Persepolis: The story of a childhood by Marjane Satrapi is an intriguing and heartbreaking, coming of age novel with a refreshing twist. The story portrays the Islamic Revolution through Marji’s innocent eyes and conveys how The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before. ”Albert Einstein. The stark black and white imagery creates a personal connection and adds complexity to the story. In 1980, a year after the start of the Islamic Revolution it became obligatory for young women to wear veils to school. Although Marji’s family is avant-garde she is forced to wear a veil and attend a religious, girls only school. She doesn’t understand why her families personal life is drastically different from their public life. As Marji learns the reason behind the violence surrounding her country, she also learns about its eventful past. Satrapi also derived the title of the book from Iran’s past, Persepolis was the name of the city that was once the Capital of the ancient Persian empire. This title reflects Marji’s struggles of holding on to her Persian ancestors beliefs or fighting for modern change. Her parents Ebi and Taji want the Shah to step down as leader of the country and frequently participate in protests.
Although Marji doesn’t quite understand the situation she decides to give up on her dream off being a prophet and instead become a revolutionary. After the Shah’s removal, Islamic fundamentalist begin to run the government, they hunt and execute potential threats. When her Uncle Anoosh is executed by the government and depicted as a Russian spy in the newspaper, Marji begins to realize the lies surrounding her leaders. This event shapes her views on the government and creates a stronger bond between her and her family. When Marji’s parents learn about a demonstration planned for the next day, Marji insists on attending. Although her father opposed the idea, Marji’s mother believes she should learn to defend her rights as a woman now. Her mother encourages Marji to form independent opinions about her culture and government helping her become a strong woman.
She is a role model for young women everywhere, fighting for freedom and equal treatment. As she is handing out flyers she witnesses violence with her own eyes for the first time. As the regime becomes stronger, laws become stricter forcing women to completely cover their hair with veils in public and banning alcohol. All western products are also banned including music, books, clothing, and artwork. When Marji is almost detained by the Guardians of the Revolution, a group who arrest women improperly veiled, her parents begin to question her safety. After two quarrels with her principal, Marji’s parents decide to send her to Austria, fearing her rebellious behavior may cause her to be arrested. Marji’s story continues in Persepolis 2, living in Vienna throughout her high school years attending Lycee Franais de Vienne (French School of Vienna). In a foreign country without friends or family to support her, Marji feels more lost and alienated than ever. Satrapi published her four part series Persepolis in French from 2000 – 2003.
After earning critical acclaim the books were published in English translation in two parts from 2003 – 2004. In 2007 the novel was turned into a major motion picture earning $25,397,460 worldwide. The movie premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where it co-won the Jury Prize. The autobiography won the Angoul??me Coup de Coeur Award in 2001 at the Angoul??me International Comics Festival. She went on to publish Embroideries, nominated for the Angoul??me Album of the Year Award in 2003, the Award was won by her other book Chicken with Plums in 2005. Growing up in Tehran, as a child, Satrapi witnessed how the government hunted and executed those who threatened their power and suppressed the citizens liberties. Between the oppressive ideals of her country and her care – free parents, Marji struggles in finding her true identity. Persepolis: The story of a childhood paints a clear picture of life in Iran and contradictions between home life and public life. The stark black and white imagery compliment the carefully chosen words and create a stunning piece of literature with a personal connection and complexity. Although readers may not relate to the culture or the setting, the novel shows a young woman in search of a true sense of self.