What is the “truth” or “true” image of Iran and its people that she conveys by telling this story?


1. Persepolis is the story of a young girl’s coming of age in the midst of political turmoil, social upheaval and war. As such, and as we see, the author’s shifting political and religious orientation, her conduct in school, her relationship to Western popular culture, and her own code of ethics are all shaped by the larger historical context of the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war. Drawing on specific episodes from the novel, discuss how Marjane Satrapi’s views and behavior change and develop in response to the larger events unfolding around her.

2. Perhaps the central conflict in Persepolis is that between religion and secular leftist politics. This conflict is evident at the individual level (as Marji’s early desire to be a prophet is set against the background of her family’s communist affiliation, and as we see in the imaginary dialogue between God and Karl Marx). It is also evident at the national level (as what is at first a political revolution develops into a religious and cultural revolution with an emphasis on appearance, behavior, gender roles, etc.). Discuss this conflict in the novel at the individual level of Marji and her family and on the national stage of the Iranian Revolution and how they relate to one another.

3. As with Maus, Persepolis underscores the importance of memory and storytelling, especially for those who are persecuted for their beliefs, political views, race, ethnicity, etc. As Marji’s uncle Anoosh says: “I tell you all this because it’s important that you know. Our family memory must not be lost. Even if it’s not easy for you, even if you don’t understand it all” (60). Why is it important that Marji tells this story? What do we learn from it? Consider what Marjane Satrapi says in the introduction: “Since then, this old and great civilization has been discussed mostly in connection with fundamentalism, fanaticism, and terrorism. As an Iranian who has lived more than half of my life in Iran, I know that this image is far from the truth.” What is the “truth” or “true” image of Iran and its people that she conveys by telling this story?

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