Jalil Esmailzadeh stood in the doorway of the small, dark room he shares with his wife, their three children and a sister in a south Tehran slum.

"These children need bread," he said. "I am proud of the revolution, but the government is not taking care of us. My life has gone backwards."

Likely nearly 4 million other Iranians, or some 35 percent of the work force, Esmailzadeh is unemployed. As in many of those cases, his hopes of improving his lot under the Islamic Republic are starting to give way to despair.

The problems of Esmailzadeh and his family illustrate the difficulties the Islamic republic faces in meeting the aspirations of its supporters and staying off a situation in which they might eventually take to the streets again in protest - not against the shah this time but against the regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Life has never been very kind to Esmailzadeh, but now things are getting desperate.

For 24 of his 26 years he has lived in a squalid slum of mud and brick houses in the teeming southern part of the capital, which ranks as one of the world's most polluted urban areas.

Until six months ago he supported his family by working as a tailor for about $400 a month. Then his boss closed the shop in the midst of Iran's revolutionary turmoil and has not reopened it because cheap clothing smuggled in from abroad has made the business unprofitable.

"I haven't paid the rent in three or four months," Esmailzadeh told a couple of visitors. "My friends give me some money for food. Otherwise I would have to go out and beg."

The rent for his windowless 8-by-12-foot room, home for six people, comes to about $58 a month, excluding utilities.

Esmailzadeh is better off than many inhabitants of south Tehran's slums and shanty towns. His room has electricity and running water. A refrigerator stands in one corner, and a radio and an electric fan sit on a shelf at the other end of the room. A bare electric light hangs from the ceiling. The walls are adorned with pictures of Ayatollah Khomeini.

In the courtyard outside his room, Esmailzadeh, dressed in blue jeans and a wrinkled work shirt and wearing worry beads around his left wrist, showed his visitors a 3-by-6 foot closet underneat some stairs in which he said two workers his age sleep. It rents for $14 a month.

A thin man with a black beard, Esmailzadeh said he is devoutly religious and believes in Islamic law as set forth in the Moslem holy book, the Koran.

Asked what he expects from Iran's revolutionary authorities, he replied, "I only expect them to take care of the poor people." His wife, Azizeh, holding an infant in her arms, added resentfully, "But they don't take care of us. Today we had to borrow 100 rials [$1.43] for food."

Esmailzadeh does not get any unemployment benefits from the government, he said, because he does not have a health insurance card.

The government has a program to dole out $140 million a month to the jobless, but has only been able to allocate about 40 percent of that every month because of bureaucratic inefficiency, according to economists.

As for the previous government, Esmailzadeh said former prime minister Amir Abbas Hoveyda - executed in April - came to inaugurate a nearby youth center once. An adjacent road was asphalted beforehand within two hours, he said, and oil drums were placed around the slum, which is known as "The shallows" because its squat buildings sit in a large depression bordered by earthen cliffs.

"They wouldn't let people see this place," he said recalling the ceremony. "No, we were not helped by the shah."

Even now, some people are not anxious for foreign visitors to tour the area.

In an alley outside Esmailzadeh's home, an agitated youth scolded Esmailzadeh for telling his troubles to strangers. "This is not good for the revolution," the youth said.