Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

by Marjane Satrapi

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Discuss the concept of dialectical materialism in the book Persepolis. How does it relate to Marji's coming-of-age story?

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Persepolis is a seminal graphic novel written by Marjane Satrapi which depicts an autobiographical narrative during and after the Islamic Revolution in Iran. A key theme throughout the narrative is the impact of both war and religious fundamentalism on women in Iran.

Dialectic materialism is a philosophical offshoot of materialism which emphasizes the importance of class, labor, and socioeconomics over the idealistic observation of the human experience.

The protagonist’s socioeconomic standing allows the reader to view the Islamic Revolution through the lens of dialectic materialism. Since she belongs to an upper-middle class family, and she has access to radio and literature which expose her to Western politics and Western thought. Her uncle Anoosh is arrested and imprisoned for being a communist revolutionary, which causes Marji to deepen her interest in the idea of equality. Here, she allows idealistic observation to overshadow dialectic materialism. The communist ideal is a society which in theory is completely equal.

When the new religious fundamentalists take control of Iran, they force their own ideals on the citizens and force the women to cover themselves and further erode their civil liberties. This is an example of the ideal of the human condition cannibalizing the dialectic materialism.

After Iran declares war on Iraq, they release all their political activist prisoners and have them join the fight against Iraq. The only way these activists will fight is if the government will play the national anthem for all to hear. The playing of the anthem brings Marji’s family, who are in hiding, to tears.

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