One of the scariest moments of my childhood came when I opened a locked gate one Saturday afternoon. Many times that is how life changes; one moment you are innocent and the next moment your eyes are opened. In the graphic narrative, “The Complete Persepolis” this ageless transformation is artfully drawn and well written by author Marjane Satrapi. Importance of family, heritage, adolescence, love, beliefs, and staying true to one’s self are topics addressed with truth, conviction and emotion in 341 pages of black and white comic-book style drawings.
Persepolis shows how much she gave up and how much she gained from her sacrifices to escape oppression. Satrapi shows in boxes that, although lack color, allows the reader to create a colorful, vivid picture of what she experienced. It was interesting to me that someone reared in such a traditional and self-described moral culture would consider using drugs an option. I understand she partially did so because of her need to be included. I cannot imagine the loneliness she must have endured throughout periods of her life though, so I am not judging her coping methods.
She tried to make the best of her many difficult situations while loving her family and trying to respect their own personal sacrifices. Satrapi also educates readers on the history of her country, Iran. I was surprised to learn that the requirement of females to wear the head scarves called “maghnaeh” started in 1980, when she was 10 years old. At this young age she knew something about this change was not right and resisted change with humor and her original, outspoken ideas.
Despite Persepolis’ serious nature, I found myself laughing out loud a few times. This narrative has some great lessons to teach the mature reader who is willing to put aside the bias or fear many of us associate with thick beards and maghnaeh.