Understanding the World, or Losing Innocence?Posted: November 12, 2012
Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis gives its readers an up-close and personal look at the struggles of Iranian citizens during the Islamic Revolution of the 1970s. As a young girl growing up in Iran, Marjane is exposed to the harsh realities of her nation through talks with her family, life at school, and even when spending time playing with her friends. Reading through Marjane’s memoir, one can only question whether the explicit exposure to politics is beneficial for a young girl, or if it only contributes to a loss of innocence that limits the joys of childhood.
Looking at one chapter in particular, “The Heroes” illustrates the painful truths that Marjane and her family must experience. The political prisoners of the revolution have been liberated, including two friends of Marjane’s family, Siamak and Moshen. Based on what Marjane has already learned of the revolutionaries from her parents, friends, and the media, she tells Siamak’s daughter Laly that her father is probably dead. Although this later proves not to be true, it is clear that at the age of ten Marjane has already begun to lose the innocent thoughts of a child, expressing that “nobody will accept the truth” (p.48)—her knowledge of “the truth” proves that her environment is forcing her to grow up quickly.
Later in the chapter Marjane’s graphics depict the gruesome images of the tortures being described by the former prisoners. Being exposed to the details of the violence shocks but also excites Marjane—she even makes the games she plays with her friends more violent after hearing the stories.
There is no doubt that the oppression and violence that Marjane is seeing is going to have an impact on her social development. Coming from a very affluent and involved family, Marjane is well-informed of what is happening in her country, and this helps her to gain a better understanding the lives of her classmates and others around her. However, it is clear that some information (Anoosh’s stories, books about revolution, etc) sparks excitement inside of her—excitement that may become dangerous if taken too far by a child.