“I had learned that you should always shout louder than your aggressor.” -Marjane Satrapi

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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.

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4 thoughts on ““I had learned that you should always shout louder than your aggressor.” -Marjane Satrapi

  1. I agree with you, this book seriously had me laughing out loud at times. I felt for her and her family whenever they had a loss in the family, or were hearing of the oppression in the country. Honestly, gave me a whole different viewpoint of how the situation was in Iran. Satrapi’s use of her images and frames let our imagination expand and those facial expressions she’s uses on the characters definitely had me laughing. Not only did her story illustrate the hardships she’s endured but she connected with every single one of us. We are all trying to find each other, find what makes us happy, find what “Scene” fits us. She went from punk to a college graphic student, but she continuously stayed true to her rebellious side. If it wasn’t for her rebellious side, maybe this story wouldn’t be as entertaining as it was. She had her own opinion towards everything, and she wasn’t afraid to share it. Which, kind of motivated me. It’s not always mean to keep your words silent. During her days of depression she changed herself from rebellious to quiet. Once she got back to her ways, like her family–the party scene, she was satisfied. This shows that traditions never die. She was raised around a family partying lifestyle. No scarf will change that, no nun school, no matter how much drugs she took, she couldn’t break from her tradition and culture. She was Iranian and in the end, she knew that’s all she needed to be.

  2. I enjoyed your interpretation of the graphic narrative! I especially appreciated how you interpreted the comic-book nature of what we read and how it changed the way the story was presented. I enjoyed Persepolis so much more than I thought I would. Satrapi has truly lived an incredible life. I feel like I have more understanding of the Iranian culture after having read Persepolis than I ever have. I believe she even makes the point that the western world’s stereotype of Iran is of a very strict culture filled with black veils. Yet she proves that that is not entirely the case: we have no idea what goes on behind closed doors. The numerous accounts of parties in the book proved that. Iran has much more in common with us than I would have thought.

    As for the drug usage, I agree with you that it was surprising. However, she makes the point that she felt like an outsider in the west of having lived in Iran as well as an outsider in Iran for having lived in the west. She lost her identity, and that may have been one possible factor for her substance abuse. It’s a good thing that her habit was discontinued after her return home. If showing two inches of hair is punishable by arrest, I can only imagine how severe it would be if she was caught with weed!

  3. Rahrahraniyah, I agree, Satrapi is Iranian to the end and her actions and courage definitely show how strongly she felt about her culture. Ashton, I love your take on how her culture and ours is not so different and I agree. Like when her grandmother told her to realize in life some guys would break her heart and it was because they are jerks.

    Thanks for both of your comments! I was pleased for you to have read my blog and I appreciate you taking the time to tell me your thoughts.

  4. Pingback: Teaching Persepolis: Gathering Links | A Patchwork Life

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