PRISONER OF TEHRAN Reading Group GuideDISCUSSION QUESTIONS:1. Marina's experiences were truly extraordinary. Did this make it difficult for you to relate to her? In what aspects of her life and personality did you connect most with Marina? At what points did you have the most difficult time connecting with her? What surprised you most about Marina?2. On page 46, after Marina has been locked outside on the balcony as a punishment by her mother, she decides to rebel, saying "I knew that my mother would get angry, but I didn't care; I couldn't bear my solitary confinement anylonger." How do you think childhood experiences such as this one affected Marina's reaction to prison? Was she more or less equipped to deal with the conditions and restrictions imposed at Evin as a result of how her mother treated her?3. On page 85, after Marina discovers that Arash is involved in revolutionary activities, she says, "I tried to believe him. I tried to be brave. After all, I was thirteen years old." How did Marina's age throughout the memoir influenceyour reading? Is present day Marina successful in conveying the feelings and thoughts of the young Marina? Do you find her voice believable as a teenager?4. When Ali saves Marina just seconds before her execution she remembers: "His eyes focused on mine, Ali walked toward me. I wanted to run. I wanted Hamehd toshoot me and end my life" (42). Why do you think it was worse for Marina to be rescued by Ali than to die by execution? Does Marina's reaction reflect more broadly on the role of women in Iranian culture?5. Marina's feelings for Ali are complex and wrenching. On page 231, Ali says,"I wanted you, but I'm not that selfish. If there was a way, I would have let you go, and then I would have probably killed myself with a clean shot in the head." Do you believe him, or do you think his actions were motivated solely by his desire? Ali's mother tells Marina that he is "a good man." Do Marina's feelings for Ali's family change her opinion of him?6. The memoir begins with Marina landing in Canada with her husband and child; we know from the outset, therefore, that her marriage to Ali has ended and that she has remarried. How did this knowledge affect your view of Marina and Ali's relationship? If Marina's marriage to Ali had truly been a "life sentence," would you view it differently?7. The imagery of the "washable" nature of the written word occurs throughout the book, such as when Marina sees Sarah's body covered in tiny words: "And she washed the words off her skin. The Book of Sarah. Alive, breathing, feeling, hurting, remembering" (page 119). Later, when Marina returns from Evin, she learns that her mother has destroyed her books and her grandmother's life story:"Washed books. The written word drowned, silenced" (page 259). Why is it significant that washing words destroys rather than cleanses them? How does thisimagery of "washed words" apply to Marina's story?8. On page 237, Marina and Ali have an argument about the execution of political prisoners. Ali supports the idea of self-defense, while Marina responds, "I will not kill another human being." With whom do you agree? Why do you think that Marina's and Ali's parallel experiences as political prisoners resulted in opposite viewpoints? Do you think that gender plays a role in their reactions?9. When Marina and Andre decide to illegally marry, he says to her, "I know that marrying you is dangerous. But I want to do it. We can't give in. We're notdoing anything wrong" (page 264). Do you think their decision to marry illegallyis brave or foolish? Is it significant that these words come from Andre, who hadnot been imprisoned, rather than Marina?10. When Marina returns after two years in Evin, she "felt like a stranger" athome; she wonders if the lack of questions about her experience is "their way ofprotecting me or protecting themselves." This conversation echoes the one between MarinaNemat, Marina is the author of 'Prisoner of Tehran', published 2008 under ISBN 9781416537434 and ISBN 1416537430.