Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

persepolisMarjane Satrapi was a girl who lived in Iran through the Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war. Her story was narrated when she was about ten years old, in 1978, when the Revolution begun. This is strictly authobiographical, rendered as a memoir of childhood and young aduldhood. Young Marjane didn’t exactly understand what was going on, although her parents tried to explain it to her. They said Mohammad Reza Pahlavi–who was also commonly known as the Shah, was brainwashing Iran – a Muslim country to get secular with their religion and start persuaded by Western ideals. He was also corrupt, and the only reason he was Shah was because the other countries needed the oil.

There were many political problems at that time. Everybody started to riot, wanting the Shah to get off the throne. Others started to get closer with religion out of fear, going back to square one. Woman was required to wear a veil, although most of them protested, refusing to wear it. Riots came to the point of people using guns to shoot.  The cinema which was playing western movies was burnt down. The police were at the spot, but instead of helping the people who were inside the cinema, they forbid people to help them. There were at least 400 deaths.

Soon, the problem reached to education. Now schools were split off by genders. Every girl – like their mother, must also wear a veil, although the girls didn’t really understand what was going on. They just played around with their head scarfs everyday. It also reached to people honoring the deaths as ‘martyrs’. Marjane’s parents took part in the riots actively, because they believed that they have to work hard for their rights.

Finally, at 1979, the Shah went off the throne. He exiled to Egypt. Everybody everywhere in Iran celebrated his absence, and a new reign formed called The Republic of Iran. Those who were in jail from The Shah were immediately released. That was the day when many families came together, bringing so much happiness and hope.  But Western cultures were not exactly welcomed back. Women were still required to wear veils. The rule was enforced even further and more strick. Governments made HQs to force people to wear veils and going as far as guns to kill the rioters. Many things were starting to get banned permanently, like music, cards and parties–basically almost every kind of items on the West. And finally, the war hit. Iraq started on the offensive, the first to try and invade Iran in 1982.

Marjane was a young teen at the time. She didn’t like the new rules at all. Her well-educated parents understood her objection. They tried to support her toward a liberal education and encourage her to speak out. It was getting increasingly difficult for lots of things because of the war, and when they finally got their passports on a trip to Turkey, they smuggled lots of stuff back to Iran for their daughter.

Marjane was coming from well-off family. Her parents owned a Cadillac car – something she felt a shame off, because many people in Iran were struggling in poverty. A golden car in the middle of a poor city would attract lots of attention to her. Under the government’s nose, Marjane and her parents would hold in parties, nearly missing narrow calls. To them, everybody has their own way of calming themselves down during the war that was taking place. At the end, the parents finally realized that their daughter’s future lied not in Iran but in Europe. Marjane went off to France where she still lives today.

I had the joy reading the comic book. Marjane showed me what life was like in Iran through her young, impressionable eyes. Right now in the modern world, many teenagers would complain because of their lousy parents and social medias, but instead of doing that, they should count their blessings. They’re lucky to not grow up in a war.  Although I can’t guess what the future would bring me, I am thankful that my life is not surrounded in a world full of fear and hatred.

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