Persepolis | Study Guide

Marjane Satrapi

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Persepolis | The Pill | Summary

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Summary

Marjane likes living at Julie's house. Julie's mother, Armelle, thinks Marjane is a good influence on Julie, who has a penchant for cutting class and dating older men. Marjane is stunned to learn Julie has slept with 18 different guys and is on the birth control pill. She's even more shocked that Julie is proud of it. In Iran, "even when you had sex before marriage, you hid it," Marjane tells readers. Julie is also very comfortable talking about her body, which is a sharp contrast to Marjane, who grew up keeping those things private.

Julie throws a party while Armelle is on a business trip. It's not like any party Marjane has ever been to before. In Iran people dance and eat at parties. At Julie's party "people preferred to lie around and smoke" and kiss. The public displays of affection make Marjane uncomfortable. She's even more uncomfortable after the party when she hears two people having sex in Julie's bedroom. Marjane assumes it's Julie and her new crush, Ernst, but the naked man who walks out of the room is actually named Wolfy. He's number 19. Marjane starts laughing hysterically when Julie, wrapped in a sheet, and Wolfy, now wearing underwear, join her on the couch. Julie thinks Marjane is high, but Marjane is laughing at the memory of her father describing testicles as "ping-pong balls."

Analysis

Marjane has to navigate the frank and exposed sexual practices of Julie and her friends. Now that it has been brought to her attention, she adds "sex" to the mental list of things she needs to work on to better "assimilat[e] into Western culture."

Julie's mother, Armelle, probably wouldn't agree. To her Marjane is the epitome of the perfect daughter—respectful, hardworking, and polite. According to Marjane, those qualities are a given in Iranian families. "Parents are sacred" in Persian culture, and to disrespect one's mother by ignoring her questions is unthinkable to Marjane. Her rebellious attitude is quite different from Julie's. In Iran Marjane was rebelling against the Islamic Republic, not her parents. Each time she gets into trouble—by wearing inappropriate clothing or saying scandalous things—it's because she is trying to prove her autonomy under a repressive government. She never directly disobeys her parents. Julie, however, has no tyrannical regime or stifling cultural standards to protest, so she, like most teenagers, aims her adolescent ire at the most repressive people in her life—her parents. The part of Iranian culture Marjane honors most—the family—happens to be the thing Western teenagers are most eager to separate themselves from.

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