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Written by Shirley Marina
But although "land of the free" refers to the essential freedoms that make this country the greatest democracy on earth, it could also refer to the abundance of free samples available throughout this great land. In our homeland, people who taste something before they buy it are called shoplifters. Here, a person can taste something, not buy it and still have the clerk wish him a nice day.
Whilst drawing a comparison between the freedoms afforded citizens in America and the complete lack of freedom in Iran, Firoozeh is also introducing the reader to one of her father's favorite pastimes - getting things for free. On one occasion he and his brother went to lunch at a grocery store with no cafeteria but aisle upon aisle of free samples. Her father will enjoy foods he would never normally choose or finish because they are free. This passion for the freebie develops into a full blown hobby when he retires as he begins attending sales pitches for timeshares, enjoying the free trips and dinners offered by companies without any intention of buying a timeshare. The ability to get something free as a consumer right is one of the things Kazeem loves best about America.
Marriage, in my culture, has nothing to so with romance.It's a matter of logic. If Mr and Mrs Ahmadi like Mr and Mrs Nejati, then their children should get married. On the other hand, if the parents don't like each other, but the children do, well, this is where sad poetry comes from.
Firoozeh highlights another major difference between her Arab culture and her new American culture; here, love comes first and marriage follows, but there, marriage comes first and if one is lucky love comes afterwards, but even if it does not it doesn't affect whether the couple should be married. Iranian marriage is more of a transaction than a union. This method of meeting your spouse was not imposed on Firoozeh whose parents were happy for her to choose her own husband, welcoming into the family with open arms and an enormous Persian meal.
My marriage started out with a big, fat lie: I told my parents that Francois's family was happy about our engagement.
I had to. In the Iranian culture, fathers will consent to a marriage only if the future groom and his family worship the bride. There's no getting around this detail. If there is any problem with the groom's family, forget it. Engagement off. Moving on to the next suitor.
This quote throws up some interesting paradoxes, the first being that although she is American and entitled as an adult to marry whom she chooses, Firoozeh would not be able to marry from a cultural perspective without her father's consent. The other paradox is that whilst women are controlled and have less freedom than men, they are to be worshiped and put on a pedestal. It is ironic that Firoozeh was completely accepted by her new country it was the French family of her French husband who did not accept her because of her heritage.
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