Persepolis Illustrations Analysis
Satrapi’s graphic memoir, Persepolis focuses hugely on the loss of innocence of Marjane, which she illustrates by using several techniques such as the sizes of figures and the contrast of shades, as well as the of details, or lack thereof she includes in her drawings. Marjane’s drawings are more than mere illustrations; they are drawn the way they are for a reason. Figure sizes throughout the book vary to show the importance or maturity of the characters. In the beginning of the memoir, Marjane is depicted as a small girl, onsiderably smaller than her parents and all other grown-ups that surround her. Though Marjane is very aware of her situation, and a lot smarter or conscious than other children her age, she is still childish and innocent. The first time we see a change in the way she is depicted is in the second panel of page 72. Marjane is considerably larger, her hair is longer and her face lacks the childish features it had the previous page. This change is not coincidental, it occurs after one of the most important moments in her life: the death of her uncle Anoosh.
Though Marjane is aware of the deaths and torture going on around her before her uncle’s death, these things had never affected her personally. The change in her size and features are made intentionally to demonstrate, she has undergone a change, not physical, but mental and emotional. The death of Anoosh affects her deeply, and it takes away part of her naivety. Another technique Satrapi uses to depict her innocence is the shading of the cartoons. Though the cartoons are in black and white, these two colors can still be used for contrast, and as symbols. In he fourth panel of page 76 Marjane is at a protest with her parents. It is easy to differentiate her from the crowd because she is slightly smaller than the figures that surround her, and she is the only one dressed in white. She is the only teenager in the scene, and she’s handing out flyers while the grown-ups around her protest. The adults that surround her are a lot more aware of the horrid situation they are in, and they have had more experience with death and violence, something that Marjane lacks, which is why she is the only on dressed in white, a color that represents purity.
In the beginning of the book Marjane is more often dressed in white, but as the memoir progresses, she begins to lose the white clothes, just as she losses her innocence. Her innocence is not only represented by the figure size, or color of clothing, the way she depicts violence in the beginning of the book is very different from what she imagines as the book advances. She is aware of the situation within her country, since her parents are fervent revolutionaries she hears stories and she listens to the news, so she knows a lot about the situation around her.
However, her young, innocent mind, and her lack of experience distort and in a way censor the truth. The first panel in page 40 depicts the massacre of Black Friday. Marjane, being a child, doesn’t really know what a massacre looks like. She draws the corpses in neat rows, with no signs of blood or physical damage. We can also find another example in the first panel of page 52. Her parents have been talking about the death and dismemberment of a friend of theirs. Marjane, who has been listening to the entire conversation, pictures his death.
The man is depicted as neatly as the people depicted in the Black Friday Massacre. The limbs are separated from the body, which is hollow, with no blood or organs in sight. Though Marjane is not as innocent as she was in the beginning of the book, she still can’t imagine these scenes in much detail, because even though she’s heard a lot about them, she has never experienced any violence herself, and is unable to imagine a scene so graphic. The first time Marjane experiences violence personally is at the protest she attends with her parents.
The sixth panel of page 76 is the first time we see blood in her drawings. After this scene, her depictions of violence are a lot more realistic. For example the last frame of page 96 depicts a man, holding a knife, surrounded by a pool of blood, which also covers the knife. Had this image appeared earlier in the book, before the violent protest she attended, the blood would have been missing from the picture. The fact that Marjane includes more graphic and realistic details as the story advances signifies that her naivety has been lost because she has itnessed violence in person, she has lost loved ones due to the war, and even though she is still young, she is very mature for her age because she has been forced to grow up and experience a lot of traumatic events. Marjane Satrapi’s memoir very clearly depicts her loss of innocence, caused by the war and violence she grew up with. She demonstrates this indirectly, by using several techniques. She intentionally changes figure sizes, the figure’s clothing and the details of the violent scenes to depict her emotional growth during this important part of her life.