Iris Chase Griffen is the protagonist of the novel, and the novel’s plotline gradually allows readers to come to a deeper understanding of who she is. When she appears as an elderly woman, Iris reveals very little of her emotions. She seems mostly preoccupied with living in the past, and it is through the narrative of her past life that the reader sees her main traits and motivations. Iris initially seems like a woman who chose to conform to social expectations both out of fearfulness and a desire to please others. As a child, Iris is repeatedly told that she has to be responsible for her younger sister, and her father asks her to make a great sacrifice by marrying a man she does not love. As a married woman, Iris tries to be agreeable because she does not think she is strong enough to stand up to Richard and Winifred. Iris does not see herself as competent or useful, and as a result, she cannot aspire to independence. Unlike Laura, Iris believes that if she does not cause any trouble, she can keep herself and others safe.

The gradual revelation of secrets drastically reframes the reader’s understanding of Iris. Iris is eventually revealed to be passionate, assertive, and creative. She took a huge risk by having an affair with Alex Thomas and showed a lot of cunning by successfully keeping the affair a secret. She also boldly deceives everyone about the paternity of her child, and once she finally decides to leave Richard, Iris shows that she can be strategic, resilient, and independent. Most dramatically, the revelation that Iris herself is the author of The Blind Assassin suggests that Iris, not Laura, is the woman who should be celebrated for being able to think ahead of her time and challenge social norms.