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Persepolis

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Everybody in the world is born in an environment which is full and hope to see the future. Life offers a warm welcoming hand without single indications of misfortunes which may arise in future. It is clear that the picture many picture of life which children have is very different from what the elderly see and anticipate. At childhood, children always think positive about themselves, their parents and even their siblings. Nothing hinders a child from imagining that life is a journey full of happiness and cheerful memorable moments. However, overtime a child gets exposed to the real world through learning what happens within and outside his environment. For instance, a realization that his parents are not the rulers of the entire world clicks and begins to develop inquisitive thinking and ideas about life.

Through interaction with our environment, we are forced to give childhood thinking, character and behavior focusing on the challenges of life. This environment usually consist of peers, friends and parents who play a pivotal role in shaping our personality. Why is someone supposed to give up his childhood? The idea behind this adaptive behavior to augment survival in a world full of challenges, motivations, hard moments, death and happiness. This essay therefore focuses on Persepolis in order to understand the effect on the environment on ones behavior and general life. To achieve a comprehensive analysis, the paper has a critical stance in exploring themes in Persepolis by answering the following questions: How can Persepolis serve as narrative of Iranian history? How does Satrapi link "women" and "religion" in Iran as socially and historically constructed concepts with political importance?

Persepolis is a novel written by Marjane Satrapi. It depicts the autobiographical life of Marjane Satrapi with special emphasis on childhood events prior and after the Islamic Revolution in Iran. The name of the novel and film originated from the historical city, Persepolis. Like many other people, Marjane was born during the time of revolution and war not only in Iran but also in many other parts of the world. She had to go up to comprehend many events which took [place in her life and in her environment. In “Persepolis”, she narrates her life and experiences in Iran and how life exposed her to challenges which she had to cope with to survive. This made her lose her innocence especially horrific warfare that shook every foundation of Iran. This innocence is clearly revealed to the reader when Marjane asserts that she was born into a religious world and understood during her childhood that she was the last prophet to exist on earth at the age of six years (Satrapi, 2005).

 It is however important to note that Marjane was not naturally religious. She was brought up in a religious family which upheld morality and human values. As a result, she had immense interest and passion of practicing religious teachings and ended up writing her own book “Holy Book” justifying that her imaginative life of becoming a prophet was not out of place; she indeed wanted to pursue it. Marjane innocently believed and had faith in the existence of God. She considered God as a friend whom they would discuss several life issues with on a daily basis. She describes God as having a face that resembled a baby (Satrapi, 8.).

At this point one wonders whether or not Marjane lived a religious life throughout until her death. She found herself changing and conforming to what was happening in the society. Her religious was attributed to the uprising of revolts in Iran which affected the lives of many people. According to Marjane, she needed to take some action especially during the revolution year, a course which forced her to surrender her prophetic faith and passionate destiny (Satrapi, 10). After putting her faith aside, she thought that her intimacy with God was no longer strong as before with attributes to her involvement in war. Due to her underage, Marjane could not underrated the working of the government and how exactly the war would influence the lives of millions of Iranians. In spite of her naivety, she strongly had the desire and passion of getting involved in the war. As a young citizen, Marjane believed in everything that she was taught in school ranging from matters of governance to social life. She therefore ended up liking the King so much, a move that was against her parents who were against him. This compelled the Marjane’s father to teach and make her enlightened with how the King rose to power and grabbed every belonging of her grandfather.

Based on childhood experiences amidst Islamic Revolution in Iran, Marjane narrates every event she witnessed and the impact of these activities to the cultural, political and even social well beings of people. The book is filled with emotions presented to the reader from a child’s point of view, triggering sympathy and creating a tangible Revolution Period using word. Marjane was educated from at Lycee Francais and was a granddaughter to one of the emperors in Iran. This could have been one of the reasons why she really liked the King. As mentioned earlier, Marjane’s parents were against the King and the regime. They therefore adopted western culture; staging a rebellion at home and making their daughter understand their actions. These happenings lead to a series of questions concerning the life of Marjane. She is being exposed to western Culture with compulsory use of the veil (Satrapi, 2005). She grew up knowing that it was wrong to wear Nikes and denim jacket. What for? Since culture is a symbol of identity which defines the life of a person, values, ideas and traditions, it is not clearly the kind of identity being expected from Marjane by her parents.

Childhood experiences are very crucial shaping the character and destiny of an individual. Persepolis gives an account of life demands without giving it a single thought the impact and repercussions of such demands. It is very possible for a child to see into the future based on surrounding events. This may imply skipping of some development years and stages which are necessary. For the case of Marjane, she learns that intellectualism can not suppress the impact of what happens in life.

Many people including young and old consider vengeance as the main option as a response to a painful situation. What if you do not have the power to revenge? Many adapt to some situations, and learn to live in and with pain forever. Marjane explores several forms of rebellion in the society most of which are usually imposed to innocent majority. She considers fear and knowledge as probable reasons why people get involved in rebellion. She points out that many young people show rebellion by excluding themselves from the public and sinking into an extreme which is usually dangerous. On the other hand, adults ratify rebellion by de-linking other people from themselves. Whether among children, youth or adults, rebellion has its own negative impacts some of which are fatal (Satrapi, 2005).

There is no doubt that Marjane uses her book to narrate the History of Iran which like any other history in the world, had a multitude range of issues which contributed to the current status of many nations. She also links "women" and "religion" in Iran as socially and historically constructed concepts with political importance. This is brought forth through a number of themes covered in the book.

The author illustrates Nationalism during the Revolution and recalls how her family was wiling to participate in riots and demonstrations without a single doubt. This signifies a sign of patriotism in Marjane and her family members. Although her family members understood every risk that was associated with violence and demonstrations, they found no reason to deter them from fully participating. Despite the fact that Marjane was still young and could not participate in such activities, they went along with her (Satrapi, 2005). They were willing to loose their lives as not only a way of rebellion but a demonstration of nationalism and a sign of dissatisfaction with the ruling of Shah. They were ready to pay the price but remain faithful and devoted to their beliefs.

In addition, the Imperialism of Shah does not depart the memory Marjane as she recalls her childhood painful experience. It is worth noting that the theme of Imperialism is quite significant in the book and the root cause of all the suffering which the author and the rest of Iranians had to go through. According to Marjane, Iranians did not naturally oppose Shah. It was until he sold the resources to western countries for his personal gain that people of Iran rebelled. This rebellion was the start of the famous and historical Iranian Revolution. At her age, it meant that she was vulnerable to violence of any nature which would even lead to her death. Since she had no choice she had to survive the hard way. As also described by Gelvin, the Middle East was greatly influenced by the West in creating links for access to resources like oil (Gelvin, 2005)

The Revolution greatly affected Marjane and Iranian since they were forced to wear the veil every time. This was aimed at protecting them from being raped or being killed by me. This shows how women were less considered in early days of Iran. Men considered as sex objects, oppressed them and exposed them to all forms of violence including murder. Satrapi further got affected since her mother opposed the rule. She was to be raped killed and dumped as garbage.  Many lives were taken away as a result of Imperialism. Although Marjane did not witness some cases, she heard her parents recall how buildings were raised to ashes with doors locked from outside.

One of the roles of religion in almost every community that has one is to bring peace and happiness. It usually serves as a source of solace when everything around seem negative. What is the role of religion in Persepolis? Does it serve as a source of comfort to Iranians? Does it act as a voice of the voiceless? The answer to all these questions is no. As described by Marjane, religion is exploited continuously. It is used as a source of mockery and despised with those in power. Life changed after the Islamic Revolution in Iran. As narrated by Marjane, it was a resolution after the revolution for every female person to wear a veil including students who commutated daily to and from school. This portrays the ill motive behind the introduction of the veil immediately after the war as a requirement to be observed by every woman in Iran. The question is: wear was the veil before the revolution? Were women less human without the veil? Why were those opposed to the veil raped and murdered in broad daylight?

With relation to religion and social matters women were considered less equal compared to men. There was no gender sensitivity that would give women an opportunity to speak for themselves and demand their rights. Marjane’s school is considered no religious since boys and girls attended same classes (Mason, 2003). It is later recommended by a man that the school be separated according to gender. Is it gender that defines a person? These experiences simply demonstrate how men were filled with selfishness and the desire to dominate every single moment of the lives of women. The claim behind the veil, according men was to cover women so that they are not exposed to men. This was thought as away of controlling immorality and preserve purity among women. If truly this was the case, what were men doing in order to avoid falling into sin because of temptations? It is quite unfortunate that those who sought religion and thought that it would offer comfort, were welcomed with cruelty, inequality and murder.

Marjane’s childhood was one that would influence anybody. She always found herself in the dilemma of either rebelling or obeying. The book is a clear narration of the Iranian history especially during and before the Islamic Revolution which marked a turning point in the life of not only Marjane but every Iranian regardless of his or her opinion. Although she had lived with boys and considered them equal, a new image which was to remain in her was implanted after she was forced to learn that men and women were not equal based on gender. She admires the life of Michael Jackson with his photographs all over in the bedroom. She uses tight jeans but at fourteen, she has no choice but to use the veil which is imposed to Iranian women during and after the Revolution. “Persepolis” depicts the struggles encountered by children men and women as a result of the Iranian Revolution with its impact being felt today. The book narrates Iran’s history featuring religion as constructed concepts with political significance.

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