Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

by Marjane Satrapi

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In Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, how does Marji's family's background and beliefs influence her thinking?

Quick answer:

Different family members influence Marji in various ways. Her upper-class family, which had been highly critical of the Shah, initially believes the new revolutionary regime will benefit Iran. As Marji grows up and begins to understand Iranian politics, she comes to appreciate the sacrifices of her uncle Anoosh, a political dissident imprisoned under two regimes. She is devastated when he is killed.

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Persepolis presents the changes that Marjane undergoes as the political situation is radically transformed in Iran. As she grows up and gains a clearer understanding of politics and its complex interrelationship with religion in her country, her relationships with various family members also change.

As a young, educated girl in an elite family, Marji is exposed to Western political philosophies. Her father and mother, Ebi and Taji, encourage an open atmosphere of debate, but she often takes them for granted. Marji romanticizes political involvement and even torture, imagining that persecution would make her father more distinguished. As her parents learn that the revolution has worsened, not improved, the Iranian political situation, she develops a more nuanced understanding of their commitment to liberal values.

Marji’s close relationship with one uncle, Anoosh, plays an important role in her growing up, which occurs alongside her political education. He is one of the family members who had been persecuted under the Shah’s regime. Marji must struggle to understand how, if he opposed the Shah, the new revolutionary government can also consider him a threat. When the new government imprisons him as well, she is allowed to fulfill his request to visit him in jail. This event—their last meeting—becomes a cherished memory after he is executed.

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