116 pages 3 hours read

Alan Gratz

Code of Honor

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2015

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Symbols & Motifs

Siyavash and Rostam

Siyavash and Rostam, two figures from Persian mythology, play a pivotal role in the book. Kamran and Darius read the stories of Rostam and Siyavash when young and are inspired by their tales and heroic feats. Later, these stories become the basis of the code that Darius feeds Kamran after he is captured by Bashira Ansari and her terrorist cell. Siyavash and Rostam, and Rostam in particular, are symbols of heroism, and particularly of Arab heroism. Reflecting on Darius’s appearance when he is discovered in a cave in the Arizona desert, Kamran remarks: “He looks like a crazy old hermit. No, I realized. He looks like Rostam” (223). The integration of these Persian stories into a more typically American tale of counterterrorism is significant in its role in the identity politics of the novel. Through the tales of Siyavash and Rostam, Gratz explores the idea of the Arab-American hero, and in so doing provides a backdrop for the heroic acts of Darius and Kamran. 


Monsters play a large role in Code of Honor, particularly through characters of Arab-American or Arab descent being called monsters or monstrous. Monsters also appear in the boys’ code of honor, and most directly in the code’s last line, “Kill all monsters.