Funny in Farsi Analysis

Funny in Farsi Analysis Firoozeh Dumas is an Iranian-American writer, known for creating the memoir ‘Funny in Farsi’. Born in Iran, Dumas tells of her childhood memories and how she and her family moved to America when she was just seven years old. Soon after the events that took place on September 11th, friends had encouraged her to publish the stories that she had written. By doing this, she would be able to tell Americans of how Middle Eastern cultures are not what the media portrays them to be.

Throughout the memoir, Dumas aims to show Americans that Iranians are truly virtuous and have a sense of humor. With the use of lighthearted humor, emotional appeal, and family anecdotes, Dumas shows that Iranians are not, (in any way,) what we think they are. Dumas attempts to show us that Iranians have a sense of humor by establishing a lighthearted tone from the beginning of the piece. As opposed to keeping the piece serious, she ends the very first passage saying that even though her brother was far away from her it was merely a “small price to pay for owning a Barbie”.

Though she could have been focusing on the distance from her brother, she was rather occupied with her Barbie, an act fairly typical for a seven-year-old girl. The phrase can help many readers feel nostalgic. Many people have some sort of object or toy tied to a relative, and being with that particular toy can make it seem as if we are with that loved one. At the same time, this also sparks emotional appeal and nostalgia to the reader; many of us, as children had found ourselves happy at the receipt of a new toy, even if we had been crying just seconds before.

Dumas easily uses both strategies at the same time to show the innocence and humor of Middle Eastern cultures. After a rather embarrassing first day of school (with her mother,) Dumas decided that from that day on, her mother would “have to stay home”. Dumas uses a combination of a family anecdote as well as self-deprecation to showcase the innocence and humor of the Middle Eastern people. Dumas attends her very first day of school with her mother to. The day proves to be embarrassing to Dumas, as it “negated” the impression she had made just the other day.

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The students had begun to stare at them not because they could not speak English, but because they appeared rather dimwitted. The author belittles herself by the use of self-deprecation; because of this, the audience is able to identify with her. Dumas does this successfully by admitting that she and her mother appeared “stupid”, further reinforcing it by saying that her first impression had been “negated” by the day’s events. The word negated communicates the idea that Dumas’ hard work in impressing her teacher, Mrs. Sandberg had been done in vain.

It makes her more likeable to her readers, and only strengthens her message that Iranians are merely virtuous and humble people. The September 11 attacks had left many Middle Eastern cultures with awful stereotypes. Dumas’ memoirs, however, successfully convey the image that Middle Eastern people are not what the media tells us. With the use of a lighthearted tone and Dumas’ humorous story of going to school and owning Barbie’s, Funny in Farsi shows the audience that the Iranian people (and perhaps other Middle Eastern cultures,) are indeed innocent, virtuous, and humble people.

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