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Critical essay about Persepolis.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Marjane writes a book called "Persepolis" (2003) about her childhood in Iran and to change the negative stereotypes associated with Iran, and their people. In her introduction, Satrapi says that in writing the book she wanted to portray that Iran and its people are about more than "fundamentalism, fanaticism, and terrorism." Does she accomplish that? Does her book confirm or refute your previous views of Iran?

Persepolis is an amazing book. It definitely is a book that I would recommend to my family and friends. I defiantly learned a lot of things while reading Persepolis. It gave me a new perspective about people who live in Iran, and it made me realize that they are people who want freedom, religion, and peace as much as I do.

Marjane Satrapi (Marji) was born in 1969 in Rasht, Iran. Marji's childhood takes place in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution, a time when her country was at war. Marji was born into an upper middle class family, and they had a maid named Mehri. Her maid Mehri has lived with Marji since she was born. Mehri and Marji acted a lot like ordinary siblings. In Persepolis Marji talks about the close friendship that they shared, and how they actually grew up together. The one thing that bothered Marji is that Mehri ate her meals at a separate table from her, and Marji didn't understand why.

Her mom (Taji) and father (Ebi), who opposed Shah, protested on a daily basis. Her maternal grandfather was the son of Nasreddine Shah, the last Qadjar emperor of Iran. Many of her family members were jailed because they were well known communists. Marji's "beloved uncle Anoosh" was also a political prisoner, and later he is executed for his political beliefs. This was traumatizing to Marji because she loved her uncle very much. Anoosh was also role model and hero to her. This fueled her to rebel against the Islamic Revolution.

Before the Islamic Revolution, Marji attended a French non-religious school where boys and girls learned and played together. "In 1979 A Revolution Took Place." Then in 1980 it was mandatory to wear the veils, and all the bilingual schools were shut down. All of her friends were separated by their sex. Marji states that, "We found ourselves veiled and separated from our friends." It was not of Islam for the different sexes to be educated together, and it was considered "Symbols of Capitalism." (Satrapi, page 4). Even though all this was going on, Marjane was deeply religious. Marjane says in her book that "I was born with religion." Her parents were "very religious, though her family was very modern" (Satrapi, 03).

Marji spoke to god every night, and dreamed of one day being the last prophet. Religion was her main focus growing up, and it was also a way for her to escape some of the more trying times in her life.

Marji's parents were brilliant and upper middle class people who believed in protesting for things that they didn't believe in. They protested on a daily basis, and Marji always had the urge to demonstrate with her parents. After all, Marji was an opinionated young lady, and loved to fight for what is right. Her parents forbid her to attend the protest because horrible things happen to people at these demonstrations.

However, in chapter 1, Marji's mother was at a protest, and she was photographed at one of the events by a German journalist. Her picture was published in all of the newspapers, and a magazine in Iran. Her mother was terrified, and she disguised herself for a long period of time. Even though Marji's mom was afraid for her safety, Marji was extremely proud.

One day, when Ebi and Taji was at a protest. Marji convinced Mehri to attend a protest with her. In Persepolis Marji states that "we shouted from morning till night." (Page 38)Mehri was against the idea, but adamant Marji persisted, and Mehri gave in. So, Marji and Mehri attended a protest against her parent's wishes, and they both got caught and were punished for their deception. They were both acting like typical rebellious girls. I thought this part added some humor to the book, and made me realize that they can be as rebellious as I was.

Growing up Marji was like every ordinary teenager. In chapter 17, Kim Wilde, she describes how she loved boys, Michael Jackson, Kim Wilde, Iron Maiden, Nikes and French fries. Her bedroom was covered with Michael Jackson and Kim Wilde posters. She had peer pressure to smoke and skip school by older classmates. She wore tight fitting jeans and dangling jewelry.

Marji talks about the day that her world was flipped upside down.( page 142) Her friend Neda was killed in the bombing. She knew it was her friend because she recognized a bracelet in the rubble still attached to Neda's hand; this infuriated her because these killings were senseless to her, and she states in her book, "No scream in the world could have relieved my suffering and my anger." On page 143, Marji says, "After the death of Neda Baba-Levy, my life took a new turn." In 1984, I was fourteen and a rebel. Nothing scared me anymore" (Satrapi 143). She wanted rebel against the people that she believed was trying to enforce the Islamic Revolution.

In conclusion, Persepolis defiantly was a learning experience for me. When someone would say the word "Iran" I think of oil, criminals, and communist. I never knew that I would be able to relate Iran to family, love, peace, hope, Michael Jackson and French fries. It has definitely given me a new meaning behind the word "Iran." It has given me a new outlook of the people of Iran.

randomhouse.com/pantheon/graphicnovels/satrapi2.h tml

May 29, 2009   #2
Persepolis is such a wonderful book! I'm glad to have this opportunity to review an essay about it. I share your enthusiasm and have recommended it to several of my friends.

Overall, your review is very strong. I have just a few suggestions.

First, while I like the idea of somebody "defiantly" enjoying something, I think you mean "definitely." You make this error in two places, so be sure to fix both.

My most substantial piece of feedback is that you jump from your brief introduction right into recounting specific scenes and events from the book. In order to better orient your reader, you might want to provide a brief overview or two-sentence synopsis of the book before jumping into the individual scenes.

Also, it seems strange to me to write a whole essay on this book without once mentioning that it is a graphic novel or making any reference at all to the drawings. Did using that format help Satrapi to make the characters and their lives more engaging? Did it help to make Iran itself seem less forbidding and foreign to you?

Your grammar and punctuation are excellent, for the most part. Be more consistent in your citation style. In some cases, you say (page #), while in others you use (Satrapi #). Probably, you should be using MLA style, in which case you want to use (Satrapi #) the first time you quote something from the book in a paragraph and then simply (#) for any subsequent quotations in that paragraph.

One specific fix:
When someone would say the word "Iran" I used to think of oil, criminals, and communists .

Thank you for sharing such a lovely review, which reminded me of many of my favorite scenes from this wonderful book.

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