Another Look at Nader, Simin, and the Iranian Society


Multiple Personality Disorder
by Multiple Personality Disorder



About Nader, Simin, and the Iranian Society

The following is my translation of a blog by Homayoun Kheyri in its entirety; I believe it was originally posted here >>>, and later it was blogged by Souri in here >>>.

I believe Homayoun Kheyri’s suggestions offer a new way of looking at the film “Nader and Simin, A Separation”, which makes his review of the film very important and insightful.  So, with the encouragement from the commentators in Souri’s blog, I translated the piece into English, to give it more publicity.


Blogger Homayoun Kheyri has a review of the film “Nader and Simin, A Separation”, written and directed by Asghar Farhadi.


Last night I saw the film "Nader and Simin, A Separation".  I write my suggestion in case you are going to watch this film for the first time, or you have seen it already and want to see it again.  Take a look at it
from this angle also.

Who is representing what?  The list of who is representing what group or mentality in the Iranian society goes something like this:

Nader- Nader is representing the Iranian ‘Society’, which on one hand is bound by tradition and on the other hand by modernity.

Grandfather- The grandfather is representative of ‘Tradition’ in the Iranian society.  His Alzheimer disease is the same thing as our historical memory; neither ignorable nor capable of standing on his own feet without help from Society.

Simin- Simin represents the Iranian ‘Modernity’.  She is the one who has convinced Nader (Society) that they must migrate.  She is a teacher.  She is more knowledgeable than the rest of the characters in the film, and she knows how to negotiate.

Pregnant Woman- The pregnant woman represents ‘Religion’ in the Iranian society.  She wants to help Tradition (Grandfather), to lift off the burden from the shoulders of Society (Nader), but because of overindulgence in the matters of un-cleanliness, purity, and her own canonical limitations, she is reduced to a new problem for Society.  Termination of her pregnancy means exactly what you see in the Iranian society; that the theocratic society is not capable of regeneracy.  This is the same thing that we call un-reformable government.     

Husband- The husband of the pregnant woman is the representation of the ‘Clergy’ in the Iranian society.  In his film, “under the Moonlight”, Reza Mirkarimi [1] narrates the clergies with the same kind of bankrupt and obligor to the people and to the world.

Tarmeh- Tarmeh, daughter of Nader and Simin, is the representation of the ‘Future’, the issue that is in entanglement between Society, Modernity, Tradition, and Religion.  Tarmeh is not able to choose among them and the film ends with an omission of choice from her. She is at the age of puberty, and this is the best indicative of a society in transition.

Little Girl- The little girl is the representation of the ‘Present’; younger than anyone else, and a reporter (painter) of events.  Her littleness is an indication of the present time being ignored in the Iranian society.  One of the best indications of what she represents is when the oxygen tank for Grandfather (Tradition) is turned high and low by her.  It is so much similar to Namjoo's new tones.      

With these suggestions you can see the relationship between different characteristics of the Iranian life.  I will present some examples: 

Simin (Modernity), Pregnant Woman (Religion), Tarmeh (Future), and Little Girl (Present) are all of the same gender and all of them have the ability to regenerate.  However, all of them need another operative for fertility. The product of the union between the procreators and the operatives is very interesting.  For example, Future is the product of Society and Modernity, which you can always see these types of situations.  The existence of Tarmeh means that Society (Nader) and Modernity (Simin) were able to create Future.  It is always like this.  The present world, with its new manifestations, is the concurrence between each society and its innovations.  However, when you get to the product of Clergy (Husband) and Religion (Pregnant Woman), you will notice that one of their outputs is the present situation (Little Girl), who is just an observer, a nobody except a reporter of the events; but the efforts by Clergy and Religion for the modern people, in the form of the pregnancy of the woman, run into harsh encounters by Society, and remains unfulfilled.     

The interesting point is that it is not the rejection by Society (Nader), who is trying to retain Tradition, that ends the woman’s regenerancy, rather it is Tradition (Grandfather) that pulls Religion (Pregnant Woman) towards himself and causes the end of her pregnancy.  When Pregnant Woman (Religion) goes to find Grandfather (Tradition), she finds him by a newspaper stand.  This newspaper stand is the same place that has always been talked about to him.  It is the same place from which Nader (Society) brings back newspapers to him.  The newspaper stand is Grandfather’s (Tradition's) favorite place.  Well, in place of the newspaper stand substitute ‘Norooz Celebration’ [2], or ‘Chahar Shanbeh Soori’ [3], to figure out how subtle this is.

Pregnant Woman (Religion) goes after Grandfather (Tradition) and finds him by the newspaper stand (Norooz Celebration or Chahar Shanbeh Soori).  She goes to bring him back, but at the end of the film we find out that while she was trying to do this she was hit by a car, which caused her to have a miscarriage; meaning, this was not Society who set aside Religion, rather this was the reality of the external world that terminated Religion's regeneracy. 

There are two significant scenes between Society (Nader), Religion (Pregnant Woman), and Tradition (Grandfather), both of which happen in the bathroom.  One of scenes is when Nader is bathing his father, and ends up breaking in tears because of his plight, and the other one is when Pregnant Woman is changing Grandfather’s clothes in that same bathroom.  For bathing his father, Nader uses gloves to wash him; and also for changing Grandfather’s clothes, Pregnant Woman uses gloves too.   However, if you notice the difference between the gloves you would see that Nader's gloves gets him wet [Society is affected by Tradition], but Pregnant Woman's gloves prevents her from getting wet [Religion is not influenced by Tradition]. 

The Husband’s (Clergy’s) anger of his Pregnant Woman (Religion), his tantrum when he shouts that we are humans too, his debts, and losing his job, all are indicatives of a religious government’s operatives.  There is also one more thing in the film that in my opinion is Asghar Farhadi's sarcasm in regards to the events following the disputed election, and that is the companionment of the clergies with the hoodlums.  It was very very interesting. 

Nader, Simin, and Tarmeh are coming out of the pregnant woman's house when their sights fall upon their car.  Husband (Clergy), being angry because of the unresolved situation, money not being collected, and the creditors’ demands not being met, has left the house.  Then, after the car is in motion we notice that its front windshield is smashed. 

Do you remember the police and the basijies’ batons during the protest events?  Do you recall that the basijies and the police were hitting car windows with batons?  When the religion leaders of Iran were not able to restrain the society, they coalesced with the hoodlums. The most well known example of this cooperation was the breaking of car windows during the aftermath of the disputed election.  In the film, from the unproductiveness of Religion and inability of Clergy we reach the point of vandalism by breaking of the car windshield.        

Asghar Farhadi is saying that the Iranian society's quarrel is about preservation of its traditions verses modernity; and it is the religion that for the sake of rescuing the helpless clergy involves itself in a task that at the end renders it infertile also.  When Tarmeh (Future) helplessly is trying to decide whether to remain with Society and Tradition (Nader and Grandfather), or whether to stay with Modernity (Simin), the only revelation that we have from Religion (Pregnant Woman) and Clergy (Husband) is that one of them is no longer pregnant and the other one is in trouble with the creditors.

Written by Homayoun Kheyri.

Translated by Yours Truly, MPD.


[1] Reza Mirkarimi is an Iranian film writer and director >>>

[2] Norooz Celebration is the Persian new year celebrating the coming of spring equinox >>>

[3] Chahar Shanbeh Soori is a celebration on the last Wednesday of the year in the Persian calendar >>>

درباره نادر و سیمین و جامعه ایرانی

همایون خیری، وبلاگ‌نویس، نگاهی دارد به فیلم جدایی نادر از سیمین. ساخته اصغر فرهادی

ترجمه به انگلیسی 


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more from Multiple Personality Disorder
Ari Siletz

Agree with "suggestion" MPD

by Ari Siletz on

And if Kheyri's review has made you want to see the film (again) then it's a good review on that account.

Incognito: You're not off the hook. My question to you was not rhetorical. In what way do you see Separation as "the most modern
Iranian movie of our time?" Maybe your analysis will inspire MPD to see the movie a third time?

Multiple Personality Disorder


by Multiple Personality Disorder on

Please be cognizant that Kheyri writes about these allegories as his suggestions.  He says, next time you watch this movie take a look at it from this point of view also.  As suggestions, it is not mandatory for anyone to accept any of these suggestion.  But in my case, when I watched this movie, I decided that the movie was one of the best I have ever seen but watching it once was more than enough, because of the subject matters in the movie.  However, after reading Kheyri’s blog, I have decided to watch it again, only this time I will watch it using his suggestions in mind.

There is nothing wrong with taking another look with a different perspective.  It takes nothing away from nobody.  If one wants to believe that the movie is simply about a divorce case; that’s perfectly fine.  The movie is a piece of art, and if someone else wants to look at it from a different angle; that’s fine also.  I think it will definitely be an interesting experience.

Anahid Hojjati

thanks Esfand for recommendation

by Anahid Hojjati on

I think what is remarkable about Separation is that storyline covers so many different issues. By the way, here is some local (Bay area) viewing times, but please check yourself before going to the theatre:


Embarcadero 1 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, CA 1:10‎  ‎4:10‎  ‎7:00‎  ‎9:45pm‎ CineArts @ Pleasant Hill (Formerly Century 5 Pleasant Hill) 2314 Monument Blvd., Pleasant Hill, CA 12:50‎  ‎4:00‎  ‎7:00‎  ‎9:45pm‎


Esfand Aashena

A good movie about Alzheimer is Lovely, still.

by Esfand Aashena on

Lovely, still is a good movie. Played by Martin Landau a once rough and tough guy on the original Mission Impossible series during the 60s.  As I said times have changed and good actors play these kind of roles and actually get noticed once again with nominations, awards and such.

Everything is sacred

Anahid Hojjati

Esfaand jan, I agree

by Anahid Hojjati on

Those in my family and friends who liked Separation, seemed to like it because it depicted everyday issues that they had faces such as divorce, taking care of elders, etc. But then again, a movie can be appreciated by diffrent people for differnt reasons.

Esfand Aashena

Anahid jaan I think the average movie goer deals w/ basics.

by Esfand Aashena on

The metaphors and detailed analysis of this movie has morphed into what we're reading these days.  I believe even Farhadi himself is making stuff up now that the movie has broken grounds and is on the verge of first Oscar for an Iranian film!

There was this Iranian actor who is said to be in cahoots with the regime, forgot his name this guy with red scarf, they asked him if you had a choice what movie did you wish you play in?  He answered Titanic. They asked him why, he said because that is most famous and everyone knows it.

So now with the Oscar hope, everyone feels brave enough to say whatever analysis they want over this even though the regime knows they are not being put in a good light and under normal circumstances Farhadi would've been in jail for made up charges of propaganda against national security!

Bottom line not only this movie but many other movies who have been nominated and won awards have been about dealing with the hardship and responsibilities of daily lives.  How many movies have the old person with Alzheimer?  taking care of the old or difficulties of daily life?   As they say this isn't our grandmother's movie anymore.  Back then they'd ignore old age in movies!

This movie is easy to relate to, although because people have so much hardship (their own lives is a movie itself :-) at first they didn't notice this film but when it became famous they can all now relate to it. 

Everything is sacred

Anahid Hojjati


by Anahid Hojjati on

This is what I found from farsilookup:



  • (ادبیات - داستانی که در آن شخصیت ها و اشیا و رویدادها دارای معانی نهفته یا نمادین هستند) تمثیل، تشبیه، قصه ی رمزی، نمادداستان
  • ارائه ی عقاید از راه تمثیل
  • نماد، سمبل، نشان
  • :

    Farsi Wiki also used


    for allegory. At least in my understanding,


    is not a commonly used word in Persian language so it is understandable that Kheyri instead wrote:":""ki namayandeh e che chizist.",


    Ari Siletz

    Anahid, question.

    by Ari Siletz on

    What is a good Farsi word for "allegory?" Dictionaries don't really help
    here. In English literature an allegory is a writing where the
    one-to-one correspondence between character and concept is
    deliberate--for example Orwell's Animal Farm. As far as I know we
    don't have a common Farsi word for this art form--otherwise Kheyri would have
    used it instead of the awkward "ki namayandeh e che chizist."

    Anahid Hojjati

    Thanks Ari

    by Anahid Hojjati on

    For your response. I am interested to know more about this blogger. This is the only review I have read from him but now I am curious to read more of his blogs.

    Ari Siletz


    by Ari Siletz on

    Good observation regarding Kheyri's review being overkill in claiming one-to-one association between characters and concepts such as "future," "tradition," etc. This is OK by me as long as the spirit of review writing is understood--by the reader as well as by the writer. Reviewers--myself included--add dynamic interpretation to a fixed work the same way religious commentators augment the Torah or the Koran with observations from their specific viewpoints. And like "God"  artists prefer not to explain their work; they know that the best aspect of any work of art lies in the unintended statements open to discovery by others (and themselves). Bascially artists don't have full knowledge of their works themselves!

    Interestingly when the work is successful, artists tend to stay quiet about their original intention (because there's a chance what they think they did isn't what people are so excited about). You get more explanation out of artists when the work bombs!


    whether desparate for

    by vildemose on

    whether desparate for metaphore or not, these socio-economic  facts of the Iranian society and culture  are indisputable .

    "Art imitates life"

    "The Personal Is Political"


    A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.--Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

    Anahid Hojjati

    Ari jan, now that you bring this up

    by Anahid Hojjati on

    I have been thinking about this from the time that Farsi and original version of this movie review came up. So my issue has nothing to do with MPD's translation but with original work. 

    My issue is that do we really expect average moviegoer to really have to deal with this analysis? I know about metaphors but if there ever was a case for metaphor overkill, this work done by Kheyri must be it.  I mean either Farhadi meant these metaphors or he did not mean it and Kheyri made them up. If Farhadi meant them. It means that the level of censorship in Iran is so high that an artist has to go to this length to talk about other issues, because understanding and following all these methaphors is not easy. It means that film maker expects average moviegoer to invest so much just in one movie in order to get some political messages.

    However, it is a different case if Farhadi did not mean these metaphors and critic made them up.

    Ari Siletz


    by Ari Siletz on

    "Q: How can one disfigure and trivialize the most modern
    Iranian movie of our time?"


    In what way does the film seem modern to you?

    I am curious because it is surprisingly un"modern" of you to build an emamzadeh around the film and cry blasphemy. Also answering your own accusatory question is Inquistion period style of discourse. This is roughly in the 1200-1500 A.D. range. The modern period is said to have started sometime after that.


    Desperate for metaphors

    by incognito on

    Q: How can one disfigure and trivialize the most modern
    Iranian movie of our time?

    A: By digging unscrupulously for metaphors that can be incorporated into one’s political rhetoric.

    Ari Siletz

    نازی خانم، جناب میمپدال

    Ari Siletz

    "آتی،" "آتیه،" و "نهاد" بسیار چسبید. همچنین "جدائی همبد از نو." ولی‌ راستش "پس اون فردا" از همشون دیر تر رسید و سوگلی شد.



    by yolanda on

    Hi MPD,

          Sorry to come late. I got tied up with work and had to beat the deadline!

    1) Farhadi is an amazing director. He was able to beat the censor and bring this classic to the world. He made this movie the Iranian way and his talent shines thru this critically acclaimed movie! I hope this movie can catapult him to stardom!

    2) Homayoun Kheyri is an amazing movie critic. He has such an exhaustive & sophisticated analysis for this movie and his insight can really help a layperson like me understand the Iranian society! I hope his article can be published in the English media somewhere. Actually you can use your initial, MPD, instead of Multiple Personality Disorder, so readers won't freak out! :O)

    3) You are an amazing translator. You can translate both proses and poetry! You can translate from Farsi to English and vice versa. You are an indispensable asset of this site. Farahani's stunt is definitely not enough, it can only create short term spikes, we need creative writers to enrich this site continuously!

    Thank you for taking your time to translate this great piece!

    Let's see what happens at the Oscar:


    Multiple Personality Disorder

    آری، دیگه مغزم کار نمیکنه. این چندتا چطورند

    Multiple Personality Disorder


    پدر بزرگ = سنت = اسمشو میذاشتن نهاد
    زنِ حامله = دین/مذهب = اسمشو میذاشتن شریع
    نادر = جامعه = به جای نادر اسمشو میذاشتن همبُد
    سیمین = مدرنیته = اسمشو میذاشتن نو
    ترمه = آینده = آتیه

    جدائی همبُد از نو

    نهادِ مریض

    آتیه وضعش خیطه

    Nazy Kaviani


    Nazy Kaviani

    آری جان، اینها چطورن؟

    پس فردا
    پس از اون فردا

    Ari Siletz

    A Who's Who of Nader and Simin

    by Ari Siletz on

    Intriguing symbolism, MPD. It would be cool if the names of the characters were also symbolic to give us a hint about what they represent, like Neo and Morpheus in Matrix. I wonder how one could rename the characters of Nader and Simin to correspond with each symbol according to Homayoun Kheyri. For example what Farsi name (besides the obvious Ayandeh) brings "future" to mind.

    Multiple Personality Disorder

    Thank you,

    by Multiple Personality Disorder on

    Maryam and Nazy, thank you for you kind words.  It means a lot to me.

    Multiple Personality Disorder

    ha ha ha, actually, Souri jaan,,,

    by Multiple Personality Disorder on

    Souri jaan, actually, "Man, you must become an ESL teacher!" is an insult :O)  Because, English-as-a-second-language students don't know much about English, so anyone with a minimal knowledge of English language can become their teacher :O)

    I am kidding of course.  You know how much your encouragement means to me.  Thank you,,,

    Nazy Kaviani

    Thank you!

    by Nazy Kaviani on

    Thanks MPD Jan! I'm so glad I can share that interesting article with my friends who can't read Farsi. Thank you for the excellent translation. (hala haalet chetoreh? bia bebinimet digeh!)


    Bravo MPD ! You are amazing.

    by Souri on

    Thank you for the hard work. Man, you must become an ESL teacher!

    You did a great job. Amazing.

    Maryam Hojjat

    MPD, Thanks for

    by Maryam Hojjat on

    making to think about this movie as Mr. Kheyri.  It makes sense.  Great analysis.