Influence on Children

“I think you are old enough to know certain things… (26)”

In Persepolis, Marji deals with a very confusing time that is a period of change and uprising in her country. In the beginning, she is at such a young age that she really doesn’t understand it all and only goes along with what she thinks she knows and what she is taught in the classroom. It’s interesting to think about how important and influential teachers are in the lives of their pupils, as Marji clearly demonstrates it when she surprises her dad with what she thinks the truth it. The government played a role in her education, and thus she’s taught in a way to favor the economy, even if that means bending the truth a little.

When her father sits her down to tell her the truth of the situation and how her grandfather was the one overthrown and sent in jail, this marks an important change in Marji with her views on the overthrow and education. There’s a graphic on page 29 where she sits in the tub because she wants to experience what her grandfather did when he was stuck in the cell of water. The very last image is striking as it’s her naked after the tub, simply looking down at her wrinkled hands, attempting to understand even a fraction of what he could have suffered.

The graphic itself is pretty small, but visually shows a very important message. Overall, the style of animation in the entire novel is simplistic and uses a lot of lines to convey meaning and visual appeal. The darkness and majority black background in this small square brings a lot of attention to it and the very simplistic image of Marji naked and looking down, very small compared to other images leaves an impact on how small she is in comparison to the idea of what’s going on in her country.

I think it’s interesting to think about whether this was good or not for the dad to tell this all to Marji? On one hand, it was good for her to realize she needs to form her own opinions and not just listen to the teachers because while they are important, they can just be spreading propaganda and influencing the thought of the children. On the other hand, it could be too early in her life and could just seem too confusing for her to handle.

One thought on “Influence on Children”

  1. I agree with you Cassidy in that teachers, especially in this novel, have a huge influence on the children. The part that you talked about was important for Marji to learn from. And learn from it she does when she confronts the lies the teacher tells her students on page 44 on the top three panels, “But she was the one who told us that the Shah was chosen by God!” even though Marji’s friends don’t question the teacher (the authority figure), she now knows better after the talk with her father and so confronts the teacher’s lies. Marji was very brave in doing this, especially at her age, but it just proves how much she has learned and grown in such a sort time.

    Also to expand on what you pointed out about the majority of the panel you analyzed being dark rather than light (since only black and white is used). If you focus on the color patterns in the whole novel, no matter what is being said, happy or not, the majority of the panels are darker. One such example that stood out to me while reading was one panel on page 61, the last one that says, “‘There are lots of heroes in my family. My grandpa was in prison, my uncle Anoosh too: for nine years! he was even in the U.S.S.R. My great-uncle Fereydoon proclaimed a democratic state and he was…”too much!'” given what she is saying you wouldn’t expect to have the visual of her and her friends just strolling through the forest. Although the picture itself seems innocent and peaceful enough, the fact that the author chose to draw the trees as black white white outlines instead of white with black outlines, therefore making the majority of the panel black, says a lot about the weight the words hold for Marji. Another visual about the panel that hits home the idea that these words effect Marji a lot more than she’s letting on, is the fact that there is a huge shadow cast behind her and her friends. This shadow can be a metaphor for so much in Marji’s life, but what I think it is symbolizing is the struggle these children have to go through daily. Talking about these things may seem natural and an everyday routine for them, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect them. On the contrary it affects them a lot, and I think that’s the reason the author chose to through a shadow behind the children in this picture, making the panel very dark indeed.

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