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Rachel-K
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An Indifferent World

In those moments when Isaac Amin is plucked from everything that is familiar and significant to him by two coldly indifferent Revolutionary Guards, he notices the ordinary items on his desk as if they are "witnessing" his departure.

The following morning, his wife Farnaz thinks: “That the city is short by one man this morning makes so little difference.” Does one man’s suffering or misfortune really affect those around him, or are we essentially alone in the world—whether we are experiencing pain or joy? While we may feel compassion for someone undergoing a difficulty, can we ever truly understand what that person is experiencing?
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IBIS
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Re: An Indifferent World

The big question, I think, is whether the characters in THE SEPTEMBERS OF SHIRAZ consider the world to be either malign, beneficient, or indifferent.

In THE SEPTEMBERS OF SHIRAZ, the author has an overarching sensibility that the world is beneficient. Despite the horrors and injustices in Iran's theocratic government, by hard work, sacrifice, pooling resources, and banding together, Isaac and his family can find justice and peace in other parts of the world.

My sense is that Farnaz feels so helpless that she feels she's living in an indifferent world. In this world, Isaac will survive prison, escape, and if things work out, the family can carve out their own little space, and live their lives in peace. They're living in a random, arbitrary universe that has no interest in whether they suffer or succeed.

But in a malign universe, fate has it in for you, and everyone is doomed. Try as you might, you just can't win. In this world, everything fated is cruel. The guards at the prison, for example, (with compassionate Hussein the exception), feel that they're living in a malign world -- they even take a sort of perverse comfort from this idea, in the sense that if they make others suffer, it must at least be for some reason.
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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Fozzie
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Re: An Indifferent World - SPOILERS

In the case of Isaac, one man's suffering does affect those around him. The problem is that those affected withdraw into themselves rather than turn to others as a result of the pain they are feeling. Consequently, they are then alone to bear the pain rather than bearing a shared burden with those they love.

SPOILERS

Shirin and Farnaz, despite living in the same house, do not seek solace from each other. Shirin visits the school nurse for comfort. She tries to help others in her father's situation by dangerously stealing files.

Poor Parviz! He is far away from his family and with only clipped phone calls as his source of news. He bears his suffering alone for a long time before confiding in Mr. Mendelson. Mr. Mendelson then confides in Isaac about his own suffering earlier in life. That makes Parviz feel better; maybe he, too, can survive the pain and live normally. Then Parviz slowly finds out that Mr. Mendelson had confided Parviz's troubles to others, who, in turn, are reluctant to reach out to Parviz.

Mohsen is a great example of how pain experienced by one man affects countless others. Mohsen himself had been imprisoned and tortured at one time, and so felt justified in imprisoning and torturing others.

The novel is essentially about the consequences of one man's disappearance and how it affects those around him. Isaac is captured on the first pages of the book and the story proceeds from there.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Rachel-K
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Re: An Indifferent World - SPOILERS


Fozzie wrote:


Mohsen is a great example of how pain experienced by one man affects countless others. Mohsen himself had been imprisoned and tortured at one time, and so felt justified in imprisoning and torturing others.






IBIS wrote:
They're living in a random, arbitrary universe that has no interest in whether they suffer or succeed.

But in a malign universe, fate has it in for you, and everyone is doomed. Try as you might, you just can't win. In this world, everything fated is cruel. The guards at the prison, for example, (with compassionate Hussein the exception), feel that they're living in a malign world -- they even take a sort of perverse comfort from this idea, in the sense that if they make others suffer, it must at least be for some reason.





Yes, something about that "randomness" gives a frightening loneliness to these four narratives! Most of us can live with a sense that our worlds are ordered and predictable, and that cause and effect makes sense from day to day.

Also, both these posts make me think of a passage from Man's Search for Meaning, where Frankl talks about a man (just after being released from the camps) who pulled his arm to trample across some young crops while they were walking together, and when Frankl pointed out the damage, the man said something along the lines of, "After all I've been through, don't I have the right?" It does feel that somehow in this novel, we get a larger, more human view of how Moshen and Hussein are both caught up in this violence.
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Fozzie
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Re: An Indifferent World - SPOILERS



rkubie wrote:

Also, both these posts make me think of a passage from Man's Search for Meaning, where Frankl talks about a man (just after being released from the camps) who pulled his arm to trample across some young crops while they were walking together, and when Frankl pointed out the damage, the man said something along the lines of, "After all I've been through, don't I have the right?"



I hadn't heard this before. It does tie directly into the discussion topic here, doesn't it? Thank goodness that most people do not feel this way!
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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