The Reality of Growing Up While growing up I was influenced by everything around me. The media, my peers, my family etc. surrounded me and constantly guided the decisions I made. Although influenced by many outside forces, I still held on to my morals and values that my parents had always taught me while growing up. The book, The Complete Persepolis, written by Marjane Satrapi, is about Satrapi’s difficulties of her childhood in Iran during the Islamic Revolution, the teenage years in Vienna, and her return back to Iran.
The book shows the difficulties and joys of growing up in a completely different environment in where she doesn’t fit in. As a child Satrapi grew up around a corrupt regime and was always taught to stand of for what she believed in. As a child she would rebel against the regime and even try to join demonstrations with her parents. Satrapi tries her best to stay true to herself while in Vienna but is being exposed to Western culture. She has a hard time assimilating into Western culture but stays true to her old rebellious side.
Her grandmother, the sassy and clever woman, told Satrapi to stay true to herself before she left for Vienna. When Satrapi returns back home she finds it difficult to assimilate back into Iranian life but soon adapts to the culture again. Although Satrapi has difficulty assimilating into Western culture and then back into Iranian life, she stays true to herself even through the most difficult experiences of her adolescence and adulthood. Satrapi moved to Vienna during her adolescence and faced the hardships of assimilating into Western culture.
She faces small and big changes during her time in Vienna. The first sign of assimilating is when she changes her appearance by using make-up. Satrapi says, “She did my hair and drew on a thick line of black eyeliner that, from then on, became my usual makeup. I thought I looked very beautiful” (184). Satrapi assimilates to fit in with her first new group of friends. Due to the pressures of fitting in she even fake smokes a joint with them to show that she’s a part of the group and to feel a sense of belonging. “So I pretended to participate, but never inhaled the smoke”, says Satrapi (192).
Although Satrapi assimilates well into the culture, she still feels a sense of guilt: “The harder I tried to assimilate, the more I had a feeling that I was distancing myself form my cultures, betraying my parents, and my origins, that I was playing a game by somebody else’s rules” (193). At one point in the story Satrapi goes as far as to deny her own nationality when talking to boy at a party. Satrapi describes, “I even managed to deny my nationality” (195). She wants to feel like she belongs to be happy in Vienna. Satrapi hits a huge bump in her life in Vienna when she gives in to the pressures of drugs.
Satrapi says, “The communal life went hand in hand with the use of all kinds of mood enhancers: weed, hash, . . . I tripped every weekend, and you could see it on my face” (215). She would use substances just to get away from her daily troubles and because she had nothing else to do. Satrapi describes, “I didn’t always like it, but I by far preferred boring myself with her to having to confront my solitude and my disappointments” (218). In Vienna she assimilates to be liked by others so that she would be happy in a foreign country where she doesn’t belong.
When Satrapi starts dating, she assimilates even more just to impress the guys she encounters through her years in Vienna. She has her first real boyfriend named Markus who at times would make her go down to buy hash for them and this causes her to become the school’s drug dealer: “This is how, for love, I began my career as a drug dealer. Hadn’t I followed my mother’s advice? To give the best of myself? ” (222). She also becomes accustomed to smoking so much just to impress Markus, a selfish, self-centered jerk. Satrapi says, “Admittedly, I wasn’t selling drugs anymore, but I had started taking more and more.
At first, Markus was very impressed . . . This decadent side, which had so pleased him at first, ended profoundly annoying him” (226). That love from Markus makes Satrapi go as far as to use drugs and assimilate even more into Western culture. Although Satrapi assimilates into Western culture, she still retains some of the morals and teachings from back home, and her old “true” self while in Vienna. Satrapi defends her Uncle Anoosh’s purpose in dying when her friend, Momo, mocks the idea of having a purpose and existence in life. Satrapi says in reply to Momo, “Whatever! Existence is not absurd.
There are people who believe in it and who give their lives for values like liberty. ” There is one point in Vienna where after the night she claims to be French to impress a boy, she overhears some girls making fun of her because of that same incident the night before and she defends her pride in her ethnicity. Satrapi says, “You are going to shut up or I am going to make you! I’m Iranian and proud of it! ” (197). The imagery was so powerful because the face of Satrapi was shown as three times larger than her average face and you can see all the anger in her face and the text.
She is so fed up of them making fun of her that she just snaps and finally stands up for herself. After the incident she finally realizes her grandmother’s words: “I had just redeemed myself. For the first time in a year, I felt proud. I finally understood what my grandmother meant. If I wasn’t comfortable with myself, I would never be comfortable” (197). The old, rebellious Satrapi comes out when her boyfriend Enrique asks her to go to an Anarchist party that weekend. Satrapi says, “A revolutionary anarchist party! It reminded me of the commitment and the battles of my childhood in Iran” (209).
The imagery on the page is strong because it shows images of rebellion e. g. people throwing Molotov cocktails and burning flags. This shows how she still has that quality of protest against unjust things no matter what country she is in. A major point is shown when she is homeless and wakes up in the hospital in Vienna. Satrapi displays an important factor about her childhood and the experiences she had while growing up. Satrapi says, “I had known a revolution that made me lose part of my family. I had survived a war that had distracted me from my country and my parents . . . nd it’s a banal story of love that almost carried me away” (241). Satrapi still follows her grandmother’s advice and stays true to herself in Vienna while trying to assimilate into Western culture. Satrapi returns home to a completely different Iran where she assimilates back into Iranian life. Iran is ravaged by war and all over the city of Tehran are signs of death and tragedy. Many streets are named after the martyrs of the war: “Many had changed names. They were now called martyr what’s-his-name avenue or martyr something-or-other street” (251). These examples demonstrate how much Iran changed since her last time there.
She avoided people like her family and especially her friends, girls that portrayed “heroines of American TV series” (259). After being in Iran for a while she is depressed and attempts to commit suicide but did not die. She took this as a blessing and decided to turn her life around. “I became a sophisticated woman. . . ” (274), says Satrapi. The old Satrapi was gone. The new Satrapi, a sophisticated woman, now had different clothes, hair, and ways of thinking. When she changes her entire appearance and outlook of life, she is showing her assimilation back into Iranian life.
The new Satrapi attracts a man named Reza who falls in love with the idea of how she looks but in reality she wasn’t like that at all. Satrapi exclaims, “He married: Her,” (318) and it’s a picture of a Satrapi looking like as if she is a dolled up, obedient house wife. Satrapi adapts to Iranian life but also fights the rules of the regime once again. She openly speaks out against the new dress code rule on women’s attire during a meeting at her university: “Why is that I, as a woman, am expected to feel nothing when watching these men with their sculpted clothes on but they , as men, can get excited by two inches less off my head-scarf? (297). All these actions show how she adapts to Iranian life again but still shows how she fights that same customs she assimilates to. Although Satrapi assimilates into both cultures differently, she still is able to keep true to herself. In Vienna Satrapi had a hard time being the foreigner and being alone. She attempts to assimilate to fit in and have others like her, but is having a hard time staying true to herself. Satrapi still emerges as her “true” self when the situation presents itself in Vienna.
When she is forced to move back to Iran she comes to a different environment. The people she knew have changed and the way of life there has changed. She must assimilate into the new Iranian life but still stays true to herself while doing this. Satrapi has to face growing up In Vienna as an adolescent and has to assimilate to fit in. In Iran she is forced to assimilate back into Iranian life but also develops who she really is as a person. In the end she follows her grandmother’s advice, grows as a person, and keeps her morals and values taught to her while growing up.