Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood Quotes and Analysis

For a revolution to succeed, the entire population must support it.

Persepolis, 17.

In this quote, the young author argues that she should be allowed to attend revolutionary demonstrations with her parents. Her parents do not want her to attend the demonstrations because the Shah is taking violent action against protesters. This quote is darkly humorous because it is a revolutionary maxim spoken by a young child.

This quote illustrates the author's young naïveté in regards to the political turmoil of her country and it symbolizes many of the naive assumptions of the Iranian revolutionaries. In previous frames, the author dresses up, plays childish games, and pretends to be historical revolutionary figures such as Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. This is meant to symbolize how a young generation is forced to become revolutionary even though they know little about the turmoil they fight.

The reason for my shame and for the Revolution is the same: the difference between social classes.

Persepolis, 33

Here, the author struggles with the competing idealism of her parent's political persuasion and the reality of their middle class life. The author discovers the realities of class divisions from reading the work of a famous Kurdish author. She experiences this division when her maid, Mehri, is not allowed to be with a boy she fell in love with because of differences in their classes. Marjane feels a great sense of dissonance in her own life because of these disparities. In a sense, her identity is undergoing a revolution just as the nation is undergoing a revolution because of these class conflicts. is not for you and me to do justice. I'd even say we have to learn to forgive.

Persepolis, 46

This quote, spoken by Marjane's mother, represents both the liberal ideals that her family sought to practice and the naiveté of the Marxist and Socialist revolutionaries. Marjane's family sought to ground their beliefs not in the religion or past societies but in the leftist political ideology. In this ideal, all blame for the atrocities of the nation is placed on the Shah and when he is overthrown during the Iranian Revolution, the ideal is that the revolutionaries will forgive the Shah's followers to create a unified nation.

This, however, was not the reality. Marjane's mother asks her to forgive those that perpetrated violence against the revolutionaries without considering that the Shah's followers were not ready to abandon their allegiance. This naiveté on the part of the former revolutionaries is one reason that a fundamentalist Islamic regime was able to take power after the Revolution.

Russians aren't like's hearts they don't have. They don't know how to love.

Persepolis, 59

This quote, spoken by Marjane's Uncle Anoosh, is an indictment on the Russian form of communism that ruled the country during his time there. Anoosh left for the U.S.S.R. because he believed that Marxism was the political system that would be best for Iran and for the world. However, while there, he learned that the communism of Russia was as cold and dictatorial as the Iranian regime. This became personal for him, as well, for the heartache that his Russian wife gave him by divorcing him.

Anyway, as long as there is oil in the Middle East we will never have peace.

Persepolis, 43

Marjane's father gives her this diagnosis of the Iranian problem with the West. The history of Persia is a history of foreign invading forces entering the country in order to exploit its natural resources. This history continued in the modern age as the British orchestrated Reza Shah's overthrow of the Persian dynasty. According to Marjane's father, the United States had been the latest foreign power to mettle in Iran's affairs. It is because they have an interest in the rich oil fields of Iran.

I didn't know what justice was. Now that the Revolution was finally over once and for all, I abandoned the dialectic materialism of my comic strips. The only place I felt safe was in the arms of my friend.

Persepolis, 53

Here, Marjane continues a process of shedding the intellectual and spiritual structures that sustained her development as a child. The first structure to fall is her unwavering belief in the efficacy of the leftist revolutionary forces. Marjane's mother sends confusing messages telling Marjane both that she must forgive all while harboring deep hatred for those that tortured and persecuted the revolutionaries.

Marjane first attempts to take on the guise of the torturers whom she sees as having great power. She plays games in which she pretends to torture her friends. At first, she says that she has a feeling of "diabolical...power," but this feeling soon turns in self-loathing. Her mother can offer no political answer to how one should treat their enemies and so Marjane puts away the elementary politics of her youth and finds comfort in the arms of her God friend.

They insulted me. They said that women like me should be pushed up against a wall and fucked. And then thrown in the garbage. ...And that if I didn't want that to happen, I should wear the veil...

Persepolis, 74

This event happens to Marjane's mother when she is assaulted by a group of men angry with her for not wearing the conservative dress for Islamic women. This quote demonstrates the misogynistic nature of the fundamentalist Islamic regime that took power after the 1979 Revolution. Marjane sees this kind of misogyny as a way of depriving women of their individuality and their identities. In the eyes of these fundamentalist men, women who do not voluntarily deprive themselves of their humanity must be dehumanized. This leads to the threats and the violence that Marjane's mother experiences.

"The Arabs never liked the Persians. Everyone knows that. They attacked us 1400 years ago. They forced their religion on us."

"Ok, enough of that. The real Islamic invasion has come from our own government."

Persepolis, 81

In this conversation, Marjane and her father discuss the legitimacy of the Iran-Iraq War and the legitimacy of the Iranian religious government. At the outset of war, Marjane claims a patriotic identity rooted in the long history of Persian subjection by Arab invaders. She sees the Iraqi attacks on Iran as the same as the Arab invasion of Persian over a millennium ago in which Islam was brought to the country.

Marjane's father, on the other hand, sees a different cause for the war. He blames the Islamic regime, which he says, is corrupting the country from the inside. As the war continues, Marjane will slowly realize that his view on the war is more correct than hers is. The real danger to the country comes not from an outside invading force but from her fellow citizens that turn on each other in brutal and heartless ways.

I think that the reason we were so rebellious was that our generation had known secular schools.

Persepolis, 98

This quote demonstrates the book's belief in the power of education to free people from the superstition of religion and the subjection of political dictators. Throughout the novel, Marjane's parents put an emphasis on her education. Here, Marjane sees the root of her rebellious nature as being rooted in the education that she had received before the regime took over. In an earlier chapter, Marjane's Uncle Anoosh claims that the Iranian people allowed the Islamic regime to come to power because they were uneducated and illiterate and needed a strong symbolism in order to bring order to the country. By becoming educated, Marjane sees the power of her family to reject the strictures of the regime and to rebel against its brutality.

Dictator! You are the Guardian of the Revolution of this House!

Persepolis, 113

This quote is illustrative of the contentious aspect of Marjane's relationship with her mother. While most of the book shows a tender and loving relationship between Marjane and her parents, through the process of growing up Marjane also finds fault in her parent's viewpoints and beliefs. In this fit of anger, Marjane compares her mother's strict oversight of her schooling and social activities to the violence and strictness of the regime's secret police force.

Throughout the novel, Satrapi compares her reliance on and disagreements with her parents as a symbol of her love for and critical attitude toward her motherland. By accepting certain aspects of the relationships and rejecting others, Marjane is able to construct her own identity and grow into her own self.