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Purity And Social Distinction In Persepolis And Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl

1071 words - 4 pages

The two novels - Persepolis, and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, both raise issues of social distinction, and separation, along with Identity and Purity issues in social classes. Social distinction in both novels involved birth status and the balancing of understanding the place of inferiority in their related cultures.

In the novel, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, social class plays a role in the significance of your stature in society. Linda Brent, the protagonist of the novel, deals with separation from her parents, her siblings, and later her children- due to being born a slave. In Persepolis, Mehri, the maid of the Satrapi's was separated from her family as well at the age of five and was raised along with Marji. Both characters, (Mehri and Marji) came to be like sisters, but social distinction was always in the minds of Marji's parents.

In order to compare and contrast the two narratives of Linda and Marji, identification of the protagonist's intentions must first be recognized. Linda Brent re-tells her life narrative by playing on the reader's emotions and sensibilities. She affects the readers emotions by using the combination of her becoming a mother (motherhood), family loyalty (grandmother), Religion (Christianity), and feminine guile and wit (how she tricks Dr. Flint time and time again). Linda's purpose in her narrative is to restore virtue to the African-American slave women. Marji, much younger in age, and also of another nationality identifies with her audience by retelling her narrative through the eyes of a young child growing into a young woman.

Both novels can be categorized as coming of age novels, developing along with the protagonists to show the importance of developing into a character whom has learned and grown wiser due to the situations and circumstances they have lived through. Both novels show examples of this theory. In Linda Brent's, Incidents in the Life of a Slave girl, Linda Brent writes, "Slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women," (64). By living in seclusion for seven years, Brent realized her ultimate dream was to live a traditional family life which in the conclusion of the novel she does. Due to being an African-American slave, Brent was thwarted from obtaining her goals for an extended period of time. Brent, though a woman was thwarted from enjoying her family life because she was a black woman living in bondage. If Brent had been born a white woman she would never had suffered the turmoil of separation from her children.

Marji, the protagonist from Persepolis, falls prey to Social Distinction through political affiliation. Marji's parents were not practicing the ways of Fundamentalism in their homes, but society at the time in their town dictated for them all to conform to the majority. Along with Brent, Marji was only allowed to communicate and associate with people in her community with the same social distinction and standing in...

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