March 19th, 2018
The graphic autobiography Persepolis follows the childhood and early adulthood of the author, Marjane Satrapi, often referred to as Marji. Marjane grew up in Iran during and after the Islamic Revolution. Persepolis covers the life of Marjane from the age of six to the age fourteen. Even as a young child Marji had more cognizance of political issues than the average child growing up in that time. Despite the fact that she was so young, public issues still personally affected her and those around her.
Before the actual story begins, there is a brief introduction. The author uses this text feature to provide some context to help the reader understand the story better. The introduction informs the reader about the history of Iran, and how it came to be. Satrapi tells how everything came to be in an order-sequence fashion. ” Iran was rich. Because of its wealth and its geographic location, it invited attacks. ” (Satrapi 5). When the Soviets, British, and Americans asked Reza Shah, the second to last Shah of Iran to aid them in the war against Germany, he declined on account of the fact that Iran declared itself a neutral zone. He was later exiled by the allied forces and succeeded by his son, the Shah. ” The Shah stayed on the throne until 1979, when he fled Iran to escape the Islamic revolution. ” (Satrapi 5). After explaining the events that led to the war, Satrapi tells that an entire nation should not be held accountable for the faults of few extremists. She closes the introduction saying ” One can forgive but one should never forget. ” (Satrapi 6). The common misconception and ignorance towards the events that sequenced to the Islamic Revolution is a public issue that in turn, highlighted many personal troubles, such as Islam’s often being associated with fascists, fundamentalists, and even terrorists.
At the beginning of Persepolis, Marjane went to a non religious, co-ed school. This was the norm prior to the Cultural Revolution. Soon after all bilingual schools were closed by the Iranian government, who believed that the schools promoted Westernization and Capitalization. The government also ordered that all women were to cover their hair with veils for religious purposes. This caused major controversy between women in Iran because while some acknowledged the veil, there was still a large majority of women who were against the veil. There were many demonstrations in the streets, those who opposed the veil and those who accepted it. Among those women who did not see the veil as necessary was Marji’s mother.
At one of the many demonstrations, a journalist captured a photo of Marjane’s mother, which found itself in several newspapers and even in a magazine. ” And even in one magazine. My mother was really scared. She dyed her hair, and wore dark glasses for a long time. ” (Satrapi 9). The opposal of the veil put Marjane’s mother at risk, so she had to take unnecessary precaution and change her appearance for a while. This public issue also affected Marji herself, who at the time wanted to become a prophet, but viewed the veil as unnecessary also. ” I didn’t know what to think of the veil. Deep down I was very religious but as a family we were very modern and avant-garde. ” (Satrapi 10).
The manner in which this public issue accentuated a personal trouble was that of the cause and effect structure. Cause and effect is the universal law that suggests every cause has an absolute effect. Marjane’s mother’s photograph was taken during a demonstration and it made its way into a few newspapers. The overall effect of that cause inaugurated a fear that resulted in Marjane’s mother dying her hair and choosing to wear shades often.
In chapter four, ” The Letter “, Marji’s maid, Mehri, falls in love with their neighbor, Hoessein, who began writing letters to Mehri. However, because of the fact that Mehri was a peasant she could not read the letters written to her. For six months Marji read the letters to Mehri and wrote back responses for her. When the news reached Marji’s father, the constant exchange of letters had to cease. This was because of Marji’s parents firm belief in Marxism, which meant they had strongly believed in social classes. This became a personal trouble for Mehri because she was no longer able to speak to the man she loves, it also became a personal trouble for Marji, who loved Mehri as if she were her own sister. Marji did not share the same beliefs as her parents and expressed that to her father. ” But is it her fault that she was born where she was born??? ” (Satrapi 41)
Even though Mehri and Hoessein were very different, they still managed to fall in love with one another. Satrapi shows how the two are similar by how they fell in love, staring at each other through the window every night. They were still very different though, Mehri was simply a peasant working as a maid, and Hoessein belonged to a higher social class. Word of their forbidden love spread and they were to no longer interact. Being low on the social caste is indeed a personal trouble, Satrapi uses the compare and contrast structure to show how social class is a public issue and how it personally affected Mehri.
Marji’s father had a brother named Anoosh, she had never met him before because he was in prison for a very long time. Marji loved her uncle because to her, he was a hero. Anoosh was formerly the secretary of an Iranian province called Azerbaijan. He told Marji many stories about his life, the rise and fall of the Azerbaijan province, life in jail, and even torture. Not so long after Anoosh came back to see his family, he was arrested for being a former revolutionary. The republic absolutely despised any former revolutionary because they were considered the enemy, and immediately killed or arrested them. Anoosh was later executed in prison.
Former revolutionaries being arrested and murdered in cold blood was a major public issue in Iran. This personally troubled Marjane because Anoosh was a hero to her, and she loved him very much. The pain she felt towards losing her uncle made her change her views on religion, the same night that he was executed Marji completely shut out God. When God asked her what was wrong she responded with ” Shut up, You! Get out of my life !!!! I never want to see you again ! Get out ! ” (Satrapi 75). The dialogue between God and Marji was brief but very intense. Most dialogue in Persepolis happens in speech bubbles being that it is a graphic autobiography, however when Marji responded to God, it was written in burst. Bursts speech bubbles are like any other, but are meant to be interpreted as the user exploding, usually in anger. The Republic killing Marji’s uncle and other is a public issue that initiated a personal trouble for her. She was angry with god and that was demonstrated within the dialogue and use of the burst fashioned speech bubble.