Funny in Farsi

Kazem is Firoozeh’s beloved father. An intelligent, hardworking man, Kazem grows up in Iran but studies in the United States on a Fulbright scholarship, and later begins working for an Iranian oil company. In spite of his vast intelligence and talent, Kazem is often a comical, bumbling figure in the book, and most of the comedy arises from his infatuation with parts of American culture that other people might find tacky or disposable. Firoozeh clearly loves her father, and the portrait of Kazem she offers in Funny in Farsi is very affectionate—sometimes making fun of Kazem’s cluelessness about American society, but also emphasizing his extraordinary intelligence, warmth, and generosity. Kazem is a true “family man”—he’s extremely close with his siblings, nephews, and nieces, and when something good happens to anyone in his family, he celebrates as if it’s happened to him personally.

Kazem Quotes in Funny in Farsi

The Funny in Farsi quotes below are all either spoken by Kazem or refer to Kazem . 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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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
Explanation and Analysis:

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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
Explanation and Analysis:

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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 14 Quotes

It’s not what we eat or don't eat that makes us good people; it's how we treat one another. As you grow older, you'll find that people of every religion think they're the best, but that's not true. There are good and bad people in every religion. Just because someone is Muslim, Jewish, or Christian doesn't mean a thing.

Related Characters: Kazem (speaker)
Page Number: 87
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
Explanation and Analysis:

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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
Explanation and Analysis:

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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
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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I’m a rich man in America, too. I just don't have a lot of money.

Related Characters: Kazem (speaker)
Page Number: 187
Explanation and Analysis:

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Kazem Character Timeline in Funny in Farsi

The timeline below shows where the character Kazem appears in Funny in Farsi. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Leffingwell Elementary School
Immigration and Cultural Assimilation Theme Icon
American Values Theme Icon
The family moves to California because Firoozeh’s father, Kazem, is an engineer for the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). Kazem studied in Texas and... (full context)
Immigration and Cultural Assimilation Theme Icon
Women and Feminism Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
American Values Theme Icon
...arrange for her to meet with her teacher, Mrs. Sandberg, shortly before school begins. While Kazem speaks fluent English, neither his wife nor Firoozeh does. On her first day of school,... (full context)
Women and Feminism Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...a career and become a midwife. However, her teacher died, and shortly afterwards, she married Kazem. Kazem was handsome and intelligent (he’d been a Fulbright scholar) and he liked Nazireh, partly... (full context)
Immigration and Cultural Assimilation Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
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...are useless to them. Luckily, a young girl invites them into her home, Nazireh calls Kazem, and Kazem convinces the owner of the house to guide his wife and daughter home.... (full context)
Chapter 2: Hot Dogs and Wild Geese
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...and Nazireh had been nervous about moving to America, but they were both counting on Kazem to guide them. However, when they arrive, it becomes clear to them that Kazem isn’t... (full context)
Immigration and Cultural Assimilation Theme Icon
Women and Feminism Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
American Values Theme Icon
...“elbow grease” at a store after talking to their repairman. Thirty years later, Nazireh and Kazem’s English is better, but still not perfect. However, there are now more Iranian-American immigrants around... (full context)
Chapter 3: In the Gutter
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Kazem grew up in Ahwaz, Iran. His father died young, and Kazem had to work with... (full context)
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Kazem had a tough childhood, and he aspired to become rich one day. As an engineer,... (full context)
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On the day of the taping, Kazem drives to the studio, very excited. He comes home miserable; he only hit seven pins,... (full context)
Chapter 4: Save me, Mickey
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...every theme park and taste every American fast food. The family’s favorite attraction is Disneyland. Kazem particularly loves the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride. (full context)
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Prejudice  Theme Icon
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One weekend, Kazem organizes a visit to Disneyland with his family, as well as the families of six... (full context)
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...Mickey?” Grudgingly, Firoozeh tries—and, naturally, gets no answer from the boy. A short while later, Kazem shows up and hugs Firoozeh—there are so many people in his group that he didn’t... (full context)
Chapter 5: Swoosh-Swoosh
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American Values Theme Icon
...visit Firoozeh’s family in Whittier. This is challenging, since Firoozeh’s house isn’t that big. Nevertheless, Kazem loves hosting other people, especially his family. Kazem and his brother Nematollah love eating and... (full context)
Chapter 6: With a Little Help from My Friends
Immigration and Cultural Assimilation Theme Icon
Prejudice  Theme Icon
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...strange ideas about Iran: they ask Firoozeh about the camels and sand in her country. Kazem likes to lecture strangers on the history of petroleum in Iran. Once, an American told... (full context)
Chapter 7: Bernice
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Prejudice  Theme Icon
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...with its large Mexican population, Firoozeh and her family didn’t look so foreign. In 1976, Kazem’s job brings the family back to California. They settle in Newport Beach, a place “where... (full context)
Chapter 8: A Dozen Key Chains
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...consulted on the matter, and he finds an expensive camp eight hours away from Newport. Kazem takes Firoozeh to buy a sleeping bag and other things, even though he’s very thrifty.... (full context)
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Prejudice  Theme Icon
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Months later, Kazem takes Firoozeh to the bus stop. Firoozeh is nervous about going to camp, but Kazem... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
On the last day of camp, Firoozeh arrives at the bus station and finds Kazem and Farid waiting for her. Farid immediately yells, ‘You stink!” On the long ride home,... (full context)
Chapter 9: You Can Call Me Al
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Kazem loves taking his family to Las Vegas. Before every visit, Nazireh holds the Koran above... (full context)
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...Caspian Sea. In California, Firoozeh rarely even goes to the beach. However, on one occasion Kazem books a trip to Hawaii for his family. Firoozeh remembers Hawaii as “7-Eleven-by-the-Sea.” But the... (full context)
Immigration and Cultural Assimilation Theme Icon
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...bears. He and Nazireh then decide that they need to leave immediately. After the trip, Kazem decides that his favorite vacation spot, aside from Vegas, is the couch. Privately, Firoozeh decides... (full context)
Chapter 10: Of Mosquitoes and Men
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...Firoozeh recalls, her family moves back to Iran. Firoozeh lives with Nazireh in Ahwaz, while Kazem lives in Tehran. Firoozeh doesn’t enjoy her new life in Ahwaz—everything seems dirty in comparison... (full context)
Chapter 12: Waterloo
Immigration and Cultural Assimilation Theme Icon
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Kazem was the first person in his family to study in America. And yet his proudest... (full context)
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Women and Feminism Theme Icon
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Firoozeh recalls that she was her father’s one great failure as a swim instructor. Kazem used a logical, methodical approach to teaching swimming. While this approach worked well for many... (full context)
Immigration and Cultural Assimilation Theme Icon
Women and Feminism Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...is a successful doctor—a rarity for Iranian women of that generation. In Switzerland, Parvine tells Kazem that she’ll to teach Firoozeh to swim. She takes Firoozeh to the deep end of... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
...first day at the beach, Firoozeh begins to swim, “Simple as that.” She later tells Kazem that she’s begun to swim. Kazem replies, “You are an odd child,” and Firoozeh says,... (full context)
Chapter 13: America, Land of the Free
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...which everyone claims to find flavorless (however, the turkey always gets eaten). Before the meal, Kazem always says he’s thankful for living in a country where he can vote, and Firoozeh... (full context)
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Firoozeh’s family loves living in the “Land of the Free.” But for Kazem, “free” has another meaning. One day, he tells Firoozeh that he and Uncle Nematollah are... (full context)
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Firoozeh notes that Kazem doesn’t know his exact birthdate—the date was recorded in a Koran when he was a... (full context)
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Since retiring, Kazem has become obsessed with time-shares. He and Nazireh still live in Newport Beach. They’re not... (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... (full context)
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During his time as a graduate student in America, Kazem’s love for ham grew quickly. Later, when he and his family were living in California,... (full context)
Chapter 15: Treasure Island
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Kazem grew up in the town of Ahwaz. His father, Javad, was a wheat farmer. Growing... (full context)
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When Kazem was twenty-three years old, he applied for a Fulbright scholarship. His friends told him that... (full context)
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Kazem spent the year studying hard. His roommate was an antisocial student who was expelled from... (full context)
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One of Kazem’s professors invited him to join him in visiting an “old acquaintance” in Princeton, New Jersey... (full context)
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Kazem finished his studies in Texas a confident, educated man. In Iran was grateful to be... (full context)
Chapter 16: It’s All Relatives
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...with his wife, Firoozeh’s Aunt Sedigeh. He works as a translator, and has four children. Kazem is very close with Abdullah’s children, and after the Iranian Revolution, when he couldn’t find... (full context)
Women and Feminism Theme Icon
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Aunt Sedigeh, Kazem’s sister, was a bright child, but because of the norms of Iranian society at the... (full context)
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...to everyone’s graduation, and celebrates her family’s achievements as joyfully as if they’re her own. Kazem and his siblings have bought burial plots in the same cemetery, since they want to... (full context)
Chapter 18: I Ran and I Ran and I Ran
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...Because there were so few Iranians in the U.S. at the time, many of them—including Kazem and his family—are invited to go to the White House to welcome the Shah. Kazem... (full context)
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...of the demonstrators become violent after the Shah arrives, and many Iranian guests are injured—however, Kazem and his family “ran and ran and ran.” They approach a police officer and beg... (full context)
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Later, when Kazem and his family return to their hotel, they see other Iranian guests with their arms... (full context)
Chapter 19: I-raynians Need Not Apply
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Kazem begins working for the NIOC (National Iranian Oil Company) at the age of seventeen. He... (full context)
Immigration and Cultural Assimilation Theme Icon
Prejudice  Theme Icon
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...family watch TV, waiting for new developments in the Iran Hostage Crisis. In the meantime, Kazem’s pension is cut off, and he finds himself unemployed at fifty-eight. Nobody in American wants... (full context)
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Kazem continues to look for work. Eventually, he finds work with a Saudi petroleum company. This... (full context)
Chapter 20: Girls Just Wanna Have Funds
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...of people eating hot dogs and ordering Tab, a popular diet soda of the era. Kazem is sorry that Firoozeh has to work so hard, and feels bad that he can’t... (full context)
Chapter 22: The Wedding
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...six months, and they’ve known they were getting married for five and a half months. Kazem and Nazireh take François to the finest Persian restaurant in Los Angeles. François charms Nazireh... (full context)
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Kazem and Nazireh love François, not just because he’s a good person but because Firoozeh clearly... (full context)
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...reception begins, however, the owner of the restaurant demands an extra four hundred dollars from Kazem or else he won’t open the door. Kazem, left with few options, agrees to pay.... (full context)
Chapter 23: I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet
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...and the woman seems to be okay, so Firoozeh calls her parents. She explains to Kazem that she’s just survived a big earthquake, but Kazem cheerfully says, “No problem.” (full context)
Chapter 24: A Nose by Any Other Name
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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... (full context)
Chapter 25: Judges Paid Off
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...owner and learns that he’s from Abadan, Iran. He worked at the same company as Kazem, and knows Firoozeh’s old neighborhood. The owner asks François and Firoozeh if they could do... (full context)
Chapter 26: If I Were a Rich Man
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During his time in Abadan, Kazem and his family live in a nice house, and the NIOC takes care of most... (full context)
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Once, Kazem goes to visit his son Farshid, who’s living in a high-rise apartment at the time.... (full context)
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When Kazem goes back to Iran, he’s a millionaire—the country’s currency has become so weak since the... (full context)