The novel, The Complete Persepolis
written by Marjane Satrapi tells story of her life as a young girl, growing up during
the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Satrapi grew up in a country that was
controlled by the government and forbade the Iranian families the ability to
have control over their own lives. Satrapi grew up in a country where the
people had little to no freedoms and had to obey their religious culture. If
they did not, consequences were instilled among those who disobeyed the
governments rule. Satrapi tells her story by using panels and few words to
represent the understanding of the world through a child’s eyes. It is also
portrayed in black and white to symbolize how the Islamic Revolution took away
Iran’s cultural history. Marjane Satrapi uses the symbol of the veil to
represent the tensions of past and present Iran. Satrapi exemplifies the time
period in which her grandmother grew up and compares that to how she grew up.

            When Marjane Satrapi was ten years
old she witnessed the oppression of the government.  In 1980, the Islamic government issued the
wearing of the “Veil.” The government thought that if females wear the veil it
would protect them from getting raped. They believed that even their hair being
shown could attract men. This was evident when Marjane’s mother’s car broke
down and two men approached her. They said, “They insulted me. They said that
women like me should be pushed up against a wall and fucked. And then thrown in
the garbage…and that if I didn’t want that to happen, I should wear the veil” (Satrapi,
74). This confused Marjane because she did not understand why she needed to
wear this veil because the children grew up during the time when they never had
to wear the veil. The idea of tension of past and present is represented by the
veil because that was something the government forced upon the people. An
example of this is portrayed when Satrapi says, “We didn’t like to wear the
veil, especially when we didn’t understand why we had to” (Satrapi, 3). Throughout
the novel Satrapi illustrates that women who complied with wearing the veil
because they believed that it was moral, she made them appear younger. On the
other hand, women who are against the veil because it limits their freedom,
appear as older. Satrapi does this to exemplify that wearing the veil is a new
way of life, and that those who want their freedom back are those who lived in
the old way of life.

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            Satrapi also demonstrates past
versus present Iran when people yell in the streets, “Everywhere in the streets
there were demonstrators for and against the veil. They chanted, “veil, veil,
veil…freedom, freedom, freedom” (Satrapi, 5). This portrays the tensions and
conflict that is occurring between the two beliefs.

            Satrapi also exemplifies the
tensions of past and present Iran through many examples of her grandmother. Throughout
the novel Satrapi portrays, that her and her grandmother have a great
relationship. Satrapi shows that she trusts her grandmother very much. She
confides in her about wanting to be a prophet and talks to her about many
aspects of life. Satrapi sees her grandmother as a symbol of past Iran. The
grandmother states, “The Shah’s father took everything we owned. I lived in poverty”
(Satrapi, 26). The grandmother is indicating to the time before the Shah ruled.
Satrapi’s grandmothers statement depicts that she feels many tensions between
the past and present ways of life. Another example Satrapi uses to describe the
tension between past and present Iran is when the teachers at her school
explained that the Shah was “the chosen one.” However, once the revolution
started to take place they were told to tear him out of their textbooks. “Children,
tear out all the photos of the Shah from your textbooks” (Satrapi,44).

            Another tension of past versus
present in Iran when Satrapi consumes alchohol although it was forbidden during
that time period. Satrapi’s father tells her grandmother to go and pour all of
the alcohol down the toilet. “Grandma! Margi! When
we get home, get out first. I will try to stall them. Flush all the alcohol
down the toilet” (Satrapi, 109).  This
panel exemplifies that although the government hinders certain freedoms many
people struggle to change their ways because that is something that was normal
for them because they grew up differently and were allowed to do the certain
things that were restricted during this time. It also depicts Satrapi’s
relationship she has with her grandmother and provides Satrapi with advice on
how to leave because during her time she faced a lot of hardship and she does
not want her granddaughter to go through those struggles as well.

             Throughout the novel Marjane Satrapi shows the
major tensions and conflicts that occurred during the Islamic Revolution
because the government issued strict rules among them. Satrapi portrayed that
the veil symbolized tension as well as the sruggles of past and present Iran.
Satrapi’s grandmother also portrayed past and present Iran because she has
lived through it and experienced it first-hand. Satrapi shared her life journey
with us and showed us that someone can love their past while despising their
present situation.