Marjane Satrapi wrote Persepolis, a graphic novel about her life between 1979 and 1994 in Iran and Austria. Uniquely expressing her story, Satrapi discusses very personal elements of her life, ranging from drug use to losing her virginity to attempting suicide, alongside the very public Iran-Iraq War. Satrapi wrote and illustrated these topics with utmost honesty and sincerity, revealing to the reader her true emotions, thoughts, and intentions. Some readers may be more interested in her personal life while some may be reading to learn about the Iran-Iraq War. During my time reading this novel, I realized that, above all, Persepolis is about Marjane Satrapi’s perspective; both her personal life and the public life in Iran affected how she grew up and formed a perspective.
A large quantity of books I have read, including Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, include large excerpts on personal lives of characters and separate large excerpts on setting the time, place, and culture of the storyline. Whenever I read books that put a large emphasis setting, I tend to skim over such excerpts in order to get to the characters’ personal plot lines. I did not understand just how important the setting is until I read Satrapi’s Persepolis. The setting creates the characters’ perspectives. Marjane’s immersion in a country at war affected how she viewed herself – evident when she feels like she cannot explain herself to her friends in Austria. The setting she grew up in – a war-stricken Iran – helped to define her identity, and, therefore, the lens through which she sees the world. Had she not grown up in 1980s Iran, she may not have had trouble adapting to the (relatively) carefree people of Austria. The details about the setting are Satrapi’s perspective; they serve to explain to readers why she developed to be the woman she is today.
Photo from: http://www.interviewmagazine.com/film/marjane-satrapi-chicken-with-plums