Sociology and Seminar Persepolis Questions
Niko Savich First Year Seminar Persepolis Questions 1+2 Image and text have come together throughout history to convey a message that may not have been clear with the use of only one. Persepolis uses the whimsicality of the illustration style to relay a terse subject matter. The author is remembering herself as a little girl, so it is important that we see her as such, not read her as a wise narrator looking back. Marji is experiencing a loss of innocence, as she learns that her family’s values of respecting authority and God, are not always in agreement with the real world’s use of authority and religion.
She learns about her family’s rebellious past, and shapes herself to uphold a new set of ideals. Iran is forgetting that, as Mao beautifully stated, “Women hold up half the sky”. Marji contrasts her mother’s liberated identity with the ultra conservative teachers at her school and the new regime of fundamentalist Muslim women. Marji is constantly being shaped by the stories she hears about people she respects. Her relatives foremost among them. She idealizes the stories of human struggle and tries to uphold herself to similar ideals, imagining herself as a martyr for her concept of greater good.
I remember hearing when I was young about my Irish “Granda” moving to America a couple years before my mom and Nana. He worked multiple jobs all around the country in order to earn enough money to send them over. When a friend of his heard about his hard work, he talked to a TV producer who set up a surprise reunion on live TV. I always took this as a lesson that if you have the good intention and will, through whatever means, your dream will be accomplished.
Persepolis is an ancient city where Iran took shape. It is mythologized in Marji’s mind. The most striking moments for me are when the oppressive nature of the government really shows, and you feel indignant towards the outright inhuman treatment of the Iranian citizens. What’s even more striking is that it happened so recently and continues to happen to this day. The state of Iran was bad from anyone’s point of view. The country was in a slump socially and economically, change was needed.
The revolution gave all classes a sense of hope that things would get better. Stories of persecution and imprisonment are common throughout Persepolis. They are used as nonfiction stories and ways to illustrate the oppressive nature of the government. Sometimes the right person is put away, but often times the government is twisted and locks away people for stating their opinion, and to curb political dissension. One time I chose to exercise my right to free speech and ignored direction not to curse onstage at a comedy show.
I didn’t use it for shock value but I wasn’t going to allow myself to show a pretense of caution for the whole show. The whole book, Persepolis, is a study of religio-political ethics and how it affects family. Every character, it seems, has a distinct world view that governs their decisions and social interactions. Marji is relatively liberal, as is her family, but the outside world is increasingly conservative and oppressive. These interactions and groupings cause friction which, like sand in a clam, shape identities.