Persepolis | Study Guide

Marjane Satrapi

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Persepolis | The F-14s | Summary

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Summary

Marjane is visiting her father's office when a battalion of fighter jets flies overhead. Ebi, an engineer, thinks they are Iraqi planes. Their fears are confirmed when they turn on the radio—Iraqi forces have bombed Tehran. Marjane and her father hurry home to check on Taji. She's fine. She was in the shower and didn't even hear the bombs explode.

Marjane is eager for Iran to defeat Iraq, but her parents don't seem to share her nationalistic enthusiasm. Satrapi uses boldface type to emphasize Marjane's passion as the girl shouts, "We have to bomb Baghdad!" Her mother responds by telling her to take her feet off the coffee table. Ebi is pessimistic about Iran's chances against Iraq, and Marjane—sporting an Iranian army cap—says he is "a defeatist. He's no patriot." She revises her opinion of him when he weeps upon hearing the outlawed Iranian national anthem and celebrates when Iranian bombers attack Baghdad. Their celebration is short-lived, however, when they learn most of the Iranian planes never returned from the mission. The father of one of Marjane's friends, Pardisse, was one of the pilots killed in the raid.

Marjane and her friends write reports about the war at school. Marjane writes about the "historical context entitled 'The Arab Conquest and Our War,'" but everyone else is more impressed with Pardisse's essay, which is a letter to her father. Marjane later tells Pardisse she should be proud of her father for being a hero. Pardisse says it would be better for him to be "alive and in jail rather than dead and a hero."

Analysis

The concept of patriotism is at the crux of Marjane's disappointment in her father. She thinks being a patriot means loving and supporting one's country in every circumstance. Patriots, therefore, shouldn't question government actions. Ebi and Taji disagree. Like Marjane, they equate patriotism with love of one's country, but they also believe it is their duty to ask questions of their country's government in order to protect its people. Their love of country is separate from love of government, which is why Ebi tears up when he hears the banned national anthem. That is the vision of Iran he supports, not the one that has become an Islamic state. Marjane is still learning to make that distinction.

Marjane's understanding of war is rudimentary at best, as is natural for a 10-year-old. She thinks relentless bombing of the enemy will solve the dispute between the two nations, but she never pauses to think about the costs of those attacks. Until now the people actively risking their lives for Iran have been strangers. She doesn't know anyone directly affected by injury or loss of life. The death of Pardisse's father changes that. Now she knows someone who has been emotionally scarred by the war. Marjane has spent so much time daydreaming about heroes and revolutionaries that she doesn't pause to think how terrible it would be if her own father didn't return from the war. Pardisse's anger and sorrow put a human face on the war for Marjane, which makes it harder for her to support Iran's role in it.

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