Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

by Marjane Satrapi

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What is the significance of environment on an individual's coming of age experience in the book Persepolis? Provide specific examples and quotes from the book.

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The way that a person experiences the transition from childhood to adulthood is shaped and influenced by their environment. In Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, Marji finds her coming-of-age abruptly changed by the political environment developing around her.

When Marji is ten, she's suddenly required to wear a veil to class and to learn in an environment with only women. She says, "We didn't really like to wear the veil, especially since we didn't understand why we had to." The Iranian Revolution has begun and its effects are already obvious in her life. At a time when she was on the verge of adolescence, the life she expected to live is abruptly changed. She's separated from many of her friends.

It also is more difficult to experience the transition from childhood to adulthood when you're living in constant fear. Marji's mother says that "every time there was a knock on the door, I thought they were coming to take my father to prison." The environment isn't a safe and welcoming one. It generates anxiety and means that she has to focus on external factors rather than on her own changes. So there is a generational habit of being in positions of anxiety, upheaval, and oppression during their own coming-of-ages.

The environment also influences the way that people come to understand being an adult. It's a much more brutal and harsh experience for Marji. She finds out that Niloufar was married to a member of the Iranian Guard, raped, and then executed because it's against the law for a girl to die a virgin. Her mother says, "To make sure her awful fate was understood, they sent 500 tumans to her parents." Marji hears this and better understands the difficulties and dangers of being an adult and a woman in that setting. She wouldn't have such a harsh understanding of life in a different time and place.

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