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Persepolis is a graphic novel describing the horrific era of Iran in
18th century where political issues played a major role in destruction of
Iranian lifestyle and the imbalance in its moral values. The rules and
regulations set for women in Iran was also a major factor in leading to
discrimination in the society. The story has been portrayed from a young female
narrator point of view. Marjane Satrapi the author of the text is an Iranian
born writer and artist who has portrayed her childhood in Iran in her graphic
novel ‘Persepolis’ describing the various life events and its effects on her
personality. She uses these comics to represent the thematic structure of her
plot and to deploy juxtaposition of the sequential images and texts in her
comics in order to show her memories and culture in Iran.


As shown in the novel, adult influence played a main role in children life.
The adult’s lifestyle was always enacted by the younger ones and they tried to
learn ethics from them. They also flattered ones who fought for their country.
Marjane has always admired her uncles who fought for the nation like uncle Anoosh,
Siamaq and Mohsen. Marjane, just a child at this time, thinks of heroism in
romantic terms, and sees martyrdom especially as extremely positive and
desirable. In fact, Marjane hopes her own family members will be heroes and she
is disappointed that her father is not a hero because she says ‘My father was not a hero, my mother wanted
to kill people…so I went out to play in the street’.so she was influenced
by those heroes who fought for their nation. As the Revolution results in a new
regime even more oppressive than the Shah’s and an Iran ruled by Iranians turns
out to be worse than an Iran ruled by foreign powers. With this Marjane is
forced to tussle on the aspect of nationalism. Though before the Revolution she
complains that her father is not a patriot because of his pessimistic approach,
as she grows up she sees the actions and impact of the Islamic Republic. She is
overwhelmed by the thought that Anoosh, her uncle, has had to flee to the USSR
to protect himself from the Shah’s government against which he was fighting. So,
her views about the heroes seemed to be genuine. Her parents have always let
Marjane live her own life. Educated, politically active, and modern, and
accepting of Western culture, Marjane’s parents represent for her an ideal mode
of living. they have provided the kind of education and life to Marjane that
will most benefit her, and by the end of the graphic novel they decide to send Marjane
to Vienna, Austria, for her studies so that they can get rid of repressive
Iranian regime. When they say “Now is
the time for learning. You have your whole life to have fun! In this country
you have to know everything better than anyone else if you’re going to survive!”
we can understand how open minded they are about her child growing up. While
her grandmother has always maintained a balance in her life by giving her all
the advices and teaching her morals. So, all these characters in the story played
a role in determining the way she thinks and feels about nationalism.

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Marjane grandfather was recognized as one of the heroes of their family.
He served as a prime minister but since he opposed the new regime, he was sent
to prison and was tortured by filling cells with water and ensuring him to stay
for hours inside water allowing his skin to shrink. That night, Marjane stayed
in the bath for a long time to try and understand what her grandfather felt
like that time. Looking at these accomplishments Marjane is fascinated and
keeps admiring him for what he has achieved. She keeps saying ‘My grandpa was a prince’ to keep
reminding her family that she is proud of her grandfather.


The politics in Iran was the major cause of rise in nationalism in Iran.
The change in human behaviour, the culture of Iran was all because of politics
in Iran. The Iranian revolution was based on rights for the Iranian people for
a free society. After decades of being under the disposal of shah and his
unethical rule, Marjane and her family now believe that this moment would
ensure them an emancipated Iran and people will finally be free to decide for
themselves who will lead their country. When shah government was overthrown we
could see in the change in people’s behaviour. After the schools reopen the
schoolteachers, who once praised Shah, ask the students to tear out his photos
from the textbooks, and deny the idea that his rule was based on divine right.
Another important effect of Iranian revolution was the social discrimination in
society. There were many lower-class people who worked as servants in houses to
live. As Marjane grows older she understands that the biggest problem with the
world is the divide between social classes. When the maid Mehri falls in love
with the boy next door, but is forbidden to pursue him because she is a much
lower class than him. Also, her parents explain to Marjane by saying that “You must understand that their love was
impossible…because in this country you must stay within your own social class.”
So, rules made in Iran were also based on the social classes. These political
rules led to increase in revolution against government and when Marjane and
Mehri decide to demonstrate, they go for revolt and say ‘long live the republic’.
Later Marjane mother slaps both of them explain that it is a black Friday, the
day when many were killed in the neighbourhood by their own soldiers. This
shows the shoddy situation of politics in Iran. Also, there were constant wars
between Iran and Iraq. While the soldiers of both the countries fought with
each other, the citizens tried their best to protect themselves from the
attacks. Many tried to flee from the country to get rid of the terror.


When the Iraqi jets bomb Iranian capital of Tehran, Marjane who hears
the news in T.V gets hyped and starts abusing them. On the drive home, Marjane
asks her father if he will fight in the war. “We have to teach those Iraqis a lesson,” she says. Marjane becomes
increasingly nationalistic. Still young and driven by love of her, she sees the
enemy as pure evil. Her interests on nation just at a young age makes her look
different from all the other kids of her age. Her conversations about politics
with her family show the increase in effects of nationalism in the country. She
sees that just as nationalism can overthrow a dictator; it can also be used to
prop up a dictator. This was a major observation from Marjane. And yet, at the
same time, when she hears the Iranian National Anthem, Marjane is overwhelmed
with emotions. So, the feel and love for their own nation was still found. So,
in this torn situation, Marjane begins to understand that she can both love her
country and hate it at the same time. She begins to understand that a country
cannot be the same way as citizens wish to have and also it can never have a
monolithic religion and people. Also, there are lot discussions about heroes
and martyrs in school as well. After hearing the story of girl who lost her dad
in wars, she is overwhelmed by thought her dad was much better hero. Also in
one incident Marjane mother breaks down as she gets assaulted by two bearded
fundamentalist men. They scream: “Women
like Marjane’s mother should be pushed up against a wall and fucked and then
thrown in the garbage.” This shows the egregiously terrible behaviour of
men toward women is seen as the women’s fault.