Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

by Marjane Satrapi

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How does Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood exemplify the indoctrination process in cults?

Quick answer:

Marjane Satrapi's two-volume graphic novel Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood has a number of examples of the process of indoctrination, such as the fact that Marjane experiences indoctrination at school and in the Iranian culture at large. It could be argued that her parents and family also indoctrinate her. Are these methods similar to what cults use? This is open to debate.

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Defined by Oxford as "the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically," indoctrination is frequently used by authoritarian countries to make their people submissive and unquestioning. This is seen in the way the Shah's government tries to make the Iranian people see them as invested in the country and not simply out for personal gain.

At school, Marjane is taught not to question the official story. However, a key difference between indoctrination and how the Shah operates is that he frequently uses force against dissenters, which makes it easy for the people to see how corrupt he is. If anything, the book shows how indoctrination fails. Marjane's parents are liberal and free thinking, and they teach her question and investigate, which she does with great verve. Her uncle also teaches her about Marxism and the class struggle.

After the Shah is deposed and the Islamic Republic instituted, once again, Marjane experiences school as a place where the teachers enforce the status quo and paint an unrealistic portrait of the new government, which is as repressive as the previous one. Again, Marjane does not accept what she is told.

A key part of this question is what parallels this process has with that of cults. There are no cults, per se, in the books, although one could argue that there is a cult of personality around both the Shah and the Ayatollah. As stated before, the indoctrination used by the state fails to make an impact on Marjane and her family. If anything, it pushes them to be more outspoken.

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