Opinionated, intelligent, independent, and rebellious, Marjane Satrapi, born in 1969, is a child when the Iranian Revolution begins in 1978. She daydreams about becoming a revolutionary like her beloved Uncle Anoosh, and she eagerly reads everything she can about her country's political situation. Education is a mainstay throughout the rest of the precocious preteen's life—she is constantly reading to learn more about the world and herself. As she grows older, she begins to question the methods and morals of Iran's Islamic government, which always gets her in trouble at school but never at home. Taji and Ebi raise her to ask questions and push back when she thinks something isn't right, and she does. Over the 16 years covered in Persepolis, Marjane matures and finds her own path in life, but she always remains deeply devoted to her family and her country. She is proud to be Iranian, and she is proud to be a member of her family. Though her travels take her far away, she always carries a piece of home in her heart.
During most of her youth, Taji's father was in jail, and young Taji grew up in poverty. She, more than anyone else in the Satrapi family, knows the importance of a good education. Her education gave her the tools to improve her social status, and she wants the same for Marjane. Taji recognizes early on that her daughter is not made to live under Iran's repressive laws, so she pushes Marjane to focus on her studies, especially French, so she can one day leave and do what she wants with her life. Taji understands this means Marjane won't always be close, but it's a sacrifice she's willing to make for her daughter's happiness. Though also a liberal, she does not have Ebi's natural optimism about Iran's future. Her fleeting wish to relocate to the West is tempered by the negative experiences her friends and family have had outside of their homeland. It is too late for her to start over again, and she doesn't want her daughter to miss that opportunity.
Mustachioed Ebi Satrapi is one of six brothers. Though he is not as outspoken as his brother Anoosh or his Uncle Fereydoon, he is a rebel in his own right. Well-read and politically up-to-date, Ebi prefers to get all his news and information from the BBC, which, unlike Iranian state media, presents an outside perspective of current events. Though he never explicitly says he's a communist, he provides Marjane with reading material about Marxist theories and tends to agree with the socialist ideals of his brother. Unlike Anoosh, however, Ebi is cautious. Following the Iranian Revolution, he keeps his rebellion inside the home—where he reads Western books, listens to Western music, drinks alcohol, and holds in-depth discussions about the state of Iran's government. He insists his daughter be educated about the topics facing their country so she can form her own opinions and speak intelligently on nearly any subject. Ebi loves Marjane unreservedly, and he would do anything to protect her. Yet he also knows she needs to make mistakes, such as getting married, for herself.
Grandmother plays a large role in Persepolis and in Marjane's life. Her late husband was the son of Ahmad Shah, a former emperor of Iran. When Reza Shah took over Iran, Grandma's husband and his family lost everything. Living in poverty, she held the family together while her husband was jailed off and on for his communist beliefs. Surprisingly liberal-minded for someone of her generation, she is suspicious of governments that claim to have the people's best interest at heart but really only do what is best for themselves. She is the person to whom Marjane goes for advice, and she is the one who comforts Marjane when things go terribly wrong. However, she is not softhearted—her expectations for her granddaughter are just as high as Taji's and Ebi's. Beyond anything else, she wants Marjane to remember who she is: the granddaughter of a man who dedicated his life to making his nation a better place. She expects the same kind of commitment and ideals from Marjane.
Uncle Anoosh had fled Iran years earlier fearing he would be arrested for treason. After spending several years in the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or Soviet Union), he returned to Iran, where he was arrested and imprisoned for nine years. Upon his release, he visits Marjane's family and becomes one of her favorite relatives. Within a few months he is rearrested and executed as a Russian spy.
Markus and Marjane date and smoke marijuana together. He gets her involved in buying their supply, and soon she's the drug dealer for the whole school. When Marjane catches Markus with another woman, they break up and never see each other again.
Reza and Marjane meet and fall in love at the university. After two years of surreptitious dating, they grow tired of not being able to be seen together in public. They marry and soon realize they have made a mistake. They eventually divorce.