I. Chapter Guide
1. According to the introduction, what were the conditions that forced the
nomadic tribes to settle?
1. Although advancement in technology brings many useful and positive
changes, sometimes there are negative side effects as a result of these
changes. What are some of the negative side effects of the advancements
mentioned in the introduction? Would it have been possible to avoid
these side effects? If so, how?
1. Who does Anahita‟s father suggest she might marry?
2. What excuse does Anita give her father for not getting married?
3. What does Anahita say the khan‟s good quality is?
1. Discuss Anahita‟s relationship with her father in Chapter One.
1. Who did Anahita and Shirin spy on when they were younger?
2. What secret does Anahita learn about the khan that makes the idea of
marriage seem even scarier?
3. What analogy does the author use to describe the state of Anahita and
Shirin‟s relationship and how it can be fixed?
4. What advice does the mullah give Anahita regarding marriage?
1. In both the beginning and end of the chapter, Anahita reflects upon her
cousin Shirin‟s life as a married woman. Why do you think she keeps
thinking about her cousin this way?
2. After Anahita remarks to her mother that women would make fine
Kadkhudas (tribal leaders), her mother tells her that it sounds as if she is
saying that she believes women could live without men. But is that really
what Anahita is saying? Explain.
3. Anahita solves her father‟s riddle, which is that life is like a garden, that
both never stay the same, which she realizes just after telling her mother
that she doesn‟t want her life to change. What is the reader to take away
1. What two qualities does Anahita insist the man she will marry must
2. According to Anahita‟s mother, how would the tribe‟s people react if
Anahita were allowed to go forth with her wedding riddle contest?
3. What previous idea did Anahita have that caused an uproar among her
community? What were the repercussions?
1. What did Anahita learn about the bathhouse incident?
2. Anahita compares herself to the great Sufi poet Rabi‟a‟, saying that they
are both women wishing to express themselves feely to anyone, even
Allah. Do you agree with this comparison? Explain your answer.
1. Why did Reza‟s family joke that he received “gifts of blood” from some
2. What did Reza name is cockatiel?
3. How old is Reza?
1. From the “lesson” Reza gives his students, do you feel he is a good teacher?
Why or why not? What do his students learn from their outing?
2. What kind of man is Reza?
1. What do Arash and his cousin find in between two boulders?
2. What agreement does Arash and his tribesmen reach regarding how to
deal with the Russian soldiers approaching?
1. From his leadership of the tribesmen, his discussion with his grandfather
and the author‟s exposition about him, what have you learned about
2. What do Arash and Anahita have in common?
1. What are the reasons Dariyoush‟s parents won‟t allow him to court
2. What shape does Dariyoush carve out of wood for Anahita?
1. As he sits with Anahita, Dariyoush wishes he could enjoy spending this
time with her. Why can‟t he?
1. How did Anahita respond after Shirin questioned whether choosing a
husband would be a wonderful opportunity?
2. What tribe‟s person does Anahita compare Dariyoush to?
1. Anahita thinks to herself that her grandmother follows “her own spiritual
clock.” Do you think Anahita does as well, or is she just stubborn?
2. Do you think Anahita wants Dariyoush to ask for her hand in marriage?
Why or why not?
1. In response to her mother‟s question, what does Anahita say she was born
2. According to Anahita, what do colors made from synthetic dyes lack?
3. What does Anahita lose outside the mosque?
1. What quality about Anahita is Arash most attracted to? Explain.
1. What does Dariyoush say he needs Anahita‟s help with at the caves?
2. What joke does Dariyoush play on Anahita at the cave?
1. Were you surprised that the mullah consented to Anahita‟s wedding
riddle idea? Why or why not?
1. What personal desire for himself is revealed about Arash in the beginning
of the chapter?
2. Who does Pirouz, the young boy Arash meets upon entering Marv, say
once stayed in Marv?
1. Do you think Arash will make a good governor of Marv? Why or why not?
2. Discuss the concerns Arash seems to have regarding his father‟s
1. What does the khan carry on his arm?
2. What does the khan suggest his servant buy for Anahita as a gift?
1. Chapter eleven is told from the khan‟s point of view. How is he different
than what we‟ve heard of him in earlier chapters?
1. Why doesn‟t Anahita‟s father want to hear her riddle?
2. What advice does Shirin give Anahita?
3. How did Anahita‟s father chase away the snow leopard?
1. Do you think Anahita is justified in tackling Shirin or did she overreact?
2. Anahita‟s father explains his reasons for being angry with Anahita
regarding her telling the mullah about the wedding riddle contest idea.
Do you think he has the right to be angry? Should it influence his decision
regarding the contest?
1. While thinking about Shirin as a grown-up, married woman, what does
2. What message does the khan‟s messenger have for Anahita‟s father?
3. What does Anahita do with the silk given to her by the khan?
1. Do you think Anahita is too hard on the khan, that maybe she should give
him a chance? Why or why not?
2. Were you surprised by the grandmother‟s support of the contest? Why or
1. What is said to be Anahita‟s biggest wish in life?
2. What occurred that might prevent later stopping at Mashhad on the way
back to Hasanabad?
1. Anahita believes that the man who solves her riddle will be her kindred
spirit. Do you agree or do you think these are just naive thoughts?
Explain your answer.
1. After learning of the wedding riddle contest, what does the khan threaten
2. What does Anahita say that hurts Dariyoush‟s feelings?
3. What book does one of the dervishes give Arash?
1. Anahita seems to be becoming fonder of both Dariyoush and Arash at the
same time. Which do you think is more compatible with her?