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.