Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

how does marjane deal with the pain?

in the book persepolis marjane satrapi the author writes about the suffering caused by the war and ways she discovered to cope with the pain

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Tension between Past and Present

Throughout the novel, Marjane feels a tension between the great and glorious past of the Persian Empire and the violence and problems of modern Iran. In the novel's opening chapters, she identifies herself with the great prophets of the past dating back to Zarathustra. She imagines herself as a symbol of love and tolerance. When the Iran-Iraq War begins, she vehemently defends it as a just cause and relates it to a 1400-year conflict that has been waged between the Arabs and the Persians.

This unwavering belief in the past is put in tension with the novel's present day political intolerance and religious fundamentalism. Marjane's pride in her history is in direct conflict with the imprisonment of political revolutionaries and, later, the execution of those that speak out against the strict cultural demands of the Islamic regime. Marjane's journey through the novel is an exploration of how one can love one's past while denouncing its present condition.

The Abandonment of Faith

Much of the novel's first half is a recounting of the author's loss of naivety and faith. As a child, Marjane sees herself as a prophet in the line of Zarathustra, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed. Her imaginary friend is her vision of God as an old man with a long flowing beard. In these scenes from childhood, God encourages Marjane to become a prophet and to stand up for love and justice.

As Marjane begins to confront the political and social realities of her world, the reader sees her slowly detaching from her faith. As she hears stories of political imprisonment and torture, she finds that God no longer gives her comfort. As the Islamic regime comes into power, she feels that she cannot defend a faith represented by such fundamentalism. The imprisonment and execution of her Uncle Anoosh causes a break in her faith and she describes herself as lost and alone in the universe.

The Relationship between Parents and Children

Throughout the novel, Satrapi uses her own relationship with her parents as a metaphor for her relationship with her country and the wider world. The conflict and love she experiences with her parents is a necessary part of her growth as a person. Her relationship with her mother and father is both tender and full of tension. Her parents love her and seek to provide her with the best in education and upbringing. They hope to provide her with a life full of privileges.

At the same time, however, Marjane feels a great tension between her parents' political views and their actions. Their belief in equality and liberation for the working classes conflicts with the privilege that they hold and seek in society. On one occasion, Marjane compares her mother to the Guardians of the Revolution, the secret police force of the Islamic regime. The end of the novel is a representation of the eventual break that all children must have with those that raise them. In Marjane's case, she also breaks with the country and culture that raised her.