Persepolis is an extended description of the historical conditions during Marjane’s life. Marjane had a patriotic passion for her country Iran. When she was a young girl, there was a cultural revolution in Iran. Students (including Marjane) were forced to were a veil during school. Marjane didn’t quite understand the reasoning behind this and thought she should have her own choice in religion. Many were teetering this concept of the cultural revolution. Eventually, the French non-religious school she attended is halted and the sexes are schooled separately. Growing up, Marjane and God have several conversations, and she is set on being a prophet when she grows up. Throughout this graphic novel, Marjane always exemplifies a spirit of patriotism, boldness, freedom, love, and individual thought. Her pure, childlike heart desires both equality and an elimination of suffering. When she expresses her intention of becoming a prophet, Marjane is mocked, but her parents support her and are unalarmed by her wishes. After she hears her parents concerned about the fire that killed 400 people at a nearby theater, Mr. Satrapi decides to explain the events of the Revolution to her. During this story, Marjane learns that her grandfather was a prince prior to Reza Shah’s rise of power, which would excite any child. Her grandfather became a communist and was imprisoned. While in prison, her grandfather was tormented by going into cells overflowing with water, which Marjane has a difficult time processing. During her grandmother’s visit, she explains to Marjane the poverty and hardships they faced during her husband’s imprisonment.
The Satrapis’ maid Mehri was given into their care as a child. Marjane and Mehri grew into a sisterly bond. Mehri falls in love with the boy next door and has Marjane write her love letters since she didn’t know how to write. Once Mr. Satrapi discovers this love connection, he talks to the boy and tells him Mehri is a maid. Then, the boy is no longer interested. In this time, social classes aren’t combined. This initially upsets Marjane significantly. She believed her father to be a good man and felt his actions were unjust and unloving. Therefore, she and Mehri attend marches, which aggravates her parents since the marches were formidable.
As Shah’s rule worsens, many lose their life. Shah travels to the United States and eventually relinquishes his rule. The previously imprisoned Siamak and Mohsen visit the Satrapi family and explain their experiences in prison. Soon after, Marjane discovers that even her Uncle Anoosh was held captive. However, her Uncle Anoosh was identified as valiant for his position in government to hinder the power of Shah, which ultimately declared independence from his brutal rule. Unfortunately, Anoosh is later arrested and killed for a false accusation about being a Russian spy. Due to this event, Marjane completely rejects God and her desire to be a prophet. Around this time, the Iran-Iraq War starts.
From this event, her life seems to spiral into a world of pain and shattered expectations. Marjane’s hopes of traveling to the U.S. are squandered when the Americans are coerced out of Iran. Those of religious authority closed schools to make alterations, which also harms Marjane’s hopes. She’s even assaulted because her veil isn’t on. The war only worsens, and her friend Mali comes to live with her as a result of it. Murdered children, bombing raids, deaths of millions, and the death of her hopeless Uncle Taher become enough hardships for Marjane to become a rebel. After her parents’ return from Turkey, Marjane becomes westernized and is nearly arrested but let off without arrest. One day, her neighborhood was bombed, and her neighbor’s house was wrecked. She even noticed her friend’s arm protruding from the debris. After all these disastrous events, her parents make the executive decision to send her to Austria for her safety. She spends the last night with her beloved grandmother and heads to the airport the next day. When she turns back to see her parents from afar, her mother had fainted. Yet, she hoped to see her parents again one day.
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