Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi – A Literary Review

Its 1980. Marjane (Marji) is ten years old. She lives in constant turmoil and fear with her parents. Iran is not a place of peace. She is forced to wear the veil. Boys and girls are separated. It is a time of sadness, of backward progression. In the events that follow, a little girl’s insights in life are poisoned with the venom of religious extremists, forcing their religious regime onto the whole population. It is not a time for laughter, for happiness, for hope. Yet little Marji Satrapi finds exactly those things.

Marji was convinced she was the prophet. As a child, she always had an idea of what she wanted for society – of her aims to make life better for everyone. She confided in her grandma the sort of things she wanted to happen in order to make lives better. She always wanted to make a change. So when her parents attended political protests, she would become angry. It was only fair that she went along too, right? That she would protest for something she believed in? But if only life was that simple.

Marji tried to make herself understand all the pain and misfortune that people have suffered, that her family have suffered. She stood in a bath of cold water for hours in hope she can understand the torture her grandfather was put through. In her illustrations, Marji draws out some simple scenes of what happened to these men in prison. And yet, given how simple these drawings are, they are so graphic in their concept. It is said that a picture tells a thousand words – these pictures tell millions.

I really like the way the book is structured, the panels of comics drawn out by a young Marji. It offers a unique, innocent view on the Iranian life in the 80s. It makes you realise how much the rest of the world overlooked these blasphemy acts in eastern world. That is until a group of American’s are held captive by the Iranians, and the USA are forced to see the true horror that is happening.

I think this book is a great way for people of ALL ages can see how Iran was back in this time. Instead of it being paragraph after paragraph, it is picture after picture and each one tells its own little story. You get physical snippets of Marji’s life. It is sad. It is warming. It is mind-blowing.

Marji found herself leaving Iran when she was expelled from school for her rebellious attitude towards the regime. Her parents thought it best to send her away. Send her to Vienna, where she will perhaps live in peace under French education. Maybe they were wrong, maybe they were right. Marji did her best to try and understand the situation – to try and understand why the adults were doing these things. She remembers one quote so vividly, so intensely, it leaves a ringing even in the readers mind. ‘To die a martyr is to inject blood into the veins of society.’



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