Persepolis' Book Review Essay

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Part 1 of the book Persepolis starts just after the Iranian Revolution that took place in 1979, which caused the downfall of the Western country-backed dictator known as the Shah of Iran. This led to the rise of the Islamic Republic which oppressed and marginalized the major secular groups and groups that didn't align themselves with the new regime. This leads us to the protagonist of the story Marjane Satrapi who is also the author of the book. So the book can be seen as a graphic novel and a memoir. Marjane's parents are quite secular and modern people, however, they supported the rule of the shah but hated the new Islamic Republic as they were too oppressive on their lifestyle and the people's freedom. Due to her current situation in her country, she is forced to act and behave a lot older than she is therefore she starts learning the history of her country and the people who invaded and ruled it over the centuries. She then learns that her grandfather was once a Persian prince who was imprisoned and tortured because of the shah. Then in the beginning of the book when she says she wants to be a prophet, she says that she wants to get rid of the social classes.

When the revolution has come to an end and the Shah has been kicked out a lot of political prisoners are released from prison. This includes two of Marjane’s parents’ friends who were imprisoned because they were revolutionaries. Their names were Siamek and Mohsen. Arjane is then told their stories in prison on how they were tortured and all the deaths that they witnessed. When Marjane heard these stories she looked at them as heroes but when she looked at her father she was quite disappointed because her father had no experiences like that. He lived a comfortable life and he drove a Cadillac. However, she had a new idol to look up to it was her Uncle Anoosh. Who was a revolutionary who had escaped to the USSR so that he did not get in trouble for the crimes he committed against the state? However, when he came back to Iran, he was not disguised well enough to keep himself from being caught and sent to jail where he was degraded and humiliated. So when he was released he was a free man for only a short while as the new regime targeted them again. This forced all the revolutionaries into hiding but Anoosh got caught again. When he was in prison he was allowed one guest before his execution and he chose Marjane to come. Mohsen was assassinated and Siamak escaped but his sister was killed. After the last meeting with Anoosh Marjane rejects god completely.

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After the realization that the country is not going to get better, many of Marjane’s family and friends leave the country and head west however the Satrapis stay in Iran because the father does not want to live the life of a Taxi driver. Not too long after Marjane’s mother has been harassed by a group of men because she was not wearing a veil. They then go for a demonstration against the veil but never go for one again as it turned out to be violent with a lot of gunfire. This is right before the official start of the Iran-Iraq war. This is when she has a moment of great nationalism because she wants Iran to win. However, later on in the war, she begins to understand the implications of war, heroism, and “martyrdom” ( this is something the government makes people idolize by showing it in a different light that makes it look better than it is. A big moment when she realized war is nothing to joke around about because her friend Pardisse’s father had died in a bombing. Young boys are also given plastic keys that are painted gold and say if you take this and enlist in the army you are guaranteed to go to heaven if you die. This is seen as a horrible lie to Marjane and her family and they are disgusted at the government as they tell that lie to the poor and uneducated people.

Oppression is the general theme of the book. During the war, the government is more strict on the people to make sure that they follow the rules of the regime. For example when the satrapis hold parties to get a little bit of normality back but as they are illegal they need to be very careful not to be caught. Also when her parents go to Turkey they bring Western items such as a Kim Wilde poster in by smuggling it. The Iraqis also used missiles against the capital of Iran, Tehran then one day Marjane’s neighbor’s house was hit with a missile. Marjane was traumatized when she saw the severed arm of her dead friend Neda. after this incident, Marjane starts to become more rebellious. For one she slaps her principal at school which causes her to get expelled. When she goes to her new school she doesn't start behaving as she starts voicing her opinions against the country's new regime and how women deserve equal rights. This then makes Marjane's family think that she does not deserve a life here in Iran and she deserves a better quality of life in a Western country. This is when she was sent to Vienna, Austria to study better and live a more liberated life.

Part 2 of the story Persepolis is set in 1984 Austria where a young Marjane has been sent to study there, however, it is not as easy as she thinks. She suffers a great cultural shock when she goes to Australia as she realizes the great differences between the East and West. Throughout all this great struggle marjane is still determined to graduate school and get good grades, however, that is easier said than done. At the beginning of her education in Austria, she was considered smart as the education in Iran was superior in a way. Even though she was very smart for Austria throughout the years in Austria her grades started to slip as she had a bit of an identity crisis with herself.

When she came to Australia she was a 15-year-old girl who had left the Iranian regime to live a better life. In the beginning, she is sent to her mom’s friend Zozo’s house, but she is soon kicked out because of limited space. Marjane has been sent to a missionary school that is filled with nuns and she is not used to it at all. She has her first roommate ever however she speaks German and they both have a hard time communicating with each other however marjane soon overcomes the language barrier and makes friends with people. Marjane soon gets accustomed to the traditions and holidays of Austria although she does not forget her Iranian identity completely. Her pride for her country then gets her into a fight with the nuns at the school and she insults them by calling them ex-prostitutes, this causes her to get expelled from school.

After being expelled from school she starts living with a friend from school called Julie and her mother. She receives even more cultural shocks when she listens to the stories from Julie and how she has had many sexual encounters that are strictly forbidden and punishable in Iran. As time goes on she starts to acclimatize the Western culture even more and she slowly starts to lose her Iranian culture. She begins smoking, getting high, wearing makeup, cursing, moving around from place to place, and dating guys. After 19 months Marjane’s mom visits her for the first time. Her mom is quite shocked when she sees Marjane and she barely recognizes her because of all the changes Marjane has had. When her mom leaves she goes and finds residence in a house owned by a lady called Dr. Frau Heller, but they have a very aggressive relationship that could blow up at any point. Since pretty much all of her relationships are quite unstable she goes to drugs to feel better about herself. One day she has been pushed over the edge as she finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her and when she goes home crying her landlord accuses her of stealing her necklace. She has been kicked out of her house and she has been homeless for over 3 months. During this difficult time of hers, she has shed hope when she remembers that her aunt Zozo owes her mom money so she goes to collect it. On the way to collect the money, she contacts her parents to arrange a flight for her to go back to Iran. when she goes back to Iran she has changed a lot and is a very different person.

When Marjane lands she suffers another cultural shock because she grew accustomed to the culture in Austria. She observes the honoring of political martyrs, and rebels, and honors dead people on large murals on walls, and street signs everywhere in public. When she arrives home she immediately goes to her room and starts to think about what transpired in Vienna. After that, she goes and talks with her family and her father explains all the atrocities that happened during the war between Iran and Iraq while she was in Austria. Marajane also starts to talk about her experiences in Austria but becomes severely depressed. The depression then also brings her to almost committing suicide twice. The first time she drinks a lot of vodka and tries to slit her wrists but fails. The second time she takes in a lot of pills in one go. After the second attempt, the fact that she survived was a miracle and she takes it as a good omen. She turns her life around by getting a job and making her physical health better. After a while marjane meets a man called Reza who is also a painter and they start to date. After a few years of dating Reza proposes to Marjane and Marjane accepts after long thought and consideration. Her decision was against her parents’ advice about her marriage as they think she is too young and will regret it.

After three years of marriage, she tells her friend Farnaz that she no longer wants to be married to Reza as she no longer loves him. After long thought and consideration, she goes on with the decision but makes Reza very unhappy. After the divorce marjane decides to move back to Europe for good as life in Iran is not for her. So in 1994, Marjane left for France and never came back to Iran. Before she leaves, however, she goes to the countryside and also visits her visits her grandpa's grave in the Caspian Sea. She also goes and visits her uncle Anoosh’s grave from when he was executed.

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Persepolis’ Book Review Essay. (2024, February 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from
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