The first 71 pages of Persepolis illustrate the early life of Marjane Satrapi and her perspective of the Islamic Revolution that overthrew the Shah of Iran. When this section of the graphic novel ends, the new Islamic Republic is in place and already some forms of oppression are being implemented. Marjane’s parents are worried about the state of the country and are pissed off with the new government. Throughout this section of the novel we see the evolution of Satrapi’s relationship with God. I think this is the most important part of this section by far.
At the beginning, Satrapi is in love with God and wants to be a Prophet herself. She has discussions with God in private and is infatuated with the concept of God. This begins to change as she starts studying about the revolution and various Marxist works. She seems to have a detached relationship with God at this point, still having discussions but choosing to avoid talking about prophets and instead more focused on the revolution. This relationship finally reaches its breaking point when her Uncle Anoosh is murdered by the new Islamic government for being a communist. Her rage and distress at the loss of her Uncle is what sets her over the edge, and she finally curses God and abandons him entirely, because of the new government’s use of religion as a weapon.
This evolution over the 71 pages feels natural, and seems to reflect Satrapi coming of age in the changing world she was raised in. What started as a blind obsession, turned into learned detachment, and finally finished with rage. As the old oppressive government is replaced with the new religiously oppressive government, Satrapi seems to blame God, and religion as a whole, for the new violence and loss that she is experiencing. I am interested to see how her relationship grows (or further decays) as the graphic novel goes on.