Writing Prompt #11: Persepolis

Why is this book is called ‘Persepolis’ and not “Marjane”?

“Persepolis” is a graphic autobiography by Marjane Satrapi that portrays her childhood up to her adult years in Iran during and after the Islamic Revolution. The title is a reference to the ancient capital of the Persian Empire, Persepolis. Marjane Satrapi choice to title her book “Persepolis” serves her to tell a story about culture and assimilation. Throughout the graphic novel, the protagonist, Marji struggles with balancing the culture of her ancestry with the culture of those around her. In the introduction of “Persepolis”, Satrapi presents the audience with the history of Iran, “Iran was often subject to foreign domination. The Persian language and culture withstood these invasions.”. Iran and Marji is a present theme throughout “Persepolis”. This theme becomes subject to foreign domination, but Marji still manages to retain her Persian culture and identity.

What piece of Iranian history was revealed to you in this book?

“Persepolis” revealed many different perspectives on Iranian history. Growing up in the United States (especially post 9/11), Iran and Iranian were considered to be the “bad guys”, when actually, it is the people who run the country. The Iranian people are people of the world, and just like us, they want to listen to music and party. Many Iranian don’t wear head-to-toe religious garments or discredit punk rock music. Reading Persepolis was indeed an eye-opening experience, mainly on account of the abundant amount of media propaganda that has led so many people to believe that Iran and all Iranians are the enemies.

Why are your thoughts on Satrapi’s quote from the introduction: “One can forgive but should never forget.” How does the book address this?

“One can forgive but should never forget.” is a quote in Persepolis that addresses the drastic change that occurred during Marji’s childhood as her parents explored the theme of forgiveness on account of the violence throughout the Iranian revolution. I relate to Marji’s perspective on this quote as I find my own culture and traditions in Venezuela being destroyed one by one as the dictatorship continues. I struggle to forgive all of the people that have left such a level of devastation and destruction in Venezuela, but I always manage to stay true to my culture and country. Although it is difficult, Persepolis has taught me the importance of forgiveness and to never forget the reality of what has happened.

Why do you think the character of Marjane resonates with so many readers internationally?

Today, the world is a scary place. We are divided more than ever before, and I think the reason that Marjane’s character resonated with so many readers around the world is that we can relate to her struggles. I felt completed identified with this book. Growing up in Venezuela, I was forced to live under a socialist Bolivarian revolution that ultimately sank my country into misery. Just like me, over two million people were forced to leave everything behind in search of a better life. I was obligated to accept my life as I was exposed to a foreign country, with a foreign language, and ultimately a foreign culture. I remember feeling embarrassed on account of all the nasty things that people were saying about Venezuela. I can not say that I am proud of the government in Venezuela, but I am definitely proud to be Venezuelan, and sometimes people are wrong about their thoughts of a country when they are receiving all of the information through the media.


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