Persepolis | Study Guide

Marjane Satrapi

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Persepolis | Kim Wilde | Summary



Iran's borders open in 1983. Marjane's parents rush to get their passports so they can go on a trip to Turkey, just the two of them. Marjane scoffs at their choice of destination until she realizes they can bring back contraband Western items such as Nike shoes, denim jackets, and band posters. She requests chocolate, a jacket, and posters of Kim Wilde and Iron Maiden.

Ebi and Taji have no problem locating the things Marjane wants, but they aren't sure how to get the two enormous posters back into Iran. They end up hiding them behind the lining of Ebi's coat. He looks like he's wearing huge shoulder pads, but he gets through customs without any problems. Ebi and Taji give Marjane her gifts once they get home. Marjane immediately puts on the denim jacket, the Nike shoes, and a new Michael Jackson button and then heads out the door to find some black-market cassette tapes.

While she's out, Marjane is stopped by two female guardians of the Revolution. They chastise her for her Western clothing, which they call "punk" even though it's not. Marjane is terrified when the women threaten to take her to "the committee," which is the guardians' headquarters. She could be whipped for her crimes or even imprisoned for days. Marjane makes up a story about a cruel stepmother, and the women let her go. Marjane says nothing about the altercation to her real mother, whom she knows would never let her go out alone again if she knew what happened. Instead Marjane goes to her room and listens to "Kids in America."


Marjane's idol Kim Wilde is a British rock star whose career took off with the song "Kids in America," which was released in 1981. With her blond feathered hair and androgynous fashion sense, Wilde was the type of woman Marjane wanted to be—equal parts punk rock and nice girl next door. Her lyrics—"Looking out a dirty old window/Down below the cars ... go rushing by"—give voice to the teenage angst Marjane feels but can't adequately express. That's one of the reasons why Marjane is so enamored with the punk scene—the music just speaks to her. She also likes it because in Iran it's completely against the law to play such music, let alone own cassette tapes of it. Listening to and idolizing British and American rock bands is a form of rebellion for Marjane, even if she does it only in her own home.

Ebi and Taji understand how important music is to Marjane, and even if they don't always like it, they still allow her the freedom to listen to what she wants. Their promise to bring back posters and other Western goods isn't just a nice gesture—it's an acknowledgment of Marjane's personal autonomy and a declaration of their love. Bringing back such things is enormously risky, and being caught transporting such goods into the country could have severe consequences. Taji and Ebi do it anyway because they know how important these things are to Marjane, especially the posters. The care they take in ensuring the posters don't wrinkle on the journey home is symbolic of the lengths they would go to make sure their daughter is happy.

Marjane knows how much her parents love her, and though she doesn't always show it, she feels the same way about them. That's one of the reasons why she never tells them about what happened after she left the house with her new Western gear. They would feel responsible for providing her with the contraband goods that attracted the attention of the ladies' auxiliary, and they would feel guilty for not accompanying her on her outing. Marjane does fear her parents would take away some of her freedom, but she also doesn't want to let them down by being caught or make them worry any more than they already do. She protects her parents just as much as they protect her.

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