Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

by Marjane Satrapi

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What is Satrapi's writing style in Persepolis?

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Satrapi's writing also has a graphic element, and her meaning is expressed both through her words and her drawings. Her drawings are all in black and white, and she uses elements of her drawings (such as the sameness of the girls wearing the veil in the section called "The Veil") to reinforce the ideas she is writing about (in this case, the idea that the veil erases the girls' uniqueness). She also uses the composition of each frame to emphasize what is being said. For example, some frames have many people in them, while others, which are intended to emphasize the thoughts or feelings of one character, have only one person in them (such as the frame in which she shows herself as a baby with the words "I was born with religion"). Her writing style is fairly sparse—that is, she uses very few words to convey meanings that have a lot of depth. For example, when describing how she was forced to wear the veil and was separated from her friends as a child, she writes, "And that was that." Her words are few, but they convey a great deal of meaning; she was a child trying to deal with the radical impact of the Iranian Revolution.

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Satrapi is writing a graphic memoir (a narrative recounted from memory).  She's the artist and the author of the tale, balancing the words and images to present a visually-driven tale of her childhood.  Satrapi focuses on much imagery, as each chapter is usually titled after an object (e.g. "The Veil," "The Bicycle").

The genre might also be considered a bildungsroman, or a coming-of-age tale, in which the young Satrapi struggles with femininity, politics, religion, and the regime changes that plague her country.  The subtitle, after all, is the "The Story of a Childhood," though her intended audiences are all ages (teens and adults).

Her style is also full of comedy, stemming from verbal and visual irony.  Nearly all of her characters are grim-faced: they never smile.  This sardonic form of humor is contrasted with the carefree and rebellious young Satrapi.  Her conversations with God and Karl Marx (whose beards are identical) helps alleviate the seriousness of the theocracy and war.

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