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Inspired Scribe
IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Characters who make us Uncomfortable

The atmosphere of betrayal and religious intolerance filled me with dread and foreboding throughout most of the book. In sharp contrast to the gentle, kind-hearted Amin family, there are some characters with whom I felt very uncomfortable. Because of the variety of the characters, some with goodwill, and many not, I was suspicious of anyone new.

My initial reaction to a new character always was: is this friend or foe? My anxiety radar would shoot into high alert.

HABIBEH, the housekeeper. Both Shirin and Farnaz suspect her of stealing the sapphire ring and the silver teapot. And at some point, we suspect that she may have been the one to betray Isaac. Although I learn at the end that she is innocent, I spent 3/4 of the book dreading her appearance.

MOHSEN, the inquisitor-jailer who delights in torturing prisoners. (p. 62) "He grabs Isaac's hand and turns it around, burning his palm with the cigarette...'You're nothing! You hear me?' He stops, brings another cigarette to his mouth and lights it, rips open Isaac's shirt and presses the cigarettte on his chest."

MORTEZA, his office assistant, who looted Isaac's office after Isaac is imprisoned. (p.286) He demands Isaac's perfect white diamond. When Isaac refuses, he threatens blackmail: "Stubborn Jew! Bargaining all the way to your grave. I want the diamond, or this little piece of paper will be sent to the office of Imam Khomeini."

There is a slew of others: the people who will smuggle the family to safety. It was a relief when they proved to be honest; Leila's father who hides files of people who are betrayed, and who will soon be persecuted.
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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Fozzie
Posts: 2,404
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Characters who make us Uncomfortable - SPOILERS

SPOILERS

IBIS, thanks for bringing this up. I, too, thought there were a lot of characters who made me feel uncomfortable. What's odd is that while I sometimes felt uncomfortable with some characters, wondering if they could be trusted, I also found myself liking them and hoping they really were good people.

Two examples are Leila, the friend of Shirin, and Hossein, the helpful guard in the prison.

I think Leila was a good friend to Shirin. The mean and scary things she said seemed to be what she heard at home from her father, not necessarily what her views were. After all, she did suspect Shirin of taking the files, but never told her father.

Hossein was a guard with a conscious. He did his job, but did try to provide the prisoners with dignity.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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mildone
Posts: 84
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Characters who make us Uncomfortable - SPOILERS

Characters who make me Uncomfortable are the following: Mr. Mendelson, Paraviz, and Rachel. The reasons are based on a research I did with a fellow student on basis of a person being Jewish if his or her mother was Jewish. We did the research paper with the proper statistical analysis, data, dates, names, and affects. If the mother was not a practicing Jew then their offsprings were not practicing nor embracing their religion but if the mother was faithfully embracing the faith the boys remained faithful Jews 50% of the time and the girls 80%. This study was done over 55 years ago and is an easy research project to do and I can image people thinking of their friends who do not practice the faith and comparing it to their parents practice. Even if the father took his sons to religious services, practice Holy Days, and saw to the instuctions of his children it had miminal effects compared to the mother's example. Mr. Mendelson is correct in that a non-practicing father tends to drag down the faith of a faithful spouse and if that happens than Rachel's effect on her children will be diminished. Paraviz, who is uninterested in religion and its practice would place great demands on Rachel if they did marry. Mr. Mendelson is correct in that Rachel's faith has to be nourished by a supporting spouse if the children are to have any hope of being faithful Jews. With our secular culture and its effects on our children the demands on parents are even greater than when the study was done by my friend and I.
mildone
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WildCityWoman
Posts: 683
Registered: ‎01-18-2007
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Re: Characters who make us Uncomfortable - SPOILERS

Well, that's one of the things I like about that book - it's done in such a way that even the people you don't trust, do have some redeeming qualities.
 
I won't re-list these people all over again - you folks have said it all, and I haven't anything to add.
 
But I'd like to point out that this talent for making the reader like, dislike and feel both like/dislike for some characters, makes that writer a true artist.
 
Carly
 
 
Carly

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