Persepolis | Study Guide

Marjane Satrapi

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Persepolis | Tyrol | Summary

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Summary

Marjane begins classes at the French-language school in Vienna. She arrives in the middle of the trimester, and the other students are already locked into their circles of friends. Her high math scores and awkward French catch the attention of a few of her classmates, and some of them react unkindly to her. Eventually she falls in with a group of older misfits. Eighteen-year-old Julie is fascinated with Marjane, who "[has] known war," and 20-year-old Momo is eager to hear about all the death Marjane has seen. They also pal around with Thierry and Olivier, orphan brothers from Switzerland.

Though Marjane has found a group of her own, she still doesn't quite fit in. She's the only one of her friends not celebrating Christmas—it isn't observed in Iran, a predominantly Muslim country—but nobody seems to notice. She dreads two weeks in the boarding house without school and without company. Lucia figures this out and invites Marjane to come home with her. Lucia's family welcomes Marjane with open arms, and she is treated as one of the family despite the language barrier. By the time she goes back to Vienna, she has "a new set of parents," and "Lucia [is her] sister."

Analysis

Marjane is already an outcast in school because of ethnicity, and she naturally gravitates toward the other outcasts; or rather, they gravitate toward her. To them, Marjane is like an exotic animal from a faraway place—more of a novelty than an actual human. She has seen and experienced things they can merely imagine. Those things just happen to be related to war, which they find fascinating in a way only middle-class kids who will never see battle can. They spend a lot of effort trying to be different from everyone else—hence the fascination with war and death—while Marjane actually is different. That's what makes her so appealing to them.

Marjane doesn't actually have a lot in common with her new group of friends. With their punk-rock personas and nonchalant attitudes toward school, they work hard at being rebels while Marjane just naturally is one despite her studious persona. Some of them, such as Olivier and Thierry, come from money, and they all have places to go over the holidays. Marjane is alone and on a very strict budget. She's also far more naive than her older, worldly friends. Desperate for a sense of kinship, Marjane overlooks all this and finds herself in a group much different than the people she would normally hang out with in Iran. She's friends with them, but she doesn't feel like she belongs.

When Marjane visits Tyrol with Lucia, she finds her roommate's relatives offer the warm family connections she has been missing. She craves the companionship and conversation of older people, even if she can't understand the language. Being part of a family means someone cares for you, a feeling that has been lacking in Marjane's life since she arrived in Europe. She is at her best and her happiest when in the company of a loving family even if they're not her own.

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