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How Satrapi Choose to Tell Her Story

While I am familiar with Marjane Satrapi’sĀ PersepolisĀ and I read the first volume when I was in high school, I am only just now realizing the brilliance in Satrapi’s decision to tell her story in the form of a graphic novel as I revisit the first 70 pages. While growing up in during the Islamic revolution is an incredible story, it’s one that very few readers can relate to, especially when Satrapi herself write about the alienation and stereotyping that the people of Iran have had to undergo as a result of the political extremism that takes place in the country. The comic book illustrations bring so much more life and personality to the story, and I don’t know if Satrapi’s words alone would be able to accomplish the same thing in conveying her innocence and of humor when discussing such a difficult time. In my opinion, the illustrations are what really give us a look into Satrapi’s feelings and emotions, as we are witnessing the world through her young eyes.

The points in the reading where I think that this was exemplified the best were the panels where God was illustrated. While Satrapi explicitly tells us at the beginning of the memoir that she was born a very religious person, the ways in which God is illustrated and the way he interacts with Satrapi visually offers much more than Satrapi’s words alone. Specifically, the last panel on page 53 and and the panels on pages 70 and 71 really demonstrate Satrapi’s internal struggles with her faith as she comes to terms with how dangerous the revolution is becoming. On page 53, she is completely enveloped in God, showing how strong her convictions were and that she was finding security in her faith. However, upon learning that her uncle had been executed, Satrapi and God are distant from one another, and the chapter ends with her floating in space, completely lost. Here, we really get the feeling of how alone she feels as the war begins. We feel this emotional weight thanks to the illustrations of the graphic novel.

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2 Comments

  1. Nora Apt Nora Apt

    The graphic on page 71 powerfully captures Marji’s lost feeling as she lies alone in a dark space. At the bottom of page 70, Marji’s angry expressions convey her feelings of betrayal. Marji cannot comprehend how God keeps allowing bad things to happen to her. I agree with you that the images help convey the emotional weight of Marji’s feelings of isolation.

  2. Michael Paul Michael Paul

    I love your connection to the pictures in the first 71 pages. Being able to convey Marji’s strong connection with God, which has been a central theme until this point in the novel, cannot be said with words alone. We cannot know fully the individualized aspects of people’s faith and beliefs, but because of the images, we are better able to witness the internal struggles that Marji goes through.

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