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Women's contemporary memoirs have a rare representation of young women's experiences. Memoires challenge traditional narratives by including a tailored perspective on social problems. The writers take different approaches in their narratives, but the motif and concept are identical, as seen in Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis and Maxine Hong's Woman Warrior. Persepolis and Woman Warrior's writers offer a nuanced vision of how cultural and political problems overlap with personal beliefs. The thesis would examine political and personal topics from the two authors' intergenerational perspectives. Literature review: Persepolis and Woman Warrior texts
Maxine Hong Kingston’s Woman Warrior is similar to Satrapi’s Persepolis in the sense that the two texts are autographic in style. The texts offer a feminist perspective about how women struggle in the name of culture and tradition. The two-hybrid texts present a chronology of the author’s childhood experiences over a period of time. In most cases, memoirs represent the story of the person against different social and political issues . However, despite the similarities in the two texts, there is a difference in terms of the author’s recollections of the personal experiences. As a result of the differences, it is necessary to review Persepolis and Woman Warrior differently.
Maxine Hong Kingston’s memoir Woman Warrior published in 1976 is a fictional narrative of a troubled girl affected by cultural beliefs. The narrator in the story is a girl trapped “among ghosts.” She takes the role of the protagonist in the story and she has to struggle with her imagination and reality . According to Maxine, her mother represented the ghosts that were holding her back from experiencing the actuality of the American culture . As the narrator says, she was trapped between her “Warrior status and her “cultural” status. At the present, she has to grow up in a male chauvinistic society that devalues girls . On the other hand, she has to grow as a swordsman and heroine who stand up for the rights of the people. It is justified to argue that for the author to move forward she has to find her real identity.
As Marjane Satrapi’s argues, from birth to adulthood the girl child is virtually doomed. Like Maxine Kingston, Marjane in her book Persepolis shows the struggles women go through at the time of political repression. The narrator talks about her childhood experiences as a girl during the revolutionary war . Satrapi takes the perspective of a young girl who engages in daily activities for normal children but had to integrate the political turmoil. As a girl, she has to struggle with the Islamic culture. The author writes, “We found ourselves veiled and separated from our friends (4).” Altogether, Persepolis offers a compelling narrative of women oppressed by culture, religion, and politics.
The research is a study of the literary memoirs Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi’s and the Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston. As a literary analysis, the research looks into the comparative similarities and differences between the two authors. To achieve this objective the research employs a methodological description and social analysis of the selected texts . The social analysis of the selected texts demonstrates the corpus and the message contained in the narratives. The social analysis considers the personal, cultural and political intersections in the two narratives.
Analysis and Discussion
Reading through Marjane’s and Maxine’s work it is clear how the authors offer new perspectives on culture, familial history, and politics. The authors use a unique approach to narrating their childhood recollections and memories. Familial legacies and culture play very important roles in developing the theme and genealogies of the authors’ backgrounds. For example, it is through the narration of Satrapi’s childhood experience that the audience is able to relate to the oppression of women. Satrapi’s uses her familial relationships to expose the cultural disconnects the girl child faces in the society . Similarly, Maxine in her memoir uses her family background to show the restrictive nature of her mother. The conservative nature of the family forces her to identify with her Chinese culture and heritage. The narrator has to blend well with her parents past and background, history and ancestors. In both texts, the narrators use family and cultural backgrounds as a source of women oppression.
The theme in both literary texts is that of self-identity and sense of belonging to the society. In the Woman Warrior, for example, the protagonist struggles and lacks a sense of belonging. She is ambivalent towards identifying herself with the Chinese culture. The narrator denies her cultural heritage and she is yearning to assimilate the American culture. Kingston tries to ignore the cultural voices (ghosts) to adopt the “American feminine” culture . Similar social transformations are seen in Satrapi’s narrative. The author reports about being separated from her friends in Iran during her adolescent years. Adoption of the western contributed to Satrapi’s loss of identity and belonging. In the narrative, she uses her family background and history to dismiss the misconceptions about her mother country. In both narratives, alienation plays a major role in eroding personal identities of the protagonists.
However, despite the similarities and completeness of the narratives, the authors make deliberate omissions. The gaps create a special effect in developing the plot of the narratives. The narrative trajectory in Persepolis, for example, is changed when Marjane shifts from Iran to America . She deliberately ignores telling the transformation process. In this way, he is able to move the audience from secular to religious life. Also, in Woman Warrior the author ignores telling the story of transformation and her experiences in changing her identity . The author does not tell her story and how the family immigrated to America. The gaps and disconnects in the stories realign the personal, cultural and political experiences of the authors.
The narratives by Satrapi and Kingston offer the personal experiences of women in the male-dominated society. The authors are able to show the intersection of political and personal histories. The authors use the autobiographies to show the linkage between their childhood experiences and political and social transformations. The authors struggle with identity issues and the process of reconciling with the society and culture. It is clear that women face difficult challenges during the transition from childhood to adulthood. The narrators try to dismiss the social misconceptions, fallacies, and stereotypes about women. It is agreeable that the two texts show how personal stories can challenge the unjust social practices in the society.
Maxine, Kingston Hong. "The Woman Warrior: Memoir of a Childhood Among Ghosts." Oxford Companion to American Literature (1976).
Miller, Nancy. "Out of the family: Generations if Women in Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis." Lifes Writing (2007): 13-29.
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