my goals.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker)
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 21 Quotes

Apparently, some people thought that my Parisian accent was too authentic for a foreigner. Perhaps taking their cue from Detective Clouseau, a couple of the judges decided to do a little investigative work.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker)
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 22 Quotes

Once my mother realized that I wanted to marry François, she said, "He will be like a third son to me," and wiped the tears off her face. At that very moment, my mother threw aside everything she and her generation knew about marriage and entered a new world where daughters select their own husbands. She became a pioneer.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker), Nazireh (speaker), François Dumas
Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:
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I could only hope that my wedding would work a bit of magic for this uninvited guest. I like to think that she eventually found a husband, a tall Iranian doctor maybe, or perhaps a short Mexican businessman with a big heart, or a medium-built Irish Catholic book vendor whose family thinks she's the best thing that ever happened to their son.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker)
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 24 Quotes

I remembered how much I admired Jane Fonda's nose when I was in fourth grade in Tehran, and how much I hated my own. Thinking of all that wasted energy, I wanted to scream and tell my fellow countrymen and countrywomen that a nose by any other name is just a nose.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker)
Related Symbols: Noses
Page Number: 165-166
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 25 Quotes

The girl we had selected was undoubtedly the underdog. She was quite overweight, she was the least physically attractive, and she had the smallest cheering section. She was, however, the most articulate.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker), François Dumas
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 26 Quotes

My husband has since taken the situation into his own hands, hiding all our screwdrivers and hammers before my parents visit.

Related Characters: Firoozeh Dumas (speaker), Kazem , Nazireh , François Dumas
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:
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Firoozeh Dumas Character Timeline in Funny in Farsi

The timeline below shows where the character Firoozeh Dumas appears in Funny in Farsi. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Leffingwell Elementary School
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Firoozeh, the narrator of the memoir, recalls moving from Abadan, Iran, to Whittier, California at the... (full context)
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The family moves to California because Firoozeh’s father, Kazem, is an engineer for the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). Kazem studied in... (full context)
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Firoozeh is a second grader at the time, and she starts attend the local elementary school... (full context)
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Firoozeh’s mother, Nazireh, like most Iranian woman of the era, hasn’t had much education—she was raised... (full context)
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...the class where Iran is located on the map. The children stare at Nazireh and Firoozeh, and Firoozeh senses that they think she and her mother are stupid. (full context)
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On the walk home from school, Firoozeh and Nazireh get lost—the street signs are useless to them. Luckily, a young girl invites... (full context)
Chapter 2: Hot Dogs and Wild Geese
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Firoozeh and Nazireh had been nervous about moving to America, but they were both counting on... (full context)
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...The Price is Right, she becomes an expert on American goods. Nazireh then relies on Firoozeh to interpret English for her. While many compliment Firoozeh on her skills as a translator,... (full context)
Chapter 4: Save me, Mickey
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Firoozeh’s family is scheduled to stay in America for two years, so they make a point... (full context)
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...family, as well as the families of six of his Iranian colleagues. By this time, Firoozeh has already been to Disney before. Bored, she wanders off and gets lost. Following the... (full context)
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The women in the Lost and Found try to get Firoozeh to talk to the boy, saying, “Will you do it for Mickey?” Grudgingly, Firoozeh tries—and,... (full context)
Chapter 5: Swoosh-Swoosh
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Firoozeh says that in her culture, “marriage … has nothing to do with romance”—parents usually arrange... (full context)
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Firoozeh’s Uncle Nematollah has been married and divorced twice. After divorce number two, he comes to... (full context)
Chapter 6: With a Little Help from My Friends
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Firoozeh’s family came from Iran to America shortly before the Iranian Revolution. Before the mid-seventies, many... (full context)
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In school, a boy annoys Firoozeh with questions about the camels in Iran. One day, Firoozeh gives in and tells the... (full context)
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After two years in California, it’s time for Firoozeh’s family to return to Iran. At first, Firoozeh assumes Nazireh will be happy to return... (full context)
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Firoozeh often thinks back to her early days in America. Later generations of Iranians, including some... (full context)
Chapter 7: Bernice
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In the town of Abadan, Firoozeh and her mother look almost as foreign as they looked in America. They have fair... (full context)
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In Newport, Firoozeh’s family stands out from everyone else. A school nurse asks her, “Oh my God! Are... (full context)
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...the same time, Iranian revolutionaries take hostages in the American embassy in Tehran. Everyone asks Firoozeh what she thinks of the hostage situation, and Firoozeh notices that people seem to be... (full context)
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Later on, when Firoozeh is studying at Berkeley, she meets her husband, a Frenchman named François Dumas. Being French... (full context)
Chapter 8: A Dozen Key Chains
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Everyone in Firoozeh’s family has a “reputation,” which sticks with each family member for their entire life. For... (full context)
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In 1976, when Firoozeh is eleven years old, she tells her parents that she wants to go to camp.... (full context)
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Months later, Kazem takes Firoozeh to the bus stop. Firoozeh is nervous about going to camp, but Kazem calms her... (full context)
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Firoozeh and the other children arrive at the camp. Firoozeh immediately dislikes the girls in her... (full context)
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The campers are supposed to put on a play: Fiddler on the Roof. Firoozeh plays the grandmother’s ghost, which requires her to be covered in talcum powder. When the... (full context)
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On the last day of camp, Firoozeh arrives at the bus station and finds Kazem and Farid waiting for her. Farid immediately... (full context)
Chapter 9: You Can Call Me Al
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Firoozeh hates Las Vegas because she’s old enough to remember the vacations her family used to... (full context)
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...trip, Kazem decides that his favorite vacation spot, aside from Vegas, is the couch. Privately, Firoozeh decides that when she grows up she’ll travel the world in search of rainbows and... (full context)
Chapter 10: Of Mosquitoes and Men
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Firoozeh’s husband, François, loves traveling. His grandfather was Greek, and died in Baghdad, and his grandmother... (full context)
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After living in Whittier for two years, Firoozeh recalls, her family moves back to Iran. Firoozeh lives with Nazireh in Ahwaz, while Kazem... (full context)
Chapter 11: The “F Word”
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Firoozeh has a cousin named Farbod. Although his name means “Greatness” in Persian, his American peers... (full context)
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When Firoozeh and her family return to California to live in Newport, Firoozeh announces that she wants... (full context)
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After getting married, Firoozeh goes by the name Julie Dumas, but everyone in her family calls her Firoozeh. Sometimes,... (full context)
Chapter 12: Waterloo
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Firoozeh recalls that she was her father’s one great failure as a swim instructor. Kazem used... (full context)
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When Firoozeh is eight years old, the family travels to Switzerland to visit Firoozeh’s Aunt Parvine. Parvine... (full context)
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The next summer, Firoozeh and her family go on vacation to the Caspian Sea. On her first day at... (full context)
Chapter 13: America, Land of the Free
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Firoozeh and her family celebrate Thanksgiving during their time in America. Nazireh makes curry, and the... (full context)
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Firoozeh’s family loves living in the “Land of the Free.” But for Kazem, “free” has another... (full context)
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Firoozeh notes that Kazem doesn’t know his exact birthdate—the date was recorded in a Koran when... (full context)
Chapter 14: The Ham Amendment
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Kazem’s favorite food is ham—and this was a problem during his time in Abadan. While Firoozeh was growing up, Iran was still a monarchy led by the Shah. Kazem and Nazireh... (full context)
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...a result, Kazem had to buy ham in secret. It wasn’t until much later that Firoozeh learned about the restrictions on eating pork in Islam. Horrified, she rushed home and told... (full context)
Chapter 16: It’s All Relatives
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One day, while Firoozeh is strolling through Berkeley, she smells a flower and experiences a vivid flashback to playing... (full context)
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...young teenager. Her brothers became engineers and doctors. Kazem found this outrageous, and often tells Firoozeh that, had Sedigeh been allowed to study, she would have become the best doctor of... (full context)
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Firoozeh’s paternal uncle, Muhammad, became a successful doctor in Ahwaz. However, following the Iranian Revolution, he... (full context)
Chapter 17: Me and Bob Hope
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Growing up, Firoozeh read How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. It occurred to her that the... (full context)
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In the U.S., Firoozeh loves going to school. However, she feels left out when the other students participate in... (full context)
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Later on, Firoozeh marries François, a Catholic, and becomes “a card-carrying member of the Christmas Club.” She loves... (full context)
Chapter 18: I Ran and I Ran and I Ran
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Firoozeh and her family stay in a hotel with many other Iranian-Americans. At the White House,... (full context)
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...going to blow you up.” Kazem realizes he’s dropped the tiny flags, and apologizes to Firoozeh. Firoozeh says, “That’s okay. We can always go back.” (full context)
Chapter 19: I-raynians Need Not Apply
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For 444 nights, Firoozeh and her family watch TV, waiting for new developments in the Iran Hostage Crisis. In... (full context)
Chapter 20: Girls Just Wanna Have Funds
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At the time when the Iranian Revolution begins, Firoozeh is an adolescent. She’s old enough to understand that her family is going through money... (full context)
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Firoozeh begins babysitting for the French family, but quickly discovers why they pay her so well—their... (full context)
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Later on, Firoozeh takes another housesitting job, taking care of a family’s cats. She follows directions perfectly, but... (full context)
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Firoozeh works at a movie theater, selling food. She found the job disgusting—especially the sight of... (full context)
Chapter 21: Joyeuse Noëlle
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Toward the end of high school, Firoozeh goes to UC Irvine to compete in an impromptu speaking event, the prize for which... (full context)
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Firoozeh ends up winning the competition—which certain people in the audience find suspicious. They think that... (full context)
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Firoozeh stays with a host couple, both of whom work for a left-wing French paper. The... (full context)
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Firoozeh begins school a few days later, and the classes are disappointing. The teachers seem apathetic,... (full context)
Chapter 22: The Wedding
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Firoozeh’s marriage to François begins with a lie: she tells her family that François’s family is... (full context)
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Firoozeh’s family loves François: they meet him for the first time after Firoozeh’s junior year of... (full context)
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Kazem and Nazireh love François, not just because he’s a good person but because Firoozeh clearly loves him, too. Nazireh had hoped that her daughter would marry an Iranian doctor,... (full context)
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...by François marrying an Iranian woman but because they’ve been feuding with other family members. Firoozeh’s side of the family, on the other hand, is excited about the wedding, and even... (full context)
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Firoozeh and François are married twice, with a Persian ceremony and a Catholic ceremony. Finding a... (full context)
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The Persian ceremony proceeds, with Uncle Abdullah reading from the Koran. He asks Firoozeh if she consents to marry François, and, as is traditional, Firoozeh hesitates before answering “yes.”... (full context)
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...won’t open the door. Kazem, left with few options, agrees to pay. (Kazem doesn’t tell Firoozeh the truth until weeks after her wedding.) The Iranian caterer has promised to roast a... (full context)
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Later in the night, the guests dance, and toward the end of the reception, Firoozeh throws the bouquet—a traditional Western wedding ritual that’s unfamiliar to many of the Iranian guests.... (full context)
Chapter 23: I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet
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Firoozeh and François move into an apartment in San Francisco. Shortly afterwards, there’s a big earthquake,... (full context)
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Firoozeh goes downstairs to try another phone. There, she encounters an elderly woman who seems to... (full context)
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Since getting married, Firoozeh has hoped that François’s side of the family will begin to be happy for them.... (full context)
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A few days later, the elderly woman who Firoozeh comforted shows up at Firoozeh and François’s apartment. She introduces herself as Golda Rubenstein and... (full context)
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François and Firoozeh decide that they have no use for the china dishes (which haven’t broken, as it... (full context)
Chapter 24: A Nose by Any Other Name
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During her time at Berkeley, Firoozeh becomes obsessed with the big, ugly nose of a school librarian, whom Firoozeh nicknames the... (full context)
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At the age of eighteen, Kazem takes Firoozeh to a plastic surgeon to fix her nose. During her initial conference with the plastic... (full context)
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One day, François and Firoozeh take a drive and stay in a hotel. Late at night, Firoozeh is watching television... (full context)
Chapter 25: Judges Paid Off
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Firoozeh’s brother Farshid travels a lot, and because he’s saved so many airline miles, he often... (full context)
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François and Firoozeh spend all day trying to find a way to leave Nassau and travel to another... (full context)
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François and Firoozeh notice that they seem to be the only tourists in Spanish Wells. A cab driver... (full context)
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The next day, the pageant begins. The two other judges, in addition to François and Firoozeh, are a beautiful former pageant winner and a wealthy, drunk Canadian who owns a big... (full context)
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...pageant, and the former pageant winner emphasizes the need for an articulate winner. François and Firoozeh are drawn to an “underdog” candidate—she’s overweight, not particularly physically attractive, and doesn’t seem to... (full context)
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...far the most popular candidate, a conventionally beautiful woman named Chantal, has lost. François and Firoozeh manage to get out of the auditorium before the crowd kills them. That night, as... (full context)
Chapter 26: If I Were a Rich Man
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...he’s not very good at any of the tasks he teaches himself. As a result, Firoozeh grows up learning to expect that nothing in her house works properly. (full context)
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...if they’ve been covered in strange blotches. On another occasion, Kazem decides that François and Firoozeh need a medicine cabinet in their bathroom, and builds it himself. Kazem installs a medicine... (full context)
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...Abadan, and he’s one of the most popular people in town. Kazem likes to tell Firoozeh, “I’m a rich man in America, too. I just don’t have a lot of money.” (full context)