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The Impact of Nothingness (Satrapi p. 135-206)

In this section of Persepolis, there was one thing that stood out to me more than anything else, and that was page 154. Or, I should say the lack of a page 154. It was so jarring to see the blank page after the completion of the section “The Dowry.” At first, I thought maybe she just left this page blank so she could start the next section on the right-side page, but sections have ended and started on the left page before, so why choose this moment to break the pattern of simply starting the next section on the immediate following page? It’s not as though the start of the new section would influence the end of “The Dowry” because you’d have to turn the page anyway. I then, of course, realized that this is likely where the story was split up into part one and part two. That being said, I think the effect it has is still valid.

Satrapi’s whole life changes at the bottom of page 153. She shows us this stylized image of her father carrying her mother away and lets the reader know she regrets looking back and seeing them this way. In this image, it’s less the image of her mother’s face that draws my eye and more the shadowed image of her father. Everyone else on the page is drawn “normally” whereas his face is drawn with black ink and white lining. It gives a horrifically somber look to the image. And the blank page on the opposite side has the same effect that it would had we finished the first Persepolis and were going to set it down. It has a note of finality, like we’re meant to linger here in this place. And I think that speaks to Marji’s feelings in this section about her time away from her parents. She’s still lingering in this place of comparing each guardian she has to her parents and wishing she were with them. She constantly thinks about things in terms of whether or not her parents would approve. And I think that’s a very natural thing for us in our culture as well. Even after reading another fifty pages after that, I still found myself thinking about that image followed by that blank page, so the effect it has really does carry forward, even though it might really be nothing more than just the practical fact that this is where the two parts were split up.

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4 Comments

  1. Nicolette Romley Nicolette Romley

    I appreciate your interpretation of the blank page signaling a new chapter in Marji’s life. This is a physical representation for the reader that Satrapi wants you to see her life in two phases, in Iran and after Iran.

  2. David Ataide David Ataide

    I liked how you addressed the affect that Marjane leaving her parents had on her. She clearly misses her parents very much as they were her role models her whole life. I also gathered a little bit of guilt as Marjane wants to have a life separate from the fundamentalist Iran and a chance to really explore freedom in other countries, but she feels bad for having to leave her parents behind and not having them there with her.

  3. Katherine Fell Katherine Fell

    I think one thing that is also important to highlight is the reasoning behind Marji’s departure. As mentioned in previous comment’s Marji feels guilt leaving her family behind because she has witnessed the horrors of living under the fundamentalist regime and resents the fact that her parents are not free to escape with her.

  4. Alexander Bogomolov Alexander Bogomolov

    I did not notice the blank page when I read the section and liked your interpretation. Although likely not the intent of the author, the blank page is symbolic of a pivotal point in Marji’s life. I also appreciated your comment on the sense of finality offered from the final image of the chapter, it is definitely an image that will follow Marji throughout her young life in Europe. I now wish I had stopped for a moment and put the book down after that image.

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