How can we compare the character Marji's experience in Persepolis to the experience of Italian immigrants?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although for most of this graphic novel, the protagonist stays within her native Iran, it is absolutely clear that Marjane has, to a certain extent, to go through the same process that immigrants have to when trying to live in a different country. In a sense, the competing influences of tradition and modernity, as experessed through the encroaching impact of Westernism, is something that forces Marjane to have to decide who she is and what her identity is going to be. This is of course an experience common to all immigrants, as well as Italian migrants, as they suddenly find themselves in a new world and they have to integrate their former identity with their new setting. Often, the differences between the two cause massive conflict, as is indicated by the experience that Marjane's mother undergoes when she leaves the house not wearing traditional Islamic clothing and is assaulted by men as a result:

They insulted me. They said that women like me should be pushed up against a wall and fucked. And then thrown in the garbage. ...And that if I didn't want that to happen, I should wear the veil...

Clearly, although the importance of Islam and how it is interpreted is crucial to Marjane's experience and this would be a separate issue for Italian migrants, this quote does explore the concept of individuality, identity, and belonging. To belong in the authoritarian, male patriarchal world of Iran where traditional Islam is seizing power, the minority (women) have to bow to the customs of the majority (men) or face persecution as a result. This is of course exactly the same as Italian migrants, and indeed all migrants, as they face various pressures placed upon them to conform in order to belong to their new culture where they live.

Read the study guide:
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

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