Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis

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Marjane Satrapi wrote the comic autobiographical novel Persepolis. Marjane tells the story of her life during the Islamic Revolution, from infancy to adulthood. The novel is about the protagonist's life and the difficulties she faced as a teenager, as well as how these difficulties shaped her personality. Marjane, the novel's main character, is portrayed as an intellectual and tough young girl who emulated her parents. She was a young Iranian girl who had to overcome major challenges in her youth in order to become a famous figure in the future. Marjane grew up in a challenging and complicated environment in Iran where she saw people being killed, tortured, and living in fear. Persepolis is a novel that highlights the effects the Islamic Revolution had on children through the life of the protagonist.

Marjane's Transformation During the War

Marjane was just a young girl who never took anything around her serious. However, due to the challenges, she went through growing up during the Islamic Revolution era, Marjane’s life and identity transform because she has to learn to survive during the war (Malek 355). The author explains how she learned to survive with the hardships that came with the war and this was what shaped what she became in the future. Marjane was confused as a child because she never understood who she was and what was going to happen to her and her family after the war. She feared for her life, and this adversely affected her developmental years as a child.

The Loneliness of Children During the Islamic Revolution

The Islamic Revolution resulted in children’s loneliness because they were forced to grow away from their parents. At the age of 14 years, Marjane was compelled to leave her country where her family lived to escape from the social repression from the government and move to Austria. Her parents decided to send her away from the country for her safety, and this affected her emotionally. This is evident when she asks, “how does one manage to live in exile?’ (Satrapi 102). According to the text, it is clear that she was afraid of being away from home and her parents and she had no idea how she could survive alone in exile. Therefore, the Iranian Revolution made children live in harsh conditions while growing up and this is evident with Marjane’s worry of how she will survive alone away from home.

Marjane's Struggle with Identity in Austria

The Islamic Revolution forced Marjane to spend most of her teenage years in Austria alone and without her parents. As a result, she struggled a lot with her identity because she was only an Iranian teenager but now she is forced to grow up alone in Europe where there are different cultures. In fact, she had a hard time in the foreign land because the other children knew that she was an Iranian running away from the Islamic Revolution. This is evident when she explains the expressions from the rich children as they looked at her as a stranger. Therefore, through Marjane’s life, it is apparent that the Islamic Revolution had adverse effects on the Iranian children.

The Effects of the Islamic Revolution on Marjane's Identity

While away from home in Austria, Marjane struggled with her identity. She was an Iranian, but now she was being forced to grow up in a different country because of the war in her country. According to her, she felt more of a westerner than as an Iranian because her childhood and adolescent identity were affected by the social and political transformations in Iran during the Islamic Revolution and this lost her identity. Marjane admits that the exile was a devastating aspect of her life. The Islamic Revolution caused children to be lonely, live away from their parents, and this brought to children a life full of pressure in coping up with stress in of being an exile.

Exposure to Violence During the Islamic Revolution

In addition, apart from loneliness, the Islamic Revolution exposed the children to violence, and this is evident in the life of Marjane as she narrates it. Marjane notes that the war in Iran caused a lot of tension and violence among the Iranians and this adversely affected the children. They were still young, but again they had to watch people fight and die in the Islamic Revolution. Marjane narrates how she had to watch the execution of those individuals who were against the Islamic regime, and this is traumatizing for any growing child. Therefore, Satrapi’s narrative shows that the Iranian Revolution exposed the children to violence and this can adversely affect their future lives as adults.

The Strained Relationship Between Children and Parents

The Iranian Revolution affected the relationship between children and their parents and the society as a whole. There was a massive strain that faced several families during the war because of the effects of the war and this caused both social and emotional obstacles in families. Many children were forced to stay alone in the houses while their parents participated in the war. Moreover, some of them even witnessed their family members getting hurt and die and this damaged their relationship with their parents and the people in the community. In addition, some of them like Marjane were sent into exile because their parents feared for their lives and this negatively affected the relationship between children and their parents. Therefore, through the novel Persepolis, Marjane reveals how the Iranian Revolution affected-children by damaging the relationship between them and their parents.

Marjane's Struggle with Two Cultures

Marjane narrates how she had to tussle with two cultures because she was trying to conform to the western culture yet deep down in her heart, she was an Iranian girl who held to her culture closely. Europe had given her several opportunities of becoming a “liberated and emancipated woman,” something her country could never have offered her, but this made her more confused with her real identity (Satrapi 177). There are things she could have never done with her family as a female, but while in a western country, she was free to do anything. As a result, she entered into a life of drugs and substance abuse and this destroyed her identity as a preserved Iranian girl. Therefore, if it were not for the war that forced her to leave her country, she could still be a conserved Iranian girl and not into drug abuse and this is an example of the effects of the war on children.

Marjane's Self-Realization and Maturity

Marjane suffered as a child due to the Islamic Revolution in Iran and Iraq. She was compelled by her parents to move away from her country and the people she loved for her safety. As a result, she was lonely because her relationship with her parents was affected as she was away from home in a country with new people and new cultural identities. However, even though this changed her identity as she admits when she says her adolescent years were years of “lack of identity,” being away from home due to the war ultimately led to her self-realization and maturity (Satrapi 278). When Marjane moved back to her motherland, she was a different person from the teen who had left with fear for herself and her family, and this made it difficult for her to integrate into the Iranian community once again. Upon her return to Iran, we see a different woman because she had a new identity. Despite the danger in Iran at that time, she spoke openly against oppression against women in the country because she was an empowered woman with a new identity (Davis 270).


In conclusion, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is a story about a woman who struggled with her identity from childhood to adulthood due to the effects of the Iranian Revolution. Marjane was born in Iran, but she was forced to move to Austria at the age of 14 because of the devastating implications of the Iranian Revolution. The narrative highlights the plight of the author as a child in a war-torn country, her struggle with her identity away from home, and how she finally helped fight oppression against women in Iran after moving back home. The war had devastating effects on her life and the life of other Iranian children from affecting their relationship with her parents, bringing loneliness, exposing them to violence, and making Marjane struggle with two identities, but she came out strong. It is evident that Marjane finally overcame all the struggles and came back to Iran making a significant impact on her homeland.

Works Cited

Davis, Rocio G. "A Graphic Self: Comics as Autobiography in Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis".Prose Studies 27.3 (2005): 264–279. Print.

Malek, Amy. A Memoir as Iranian Exile Cultural Production: A Case Study of Marjane Satrapi'sPersepolis Series". Iranian Studies 39.3 (2006): 353–380. Print.

Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis. London: Vintage, 2008. Print.

November 03, 2022

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