Persepolis Amazing, intriguing, and unimaginable are just a few words to describe how I felt about Persepolis while I read this true life story of Marjane Satrapi. This book has helped me to see all the life struggles, good times, and adversities that Marji faced between the ages of nine to thirteen. The Islamic Revolution had such a daunting effect in the Middle East, especially in the county of Iran where Marji and her family resided. In the year of 1979 all that Marjane knew what it was like to not have to be forced into wearing a veil.
Before the Islamic Revolution she was able to attend a a French Non-Religious school where girls and boys were allowed to study and play together. Unfortunately her world of carefree ness ended once the Islamic government decided to change their ways and force others to conform to their religious beliefs of what is right and wrong. Marjanne was raised by two very independent and brilliant parents who were upper middle class people. Her parents tried to raise her to believe that she could be anything that she wanted to be as long as she put her mind to it.
Mr. Satrapi would give Marji books on communism and by Marz, because her father was a Marxist. Once the Islamic revolution took over Iran Marji had to wear the veil and was not allowed to go to school with her male friends because it is not of Islam for children of different sexes to be educated in a unisex school environment. Marjane’s mother Mrs. Satrapi was a protester and her and her husband believed in protesting for things that they did not believe in. Protesting was seen as demonstrations that meant bad to all who participated in them.
Well Mrs. Satrapi, was photographed by a German photographer in the act of protesting one day against the Islamic’s beliefe. This then caused her to take safe precautionary actions like dying her hair, keeping her hair and face covered, and the wearing of dark sunglasses to prevent the police regime from arresting her. She did this hiding for two years just in case the magazine ever showed up in Iran which would have devastating consequences if her identify was ever found out.
These events led Marjane to understand that all the things that were taking place in Iran was very serious business and if the rules were not followed then you were in serious danger. I really admired how Marjane’s parents went out of their way and literally risked their lives so that Marjane could have a somewhat normal life. The Satrapi family were really good people who always did what they supposed to do if they knew that it was the right thing to do. They believed that you should have the liberty to make your own decisions, which is why Marjane was so independent, brave, rebellious, generous, understanding.
Marjane believed that you should always do what is right because every one is considered equal. Well even though Marji was taught that by her parents she soon learned that not everyone is considered equal according to what socio-economic class that they were a part of. When Marjane’s family maid fell in love with the teenage boy next door, she did not see anything wrong with them both wanting to be together and get married. It’s only when Marjane’s parents found out about the maid’s relationship that it was soon ended because her father told the young man that she was their maid.
In Iran the mixing of social class was not something that was never allowed because to them marriage to some one of a lower social class was a total abomination. While reading this solution it made me think that her parents were being somewhat hypocritical about their maid and her interactions with them and other people in their same social class. If Marjane was taught that everyone should be created equal then why couldn’t the maid eat with them? Well even though her parents tried to raise her to believe in equality it was mainly excluding the lower class from them.
The Satrapi’s did believe that everyone should be able to have equality with their religion, politics, and education, just not the union of love and much social interaction with lower class Iranians because that was the way the people of Iran were raised to follow. What Mr. Satrapi, did infuriated Marjane because her maid lost the love of her life. So to get back at her parents she felt that it would do them some good to go to protest against social equality even though they told her she could not go because she was a nine year old child and it was too dangerous for her to partake in.
Once the Islamic Revolution was in effect Marjane didn’t like how all these Islamic rules were being forced upon in all that she did whether it was school or just hanging out with friends to how many times a day you prayed. School was closed down for quite some time so that the school books could be changed to what the Islamic way of life was and all the rules. Once school opened back up she only went to school with girls and they all had to be fully covered.
The teachers of the school would teach about how great the religion of Islam was and how their ruler was the best. Of course Marjane did not agree with this so she started to smart off to her teachers and principal. She would also have her classmates rebelling right along with her which would usually get them sent home numerous times. Talking back at school was Marjane’s way of protesting and having her own demonstrations since her parents did not think that it was safe enough to go to an actual one.
Every time her parents would get a phone call they would always stand behind their daughter, which show how much they believed that what she was rebelling against was the right thing to do. After some time she had to stop otherwise she would never ever get schooled. Marjane’s parents resisted the new gender norms by throwing parties at their home, drinking wine, playing games, buying westernized culture souvenirs, clothing, music, and protesting against the Islamic Revolution.
It was against the law to have parties so to protect their secret Marjane’s mom put up black tape and curtains over the windows in the house. It makes me really upset to see how these people had to go through so much hiding little things like board and card games just so they could add some humor to their life. Here in America I know we take parties and things such as games for granted, and reading about this in the book truly made me appreciate being an American so much more. Throughout the first couple of years of the Islamic Revolution Marjane would talk to God about her problems and all.
God was her one outlet who could see all and know all, letting her know that you could not hide anything from him. When Marjane was nine she wanted to be a prophet because she wanted to make people in the world safe, happy, and healthy. She didn’t want her grandmother to have pain in her body anymore so she felt that it would be best for her to be a prophet for when she gets older. Of course when she was asked in school what her future career would be she was shunned for her prophet job and the teacher called in her parents.
From then on she always said she wanted to be something else instead of what she really wanted to do. As the revolution went on Marjane would always here about heroes in other people’s families and it kind of made her jealous that there wasn’t anyone that she knew of as a hero in her family. Then she had the pleasure of meeting her Uncle Anoosh who is her dad’s brother who was locked up in prison for many years. He told her so many stories and she fell in love with everything they had conversations about.
The relationship that they had was so sweet and fun to read about. The day that Uncle Anoosh missed picking Marji up from school upset me cause I could tell that something bad had happened. After Marjane was allowed to see him before he was executed was so saddening because you knew he was going to die for no absolute reason. The part that made me cry was when he said that she was the daughter he never had. I know his passing was hard on her because she lost her Uncle Anoosh who was like her best friend.
From then on I think Marjane stopped talking to God because she felt like he let the bad guys win by executing her Uncle Anoosh. The novel to me had a lot of gender affiliations that were exemplified throughout the novel. One real part of the book that stood out to me was how the women were allowed to roam the city and not stay immobilized in the home and participate in all the political aspects of the Islamic Revolution, Most times women are meant to be seen and not heard during times like this rather than going for what they believed in whether it was good or bad.
Through all this women still were treated horribly, whether it was physical, verbal, or emotional. Iran had a law that if a virgin woman was against the Islamic Revolution she would be married first to her enemy and she would be de-virginized and then killed. I found this really appalling not only were these girls about to be killed because they had different opinions, but first their innocence would be taken from them. I really enjoyed this book and it made me sympathize with the good people in the Middle East.
It was nice to see how Marjane Satrapi grew up and try to learn how difficult life was for her and her people. This book made me really grateful for all that I have been blessed with through God. This novel taught me a lot about Iranian history and how the whole Islamic Revolution began. This novel was so good that I am in the process of going to buy the follow-up to her novel. Bibliography: Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis. Paris: Pantheon Books, 2003.