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Hitting Close to Home

While this section of Persepolis contains many important scenes, I was particularly struck by the panels recounting the explosion on Marji’s street. Amidst shopping with her friend, Marji learns that a missile exploded in her neighborhood. Satrapi uses different shapes for the speech bubbles to depict different emotions. The shop clerk, who informs Marji of the incident, has a speech bubble drawn with slightly rigid lines which suggests a shakiness in his voice. Satrapi draws Marji’s reply inside of a speech bubble with well-defined rigids; this artistic decision conveys both Marji’s urgency and feelings of terror. Once Marji arrives back on her street, the style of the drawings within the cells change. The blank backgrounds call attention to the dialogue between Marji and her mother. As they discuss whether or not the Baba-Levy’s were home at the time of the incident, Marji’s eyes communicate fear. Marji and her mother pass the Baba-Levy’s home which is illustrated with shading. This is the first time in the work that we see something drawn with more than one color. While physically the shading represents the damage caused by the missile, I think the artistic choice serves to draw attention to the magnitude of the event.

In this moment, the war hits close to home (both literally and metaphorically) for Marji. Marji recognizes Neda’s bracelet among the ruins of the Baba-Levy’s home. Upon closer examination, Marji realizes that the bracelet is still attached to Neda’s arm. This unimaginable moment, particularly for a young child to experience, is life-altering. Up until this point in the graphic novel, Marji idealized aspects of the war; however, in the last cell on page 142, Marji expresses both feelings of suffering and anger. This moment clearly causes any of those romantic feelings about war to disappear. The choice to express Marji’s feelings with just a black square as the illustration reveals the intensity of these feelings.

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  1. Katherine Fell Katherine Fell

    I agree with you in that Satrapi’s choice to end this chapter with the solid black panel was a powerful one. There is no way for us to being to understand or relate to how Marji must have been feeling in that moment seeing that her neighbors had been killed, but I think that the black is what comes closest to the feeling of fear, despair, and difficulty processing that Marji was experiencing.

  2. Alexander Bogomolov Alexander Bogomolov

    It is interesting that this is the first place in the graphic novel where we see shading. It appears Satrapi reserves shading for images of violence and destruction. I also liked your interpretation of the slightly wavy word bubble as representing the shakiness of the shopkeepers voice, although I think the bubble is for the radio that he is holding and represents a voice from an unnatural source.

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