Persepolis and Courage
Persepolis and Courage Marjane Satrapi’s memoir Persepolis is considered a “coming of age” story based on her experiences growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. This graphic novel explores the life she lead in Tehran which encompassed the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. Undergoing life with such a chaotic environment, it took Satrapi courage to act and live as her “authentic self” and explore what it meant to her to be authentic.
Similar to Aristotle, May and Medinas Persepolis examines the concept of courage, through the view of innocence; through Satrapi’s childhood. Firstly, Aristotle discusses the idea of the courage of the “citizen-soldier” an individual who “face[s] dangers because of the penalties imposed by the laws and the reproaches they would otherwise incur, and because of the honors they win by such action; and therefor those people seem to be the bravest among whom cowards are held in dishonor and brave men in honor” (Aristotle 11).
The courage of a “citizen-soldier” is prevalent and influential in Satrapi’s journey in trying to understand who she is and what she believes in. For, she points out in a childlike manner how she wants to be a prophet and how she wishes her father were a martyr. The idea of a martyr in this book is specifically significant in relation to the courage of the citizen-soldier as the people she is surrounded by are in constant struggle through out the oppressive regime. Therefor, she is influenced to believe that she needs to stand up for what she believes in regardless of the consequences.
Satrapi shows how she is struggling to find her true identity within the society she is placed as she is constantly torn between the veil and the image she feels more comfortable in. Her “demin jacket with the Michael Jackson button” was contrasted with her final statement “and of course my head scarf” (Satrapi 131). The oppressive nature of Iran makes it difficult for her to identify herself as an individual as the veil creates a united community rather than individuals within a community. Her courage to dress the way that she does and go out in public is a significant moment in which she progresses towards her authentic self.
This scenario coincides with May’s statement that “we are left the responsibility to choose mindfully and have the courage to remain constantly embroiled in the struggle between daring to amplify our inner thoughts or being directed by the external cacophony of seemingly solid imperatives in the world of others” (Medina 289). Satrapi has a choice, and so do we, every day. We make the choice to amplify our thoughts and we must strive to do so otherwise we’ll be drawn into this ambient noise. Furthermore, May discusses three conceptual branches of courage: physical courage, social courage and moral courage.
These concepts are evident throughout the graphic novel as Satrapi’s childhood curiosity delves her further into the understanding of the situation she is around. Yet, her child naivete blocks her ability to fully comprehend the decisions others are making around her. Her social courage comes from her audacious responses towards her teachers and her moral courage comes from her curiosity and guilt she has as she grows up when she speaks to “god” In conclusion, the graphic novel Persepolis is a bildungsroman, which develops the character of Marjane Satrapi through the vehicle of courage in developing the conflict of individual vs. ociety. This relates to the readings of May, Medina and Aristotle as they point out different conceptual ideas regarding courage and the authentic individual. Works Cited Aristotle. “Nicomachean Ethics. ”CCFYE 1100: Courage, Risk and Uncertainty (Lucid Seminar). Ed. Lesley University. Boston:XanEdu, 2013. 159-172. Print. May. “Courage to Create. ”CCFYE 1100: Courage, Risk and Uncertainty (Lucid Seminar). Ed. Lesley University. Boston:XanEdu, 2013. 11-25. Print. Medina, Marc. “Everyday Courage. ”CCFYE 1100: Courage, Risk and Uncertainty (Lucid Seminar). Ed. Lesley University. Boston:XanEdu, 2013. 280-298. Print.