The government finally reopens the country’s borders, and Marjane’s parents quickly receive their passports. They take a vacation, just the two of them, to Turkey. Marjane’s parents ask Marjane if she wants them to bring her back any gifts, and Marjane asks them to smuggle back for her a few forbidden Western items. In Istanbul, they buy her a denim jacket, Nike shoes, and two posters, one of Kim Wilde, and one of Iron Maiden. In order not to get caught at customs, Marjane’s parents hide the posters in the inside lining of Marjane’s father’s coat. They pass through customs without much of a hitch, and back at home Marjane excitedly puts up the posters in her room as well as wears her new clothes—along with her headscarf, of course.
Marjane is old enough that her parents can now go on vacation without her, and they use the opportunity to give Marjane the chance to own a few items that other teenagers in the rest of the world might have. They are even willing to risk getting caught smuggling, though they are now ingenious smugglers after facing such a long period of repression and difficulty. Marjane happily wears her new clothes and puts up her new posters, which make her feel more normal.
Though Marjane is only thirteen, Marjane’s parents let her go out alone, unlike most Iranian parents. One day she goes to buy illegal cassettes of Western Music, but on the way home afterwards she gets stopped by two members of the women’s branch of the Guardians of the Revolution, which was founded in 1982 to arrest women who do not conform to the veil wearing law. Marjane wears her veil improperly. The two members question her about her clothes, her pin of Michael Jackson, and her veil. Though Marjane lies and tries to feign ignorance, the women want to take her to “the committee,” where she might be detained for hours or days, or even whipped, without her parents finding out.
That her parents allow her to go out speaks, perhaps, to their sense of her maturity or their more liberal views. That other parents don’t let their children out may suggest just how dangerous it is to even go out in Iran at this time. And Marjane’s interaction with the two Guardians shows that it is dangerous: failure to conform to the social expectations of dress and behavior can lead to the government physically harming you. The stakes for Marjane, a natural rebel, in Iran are very high.
Though the two members insist on taking Marjane into their car, she comes up with a fake sob story about her difficult family situation and weeps about it in front of the two women. The two women let her go. Marjane decides not to tell her parents about the episode because she knows that if she does they will never allow her out on her own again. She listens to American music to calm herself down.
Marjane shows quite a bit of ingenuity in working her way out of the situation. Her thought process about not telling her parents shows how she is still negotiating the normal process of growing up as a teenager. However, this wasn’t a simple teenage hijinx—Marjane was in real danger, and so the typical events and mistakes of growing up are fraught with dire consequences. Faced with the danger posed to her by the anti-Western government drives her to Western music for comfort. This illustrates how repressive regimes can drive at least some of their people away from the ideology that the regime is trying to promote.