Persepolis | Study Guide

Marjane Satrapi

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Persepolis | The Sheep | Summary

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Summary

Marjane's father and Anoosh discuss politics. Ebi is worried "the Republic wants to be called Islamic" even though the revolution sprang from the left, or liberal dissidents, but Anoosh isn't too concerned. He thinks the religious leaders, realizing they don't know how to run a country, will "return to their mosques," leaving the proletariat, or working class, in charge.

Not everyone agrees with Anoosh. Like Ebi, many fear life under rule of the Islamic Republic. Marjane's friend Kaveh and his family leave Iran for the United States. Several other friends and family members also depart. Marjane's mother wonders if they should go, too, but Ebi insists everyone they love will come back. "They're just afraid of change," he says. Then he receives a phone call. Mohsen Shakiba drowned in his bathtub. Only his head was in the water, which indicates he was murdered. "The deliverers of divine justice" strike at Siamak Jari's house next. He isn't home, so they kill his sister.

Anoosh continues to insist "everything will be alright," but he doesn't seem as confident as before. When Marjane leaves school one day, it is her mother who picks her up, not Anoosh. Her mother says Anoosh's wife called him and asked him to come back to Moscow. Marjane knows that's a lie—Anoosh never talks to his wife. Her father later confesses Anoosh was arrested. He gets only one visitor in prison, and he wants it to be Marjane. She puts on her best dress and goes to see him. He promises "the proletariat will rule" and gives Marjane another bread swan.

Anoosh is executed not long after their visit. Marjane lies in her bed and tells herself everything will be all right. God comes to comfort her. She kicks him out and tells him she never wants to see him again. She is "lost, without any bearings" when her parents shout for her to go into the basement. They are being bombed. The war with Iraq has begun.

Analysis

Leftist revolutionaries such as Marjane's father and her Uncle Anoosh never intended for Iran to become an Islamic Republic. They and their fellow liberals thought Iran would become more progressive, not more repressive. They severely underestimated the desire for power within the clergy, particularly in Ruhollah Khomeini. Khomeini had been an outspoken critic of the shah since the early 1960s and had been calling for his removal ever since then. Exiled from Iran in November 1964, he settled in Iraq and continued to petition for Iran to become an Islamic republic. This made Iraqi president Saddam Hussein understandably nervous—if Iranians began to favor an Islamic republic, what's to stop Iraqis from doing the same? He kicked Khomeini out of Iraq in 1978. Khomeini moved to Paris and sent tape-recorded messages to Iran to rally the revolutionaries. When he returned to Iran on February 1, 1979, two weeks after the shah's departure, he was hailed as a hero and as the religious leader of the revolution. With so much public support, he was able to finally do what he always wanted: make Iran an Islamic state.

Many Iranians mistrusted the Islamic state from the beginning, which is why some of Marjane's friends and family leave their homeland for new lives in the West. Uncle Anoosh, however, still believes in the power of the people. He can't see that the communist theories he champions don't work in the real world where people, even holy men, thirst for control. His communist beliefs and his history as a rabble-rouser make him a direct threat to the clergy-led government. That's why he and hundreds of other former political prisoners are killed shortly after their release. Death of a loved one is never easy to handle, and Marjane can't understand why Anoosh is arrested and killed for crimes he never committed. She kicks God out of her bedroom because she can't reconcile the deity who has protected her for so long with the religion behind the execution of her beloved uncle. This is the last time Marjane speaks directly to God. She is done with Islam, at least for the time being.

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