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The Price of Freedom (End of Persepolis)

Trigger warning: mentions of attempted suicide

There were so many pieces to this final section of Persepolis that really jumped out at me. The first thing I found most jarring was how quickly we bounced back from the section about Marjane’s attempted suicide. On 272-273, she shows this remarkably sad tale of her attempt and then the consequences of it, and on 274-275, we see her teaching aerobics. It’s a very abrupt shift, and I know it’s meant to show that this moment very rapidly changed her life, but it was really something that stuck with me through the end of the story. It colored the way she both pushed herself with her small rebellions and how she accepted a bit of conformity. The way she conformed still served to further her ability to make her own decisions. It led her to have a bit more agency.

We really see Marjane grow into the person I think we’ve all been rooting for her to find throughout the whole story. She talks about how she is neither western nor Iranian right before her attempt, but then we see her begin to believe in herself, make decisions that are actually for herself, and take pride in some of her accomplishments. I was very struck by how she went to the graves of her grandfather and Anoosh before she left, but I was rather perplexed by how she chose to end the story. Not the fact that it ends with her moving to France, but the specific words she chose.
She tells us that her grandmother passes away a couple years later and she only managed to see her one time in the time that passes. And then she says “that’s the price of freedom…” I think the ending is left intentionally ambiguous in that sense. Does she mean the price is that she wasn’t with her grandma when she died? Does she mean the entire story? Regardless, the choice to end the story with “…” rather than a simple period really implies to me that the story continues. There’s not perfect moral or lesson to take away from the story. Each person can get what they want from her story.
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  1. Katherine Fell Katherine Fell

    I also thought that the chapter in which Marji attempted suicide was very jarring. Throughout her time in which she had returned to Iran, it was clear that she was very lost and lacked a sense of identity. What I found especially striking, though, was the lead up to the suicide attempt was incredibly sad and serious, and then we learn that she attempted to cut her wrists with a butter knife. Was this supposed to be considered comic relief? I half expect the reason why Satrapi included this was so that we could find humor in how naive she used to be. Regardless of what Satrapi’s intentions were in that chapter, I was left confused as well.

  2. David Ataide David Ataide

    I really liked your inclusion of the last line of the graphic novel. The line about how freedom had a price was very powerful to me and seemingly summed up the entire graphic novel. After all the novel begins with Iranians fighting for their freedom from the Shah during the Revolution. Of course, this freedom came with the price of radical fundamentalism that resulted in an even more oppressed society.

  3. Nicolette Romley Nicolette Romley

    I enjoyed how you mentioned that the ending is up for interpretation, that is not something one would normally find when reading an autobiography. While this story was about Marji’s life, she allowed for the reader to see themselves in her story and made her story applicable to a greater audience. The themes carried throughout the story transcended above the specific details of her life.

  4. Sara Messervey Sara Messervey

    I think the price of freedom is meant to be the sacrifice of the traditions and people we love. Her home in Iran was at conflict with her desire for freedom away from home–which simultaneously wasn’t free because of her constant struggle with expressing her own identity from her culture. The ending with her “freedom” and grandmother’s passing is similarly bittersweet.

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