Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

What effect does the iran iraq war have on daily life in Tehran? How do people, including Marjane's parents, act differently?

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Marjane banishes her God friend forever and feels empty and alone. At that moment, bombs begin to fall and the Iraq Iran war begins. Other events begin to occur quickly. The American embassy is overtaken and the Americans are forced to leave Iran. This crushes Marjane's dream of one day going to the United States. Soon, the religious leaders close all of the universities so that the curriculum can be changed. This crushes Marjane's dream of being a famous scientist like Marie Curie. When the car of Marjane's mother breaks down, a group of men assaults her because she is not wearing the required veil around her head. Women are then required to cover their heads in public and Marjane has to lie about how much she prays every day. Marjane's parents allow her to attend a rally demonstrating against the new regime. The demonstration erupts in violence and they do not demonstrate again. The war intensifies and one day a group of bomber jets descends on Tehran. Marjane is for the war because, as she explains, the Arabs had forced their religion and culture on the Persians 1400 years earlier. Her father believes that the real Islamic invasion is occurring in their own government. A group of fighter pilots is released from jail and they agree to fly for Iran if the old national anthem is broadcast on television. One of Marjane's friends has a father who is a part of the bombing but he is killed during the raid. During the war, food and rations are low in the country and tensions run high amongst the people. A bombing on the border town of Abadan sends Marjane's friend Mali and her family to stay with them. Mali had been wealthy and her family must sell their expensive jewels, the one salvaged item from the bombing, in order to survive. One day, while shopping in the grocery store, a group of women sees Mali and calls her, and all refugee women, whores. Marjane is ashamed for herself and for Mali. Young male children are each given keys by their schools. The keys, they are told, represent their ticket into heaven once they are martyred during the war. The key is their ticket to women and a mansion in heaven. One of Marjane's friends is given a key and Marjane's mother tries to tell the boy that this is nothing but nonsense that the schools are telling the children, but the boy seems oblivious. Marjane's cousin Shahab returns home from the front lines and tells Marjane about the horrible things that they do to children there. They send them out into the minefields where they are blown up and killed. During a party to celebrate the birth of a new cousin, a bombing raid begins. Marjane's aunt becomes scared, hands her child to Marjane, and runs off. The party continues, however, and there is dancing and wine, things that are strictly forbidden by the regime. On their way home, Marjane's family is stopped by the Guardians of the Revolution. Smelling wine on Mr. Satrapi's breath, they follow the family home to search the house. Marjane and her grandmother run up to their apartment to dump out all the wine in the house. The guard, however, only wants a bribe and so the family avoids the search, but they lose all their alcohol. Marjane makes friends with some older girls at school and one day they all sneak away "Kansas," a Western style burger diner that the regime has overlooked. They flirt with boys until a bombing raid begins and the boys dive in the gutter to stay safe. At home, Marjane's mother is upset that she skipped class and Marjane goes down to her basement where she smokes a cigarette that she had stolen from her uncle. The war has become very bad with millions of people dying. Marjane's Uncle Taher is very stressed about the war and about sending his son overseas to avoid serving in the military. Because he smokes heavily, Taher had had two heart attacks and soon he suffers a third. At the hospital, a doctor tells Taher's wife that he must go to Europe for heart surgery, but the hospital director refuses to give him a passport. Taher dies on the same day that his passport arrives and he never realizes his final wish of seeing his son one last time.