Persepolis | Study Guide

Marjane Satrapi

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Persepolis | The Trip | Summary

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Summary

Once Iran becomes the Islamic Republic, life changes for the country's inhabitants. Fundamentalists take over the American Embassy in Tehran, all universities are closed, and women are forced to wear headscarves in public. Marjane's mother is harassed on the street for letting her hair show, and a demonstration protesting fundamentalist fashion requirements turns into an angry brawl. Neighbors who once embraced miniskirts and alcohol are suddenly perfectly pious citizens. Marjane's parents insist she tells people she prays several times a day even though she doesn't.

Sensing their ability to leave the country is coming to an end, Marjane and her family go on vacation in Spain and Italy. When they return, Grandmother informs them Iran is now at war with Iraq. Iranian fundamentalists "tried to stir up their Iraqi Shiite allies" against Saddam Hussein, who had always wanted an excuse to invade Iran. Grandmother calls this "the second Arab invasion." Marjane is ready to fight.

Analysis

The changes following the Islamic Republic's rise to power are swift, and the rules for proper behavior seem to shift overnight. From Marjane's point of view, it is as if Iran took three enormous steps backward in the peoples' quest for civil liberties. Universities are closed, women are required to wear hijabs, or veils, in public, and there is a strict code of conduct preventing interaction between unmarried men and women. Those caught disobeying or protesting the government's new rules face severe punishment, which makes it imperative to hide conflicting viewpoints. This theme of public versus private lives runs throughout the rest of the book as Marjane, her family, and her friends present pious and proper facades to mask their true selves, which appear behind closed doors.

Though Marjane is against the Islamic Republic, she still supports the country of Iran and wants to protect it from "Arab invaders." The invaders are the Iraqis, whose attack of the western Iranian border on September 22, 1980, marked the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War. In dispute was border territory, both land and water, between the two nations. Iraqi president Saddam Hussein wanted complete control of both banks of the Shatt Al-'Arab, as well as Iraq's Khuzestan province, which was mainly populated by ethnic Arabs. He was also very concerned about the growing power of Islamic clergy in Iran and feared that the newly minted Islamic government would spark rebellion in Iraq's mostly Shiite population. Conquering his desired territories would expand Iraq's influence in the region while diminishing the power of the Islamic Republic, thereby protecting Hussein's own position of power.

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