Essay for Persepolis
– Prompt #4 Satrapi’s book deals with many issues from the Iranian Revolution to the process of growing up during political turmoil. Among the many issues, two important political issues that are raised in the book are the division of society by class differences and the influences of Western culture. These two political issues are of particular importance because they greatly affected Satrapi’s childhood as well as her pathway to maturity. Persepolis deals with issues of class disparities and Satrapi displays a conflicted feeling towards the subject.
One of the reasons the subject remains contradictory is that Satrapi shows her parents as very warm-hearted, but flawed and hypocritical people. For example, her family supports the Marxist theory and communism, both of which argue for the disintegration of social class and privilege. However, her parents uphold strict class barriers even within their own household with their maid Mehri and maintain a more privileged lifestyle than that of the lower classes. In addition, we know that Satrapi suddenly begins to feel embarrassed about sitting in her father’s Cadillac.
The war does not quite show the outcomes that Satrapi’s parents believed it would show and as Satrapi grows up, she begins to have more conflicts with her parents. In addition, in the chapters “The Letter” and “The Key”, we learn a great deal about how Satrapi feels about the social class division. Although this may be even more so because of Satrapi’s young age at the time, Satrapi does not pay attention to social class because she doesn’t find it important. In “The Letter”, her father learns that the family maid likes the boy in the neighboring house and that Satrapi had known about it the whole time.
Her father tries to communicate to her that “their love is impossible…because in this country you must stay within your own social class. ” We know that Satrapi is confused about her father’s stance as she states that it wasn’t Mehri’s fault that she was born in a lower class and questions whether her dad is for or against social classes. This situation seems to abruptly introduce Satrapi into the world of adults and hypocrisy. Even though her parents held an ideological view of social equality, in the end, they did not follow through with their own beliefs.
The sixth frame on page thirty-seven shows Satrapi’s ultimate confusion. While this question leaves her confused, it is also an important part of her childhood, as it gives her purpose in her life to change her world positively. Though we cannot be sure of the time frame, Satrapi eventually understands the reasons for the revolution and decides that she and Mehri will demonstrate and this situation makes her realize how bad the social class discrimination was in her society.
She realizes that while it is not a big deal to her, it must be a big deal to some other people and that the journey to creating a better government will be a long and hard one. In “The Key”, we are also able to see that the division of social class really separates the lower class from the upper class. In particular, the lower class is more deeply affected. For example, young boys from poorer regions were told that if they fought in the military, the afterlife would be even better than Disneyland. As Satrapi states, “the key to paradise was for poor people. Throughout her childhood and later years, Satrapi struggles with the influences of Western culture and its censorship in society. While growing up in revolutionary Iran, Satrapi saw that the new leaders of the government imposed many restrictions against the widespread westernization that occurred. For example, women were forced to wear veils in public. Throughout the novel, Satrapi idolizes political heroes and their courage to rebel against the extremist majority. Because she is not allowed to participate in the demonstrations, she finds her wn ways to rebel by listening to punk music, pinning up posters of western pop-culture icons, and wearing sneakers with her western-cut pants. For example, in the story “Kim Wilde”, Satrapi asks for posters of Kim Wilde and the Iron Maiden and her parents take great lengths and risk their lives to bring her these posters. Also, to the amazement of her peers, Satrapi publicly voices her opinion on the double-standard between what is considered an acceptable dress code for men and women. However, while Satrapi attempts to best deviate from the conformity, she is aware of the fact that she is jeopardizing her own life.
For example, in “Kim Wilde”, after she is taken to the committee and gets released pretty easily, she knows that she cannot tell her mother where she has been for that will limit her freedom. Although we do not see this until much later after she returns home from Europe, we know that ultimately, she realizes that Iran is not a place for a nonconformist, a “free woman”, as remaining in Iran will disempower her and minimize her individuality completely. Unlike Satrapi’s views of the social class system, she is not confused by contradicting statements and remains steadfast about voicing herself as a nonconformist.
When she is forced to listen to a lecture at her college called “Moral and Religious Conduct”, she stands up and states that the religious leaders’ opposition to western-cut slacks was not necessarily an issue of modesty. Rather, she questioned if religion was defending physical integrity or just opposed to fashion. Overall, these two political issues contributed greatly to Satrapi’s coming of age and allowed her to create unique and personal expressions of herself. Although she experienced a lot of trouble growing up, these issues helped shape her life.