Literature Interpretation – Persepolis
Persepolis is a graphic memoir written by Marjane Satrapi. This memoir is about her growing up in Iran during the revolution. She experienced many different things throughout her childhood and was forced to grow up very quickly. Persepolis shows how war and big events in one’s childhood can affect how they grow and develop as a person. Growing up in the time of a revolution changed how Marjane developed independence, much like 9/11 shaped the lives of millennials, by giving them a certain view on government, making them more cautious, patriotic, and proud of where they came from.
Marjane was not very independent at first, but throughout her life she grew and gained a new sense of independence by making her own decisions rather than doing what her parents made her. As a child Marjane was forced to go to school much like all of us were. Early on Marjane decided that she is going to be a prophet, but her teacher finds out about this and did not understand her and confronted her parents about it. “Your child is disturbed. She wants to become a prophet” (Satrapi 8). Marjane did not like to go to school because her teachers just did not understand her, and they did not seem to want to understand her. Her teachers showed that they do not support Marjane. Later in the story we see Marjane acting out in school again. She said after beginning a new school year where many new traditions started that “After a little while, no one took the torture sessions seriously anymore. As for me, I immediately started making fun of them” (Satrapi 97). By looking at these pictures of Marjane messing around laying on the floor, and wearing her veil the wrong way we understand how she disrespected her teachers. I think this is because she did not want to be there and did not want to be taught what they were teaching. She had her own views and only went to school because her parents made her. Later on in life Marjane and Reza decided to take their National Exam so that they could go back to school. “(They) decided to study for the National Exam as to not waste their lives doing nothing” (Satrapi 280). Marjane made this decision on her own without the help of her parents. She showed more independence and how she had grown as a person. She realized the importance of schooling now.
Marjane always wanted to be her own person and have independence, but she got what she wanted way too soon in life when she had to move to Austria by herself. On page 153 we saw Marjane leaving for Austria. In all of the images we saw the frightened look on her face. She had always thought that she wanted this independence and to live on her own, but now that it was here she was fearful of what was to come and leaving her parents. At the end of the book Marjane says, “I want to go to France” (Satrapi 341). She chose to leave the comfort of her country on her own. This showed how she was not ready to live independently, but has developed this confidence of independence. Her previous experiences have helped her develop this, and after leaving her husband she was ready to be independent and start a new life in France.
Marjane also became more independent in her relationships. Marjane was naive about relationships when she first arrived at Austria, but soon she started pursuing many relationships, like the one with Enrique. This is the first real relationship Marjane had, but it ended with him saying, “I think I am gay” (Satrapi 214). After this Marjane continued to want to date other men though. A couple pages later we met Jean Paul. She thought they really had something, but it turned out that he only wanted her help with math. Then she started to date Markus. He was her first real love. Finally on page 276 Reza and Marjane met at a party. They ended up getting married, but after a while Marjane realized she wanted her independence back and did not want to be tied to a husband. Marjane told Reza “When I was in love with you, you didn’t let me in. Now it’s too late Reza I don’t love you anymore” (Satrapi 338). This was difficult for her, but she knew she did not want to be tied down for the rest of her life. She went from wanting to be in a relationship all of the time to wanting her independence and to be a single woman.
As Marjane developed she made a lot of friends, but when she was younger she had friendships that were formed by her parents. As she grew older she became more independent and picked her own friends. When Marjane was younger we saw her interact with her friends a lot, but what we maybe did not notice was that all of the people she talked to were kids of the friends of her parents. Marjane interacted with kids from school, neighbors, and friends like Laly, but none of these friends were chosen by Marjane herself. She was friends with her classmates because they all came from an upper level of society and can afford to go to this school. She was friends with her neighbors for the same reason: they could afford to live in that area. These were all relationships out of convenience. Marjane only spent time with Laly because she was “Siamak’s daughter” who “was the husband of (her) mothers best friend” (Satrapi 48). She was friends with Laly because of their parent’s connection. Marjane did not really get to pick her friends she was just friends with the kids who her parents were friends with or friends with girls from school. On page 167 you saw a picture of Marjane’s new friends in Austria. They were a very different group. She described them as “an eccentric, a punk, to orphans and a third worlder” (Satrapi 167). Although they were a unique group of individuals Marjane liked them and was glad that she was able to pick them.
The text “Post-9/11 Generation: Millennials Reflect on Decade since Terrorist Attacks” has many similarities to Marjane’s development after the war began. The Millennials are the people who were a part of the 9/11 generation. They are the ones born between 1980 and 2000. In this text the author Alyssa Henry writes that “She can remember what she wore that day, what class she was in, even what she whispered to a friend when she first heard that the terrorists had attacked the nearby island of Manhattan” (Henry). Marjane Satrapi wrote this memoir looking back on her childhood, and on page 142 we saw the image of her neighbor’s house that had been hit by a bomb. Most of the images in this graphic novel are simple and cartoonish, but this image was different. It was so detailed compared to others which shows she can still see this image in her mind even though it was so long ago. These events that happened in their childhoods will forever be ingrained into their minds.
“Ashley Smalls, grew up in Cypress Hill, Brooklyn. Smalls reported feeling more patriotic in the years following 2001” (Henry). Marjane was somewhat embarrassed of where she came from when first moving to Austria. She had a fear of not fitting in, but on page 197 we saw large bold text reading “I am Iranian and proud of it” (Satrapi 197). We saw many times throughout the book how she was ready to fight for her country and defend them, and she kind of lost this drive when she moved to Austria. It did not take her long to find this drive though, and tell those people who she was and how she did not care who knew.
All in all both the Millennials and Marjane had to grow up very quickly. They had to discover independence at a young age. Marjane thought she wanted this independence, but soon realized it was a lot to take on. As she developed she learned from her mistakes and gained her independence. In the end she even made choices to provide her with more independence as a woman. Marjane Satrapi shows how war and big events in one’s childhood can affect how they grow and develop as a person.