Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

The Waterfall, Chapter 3

Whats the difference between what Marjane learns in school about the Shah's power and what her father tells her?

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“The Water Cell” is written as a narrative of Iran’s political past. The chapter starts with a scene of ironic humor. Marjane’s parents had been in the streets all day supporting the Marxist revolutionary forces. When they return home, Marjane wants to play “Monopoly,” a board game that symbolizes Western children’s indoctrination to Western capitalist values. It is a humorous situation but, by the end of the chapter, Marjane begins to come to a nascent understanding through her mother and father’s stories of why symbols of capitalism, such as the game, are looked down upon in her household.

Throughout the novel, Satrapi plays with techniques of point of view. She relates the history of Iran and the persecution of its people not just from her perspective but also from the perspectives of her parents, her grandmother, and from others with firsthand knowledge of the political and social situation of Iran during this period. These points of view, however, are always interconnected to the author’s own point of view. Satrapi connects and interweaves the stories of those around her into her own process of self-actualization and growing up.

The historical narrative that Marjane’s mother and father present to her is an alternate telling of the historical fall of the Persian Empire and rise of the Shah. It is important to note how official history is often only loosely connected to the personal experiences of history. In this way, Persepolis offers a particular perspective on history, largely a political and leftist retelling of Iranian history. This historical understanding is shaped not by an outside, subjective understanding of the events occurring in the country during this period but, instead, by those who are directly affected by the political turmoil of the twentieth century.