What is the summary for Part 2, Chapters 16-18 of Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books?
Mr. Nyazi, one of Nafisi’s students, approaches her about the immorality of The Great Gatsby. Rather than argue with him about it, Nafisi suggest that the class put the book itself on trial. With some persuasion, she elicits volunteers to be the prosecution, defense, and judge. Nafisi herself will be the book on trial.
Nafisi prepares for the trial as if it were the tipping point of the Revolution. Her husband states that it is crucial that she win it, because her students have now called her judgment into question.
During the trial, Mr. Nyazi presents The Great Gatsby as immoral, promoting adultery. The only virtue it has is that it exposes the decadence and decline of America. It, and all Western literature, should be banned as a bad influence on Iran.
The defense presents the novel as demonstrating the complexity of human beings. It is the characters themselves, not the American culture, that are decadent. Several witnesses assert that the novel should be read in order to learn about the immorality of America. Others believe it should be read just as a novel, as a work of art.
Nafisi herself feels uncomfortable about defending herself as the novel. She believes that the novel is about the loss of dreams, but she has no idea how to get that across in the setting of a trial.
No verdict is decided, but Nafisi is satisfied that the trial has generated some interest and excitement among the students.