Family is another important theme in Funny in Farsi. According to Firoozeh, Iranian culture places much more emphasis on the family than the bulk of American culture does. In Iran, families tend to stick closer together, often staying in the same small communities for many years, and sometimes having three or even four generations live together under one roof. Family is especially important for Iranian immigrants settling in the United States: family members provide Firoozeh with the morale, encouragement, and economic support she needs to prosper in her new country. Family also provides the Iranian immigrants in the memoir with an important, ongoing connection to their country of origin.
Firoozeh discusses many of the ways that Iranian families, and particularly Iranian immigrant families, can be an important support system. Materially speaking, the family provides a “safety net” of money and shelter. Over the course of the memoir, Firoozeh describes how various cousins, nephews, and uncles come to stay with Kazem and his wife and children, even though his house isn’t particularly big. Kazem clearly considers providing his relatives with shelter to be one of his duties as a member of the family. Elsewhere in the book, Firoozeh discusses how family members provide her, and her relatives, with more abstract forms of support, such as encouragement and inspiration. Her parents encourage her to work hard and educate herself, and their encouragement is an important part of her acceptance to U.C. Berkeley, and her success there. Family members also act as important role models for Firoozeh—for example, her Aunt Parvine inspires her to overcome traditional roles and pursue an education and a career for herself. Furthermore, because of the way she’s raised to think of her family, Firoozeh gets genuine pleasure when her relatives—even her distant relatives—achieve successes in life, and she treats her relatives with great warmth and affection, and expects the same warmth and affection in return. All in all, Firoozeh depicts the family as a source of warmth, comfort, love, and support—qualities that one would associate with family in any culture, but which may be especially overt in Iranian society, or particularly strong among Iranian immigrants.
At times, however, Firoozeh portrays her family as a stifling force in her life. The constant pressure of her family—i.e., the fact that she’s obligated to so many different people, and implicitly ranked and measured against the achievements of so many siblings, cousins, nephews, and nieces—sometimes causes her to become frustrated. For example, Firoozeh’s father Kazem spends years trying to teach Firoozeh to swim; when she can’t right away, he complains to his relatives, and contrasts Firoozeh’s inability to swim with the success of her cousins and siblings, who’ve all learned how. Firoozeh only learns how to swim later on, when her father and relatives aren’t yelling at her—suggesting that her family members’ constant pressure and badgering sometimes acts as a barrier to her development and individuality. For the most part, however, Firoozeh conveys her frustration in an affectionate, humorous way, giving the impression that family, even if it can be a little annoying at times, is for the most part a great source of joy and success in her life.
Family Quotes in Funny in Farsi
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.