Category Archives: Tehran

Persepolis “Unity”

“We didn’t really like to wear the veil, especially since we didn’t understand why we had to.”

page 3

This novel caught my attention from the first page. None of the other books or stories we have read in class have ever had such an affect on my interest so fast. It was most likely because this sentence was brought to life by the illustrations. The way the story is told through comic book like sequences brings the story to life. The pictures show extreme conflict among adults, and confusion and fear among the children. In the second picture box I would never know that the girl is not pictured all the way to the left. I thought she was just the girl on the far left until I finished reading and I could see her cut out.

This is similar to the story of Saleem because it reveals what goes on in a child’s mind during a time of war and dictatorship. Children do realize when things are going wrong in the world even though they are expected to never think twice of new order that is suddenly enforced into their lives. The veil obviously has just as much symbolic meaning in Persepolis as the sheet did in Midnights Children.

Destruction of childhood faith

pg. 6

Marjane: “I was born with religion.”

pg. 10

Marjane: “My faith was not unshakeable.”

pg. 14-17

Marjane: “God, where are you? …That night he didn’t come.”

After hearing of the massacre in the theater Marjane becomes determined to protest in the demonstations against the Shah. Naturally, her parents tell her she is too young and it is too dangerous. However, this little “prophet” is still convinced of her importance when she says, “For a revolution to succeed, the entire population must support it” (pg. 17). She is again shut down and put to bed. The powerlessness of being a child roams around in her mind as she looks to talk to her beloved God. However, her faith in humanity is shattered and thus her faith in anything else is bound to be questioned. It’s incredible how quickly a child’s realm can be destroyed in a single moment. Of course, no childhood is the same but it can certainly be said that some kids grow up faster than others, whether it was their decision or not. Marjane seems to have a personality that is more mature than most kids her age – she has an insight that aims to better the good of the people. She sees herself as a prophet figure, just as Saleem saw himself as a messiah for India. They were both children who weren’t really children in their head thrown into a history linked to war and violence.

So then I suppose it poses the question of: what really causes children to grow up so fast? What truly robs them of their childhood? How much of it is their surroundings and upbringings, and how much of it is their own intellectual ability to see beyond the average child?

Persepolis – pgs. 3-93

Marjane: After marching and throwing stones all day, by evening they had aches all over, even in their heads.

“Hey Mom, Dad, let’s play Monopoly!”

Mom: “Darling, we are tired.”

Dad: “Now is not the right time.”

Mom: “Monopoly! I can’t believe it! Ha ha!”

Marjane: “It is never the right time! And for me, I love the King. He was chosen by God”

Dad: “Who told you that?”

Marjane: “My teacher and God himself”

Dad: “God did not choose the King.”

Marjane: “He did so! It’s written on the first page of our schoolbook!”

 

I thought that it was really ironic that the chapter “The Water Cell” begins with Marjane begging her parents to play Monopoly with her, a game that symbolizes capitalism, after they had spent the day  supporting Marxist revolutionary forces. It really showed how young Marjane was and how she couldn’t fully comprehend what was going on around her, especially since she was receiving such mixed messages. By the end of this chapter, Marjane comes to realize why her family is against capitalism and even tries to experience what her grandfather experienced in jail by taking a long bath. But it still must be confusing for a child at this age to understand whats going on around here when she is being taught 2 different things. On one hand, she is taught in school (and believes she was told by God as well), that the King was chosen by God himself. When she is home, however, her parents told her a completely different story.

 

Satrapi and her Constant Learning Experience

Dad – “Tell me what these are!”

Marjane – “Letters.”

Dad – “You must understand that their love was impossible.”

Marjane – “Why is that?”

Dad – “Because in this country you must stay within your own social class.”

Marjane – “But is it her fault that she was born where she was born? Dad, are you for or against social classes?”

 

I should begin the post by saying that I am really intrigued by the way Satrapi wrote this book. The comic book format is certainly unusual, but for this story line, this technique definitely works!

In the passage that I posted above, Marjane got caught writing letters to her maid’s (Mehri) boyfriend in the next house over from her. Since the maid could not read or write, she asked Marjane to write one letter a week for 6 months to the boy in the window. When Marjane’s father learned of this new, he was very upset with his daughter. But, the person who seemed even more confused was Marjane.

Throughout the book thus far, Marjane has been a person who questions society and not only that, but she is a very young girl growing up in the midst of the Iranian Revolution. I would normally think that a young girl in such a situation would be frightened to speak up and question society, even her own father in the midst of the protesting days.

Although the situation with the maid and the boyfriend next door does not seem like a very important part of the story so far, I feel like it is important to highlight that as a young girl, Marji doesn’t think it is fair that just because Mehri was born in a different area and is not of the same social class as the boy, that she should not be able to show her love for him. Marji saying the words, “But is it her fault that she was worn where she was born” confirms for the reader that Marji is not an ordinary child. She is insightful and disagrees with society’s view at the time that social classes need to marry into the same social classes.