Persepolis: The Story of How Marjane Satrapi Remains an Individual In the early 1950s when Britain discovered Iran’s amazing oil, the shah, a western controlled puppet was put into power to control and nationalize this resource. During the late 1970s the citizens of Iran started to revolt. Marjane Satrapi, a young girl growing up in the daunting oppression of the Shah’s rule and then the perilious danger of the Iranian revolution remains an individual by learning from her parents, keeping a very strong relationship with her uncle and rebelling against the harsh standards of fundamentalist Iran.
The home is one of the most influential places for an adolescent, and with a household like Marji’s it is almost impossible not to become an outspoken individual who is not afraid to stand up to anyone. Her parents openly demonstrate against the senselessness of the Shah’s rule and the ridiculous restrictions and laws forced upon them by the Shah’s secret police.
“At one of the demonstrations, a German journalist took a photo of my mother. I was really proud of her. Her photo was published in all the European newspapers.
And even in one magazine in Iran,” (5). Her parents even encourage Marji to do the same. As a young child Marji is permitted to protest with her friends in the gardens, under the close watch of her parents, and at the age of 14 she is finally allowed to join her mother at a meeting against fundamentalism. “In spite of everything, the revolution was still in the air. There were some opposiion demonstrations. ‘Tomorrow there’s going to be a meeting against fundamentalism. ’ ‘I’m coming too! ’ ‘No! Its too dangerous. ’ ‘She’s coming too!
She should start learning to defend her rights as a woman right now! ’” (76). In addition to allowing her to protest, Marji’s parents allow her to express herself freely even when she is shunned by the strict fundamentalist society for being different. Unlike most of the children, when Marji is asked at school what she wants to be when she grows up, she tells her teacher she wants to become the final prophet. The teacher calls in her parents to discuss this incident. “’Your child is disturbed. She wants to become a prophet. ’ ‘What about it” ‘Doesn’t this worry you? ‘No! Not at all’” (8). While Marji’s teacher is very old-fashioned in her beliefs, her parents are very progressive and easy going about it. While Iranian society became more intolerant of individual expression, in her home her parents instilled a sense of rebellion in her, that allowed her to cope with the restrictions. Along with sharing his heroic stories of fighting the Shah’s rule and being imprisoned for over ten years, so that Marji can brag to her friends, Uncle Anoosh is a role model, an adult and a friend who truly understands Marji.
She looks up to him because he is unafraid of protesting or breaking the laws, even though his life is often threatened by his actions. It is obvious that Uncle Anoosh has a huge impact on Marji because when she grows up she turns out very much like him; she has his fearlessness. Uncle Anoosh is almost a second father to Marji, and she is like a daughter to him. When jailed a second time and allowed only one visitor, Uncle Anoosh chooses Marji. “’You know, you have honored me with your visit?
You are the little girl I always wanted to have… Star of my life. ’” (69). In these difficult times Marji is fortunate to have a second father who helps her understand the world and more importantly herself. Although many restrictions and practices are forced upon her, Marji finds a way through protest, witty remarks and rebellious acts to stand up to the fundamentalist ethics of the time. Marji is a very outspoken and persistent girl who will say and do what she believes in, although she sometimes goes against even her parent’s wishes.
When strictly forbade to demonstrate at a rally against the Shah and class systems, a small 11 year old Marji drags her housekeeper to come with her. “’Tomorrow we are going to demonstrate. ’ ‘We are not allowed! ’ ‘Don’t worry! We are going anyway! ’ … We shouted from morning till night. ” (38). Marji finds the many fundamentalist rituals forced upon her at school such as torture sessions very stupid and makes fun of them, even to her teachers. “After a little while, no one took the torture sessions seriously anymore… ‘The martyrs! The martyrs! Kill me! ’ ‘Satrapi! What are you doing on the ground? ‘I’m suffering can’t you see? ’” (97). Although Marji protests against the restrictive ethics and the Shah’s rule, subconsciously she is really protesting against the elders, both in the government and in her house. While she rebels against both in different way, they almost represent the same thing to her. “As for me, I sealed my act of rebellion against my mother’s dictatorship by smoking the cigarette I’d stolen from my uncle two weeks earlier. It was awful but this was not the moment to give in. With this first cigarette, I kissed childhood goodbye. Now I was a grown-up. ” (117).
Because of the Iranian revolution, Marji feels a need to grow up and experience things that are way beyond her level of understanding. She forces herself to mature in order to deal with everything in the adult world. Adolescence is a time for self-discovery. For Marji, her character was defined in part by the Iranian revolution and the restrictive fundamentalist culture. Yet she was guided by the help and advice from her parents and the companionship and willingness to understand from Uncle Anoosh. Therefore she was able to find ways through protest and rebellion to stand up for what she believed in.