Persepolis Analysis The graphic novel Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, is a autobiography describing her childhood in Iran and her early life and studies in Europe. As a graphic novel, the book uses text and drawings to tell the story. The autobiography is effectively transmitted because, even though the images do not tell the story by themselves, they help the reader visualize it, and help set the tone and mood. The images help the reader understand the story better, and visualize what the author wants them to see.
At one point, Satrapi describes what happened to a member of the guerillas ( a small group of combatants). “Ahmadi was assassinated. As a member of the guerillas, he suffered hell. He always had cyanide on him in case he was arrested, but he was was taken by surprise and unfortunately he never had a chance to use it… so he suffered the worst torture… They burned him with an iron. ” (51) Here, the author uses the images of torture to express the pain, and give the full representation of it. By actually seeing what the author describes, it makes it clearer, and the reader will have a more authentic reaction to it.
Another example of when the image make it possible for the author to describes exactly what she wants, and when Marji describes how she changed, “Between the ages of fifteen and sixteen, I grew seven inches. It was impressive. My head also changed in its own way. First, my face got longer. Then my right eye grew, followed swiftly by my chin doubling in length. Then it was my mouth, my right hand, my left foot. Of course, my nose tripled its size. And was decorated by a large beauty mark. Then my chin advanced majestically, only to retreat to its original position several months later. (Satrapi 189) Each step is described by a drawing, which enables the author to shows exactly what she means, and accurately portray the change of appearance. It helps the reader visualize what she went through, and see the evolution of her face. Generally, the images make the text clearer, and help the reader picture the scene that the author is describing. Next, the images help set the tone of the story. The beginning of the book gets dark very quickly, “’They burned down the Rex cinema tonight. ‘ The doors had been locked from outside a few minutes before the fire. The police were there.
They forbade people to rescue those locked inside. Then they attacked them. ” (Satrapi 14) The images accompanying the text are dark images, with white silhouettes, and the drawings are serious. It gives a apprehensive tone to it, since the author knows that this isn’t the only event that will happen, but rather the start of something long and serious. It is also threatening, because she know bad things are going to happen, and that it is inevitable. Another example is when Marji goes to Vienna, and she looks back a last time to learn that her mother just fainted, “What I had feared had been true.
Maybe they’d come to visit, but we’d never live together again. I couldn’t bear looking at them there behind the glass. Nothing’s worse than saying good bye. It’s a little like dying. I just couldn’t go. I turned around to see them one last time. It would have been better to just go. ” (Satrapi 153) In the image accompanying the last sentence, she sees her mother faint in the arms of her father, and they are both shaded black. In her face, there is look as if she was lost, surprised, and did not know what to do. The emotions on her face can’t be equaled by the written word, and have the same effect.
Here, it sets a confused and shocked tone, because she does not know why that happened, or what is going to happen to her mother afterward. The images show reactions and facial expressions that helps convey what the author or the person speaking feels. Finally, the images help set the mood of the story. Sometimes the drawing are drawn black on white, but other times, generally when the topic is more serious, the drawings are in a negative format, white on a black background. Sometimes it is just because it is night, but an exception is after the Shah finally leaves Iran and loses power. After Black Friday, there was one massacre after another. Many people were killed. The end of the Shah’s reign was near. One day he made a declaration on TV. ‘I understand your revolt, together we will try to march towards democracy. ‘ For a few months, he actually did try: he tested a dozen of prime ministers. The more he tried democracy, the more his statues were torn down… Then his effigy was burned. The people want only one thing: his departure! So finally… The day he left, the country had the biggest celebration of its entire history” (Satrapi 40) In the last image, the black background contrasts with the bright faces of he people, and highlights the smiles and the joy of the population. It is cheerful and liberating, because after a long time of pressure, they are finally free of their oppressor. A less joyful part is when she is walking on the street alone, “Now that Tehran was under attack, many fled. The city was deserted. As for us, we stayed. Not just out of fatalism. If there was to be a future, in my parent’s eyes, that future was linked to my French education. And Tehran was the only place I could get it. ”(Satrapi 137) The words themselves don’t have a lot of emotion to them, but the image that accompanies conveys a strong feeling of loneliness.
The dark trees and the single shadow of the person create a desolate mood, because nobody is there anymore, and it is like the place is dead, just like the millions of victims. The mood of the story relies a lot on the images and on the contrasts of the black and the white. Every sentence in this novel is associated with a drawing. The use of images is effective in this book, because they help the reader visualize what the author is trying to transmit, and also helps set the tone and mood of the story. Bibliography Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis. New York: Pantheon Books, 2007. Print