Themes in Persepolis

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In our interactive oral we discussed the cultural and contextual considerations of Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. During our discussion we discussed the Iraq and Iranian War and I found this discussion quite intriguing and engaging. The interactive oral gave me a unique opportunity to understand Persepolis in extra detail as we explored several different ideas and themes. Our discussion began by finding out what ignited the war between the two countries. Through discussing this, we gathered that he relationship between the governments of Iran and Iraq were steadily on the improvement in 1978. Despite Iraq's goal of regaining the Shatt al-Arab, the Iraqi government seemed to initially welcome the Iranian Revolution, which Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlav was seen as a common enemy. there have been many cross-border disputes, largely at Iran's instigation. Ayatollah Ruhollah asked Iraqis to revolt against the Ba'ath government, which was received with considerable anger in Baghdad. When Khomeini refused Saddam's negotiations by preparing an Islamic revolution in Iraq, Saddam was alarmed.

Saddam's goal was to demote Egypt from its status as 'the leader of the Arab world' and to establish a government over the Persian Gulf. He saw Iran become increasingly weaker because of revolution, sanctions, and international isolation. Saddam had paid a lot in Iraq's military since his defeat to Iran in 1975, buying large amounts of weaponry from the Soviet Union, France and Britain. By 1980, Iraq managed to create an army by having 200,000 soldiers, 2,000 tanks and 450 aircraft.

On the 8th of March 1980, Iran announced it was removing its ambassador from Iraq, downgraded its diplomatic ties, and demanded that Iraq do the same. The following day, Iraq declared Iran's ambassador persona non-grata, and demanded his removal from Iraq by the 15th of March. Iraq before long took the properties of 70,000 civilians believed to be of Iranian origin and expelled them from its territory. This caused tensions between the two nations to increase further.

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Thus, began the Iran-Iraq war. In April 1980, Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz was almost assassinated in which Saddam claimed that the Iranians were responsible. As Iraqi Shi'as began to respond to Ayatollah Khomeini's call for revolt, Saddam began to take heavy measures, and it got to the extent that Iraq's top Shi'a Ayatollah, was hanged in April of 1980. However, Iranian calls for the end to monarchy in the Middle East gave Kuwait and Saudi Arabia no choice but to begin sending billions of dollars to help Iraq. By doing so they did not want to see Iranian-style Shi'a revolution spreading southward. On June 20, 1982, Saddam Hussein called for a ceasefire that would return everything to the pre-war status quo. However, Ayatollah Khomeini rejected the proffered peace, calling for Saddam Hussein's removal from power. The Iranian clerical government began to plan their assault on Iraq, despite the objections of its surviving military officers. On July 13, 1982, Iranian forces made their way into Iraq, heading for the city of Basra. The Iraqis, however, were prepared. They had long trenches and bunkers dug into the earth, and Iran soon ran short on ammunition. In addition, Saddam's forces unloaded chemical weapons against their opponents. The Iranian army were quickly reduced to mere numbers as a result of suicide attacks. Children were sent to run across mine-fields, clearing the mines before the adult Iranian soldiers could hit them, and instantly become martyrs in the process. Saudi F-15s retaliated for attacks against the kingdom's shipping by shooting down an Iranian plane in June 1984. On land, the years 1985 to 1987 saw Persia and Asian nation initiate and counter offensives, but either side not gaining much territory. The fighting was full of bloodshed, as tens of thousands were killed on each side in days.

In February of 1988, Saddam unleashed the ultimate missile in one of Iran’s cities. Simultaneously, Iraq began a significant offensive plan to push the Iranians out of Iraqi territory. Worn down by eight years of fighting and the incredibly high toll in lives, Iran's revolutionary government began to consider accepting a peace deal. These events that were mentioned during the discussion made me relate to similar events that Marjane described in Persepolis. Through Persepolis, Marjane details her story, by discussing Saddam Hussein’s attack of Iran that sparked anger and hostility which resulted in the people increasing their patriotism and love for their country.

Overall, it was an interesting discussion, as I was also able to share information about this topic which interested the class and I learnt about the revolution and how it not only played a big role in Iran’s history but how it also reflected on Satrapi and her novel.

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Themes in Persepolis. (2022, November 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 18, 2024, from
“Themes in Persepolis.” Edubirdie, 25 Nov. 2022,
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