It is evident right from the beginning that Marina is very well informed as she knows a lot about what is going on politically in her country and a lot of her friends are involved in protests against the dictatorship. It is clear that she is also quite outspoken due to the fact that she refuses to sit back in school and let the teachers teach what Ayatollah Komenini wants. She stands up for herself and surely a lot of the children in her class when she speaks up against them. This shows how outspoken she can be, that she is very strong willed and the she will always stand up for herself. These qualities can also be easily displayed by her experiences in jail and how she stays strong even though she is going through the toughest times possible and dealing with situations that children in our society could not even dream of. She is clearly quite opinionated as well since she was fairly active in revolting against her government before she went to prison and she always had ideas on what was happening and what should be done to make things change. Due to this it is obvious Marina is also quite smart. She knows a lot about her country’s situation and she has a lot of thoughts and feelings towards that. She also really cares about actually learning in school and shows this by standing up against her teacher and wanting to be taught the proper curriculum.
Through Marina’s experiences so far in jail it is also quite clear that she is a very brave girl and that she is quite capable and able to handle herself. She is forced to go through very tough times as she is forced away from her friends and family and pushed into a cruel world in which no one cares for her. She was brutally tortured and discriminated against in jail yet she was able to pull herself together and has been able to survive so far; especially being able to continue on after almost being executed. This shows that she is exceptionally strong willed. Marina was pulled away from her friends and family at such a young age and it is impossible for us to imagine what this could have been like and how she was able to pull herself together enough to simply get through her days. But of course, she would not have been able to survive in prison without Ali, the guard who had taken a liking to Marina and was helping her along the way in prison.
Ali was a revolutionary guard at Evin prison where Marina was being held and, rather than making Marina’s life harder he actually took quite a liking to her and was helping her survive in the prison. In fact, if it were not for him, she would have been executed. He was even able to get her moved to ward 246 of the prison so she could be with her friend Sarah, who she knew before the prison. He took a likely to Marina right from the start when he interrogated her when she first came to the prison. As she says in the novel he is almost like her “dark guardian angel,” although she does not even want to continue living on in prison and says that she would of almost preferred death. It is hard to tell at this point why Ali is doing all of this and what his intentions are in the future. So far he seems to be like a fairly nice guy, although Marina does not want him to be, in fact she almost despises him. As she gets to know him later on, he attempts to persuade her to like him much more. “Assadollah and I have been friends for years.” He said. “He was also a prisoner in Evin during the time of the Shah. But he’s gone too far. I’ve tried to change things in Evin, and I haven’t been able to. He wouldn’t listen.” (M. Nemat Page 225) This quote is an example of a nicer converstaion Ali would have to Marina trying to convince her that he was nice. No matter what she saw a dark side due to the fact that she had been torchured by him.
Throughout the introductory chapters of Prisoner of Tehran, you learn a lot about Marina Nemat. She is very brave, smart, open minded, strong willed, opinionated and much more. Her experiences have shaped the way that she is and have impacted her life in huge ways. Of course she had to already have a lot of these qualities going into prison to be able to come out of it alive and intact.