Not Without My Daughter

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Not without my daughter
Summary
The movie “Not without My Daughter” is about the true story of Betty Mahmoody. She is an American woman, married to an Iranian man in the States; they also have a daughter named Mahtob, around the age of four at the beginning of the story. The husband – whose real name we never know, he is just called ‘Moody’ – decides to take his family to Iran, but he lies about his real motives to his wife, telling her it will be just a temporary visit to his relatives, and that they will be safe. However, upon returning to his home country, he finds a different Iran than what he left. Religion now plays a major role in people’s lives, to the point that women can be arrested if they are not dressed in the proper, decent way. At first he finds it strange, but he soon begins to see it as a way of expressing his pride of being an Iranian and a Muslim. So he goes back to the rules of his old life, and treats his wife as Iranian married women are treated. Thus Betty finds herself in a situation she has no control over. As an Iranian wife, she can not go anywhere on her own, she is always watched by the relatives, and she should always do as her husband says. She wants to fight against this: her only aim is to get back to the US together with her daughter. After her first unsuccessful attempts to escape and being beaten and closed up by Moody, Betty tries to behave as she is expected to, afraid that she will lose her daughter if she does not. Mahtob starts school in Iran, and Betty gains the trust of her husband’s family by her behavior, and this enables her to escape with her daughter in the end. When she was rebellious and fighting, she was never allowed to go anywhere alone and taking Mahtob. She finds some people who are willing to help her, such as a shopkeeper who allows her to make telephone calls, and another man, an aristocrat, who finally arranges the flight for them. Finally, after a long journey where they can only count on other people’s good will to take them across the border, they arrive to Turkey. “We are home, baby, we are home” – these are Betty’s words to her daughter when she sees the American flag over the embassy in Ankara. Analysis

A comparative analysis is possible between the ways Betty behaves in different situations, in her home country and in the foreign country. In Iran, she does not understand anything at first, and even after a while when she does, she still behaves according to her own cultural codes, as an American. Her behavior within her own and her husband’s family is, for example, absolutely different. The family scene at the beginning of the movie, with Betty, Mahtob, Moody, and Betty’s parents, is completely calm and peaceful. We are convinced we see a typical American family; the husband seems to differ only in his name and origins. Betty herself is calm as well, serving food, playing with her daughter, talking to her husband and parents; she behaves like an American housewife usually behaves towards her family. This atmosphere, however, changes in Iran, where she is expected to behave according to the rules of a Muslim household. Her own rules, her own way of life is no longer respected; she becomes desperate, and her actions show this. Her gestures are different, she shouts, she screams, and this makes her situation worse because such expressions of emotions are not accepted from women. One particular scene is when she tries to explain herself to her husband’s family. But her attempt is not successful. She has to communicate through a translator, and also her point of view is so different that the Iranian family would not respect it. A woman is not supposed to do what she is doing, so it is impossible for her to be accepted this way, and she does not know any other way. Another example is when she wants to take her daughter from school but she is not allowed to do so without her husband. She screams “I want my baby, I want my baby”...
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