“ ‘To speak behind others' backs is the ventilator of the heart…' and in this way we began a long session of ventilation of the heart” (Satrapi). With these words, Marjane Satrapi sets the stage for Embroideries and her intimate insight into the lives of women in an Iranian family, specifically her family. Over tea, these women, young and old, open up and reveal personal stories in an attempt to bond and to discover what it truly is not only to be an Iranian woman but also to be “woman.” In this sense, feminist theory found in Simone de Beauvior's “The Second Sex” can be applied to the accounts of the women in the novel to demonstrate how women often depend upon men for their identity.
[...] Also, these cosmetic changes transform her into a perkier-looking, and thus younger looking, woman. Her husband, wrinkly, slovenly, and balding, no longer sees his wife. Instead, he makes love to a beautiful woman. Furthermore, although he constantly bombards her with compliments, and she has the pleasure of knowing “every time he's kissing my breasts, it's actually my ass he's kissing,” she just becomes an object of his attention for his own sexual pleasure. In her own, unknowing words, “I'm the best thing that ever happened to him.” Her improvements become all about him (Satrapi). [...]
[...] In addition, the story of one tea-drinker's plastic surgery adventures serves as a clear example of woman as defined by man, or rather man.” She explains that her husband was constantly looking at other women, and she suspected that he was on the brink of cheating on him with a more attractive woman. Men fear they're with an old woman, they must be equally old.” Therefore, to hold on to her husband, she had to transform herself into a creature diametrically opposed to an old man. [...]
[...] Separated from her family at the age of thirteen, one tea-drinker married (arranged) a man who was sixty-nine years old. Although she pleaded against her parents' decision, her parents forced her to marry him. Her dependence upon her family left her with no choice but to heed their demands. Shortly after the wedding, the man began to undress in an effort to commence the consummation process. She excused herself to the bathroom outside, and upon her arrival in the background, she “climbed the wall and ran away in the dark.” Eventually, she met her open-minded aunt who adopted her. [...]
[...] In this way, the second woman somewhat relieved the upset lady, because she demonstrates that “cheating” is behavior common to men and not a result of any mistake of the woman. Still, one could argue that this novel does not exemplify feminist separation. Rather, the men left the women. However, at the end of the book, the grandfather, Satrapi enters the room. His wife throws him out, and tells him to Leaving, the grandfather mutters, “When the snake gets old, the frog gets him by the balls.” Thus, the woman forces the separation. [...]
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