Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

by Marjane Satrapi

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To what extent might Satrapi's memoir Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood be described as a horror story presented in the form of a grotesque comic book?

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There is certain truth in this comment: the way in which the graphic novel focuses on the realities of life under a totalitarian and oppressive regime that insists on stripping away its citizens' rights clearly displays the element to which this text could be viewed as something of a horror story. Accounts of Marjane's uncle's imprisonment and the death of various people, combined with the way that women are forced to wear the veil, show the extent to which this text could be considered horrific. However, at the same time, although this view is perfectly legitimate, it is important to realise that this text is so much more than simply a horror story. It is also a very profound coming-of-age story, a kind of bildungsroman in which the author finds her place in the world and forms her own identity. Note how this is explored through the relationship between Marjane and her mother, which has its moments of tension. Consider what Marjane says to her mother in the following quote:

Dictator! You are the Guardian of the Revolution of this House!

Marjane actually compares her mother to the Iranian secret police in the way that she is so strict about Marjane's schooling and her social activities. It is interesting that in this text Marjane's relationship with her parents is paralleled by her relationship with Iran, and by being critical of that relationship, Marjane is able to accept certain parts of her cultural identity and reject others, coming to form her own unique individuality. This text therefore cannot be just merely viewed as a story of horror, because it is a very interesting account of one woman's search for her own identity. 

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