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Islamic Revolution and a Theme of Religion in Persepolis

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“After a long sleep of 2,500 years, the revolution has finally awakened the people” (Satrapi 11). In Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis” we learn about a young girl who’s living in Iran after the Islamic revolution. The Shah is a brutal force that made vast differences to daily life in Iran. They separate boys and girls in school and make the girls wear veils to cover their hair. The novel is very fast pace and makes it easier to learn about what happened during the Islamic revolution. Satrapi cleverly incorporates motifs, themes and imagery into the novel to portray what it was like during the revolution and make it easier for younger readers to understand what happened during such a difficult time.

Satrapi uses a variety of motifs to symbolize what it was like during that time. She uses obvious motifs and some more hidden ones as well. One example of an obvious motif is the veil. Marj didn’t know why she had to wear the veil: “We didn’t really like to wear the veil, especially since we didn’t understand why we had to”. None of the young girls knew why they had to wear the veil at all but they were told to wear it by their elders so they did. Women had to wear the veil at that time because it was part of the religion they were trying to push forward. Many people didn’t enjoy wearing the veil as well. On the other hand, an example of a less obvious motif is Marj’s bed. Marj does a lot of her thinking in her bed and at the beginning of the book, where she talked to God. Marj’s bed was also where she grieved about her uncle anoosh and told God “Shut up, you! Get out of my life!!! I never want to see you again!” (Satrapi 70). Her bed is like her safe place where she can escape from the world and the revolution. She is seen many times throughout the book reading or talking to God in her bed. When Marj wanted to protest with her parents, her dad put her back into bed and she says “That night he didn’t come”. Marj waited for God to come but “he didn’t come”. She is scared and left wondering what to do without God to talk to.

There are many different themes portrayed in “Persepolis” but one main theme is religion. At the beginning of the novel, Marj talks to God everyday and grows a strong relationship with him. “Every night I had a big discussion with God” (Satrapi 8). Marj trusted God with everything in her life. Marj even wanted to be a prophet at the beginning of the book. “At the age of six I was already sure I was the last prophet” (Satrapi 6). Marj was very focused on religion at the beginning of the book. Towards the end of the book, however, her relationship with God goes away completely. Marj even says she “Never wants to see him again”. When she says this, it really locks in that she is not the hopeful, innocent little girl she was at the beginning of the book. The revolution changed her view on everything, religion included.

Some of the imagery Satrapi uses in Persepolis includes the cigarette Marj smokes towards the end of the book. The cigarette signifies that she is not a child anymore: “With this first cigarette, I kissed childhood goodbye.” She really lost her innocence and hope at the end of the novel. Marj also states “Now I was a grown-up” even though she’s only fourteen. She had friends that were older than her as well that influenced her to do things that she would not necessarily do by herself. Between her friends and the revolution, Marj grew up exponentially faster than another child who wasn’t in a war zone would’ve. Another example of imagery in Persepolis is the “gold” key. The key wasn’t a gold key at all: “It’s a plastic key painted gold” (Satrapi 99). The shah used the key to lure teenagers to fight in the war for them. The key itself is an image of hope for the teenagers to get to heaven but to other people it has the impact of a gun. The people who are close to these teenagers who are being lured in may even look at the key like a death sentence. The shah made the teenagers think that the key was something sacred that would help them get into heaven but in reality they were being lured in to fight for a terrible war. The key would not help them at all, it only helped the shah have more people fighting for them.

Overall the book is an easier way for younger audiences to understand what the islamic revolution was. It is incredibly difficult to make learning about such serious events an easier experience but Marjane Satrapi did that flawlessly with Persepolis.          

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Islamic Revolution And A Theme Of Religion In Persepolis. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 29, 2022, from
“Islamic Revolution And A Theme Of Religion In Persepolis.” GradesFixer, 16 Dec. 2021,
Islamic Revolution And A Theme Of Religion In Persepolis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Jun. 2022].
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