More and more massacres occur in Iran, though it also becomes clear that the Shah’s reign will soon end. He’s fighting as hard as he can to keep his power. Despite his efforts to find a Prime Minister, a nod towards democracy, the people continue to demonstrate, burning him in effigy and tearing down statues of him. Finally, he leaves the country, to the joyous celebration of the nation. The revolution has succeeded.
The revolution is a wheel that turns and turns, and though the Shah attempts to backtrack and make reforms, the people’s anger is so great as to make his nods at democracy moot: the wheel, already at a high velocity, just keep turning. This is a moment of joy and excitement, as those fighting the Shah now see the chance for true freedom.
Though the American President Jimmy Carter will not give asylum to the Shah, Anwar Al-Sadat, the President of Egypt, allows him to reside there. Marjane’s father claims that “as long as there is oil in the middle east we will never have peace.” Though Marjane wonders whether Sadat decides to help the Shah because the Shah’s first wife was Egyptian, her father retorts, “Surely not! Politics and sentiment don’t mix.”
As the Shah leaves the country, his fate becomes decided by whatever government will allow him entrance: the once mighty and powerful has now fallen. Marjane still does not quite get the picture: she has yet to learn that politics defy emotions. Though the revolution was very much propelled by emotion, governments, according to Marjane’s father, act purely through strategy: a harsh world indeed. And yet this, too, is ironic, as Marjane’s father doesn’t understand the politics that will soon make the government that arises from the revolution run counter to his goals for the revolution.
After the schools close for some time, they reopen, but with one major difference: now the schoolteachers, who once praised Shah, ask the students to tear out his photos from the textbooks, and deny the idea that his rule was based on divine right.
In the way that textbooks and teaching are suddenly revised, Marjane sees front and center examples of hypocrisy and contradiction. She also sees how normal citizens will model their behavior on the desires of whoever is in power as a way to protect themselves and rise in society.
Though “the battle,” or the revolution, appears over in the eyes of many adults, the children still talk about it incessantly. A friend of Marjane’s explains that Ramin’s father – the father of a boy named Ramin whom they knew – was part of the Shah’s secret police that killed a million people. Two more friends decide to put nails between their fingers and attack Ramin in retaliation. However, when they are about to find Ramin, Marjane’s mother comes by and stops them. She asks Marjane, “What would you say if I nailed your ears to the wall?” She explains that though Ramin’s father might have committed a crime, that was not Ramin’s fault.
Here Marjane and her friends attempt again to emulate the adults by applying the physical violence they have seen used against the Shah. The children are, of course, terribly wrong to try to commit this violence against someone only peripherally related to the crime. Marjane’s mother, ever the moral compass for her daughter, tries to make her daughter put herself in others’ shoes rather than reacting so excessively and impulsively. At the same time, the moral wrong the children were about to commit is an implicit criticism of many others who almost certainly did, in revolutionary passion, kill or harm those only peripherally connected to the Shah.
Marjane tells Ramin that she forgives him, though Ramin claims that his father “is not a murderer” because “he killed communists and communists are evil.” Continuing to follow Marjane’s mother’s example, Marjane stands before the mirror and repeatedly says that she must forgive: “I had the feeling of being someone really, really good.”
Though Marjane tries to take on her mother’s mantra of temperance and forgiveness, Ramin surprises her by defending his father, who Marjane considers indefensible. Forgiveness, it turns out, cannot in itself reform someone, though it does allow Marjane to feel morally righteous.