Not to be rich, not to be famous, not to
be mighty, not even to be happy, but to be
civilized — that was the dream of his life. What the
qualities of such a life were he could not have
articulated when he left his father’s house in northern Tehran.
His plan was to travel all the way to New
York to find out. He knew for sure what he
didn’t want, and that was to live like a common
man. His own father, Jacob, was a humble shop owner.
His mother was a hard-working woman with a slavish nature.
Paraphrases from the novel When She Was Good by Philip Roth.