Persepolis is a graphic novel and memoir following Marjane (Marji) Satrapi growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Though the book is simple, its vivid black and white panels all help to illustrate the point Satrapi wanted to convey: that Iran is not only a country of “fundamentalism, fanaticism, and terrorism”, but in fact a place with diverse and conflicting views. Persepolis was able to dispel many of my views of Iran, as well as deepen my understanding and knowledge of it and other war torn countries by displaying examples from Satrapi’s own life in Iran.
In the United States currently, it is common to believe that all Muslim people are intense and horrible terrorists. Thus, how could the countries they live in be any better sort of place? Though I didn’t believe that all Muslims were fundamentalists or terrorists, I did believe that places like Iran were quite dangerous, and that there could possibly be some extremists across a deeply religious public. As illustrated by the burning of the Rex Cinema on pages 14 and 15, it is true that Iran can be a dangerous place. However, Marji deals with many internal struggles in relation to the conflict between religious and modern beliefs (Satrapi 6). Her parents are quite modern, and are not generally in support of political leaders at the time, though her school is teaching her to wear a veil and dress modestly. This shows not only the struggles of an average, middle-class family in Iran, but also that Iran is not an entirely religious country – it’s actually quite modern. As Marji says early in the book, “We [she and her friends] didn’t really like to wear the veil, especially since we didn’t understand why we had to” (Satrapi 3). Similar to the United States, some are not religious and some are. A few of the ones that are religious are extremists, but their actions don’t determine the character of all people in their countries. By illustrating her family’s struggles and the struggles of common people in Iran at the time, Satrapi was effectively able to resolve many of my personal misconceptions about Iran, as well as deepening my current knowledge on it.
In addition to Iran, the people of many war-torn countries are misconceived as similar to their worse counterparts, which is an unreasonable and huge assumption. Satrapi’s memoir illustrates many memories we ourselves may recognize from our childhoods, such as watching a best friend move away or slowly losing your childhood innocence. These memories help us relate to the scared, oppressed people of these countries, which is something we all need to be doing right now, as without our human relations, we are nothing. Also, Satrapi reminds us pages 20 and 21 that Britain can be put partially to fault for the political instability in Iran, and thus that we cannot judge a country without seeing a full picture of its history. Satrapi’s book Persepolis provided me and hopefully others with a fuller view of the history of Iran, and in doing so also made me empathize with its people as well as other war-torn countries.
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