Persepolis: The Key
Persepolis: A Significant Panel Among the most important panels in Persepolis, one stands out to most readers towards the end of the chapter, “The Key”. “The Key” refers to the story of the son of Marji’s maid and many other young boys who were promised a key to paradise if they fought in the war against Iraq. On page 102, Satrapi illustrates the shadows of young boys scattered in the air from the blast of exploding minefields below, each one with a plastic key around their necks.
Marjane Satrapi uses shadowing of figures, body positions, an aware and comprehensive tone, and significant phrases or words to demonstrate the desperation of the Iranian government in winning the war against Iraq. To begin with, the boys themselves are shadows, they’re faceless, and this suggests there are far too many to identify. This also indicates that the government had a negligent relationship with its countrymen, and only truly had its mind set on winning the war, nothing more.
The figures also appear to be drawn in the same fashion, shaded the same colour, and given very few details, for this reason all the boys seem equal-that is to say everyone suffered through the same thing. Furthermore, the shadowed young men adumbrate that the boys indeed all passed away, which references modern folklore in the sense that a shadowed figure or person usually resembles a paranormal entity or ghost. Moreover, the body stances or positions of the boys illustrated look to be “free-falling”, in essence, they have no control over what is happening to their bodies, and like the government they are desperate.
Similarly, they no longer have control over their own lives. The limbs of the boys almost seem dislocated, implying they feel immense pain. Their bodies appear in unnatural positions; some are upside down, some are sideways, and in some you can only see half of their bodies. However, in almost all of them, their hands are up, extended above their faces, looking as if they’re pleading for the pain to stop. In other words, the boys look as if they pray to a higher power, whether god or their government, to relieve them from the torture they are going through in the war.
Although still a young girl, Satrapi conveys a comprehensive and intelligent tone of what is really happening to her male classmates. She understands what kind of people are fighting and their reasons for risking their lives for such a corrupt government. Due to her knowledge she has acquired as an educated young daughter of politically active parents, she’s able to use her judgement to determine how she feels about the government and what they are doing to young, vulnerable, innocent people.
Contrary to something a young girl would say as a reaction to the situation like, “that’s murder” or “that’s not right! ”, Satrapi states, “They hypnotize them and toss them into battle. Absolute carnage. ” (pg. 101). In her efforts to impede the government from taking advantage of everyone, she later determines whether her cousin Peyman has been deceived too (pg. 100). Finally, words and phrases also support the idea that the government’s need to win the war was at the cost of unnecessary lives.
As Satrapi says, the “thousands of young kids, promised a better life…” pg. 102, entails someone made a promise and did not keep it because they couldn’t or didn’t want to, as the sentence ends, “… exploded on the minefields with their keys around their necks. ” The broken promise caused the death of all the young boys. Satrapi then says that fortunately, the maid’s son escaped that fate, but many did not. This strikes the reader with shock as we learn that they were all innocent children unaware of what they were getting themselves into.
In conclusion, Marji Satrapi is able to impart the government’s need to win the war, at the cost of many, through techniques such as shadowed images, comprehensive tone, body positions, and important phrases. This further communicates the desperation felt by both the government and the people to obtain a better life in Iran at the time, coming to the reader’s realization that they would do anything to win the old Iran back-even if it meant sending their children to the battlefields.