Marjane belongs to her social surrounding that she has outgrown long before she even realized it. She is ahead of her times and background her life is set back in. Her way of life and the approach she has towards life from a young age goes ahead to take her through the sin curve of her life, where her ups and down lead her to grow, the people she meets, the education she receives, the friends he makes, the relationships she’s been in, her relationship with parents overall in a larger aspect contribute as to why Marjane Satrapi is the strong willed, confident, opinionated women she is.
As it is rightly said charity begins at home, marjane’s world and the first ever society she’s known is her family. Her foundations and the way she would perceive the world came from her family. Persepolis is a story particularly about Marjane Satrapi, her family, her friends, and the people she knows—and also about the nation of Iran. These two stories cannot be unspooled from each other—one cannot be told without the other, and no individual in the story can exist or be understood outside of the context of the historical change happening in Iran around him or her, no matter how much he or she might try. From the start, Marjane’s story is about how the individual engages with the political—as her parents demonstrate against the Shah during the Revolution—and how the political encroaches on the personal—as after the Revolution Marjane must suddenly wear the veil at school. Indeed, what Marjane at one-point pinpoints as the source of the Revolution—class differences—she recognizes in her own family home: the family maid, Mehri, does not eat dinner at the table with them.
The question, then, becomes one of degrees: if one cannot escape the political in one’s life, how much should one participate in the political sphere, and does one actually have a choice in the matter? For the Satrapi’s, the question manifests itself in questions over how much risk they want to take to protect their rights—do they want to demonstrate and possibly be beaten, for example? The Satrapi’s' solution is to try to recede as much as they can, to appear like good citizens of the Islamic Republic even as they privately hold parties, make wine, and buy imported goods. Yet even these choices are political acts, as they are forbidden and might lead to arrest.
Though Marjane cannot outwardly rebel much beyond improperly covering her veil, she finds small ways to resist the oppressive rules imposed on her by the Islamic Republic. The personal and the political, then, become inexorably intertwined in Iran. To assert one’s individuality in clothing or spoken opinion becomes a political act. Furthermore, Marjane expresses that government policies really affect people’s behaviours: “It wasn’t only the government that changed. Ordinary people changed too.” Under such a repressive regime, what once felt like an enormous separation between the public sphere and the private one considerably narrows. By the end of the graphic novel, Marjane’s mother is both covering the windows to protect against flying glass—a consequence of the ongoing warfare, indiscriminate in its destructiveness—and from the eyes of prying neighbours, who might inform the authorities about the family’s Western ways, which would be an individually targeted and motivated act.
One more important aspect that helps us how see how marjane’s personality is shaped is through social class in her very own society. Throughout the novel, as we see, the citizens in the lower classes are discriminated against and mistreated by the higher classes because of their lack of wealth and status in society.
“It disgusts me that people are condemned to a bleak future by their social class” (23)
From this quote, it is evident that Marjane’s grandfather is upset that the less educated people of the country are not given equal opportunities and are led to believe lies that are told to them by the government. In this time period in Iran, it was difficult for people who were not as fortunate as others to get a job and live a stable life.
“The Shah’s father took everything [me and my husband] owned. I lived in poverty” (26)
The point demonstrated in this quote is the corrupt government of Iran in this time period. The guards of the Iranian prison take Marjane’s grandfather into jail because he goes against the words of the Shah. The given punishment he must endure is to show the people of Iran the consequences of going against him. Not only do they take her grandfather into jail, but they also take all of her grandmother’s belongings, leaving her in poverty. The purpose of taking all of her grandmother’s belongings is to scare the people into obeying the rules so that they do not end up poverty stricken like her.
“[The boys] come from the poor areas, you can tell… First, they convince them that the afterlife is even better than Disneyland, then they put them in a trance with all their songs” (101)
This quote displays how the upper classes trick the lower social into fighting for their country. They promise a better life for the boys knowing that they will die in battle. Even after they fight for Iran, they are still seen as lesser.
"you must understand that their love was impossible" (Satrapi 37).
"Because in this country you must stay within your own social class" (Satrapi 37)
Mehri and the neighbour were not allowed to be together because she was a peasant and he was wealthy. The large gap between their social classes made it nearly impossible for them to ever have a relationship. During this time in Iran, social classes played an extremely large role in who you were to marry. Rich people married rich people, and poor people married poor people. It was very rare for anyone to branch outside of their social class because it was looked down upon.
We were provided with a reading regarding Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979. We learned that the Islamic people absolutely hated the Shah and a million people took to the streets to denounce the Shah. They held protests and demonstrations in hopes of overthrowing the Shah and replacing him with Khomeini. This related to the novel because Marji's parents went to multiple demonstrations to protest the Shah and the Iranian government. This historical article helped us understand that the people in Persepolis despised the Shah so much because he was a ruthless leader who abolished Iran's tenuous multiparty government and placed himself at a one-party state controlled by secret police. The lower and middle class, which is where Marji's family fell, sought greater political freedom. After the Shah was exiled and Khomeini was put into power, the women were forced to wear head coverings and full-body cloaks called chadors. This helped us understand that the reason Marji and the rest of the women in Persepolis had to wear veils was because when Khomeini took power the women lost all of the social gains they had made under the Shah. We also watched several scenes from the movie "Argo". In one of the scenes it showed thousands of Iranians storming the streets and protesting at a demonstration. Many people were getting shoved to the ground and hurt just like how Marji saw someone get stabbed at one of the demonstrations. This allowed us to comprehend how chaotic and out of hand some of these protests actually got. The historical resources really helped us capture a full picture of what was happening and why they were happening.
“The key to paradise was for poor people. Thousands of young kids, promised a better life, exploded on the minefields with their keys around their necks” (102)
In this quote, it is evident that the higher social class did not care about anyone less than themselves in Iran. The social class that you are a part of when you are born is not only the social class you will be in for you entire life, but it will determine if you would be enlisted in the army and die at a young age or not.
Mehri, Marji's maid, grew up in a poor household and was forced to leave her family at 8 years old because her parents could not take care of her any longer. When she left home and became Marji's family's maid, she fell in love with their neighbour. They exchanged letters and gazed out the window at each other every day. Once Marji's father found out about this, he marched over to his neighbour’s house and told him the truth about who Mehri really was. As soon as the neighbour found out that Mehri was a peasant, he gave all of her letters back to Marji's father. When Marji's father told Marji what happened, she was very confused as to why the neighbour did not want to be with Mehri anymore. Marji's father explained to her that since the neighbour was wealthy and Mehri is a maid, they were not capable of being together. He tried to help Marji understand that their love was completely hopeless.
All these cultural strands in the society have moulded into marjane’s an intricate web of emotions and have made her resistant to the perils of the society making her emerge as an ever-lasting epitome of strength, belief and courage.