Persepolis: Blog Post by Fern Dalton

satrapi1Marjane Satrapi’s compelling novel/memoir was hard to put down. We are given strong, complex characters that are realistic and we are able to learn from them, allowing us to empathise with them. The fast pace that we are presented with also, brings me, as a reader, to a sense of realism that this is how quickly things do occur and that it is overwhelming, exhilarating and the overall fact that nothing is ever how you expect it to be. It took me into and into a world of crisis and a place where you’re in need of constant reassurance, a piece of history I am not well associated with and place that I haven’t known before. As we see our narrator grow up, we learn and understand with her about the country and culture that she is living in and although as a reader, I am older than her, I struggle to fully understand the happenings in her country, let alone as a twelve year old girl, living through it.


I love how this memoir influenced novel uses frames and a ‘comic strip’ style of writing. With the simple images that Satrapi provides us with an expected strong emotions. The use of symbolism throughout the panels, particularly with the contrasts of light and dark sketches, as well as situations, help create an effective way of communication as well as in the text that accommodates the images. As well as this, Elahi Babak discusses the use of framing in different areas of media and mentions how, “comic art can potentially challenge those modes of political or aesthetic representation that naturalize their own worldviews by erasing or obscuring their own frames”, which I think is particularly important when reading a novel such as Satrapi’s. With endless discussions and politics, international relations and history, we see how her family, and others, challenge their country’s authorities’ and through her representation, we are given what a twelve-year-old see’s through this destruction. Confusion, competition with peers and consequently, when our narrator is removed from the situation, a change of perspective and a lack of identity, until it is mentioned and our narrator retaliate.


The interview with Satrapi was of huge interest to me because she speaks with such confidence and says how her novel is written from a “human point of view”, despite her being female and the narrator being female, it comes from a voice that all humans should recognise and would feel empathy towards this character, because she is human and what right does one human have other another? Satrapi also mentions that the message in this novel is, “that human being[s], anywhere, is the same” and I think that that is imperative to know when reading this novel. Although the narrator discusses, particularly early on in the novel, about social classes, Satrapi emphasises in this interview that everyone has desires, has dreams and most importantly, has the right to live, yet, “we have to understand that the situation isn’t as easy as we think”, because we don’t understand the hardships that others go through and everybody does lead a different live, yet life is conclusive. All humans have the ability to empathise with another human, and we all recognise a person in need, so in this sense, al; humans are the same and I think it’s important to remember that this novel isn’t subjected to just a female voice, but how easily it could be replaced by a male voice, similar to what Satrapi mentions in her interview.




8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by ambermillar1995 on November 10, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    Great job, Fern! I found the connection Satrapi made between God and Karl Marx (and the physical resemblance of her drawings of them) really interesting as it suggested to me a change in her – she became more interested in politics and rebellion and less interested in God and her dream of being a prophet. I feel this shift was characteristic of many young people as they grow up and see the world from their own perspective, and this made the novel all the more relatable and charming to me. I think Satrapi does a fantastic job at putting us, the Western reader, at the centre of an Eastern story and showing us how few differences really seperate us.


  2. Posted by Rachel Chandar on November 15, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    I really liked your blog post Fern! I agree with your points on how this fast paced memoir brings us to a sense of realism, and I also found that, as Elahi states in ‘Frames and Mirrors…’ the black and white images of the comic strip convey not only that of memories, especially older childhood memories, but those from traumatic and surreal experiences. The black and white encapsulates this darkness that pervades the story in emotion, mood, setting and context. Her childhood was not full of colour, but was largely filled with darkness and terror, further adding to this sense of realism.


  3. Posted by Becky Gawn on November 15, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    Loved this post. I think it is essential to look at the use of time on Satrapi’s novel and the progression this has on her protagonist. I believe the reason she is able to move through time so fluidly is by using frames and illustrations which don’t specify timings but allow us to follow the character and physically watch her grow. I also agree with your point of making the novel available to the wider audience. The issues she touches upon, although written from her own experience, are relatable and this I believe would add more appeal to the novel itself.


  4. Really loved your response to Satrapi’s graphic novel and completely agree with you! This coming-of-age narrative helps to highlight a states issues from the innocent and black/white eyes of a child, which almost makes light of how ridiculous some issues are. I too thoroughly enjoyed learning about another history and culture which is rarely presented to us in the Western world. While Satrapi claims a male voice would work just as well, I like the fact it was a female voice talking about the marginalised lifestyles of Iranian Women


  5. Posted by Lily Money on November 22, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    I really liked this blog, you first write about how you find it hard to put it down. I completely agree with you here, I think this is down to the form and how quickly time goes, it’s like snap shots of each event which gives it a fast pace. With what was going on in her country we see a true account of a 12-year-old girl’s life through these frames. It gives the reader a more of an emotional understanding. I agree with the other comments about how you also learn from this graphic novel, the history and political climate of Iran in the 70s’ and how it effected Iranian women on many levels.


  6. Posted by Georgia on December 11, 2017 at 11:59 am

    I think the use of picture has a really interesting impact on the way that the narrative is presented. In a way, the fact that it’s pictures and a child narrator almost lessens the blow when it comes to addressing the difficult themes of the novel. Equally, I think the choice of blue colour in ‘Fun Home’ helped to illustrate the gloominess of the situation. I also likes Bechedel’s use of corners and the narrative to reveal the secret life of the father character.


  7. A really interesting post, Fern. I liked how you described the way Persepolis made you feel as someone who is not familiar with Satrapi’s world – do you think this was her intention?


  8. Posted by Ella Bukbardis on February 28, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    Hi Fern, this is a great post! I agree with your comment on how interesting it was to read a piece of writing set in an era/place I really had no idea about. It also expanded my own perceptions on reading graphic novels, something (I would hate to say) I may have turned my nose up at in the past.


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