Given the setting of the story, many would expect Persepolis to be a dark, depressing work. For the Satrapis, the revolution that they supported against the Shah was hijacked by Islamic fundamentalists. Furthermore, the Satrapi family’s political connections as well as the Iran-Iraq War lead young Marji to witness a great deal of death and violence. However, because the story is told from Marji’s point of view, this tale is rich, nuanced, and often charming.
Marji inherits the values of her parents, Ebi and Taji, and she constantly searches for her own truth. From the beginning of the story, Marji is characterized as a compassionate girl. She empathizes with her maid who is not allowed to eat with the family, and she seeks to write a Holy Book in which it will “simply be forbidden” for the elderly like her grandmother to suffer joint pains. With great enthusiasm, young Marji declares her intention to become a prophet, a revolutionary hero, a tragic scientist like Marie Curie, and so on.
Certainly, Marji approaches life with a youthful innocence, lending a humorous depth to the story. While in her revolutionary phase, Marji is disappointed that her father was never persecuted for his beliefs. Still, this does not prevent her from bragging to her friends that her father was tortured, claiming that “they cut off my dad’s leg, but still he didn’t confess!... So they cut off an arm as well.” Humorous anecdotes like these break up the tension of life after the revolution.
These personal anecdotes also reveal the humanity that is sometimes forgotten by history, a significant role Marji plays in the work. Whether directly or indirectly, Marji feels everything that happens after the Islamic Revolution. Her youthful optimism carries not only her dreams but also the sympathies of the reader. As Marji explores the various facets of her identity, her hopes seem all too fragile to survive in Iran. However, this...
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