Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

by Marjane Satrapi

Start Free Trial

What are the different relationships between identity and belonging/home?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel memoir Persepolis, Marjane’s identity is closely linked to her homeland of Iran. In Part I, which documents her childhood, Marjane names her Persian heritage as the source of her identity. She is infatuated with stories of ancient Persian heroes and revels in religious tales about the Prophet Mohammed. When the conflict with Iraq erupts, Marjane’s close personal connection to Persian culture and history is further cemented, and she transforms into a patriotic supporter of the war.

When Marjane moves to Vienna for school in Part II of the memoir, she is isolated because of her homeland. The nuns in the convent, for example, claim that she “has no education” because she is Persian. Marjane feels like a fish out of water in Austria and attempts to hide her heritage because she feels it will help her fit into European society. By divorcing herself from her Persian identity, Marjane loses a sense of belonging, leaving her depressed and suicidal. By the end of the memoir, Satrapi returns home as a young adult and embraces her love of Iran. It is arguably Satrapi’s love for Iran that makes her rebel against the Islamic authorities, who she views as erasing what it traditionally meant to be Persian.

Finally, even the title of the graphic novel, Persepolis, is an allusion to the ancient capital of the Achaemenid Empire. The title ties to themes of identity. The fact that Satrapi chose this name for her book, even though the ancient city is only occasionally mentioned in the story, demonstrates just how rooted her story is in her sense of belonging in Iran. I hope this helps!

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team