Persepolis | Study Guide

Marjane Satrapi

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Persepolis | The Croissant | Summary

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Summary

Marjane prepares to take the French baccalaureate—a test that determines whether she will be able to continue her studies after high school. As she studies she realizes there are a lot of "holes" in her knowledge base. She will "need a miracle to pass." One night God comes to her in a dream and says the exam will be about Montesquieu's "Slavery of the Negroes." The next morning Marjane calls her mother, who prays for her. Miraculously, Marjane's dream was right. She scores the highest grade in the school. After working a few odd jobs over the summer, she returns to school for another year of university preparation. The principal calls her into his office and indicates he won't tolerate any more drug sales, thus ending Marjane's days as a drug dealer.

It is 1988. Marjane's friends are convinced the Austrian government is resurrecting Nazism. Marjane cautions them about exaggerating the situation, but they insist things are getting very bad, especially in the region of Tyrol. That's where Lucia's family is from. Marjane protests that she knows very nice people there, but her friends tell her the situation would have been different had she been "a frizzy-haired and dark-skinned boy." She wonders how her friends would treat her if she was.

Marjane's relationship with Markus is also on the rocks. She has radically increased her use of drugs, causing Markus to pull away from her. He throws himself into his studies while she barely goes to class. They see less and less of one another, and Marjane hopes spending her 18th birthday on a trip with another friend will make Markus realize how much he loves her. When she misses her train, she decides it's a sign she should spend her birthday with him. She buys warm croissants and lets herself into his apartment only to find him in bed with another girl. After one last explosive fight, Marjane never sees him again.

Analysis

Marjane's childhood dreams have finally come true: she's a prophet—sort of. This isn't the last "miracle" God performs for her, and its occurrence rekindles her relationship with Him and religion. Note that Marjane doesn't pray or speak directly to God herself—she calls her mother and asks her to do it. Marjane isn't yet ready to renew her commitment to Islam. She still associates her religion with the repressive and hypocritical practices of the government back in Iran. Right now admitting she still believes in her faith would be akin to believing in the government she so dislikes.

The way Marjane's friends view Nazism in Tyrol is very similar to the way the West, in general, views Iran's Islamic regime. Her friends speak of Tyrol as if its residents are all white supremacists, but unlike them, Marjane has actually been there. She—a foreigner whose appearance and speech are unlike anything seen in western Austria—was welcomed with open arms. Marjane knows Lucia's family could never be Nazis, just as she knows not all Iranians or practitioners of Islam are fundamentalist terrorists. The difference between her perception and her friends' assumptions illustrates the problems caused by judging entire groups of people based on hearsay.

Marjane considers herself a fairly good judge of character, but she's a failure when it comes to choosing boyfriends. Her criteria seem to be limited to "anyone who likes me back." She and Markus were never a good fit, but she continued dating him because he was willing to date her. Marjane doesn't understand her relationship with Markus was toxic from the very beginning—he uses her for her money, makes her buy drugs, and then insists they keep their relationship a secret from his mother. Nor does she see how the relationship is breaking her down. Marjane is desperately unhappy with Markus, which is why she self-medicates with drugs—leading her to feel more isolated than before. She's much better off without him, but she doesn't see that yet.

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