Toward the end of the novel, Marjane says about people’s fear of the Islamic Commission, “It’s only natural! When we’re afraid, we lose all sense of analysis and reflection. Our fear paralyzes us. Besides fear has always been the driving force behind all dictators’ repression. ” How do Marjane and her compatriots deal with fear and their daily lives? To what extent do you see fear as a controlling factor in your own country’s public life? The new Islamic republic regime was beginning to spread in Iran and it was starting to cause fear in the public.
Many instances in Marjane’s family as well as other families during this time were faced with incidents where they were forced to change something in their daily lives in order to survive. This idea of the government influencing my daily life and the lives of others by inducing fear is present in my country, as well as Marjane. There is a connection between our two countries; we fear the authority in our country as well as our community. The emotion ‘fear’ is used in most cases where authority, or even false sense of authority, is involved. This is an easy way to become an oppressor to the right target.
The first chapter of the book introduces Marjane and gives us a briefing of her background. This chapter is called “The Veil”, and she explains how in 1980 they were first forced to wear the black veil at school. This started demonstrations in the streets between the women of the communities fighting for ‘the veil’ against ‘freedom’. Marjane’s mother participated in one of these demonstrations and a picture was taken of her and published in a newspaper in Iran. Scared for her life, “She dyed her hair, and wore dark glasses for a long time” (5).
The fear the authorities have on her made her change her appearance to disguise herself. This was a tactic that was necessary for her to survive. Another example occurs later in the chapter called, “The Wine”, in this chapter Marjane is watching her mother put up curtains over their windows in her living room and gets curious and decides to ask her mother what she’s doing. Her mother explains that, “The black curtains are to protect us from our neighbors”, and how, “A glimpse of what goes on in our house would be enough for them to denounce us! ” (105).
This is when it becomes clear to Marjane that not only does she have to fear the regime, she also has to fear the people in her community. Also in this chapter there is another incident where the Satrapi family is on their way home and they are pulled over by authoritative members of the regime for no reason at all and given a form of a sobriety test, they are then forced to drive to their house while they are followed in order to make sure that they do not have any alcohol in their household. Because the family did actually have alcohol in their house they had to devise a plan that would allow them to flush it before it was seen.
The father starts to give orders, “Grandma! Marji! When we’re home, get out first. I’ll try to stall them. Flush all the alcohol down the toilet” (109). The grandmother tells the officer that she has diabetes and she has to have some sugar or she will faint and he lets her enter the house along with Marji. The fear of consequences if they were to find the alcohol in the household took control of the family causes them to do whatever necessary to survive, Marji explains this when she says, “When we’re afraid, we lose all sense of analysis and reflection”.
In my community individuals have some of the same encounters regarding fear and authority. In the United States we focus more and more every day to make sure that we have the best law enforcement to ensure that there is “justice”. There have been many cases in history where incidents have occurred that have been classified as “Racial Profiling”, this is when the law enforcement (police) stops and questions an individual(s) based on stereotypes and preconceived thoughts about their race. This has been an ongoing problem in the African American community in the U.
S. There have been incidents that have occurred that have been made internationally known like, the beating of Rodney King in 1991 and more recently the murder of Trayvon Martin. These events cause fear in the African American community when the police are involved. In the Rodney King beating consisted of a videotape of an African American male being beat continuously by four police officers during traffic stop. This caused a rise in the public and had many African Americans fearing that they too would be treated unfairly if they were pulled over.
In the more recent case of Trayvon Martin, a seventeen year old was followed by a neighborhood watchmen, this ultimately ended up with him dead. He was unarmed and surely not expecting his fate. The police and watchmen represent the oppressor in the U. S the equivalent in Iran would be the Regime. Another huge problem that occurs in the U. S that is an international problem in our community based on fear is bullying. This involves the fear that someone is going to make you do something you do not want to do; this could even be someone in your community, similar to Marjane.
Bullying is done by intimidating another individual and can sometimes include making another person feel as though they are less of a person; this is evident in Persepolis as well. The more serious cases of bullying can even result in the death or suicide of an individual. Bullying can represent the community in the U. S; the equivalent to Marjane’s neighbors. In both countries fear is as Marjane says, “the driving force behind all dictators’ repression”, it is the main reason why it is so easy to gain control over people.
Although the consequences in Iran are more severe, as far as any petty crime having the potential to result in death, I think each country is very similar if not the same. In the U. S we fear being captured and having our freedom taken away, for example being put into jail. We also have a tendency to abuse power and use it to take advantage over people that we feel are less capable to defend themselves. The easiest way to gain control is to cause fear, this is a tactic that is used in both Iran and the U. S and is probably evident in many other places around the world as well.