Student Analysis of Persepolis

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Book: The Complete Persepolis Author: Marjane Satrapi

Analysis by: Audrey E. Cody Date Completed: September 29, 2009





Personal Reflections

The Veil



*Very Religious "The Last Prophet"

*Three Wants: Wanted maid to eat with them, no hurting old people and longed for traditional religious ceremonies

*Wanted to be justice, love and wrath - all in one.

"Justice, love and wrath - all in one" reminds me of the trinity in our belief: justice being the Holy Spirit, love being Jesus, and wrath being God.

The Bicycle


*Compared revolution to bike with broken wheels - illustration shows them being carted away anyways.

*Learned immense history.

*Heard parents speaking of Rex Cinema fire.

*Saw misrepresentation of the media and heard hidden factors on BBC.

*Wanted to go to demonstrations, but wasn't allowed.

*Cries out to God, "Come..."

Marjane says of revolution: "The entire population must support it."

This statement from the mouth of a child is more truthful than we hear on the news today. There is power in numbers as well as in congress.

The Bible says, "If my people would humble themselves and pray, I will heal their land."

So too, Marjane cried out to God.

The Water Cell


*Parents demonstrating made them sore - wouldn't play Monopoly.

*Teacher told her the Shaw was chosen by God "And so did God". It was written on front page of school book.

*Dad tells her it was about money - "Maybe God helped?" - Confusion.

*Dad tells her that the emperor that was overthrown was her great-grandpa and Grandpa (communist) went to prison.

*Marjane soaks in tub to experience wet cell.

The teachings from home and school were contradicting each other. As well as teachers, Marjane was certain that God also told her the Shaw was sent by God. She was confused and thought, "Maybe God helped?"

The children often receive mixed messages while being indoctrinated into a belief system. For example: our national anthem was removed from the schools, but New Jersey and the Carolina's are currently teaching little kids songs (praises) about Obama in school.



*Grandma visits - talk about Grandpa

*Poverty - Mom "pretends" to cook

*Shaw lies: "I am the light…my people will regain their splendor.

*All monies went for frivolities and to impress the heads of state.

*Grandma speaks about being happy for revolution, but Marjane wants to hear about Grandpa.

*Dad late for supper (worry)

*Photos at Rey Hospital - Everyone is a Martyr - she questions the laughter.

The Shaw's lies remind me of a "ruler" we are quite familiar with. "My people will regain their splendor" reminds me of our "change".

Where all the government money goes is familiar of today.

Marjane still quite confused. She must have been wondering how the adults can laugh about death.

The Letter


*Children working - shamed by Cadillac and maid (Mehri) hired at 10 yrs. Old - like a sister

*Wrote letters to neighbor boy for Mehri

*Dad let neighbor know she was a maid (social class)

*Marjane comforts Mehri.

*They snuck out to demonstrate - both smacked.

*Day named "Black Friday"- many deaths blamed on Israeli soldiers, "it was our own who attacked us."

Marjane recognizes injustice in the class system. "Black Friday" is another example of lies about governments (propaganda) which are so easily portrayed in our mainstream media.

The Party


*Saw news that Shaw was ousted - huge celebration

*Jimmy Carter refused the Shaw refuge - Anwar Sadat took him in Egypt "The Devil has left us."

*School closed - reopened - all children told to remove pictures of the Shaw from textbooks

*Rumors of Ramin's dad killing a million

*Marjane and friends ganged up on him – mom threatens to nail her ears to the wall - explains "His father did it, but it's not Ramin's fault." - makes her apologize and forgive.

Another example of school indoctrination. I like what Marjane's mother told her about Ramin: "His father did it, but it is not his fault." - this should be taken as a lesson whereas reparations are still given to Native Americans and African American still shout out, "discrimination - it's because I'm black". This is so extremely overused.

The Heroes


*Three thousand prisoners released - knew two communists (both born in the '40s)

*Told a girl her dad was dead - not on "a trip" and got in trouble.

*Guy in prison said torturers learned all they knew from the CIA: nerves on bottom of foot go to brain; whipping with electric cables; put out cigarettes on back.

*Ahmadi was whipped, pissed on, burnt with an iron. After his execution, he was dismembered.

*She incorporated torture into games and felt "diabolical power".

*Mother told her, "Bad people are dangerous, but forgiving them is too." and "Don't worry, there is justice on earth."

*She felt safe, only in the arms of God.

When Marjane's mom told her, "Bad people are dangerous, but forgiving them is too." it serves a good lesson of how forgiving and accepting we are of Muslims. They say "peace and love", but we must always remember that their text is still the Koran which teaches that westerners (Israel & the U.S.) are infidels. The fundamentalists are still instructed to kill the infidels for certain passage to heaven.

I too, like a child, only feel safe in the arms of God.



*Marjane realized her dad was not a hero.

*Meets Uncle Anoosh (Doctorate in Marxism and Leninism) who told her stories - showed her picture of wife (scribbled out) and kids.

*Anoosh gives her a swan he made of bread that he made in prison.

*Goes to bed contented because her family has heroes.

*Tells friends: Grandpa (Prison), Anoosh (prison for 9yrs.), great-uncle Fereydoon (executed).

Every girl looks to her father as the hero.

Seeking family pride and self purpose begins very young.

The Sheep


*Dad and uncle talking about politics.

*Marjane interjects, repeating what she had heard on TV about the elections - 99.9% of vote was for Islamic Republic (lie - ignorance).

*Friend leaves for U.S. - Marjane cried (liked him)

*Other friends leave - reassured of their return

*Dad gets call - Mohsen murdered, sister (Siama) murdered. Anoosh "on trip".

*Told Anoosh is in prison - goes to see him at his request - only one visitor allowed.

*Anoosh gave her another bread swan – supposed to be the uncle to the first one.

* Anoosh executed.

*Marjane rejects (hates) God - she felt lost.

*Had to go to basement (being bombed) war begins.

Page 62/Panels 1,2 and 3 - wow - what a lesson - a mirror of today: Her dad is telling Anoosh that the revolution is a leftist revolution and the government wants to be called "Islamic". To this, Anoosh replies. "… In a country where half the population is illiterate you cannot unite people around Marx. The only thing that can really unite them is nationalism or a religious ethic. But the religious leaders don't know how to govern. They will return to their Mosques. The proleatariat shall rule! It's inevitable!!!" This statement is mirrored today in the United States. Illiteracy is now replaced with complacency and apathy.

Interesting chapter title.

The Trip


*U.S. embassy hostage news - no travel Visas allowed.

*Universities close for two years to revamp the textbooks.

*Mom molested for not wearing veil in public.

*Author illustrates fundamentalists vs. modern progressives.

*Children told to lie to teachers when asked about daily activities - told to say they pray all day.

*Demonstrations and beatings

*Vacation to Italy and Spain for three weeks

*War breaks out - Sadam attacks - she wants to fight

Another example of public schools adherence to political agendas.

The F-14's


*At Dad's office - news that Iraqui F-14s bomb Tehran - rush home to check on mom (in shower).

*Dad says, "The real Islamic invasion has come from our own government." - explains all pilots are in prison.

*Marjane thinks her dad is a defeatist, not a patriot.

*TV says 140 planes bombed Baghdad - dad disbelief looks for radio to hear BBC - It was true. They were released from prison to fly in exchange for playing national anthem on radio.

*All celebrate, but half pilots lost in battle.

Depicts the enemy within and shows very patriotic desperation of pilots.

The Jewels


*Grocery store empty - women fighting

*Marjanes mom scoffs them - says they are uncivilized and should only take as much as they need meanwhile sends her for more rice.

*Stress very high - parents fight - makes her cry

*News at station - Iraq bombed refinery at Abadam - all border towns were next.

*Rich people (acquaintances) bombed - came to stay for a week - Trip to the store to buy beans - mom called a whore.

Subconscious realization of mom's hypocrisy and desperation in tough times.

Valuable lesson about materialism.

The Key


*Marjane observes all the martyrs in the street and in the paper.

*Mom tells her to think about life, but at school had mourning twice per day, funeral marches, and (beating their chests (rituals).

*Men beating themselves with chains - some even stabbed themselves - makes fun of it all.

*School had TP garland for anniversary of revolution - girls knit hats for soldiers - she smarts off - teacher pissed.

*Dad told her that if hair is so stimulating, she should shave her mustache.

*Maid crying - son given key - rejects God.

*Marji invites herself to a party - tells mom otherwise.

*Shahab (cousin) tells of young boys being put into trances and thrown on the front lines - maids son didn't have to go.

*Went to party - she "looked sharp".

Again, school propaganda and home life collide. Points out that it is natural to make light of horror when it is too much to psychologically handle. Rebellion also normal.

I find it amazing how people reject God when presented with hard times. They continue to try on their own until they realize it is not possible. At some point, everyone will cry out to God: "Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord." Through it all, children still wish to be children.

The Wine


*After border towns - Tehran targeted - drills to basement.

*Told of neighbors beaten for having fun - hung black curtains.

*Parties - uncle had still - maid/grapes - "God forgive me."

*Sirens - aunt abandons newborn - doubts maternal instinct.

*Stopped by law - "Westernized trash." - followed home.

*Grandma and Marjane dump all wine - cop bribed - no more wine.

I find it funny that the maid asks forgiveness of God while making wine.

The Cigarette


*Two years older - skipping class & ogling boys - caught by mom who "used the same tactics as the torturers." - calls her a dictator.

*Peace talks - heavier war - graffiti - a mess.

*"Sealed act of rebellion" against mother by having a cigarette - "kissed childhood goodbye." - now grown-up.

Everyone remembers what it is like to "kiss childhood goodbye".

The Passport


*July, 1982 - persecutions within - painted nails (against mom).

*Uncle in hospital with another heart attack - horrible sights.

*Hospital director a former window washer - grew beard - will not look a woman in the eye.

*Acquaintance of dad's makes fake passports.

*Uncle awake "see, it's not the cigarettes..."

*Eighteen year old girl at passport place executed - never made it.

*Buried same day as real passport arrives - never seen his son.

Shows how easily people tend to conform if there is something in it, personally, for them.

Kim Wilde


.*One year later - parents go to Turkey - she wants Iron Maiden and Kim Wilde posters (and other things) - Dad likes Iron Maiden.

*Mom sewed posters into dad's jacket too pass customs.

*1983, thirteen years old - mom lets her go shopping alone.

*Stopped by two female guards - "back then MJ still black."

*Threatened to take her to the committee because of clothing.

*Never told mom for fear of never getting to go alone - cranked Kim Wilde "to relax".

The lengths that parents go through for their kids.

The Shabbat


*Tehran attacked with scud missiles. - no hiding - no good - Tehran was soon abandoned - few stayed.

*Currency lost all value - 7:1 with Shaw / 110:1 4 years later.

*While shopping - heard her neighborhood bombed - ran home.

*Bomb hit neighbors house - mom tries to change subject - saw Neda's body (bracelet). - "No scream in the world could have relieved my suffering and my anger."

The loss of currency value (inflation) is very familiar today. I believe it will only get worse. Mom trying to protect her from reality is also very natural.

The Dowry


*Decked the school principal. - new school, called teacher a liar.

*dad proud, mom scared - told of Dowry (dead girl = 500 tourans).

*Parents told her they are sending her to Austria - filled jar with Iranian soil & Grandma sleeps with her - gives advice: "...always keep your dignity and be true to yourself."

*Airport - many young boys leaving - forbidden after age 13.

*"Nothing is worse than saying goodbye. It's a little like dying."

"Always keep your dignity and be true to yourself." I couldn't have said that better myself. If more people looked to dignity and had some sense of pride, they would surely speak up.



I found it interesting that a blank page is left in the book for a transitional break. Great idea!!!

The Soup


*November, 1984 - at boarding house with nuns - then ten days at Zozo's house - fights - haircut.

*Joan of Arc School - felt like an adult - went shopping - bought good smelling detergent and two boxes of pasta.

*Roommate speaks German only - TV also in German.




*School - no friends - good grades and caricatures of teachers.

*Other kids play linguistic jokes - "At least I existed."

*Group of friends - eccentric, punk, 2 orphans and third worlder.

*Christmas plans - felt left out.

*12/22/84 - SW Austria with roommate - midnight to three was catholic mass - grew close to roommate's family.

All kids want to be accepted by peers and Marji was no different. Sometimes it comes at a price.



*Threw herself into reading - tried to pee standing up.

*Ate spaghetti out of kettle in TV room - lead nun says no manners and uneducated - she says all of them were prostitutes before becoming nuns.

*Kicked out of school - nuns lie to parents - says she stole yogurt.

*Goes to live with Julie.

I like her rebellious attitude here because it reminds me so much of when I got kicked out of school for calling the Phy-Ed teacher a lesbian bitch. I guess she never should have asked my opinion of her if she didn't want to hear the truth.

The Pill


*Julie was disrespectful to parents - her mom had no authority and was boring.

*Julie brags about sex - mom leaves six days - Julie has party.

*Plays Pink Floyd, smoking, lying around - Julie has guy stay over.

Recognizes disrespect, but eventually conforms anyways. This surprises me because of her otherwise hard-nosed attitude.

The Vegetable


*Age 15-16 metamorphosis - cut hair at school for money - friends disapprove of people she cuts hair for.

*Pretends to smoke pot - ashamed to talk to her parents - remembers what grandma said.

*Heard gossip and got pissed - yelled - felt pride, finally.

True conformist shown here until she is pushed a touch too hard.

The Horse


*Stays at communal apartment with gay guys - notified that mom is coming to visit in two weeks.

*Mom is very gray - nineteen months had passed - good visit.

*Got room at university.

Parents are only here for a little while - life is too short.

Hide and Seek


*At school, all friends gone - didn't need anyone after seeing mom.

*Boyfriend invites her to party - disappointed in party – played hide and seek, volleyball, grilled and sang Janis Joplin.

*He wouldn't sleep with her - revealed he's gay.

*Weed and hash - invited to physics teacher's house.

*New student – Jean Paul - asked her out - for math help.

*Meditating and getting high with Ingrid at commune.

*Met Markus (a literature student). She was uncomfortable - he kissed her.

*Markus's mom throws her out - her house mother throws him out - spent a lot of time in vehicle.

*Begins dealing drugs "for Markus".

Knowing that we do not need anyone does not stop us from seeking companionship.

The Croissant


*God helps her prepare for exam - got best grade in school.

*Summer - Babysitting and waitressing for side cash.

*Back in school - warned about dealing - quit dealing. But stayed high - losing Markus to it - passed her grade.

*1988 - started skipping school - went to demonstrations.

*Called him a coward: "Cowardice of people like you who give dictators the chance to install themselves!"

*Eighteenth birthday - missed the train.

*Went to surprise Markus with croissants - in bed with other girl.

Have to love this one: "Cowardice of people like you who give dictators the chance to install themselves!" WOW, good one. If more people would understand that today, our country wouldn't be hitting the skids toward socialism.

The Veil


*Laments loss of Markus. - fights with house mother - left.

*Spent night in street - three weeks - woke up in hospital.

*Called Zozo for cash - uncle and parents been looking for her.

*Smoked cigarettes for five days before going home.

Realize that family matters more than friends or lovers.

The Return


*Home - cleaned her room of Punk and childish things.

*Still murals on the streets - streets named after martyrs.

*Dad fills her in on end of war: "Despite my father's sounding motivated, I didn't feel any real conviction in his voice. He seemed as blaze as my mother."

Otherwise patriotic people easily have their spirits broken.

The Joke


*Many visitors but still felt alone.

*Went to see childhood friend (nails) who was in wheel chair - told her a joke - she learned, "We can only feel sorry for ourselves when our misfortunes are still supportable. Once this limit is crossed, the only way to bear the unbearable is to laugh at it."

She says she learned the lesson, but I believe she remains on a pity party, even today. Some people adhere to their pasts more than others. But then again, it is our past which makes us who we are.



*Pity party - soap opera - skiing at mothers' insistence.

*Old friends called her a whore. - Psychiatrist prescribed pills.

*Parents out of town - cut wrists - didn't work - drank 1/2 bottle of vodka and swallowed all pills - did not work either.

*Resolved to change things - makeover and exercise.

*Becomes aerobics instructor.

Things will not magically change on their own. One has to be proactive.

The Exam


*Parents bought her a car.

*April, 1989 - met Reza - studied for college exam with him.

*June, 1989 - both passed exam - prays to pass ideological exam.

*Couldn't pray in Arabic - was honest - admitted for her honesty.

Honesty pays off - so does the grace of God.

The Makeup


*Had a man arrested to distract guards from her wearing makeup.

*Grandma calls her a selfish bitch (I agree). - pissed - tells her that her uncle and grandpa defended the innocent.


The Convocation


*September, 1989 - college - other girls ogle Reza - admits affair.

*Girls and guys use separate staircases - spoke at conference about conduct.

*Grandma says, "It is fear that makes us lose our conscience. It's also what transforms us into cowards." - Grandma proud of her - happy with self.

I just love her grandmother's wisdom here … "It is fear that makes us lose our conscience. It's also what transforms us into cowards." While complaining about the younger generation, I was once told that they know right from wrong. But they are afraid to speak up for fear of retribution. Sad - that will be the end of liberty as we know it.

The Socks


*Art class - no nudes - drew drapes. Told to draw man while looking at the door.

*Late for dentist - running - response: "Don't look at my ass!"

*Spent entire day in front of the committee for wearing red socks - "When we're afraid, we lose all sense of analysis and reflection. Our fear paralyzes us. Besides, fear has always been the force behind all dictators' repression."

*Announces sleeping with boyfriend - rejected by others.

*Their behavior (public/private) polar opposites.

*Arrested and bailed out by parents. - Another party, busted - "whores" went to jail - guy there killed.

*next night - huge party - drunk.

Attitude! J

The Wedding


*1994 - engagement to Reza - Dad's terms: right to divorce, leave the country and be happy.

*Marriage - instant regrets - one month, separate bedrooms - two months, weekly fights became daily insults.

Thank God for the elders.

The Satellite


*1991 - Iraq attacks Kuwait. - Media objectives consist of making anti-western propaganda.

*Most people forgot their political conscience.

*Satellite TV - couch potatoes.

*Dad got her books - new crowd - strive for education again.

At least she distinguishes propaganda from real news. I would only wish our youth would attempt to do the same. They are completely oblivious. Education and historical information would help that because, like the old saying goes, "History repeats itself." So true.

The End


*June, 1994 thru 1994 - worked with Reza - no fighting.

*Received twenty of twenty points on project - later told project is "unachievable".

*Conversation with friend - told her that if divorced, she'll be judged.

*Grandma suggests waiting, but gives "permission" for divorce.

*Job as illustrator for economic magazine - one illustrator arrested (disappeared) - another arrested and beaten.

*Visits beaten illustrator - pissed at him for not letting his wife speak - disgusted.

*Decision to leave country.

*Announces divorce to Reza, then to parents.

*June, 1994 - to France - attends school of decorative arts in Strasbourg, France.

*January 4, 1996 - Grandma dies - "...FREEDOM HAD A PRICE..."

Recognizing injustice is important.

Freedom coming with a price is the main realization that our countrymen need. We'd rather apathetically sit on our duffs and become conformists than to inform ourselves and stand up for what this country was founded upon.

I have resolved that until I have drawn my last breath on this earth, I will speak up for freedom. This resolution is not a result of reading this book, but has been reinforced by it. I enjoyed this year's campus read of Persepolis because if people will just open their eyes, it is an accurate description of what will, sooner or later (probably sooner), inevitably happen within the United States.