Persepolis | Study Guide

Marjane Satrapi

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Persepolis | Hide and Seek | Summary



Marjane is happy living in Dr. Heller's villa, except for the presence of Victor, Dr. Heller's dog, who frequently defecates on Marjane's bed. Marjane can't understand why Dr. Heller doesn't see this as a problem. All Marjane's friends have left school for one reason or another, so she spends most of her time with Enrique, her half-Austrian, half-Spanish boyfriend. He's an anarchist, which Marjane finds very attractive. On the ride to their first "anarchist party" together, she imagines "the commitment and the battles of [her] childhood in Iran." Her ideas of anarchy are much different from those of Enrique's friends. "Anarchist party" seems to be code for playing hide-and-seek and volleyball and singing songs around a campfire. At first disillusioned, Marjane lets herself enjoy the night and decides she will sleep with Enrique for the first time. The next morning, she is still a virgin. She mistakenly thinks he didn't have sex with her because he likes Ingrid, another member of the group. Enrique then tells her she has helped him figure out he is gay.

Enrique is the first in a string of disappointing would-be friendships and romances. Her physics teacher, Yonnel Arrouas, reaches out to Marjane when she is beginning to look strung out from weekends with the anarchists. He invites Marjane over for lunch with his family. His mother loves Marjane but his wife doesn't, so she isn't invited over again. Jean-Paul, a new kid at school, invites Marjane out on a date, but it turns out he's only interested in her help with his math homework. By the time she meets Markus, Marjane is convinced she's undesirable.

Markus turns out to actually like Marjane. His mother doesn't. She kicks Marjane out of her house. Markus goes to Marjane's room at Dr. Heller's boarding house, and Dr. Heller kicks him out after calling Marjane a prostitute. Marjane manages not to yell back at Dr. Heller—she promised her mother she wouldn't—and her relationship with Markus is limited to his car, where they smoke marijuana. One night he sends her into Café Camera to buy some hash. Markus tells everyone at school Marjane has contacts at the café. Now Marjane is the school's drug dealer.


Marjane is a full-blown teenager during her time in Europe and like any teenager, she wants to fit in. This isn't easy for anyone, but it's particularly difficult for Marjane. She has to overcome not only personal boundaries, but cultural ones as well. For example, in Marjane's culture men and women don't sleep in the same room unless they're married. Coed sleepovers would definitely be forbidden. Yet she's determined to fit in with her Western friends and not "be a timid virgin any longer." Even sleeping with Enrique would be embarrassing for Marjane, but she goes several steps further and decides to have sex with him. That, too, must be uncomfortable for someone who comes from a culture that reserves sex for marriage, but she's willing to break ties with her own cultural traditions in order to feel like she belongs in Europe.

Marjane's culture also impedes her ability to connect with others. In Iran it would be illegal for her to be seen with a man to whom she wasn't married, but casual dating isn't a big deal in Austria. It is for Marjane, though. That's because of her ethnicity. Markus's mother and Dr. Heller both have negative impressions of Marjane simply because of her appearance and cultural background. They don't know her at all, but they automatically assume she's a "dirty foreigner" taking advantage of young Austrian men. Marjane was never the subject of racist vitriol at home in Iran—she was the in the majority there, not the minority. Now she is reminded of her otherness everywhere she goes.

Life in Vienna isn't turning out anything like Marjane thought it would. She wanted to make European friends with similar revolutionary ideas and philosophies, but the anarchists she meets label themselves as such because they want people to think they're cool, not because they want to effect social change. Marjane's hopes are dashed as soon as she sees the anarchists playing hide-and-seek. She shuns her few remaining friends to spend more time with the man she loves only to learn that he's gay. When she finally finds another boyfriend, he makes her pay for everything and even persuades her to deal drugs. This is not the life Marjane's parents wanted for her, nor is it the life she wants for herself. Her face in the last frame of the chapter says it all—she is angry.

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