Assess the killings in the book.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The deaths that are in the book are not rooted out of a need to display senseless and gratuitous.  Like so much in the novel, the killings are complex.  Death is shown to be a complex issue.  There is a "psychological fog" that envelops the characters.  Lester's shooting of Esmail was not deliberate, yet the situation in which his death could be foreseen was deliberate.  Lester's abuse of his position as a police office was done with the hope of persuading Behrani to give Kathy her home back, but became so out of his control that the death of the son was almost inevitable.  Nothing good was going to arise out of the situation.

At the same time, Behrani's anger and intense sense of pride is what made the situation come to such an adversarial condition in the first place.  It is this sense of pain and guilt that Behrani understands as his own fault.  For Behrani, whose primary purpose in taking care of his family is almost an "old school" and traditional mentality, this is a failure on his part.  Behrani refuses to detail to his family the menial jobs he works in order to keep them in a life of luxury and this comes from the idea that the man of the family is meant to guide the family.  Certainly, he believes that he has failed in giving his family proper guidance, for he blames himself for his son's death.  In this, he understands that there is little other recourse for him than to kill himself.  The murder of his wife is to spare her the traditional conception of shame in being a widow.  Behrani recognizes his failure and accepts his transgression by taking his own life.  His taking the life of his wife in the process is both to spare her the social stigma of having to survive without her husband as well as to spare her the pain of living without her son, whose death Behrani blames himself.  In this, the deaths of both Mr. and Mrs. Behrani are pointless to us, the outsider.  Yet, within the construction of Behrani's world and his notion of honor and pride, they are a bit more understandable.  In a world where death is precisely so random and so gratuitous, such as when Behrani's Commanding Officer's family were hunted down by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and executed one by one in the airport baggage room, the deaths of Behrani and his wife are a bit more understandable.   The deaths in the book still confound the mind and confuse the imagination, but the world in which Behrani hails and lives is one where such realities are present.

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