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A Shared Struggle

Shirin Ebadi’s book, The Golden Cage is a remarkable story about her personal experience in Iran during the Iranian Revolution. The book not only captures the childhood of the three brothers of her best friend and their different roles. These three brothers and their journey in Iran only shows a small part of the many people that struggled in Iran and how many people lost loved ones. Within the story the political struggles, western influence, and the role oil plays in Iran are all aspects that are seen. These are important to understanding the Iranian revolution and what was occurring. The story of The Golden Cage shows that within Muslim communities and Muslim countries that there can be oppression. This book shows a different view of the Iranian revolution and what occurred, including those that opposed the government. Those that stood up against the government like Javad, Abbas and Ali not only fought for change, but lost their lives with many others for this cause. The are many dynamics that this book expresses to the reader from getting to know the brothers characters, certain gatherings, pilgrimage and much more. All of these dynamics paint an entirely different picture of Muslims than westerners may believe. While each of the brothers have very different views they follow, which is important to expressing the great diversity of Muslims in Iran during this time. The path Abbas’s path was to support the monarchist no matter what. This view caused problems between him and his brother Javad. Javad’s path was different then his brothers he choose to be part of a revolutionary group that opposed the government. The youngest brother Ali followed a path that one may think would not be so controversial or dangerous. He chose to be a follower of Ayatollah Khomeini a religious group. Each path the brother chose was one that isolated them from their families, each other, which created a cage of seclusion but they still struggled for change that would transform Iran.

            While the brothers are the key figures of the book it is interesting to see the role that women play within the story. The important role that women play in this account is just as significant as the brothers. They also have their own struggles like maintaining their family, take care of the brothers and stand up for those that suffered injustice and lost their lives. It is interesting that in this story the women seem to be the silent foundation for these brothers and for their families. The women like Pari, Shirin and the group of women in the prologue all experienced their own struggles and isolation, due to everything that was happening during this period. It is interesting that the vital role women play seems to not get enough credit or acknowledgement in the story. The brothers were all significant characters, which the book expresses, but the women also made great sacrifices. The women continue to live with these sacrifices and are the only ones that are here to continue to remember the dead. The memories of the dead will not fade away with winds of the desert, but live on in these women and their actions. The women’s silent strength does not deserve to be forgotten in this period of history in Iran.

The three brothers may have been the central figures and their roles were significant, which lead to the greatest sacrifice of losing their lives. As Pari said to Shirin, “They were victims of equal injustice. I would like the three of them to share the same destiny, even if it is only in the pages of a book.” [1] This is important to keep in mind, but can also be applied to many others in Iran during this period. It was not just these three brothers and their families that suffered this injustice, there were many more families in Iran that suffered the same injustice. This period of Iranian history is still present in many peoples minds today and not something that will fade away to be forgotten. The different paths and great sacrifices in the end all lead to same destiny.


[1] Shirin Ebadi,  “ The Golden Cage.” 253.

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