The Role of Women in Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis

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Throughout Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi displays the vital role that the women around her have in developing her character and becoming the woman she is today. Women such as her mother, her grandmother, her school teachers, the maid, the neighbors, and even the guardians of the revolution influenced Marjane and caused her to develop into an independent, educated, and ambitious woman. Throughout the novel, Marjane never completely conforms or lets go of her roots, this is primarily due to the women who have influenced her.

Marjane’s mother was one of the most influential people in her life, her mother taught her to be strong and independent. By introducing her mother through the story of her mother getting photographed at a demonstration, Marjane presents her mother as being independent and rebellious (Satrapi 5). Later in the novel Marjane’s mother argues with her father to allow Marji to come to a demonstration with them, she claims it is Marji’s time to “defend her rights as a woman” (76). Because her mother taught Marji that it is okay for a woman to rebel and speak her mind, Marji never hesitates to speak up and will not conform and allow herself to become just another veiled, female traditionalist. Marjane’s mother shows her acceptance of Marjane as an independent woman when she visits her in Austria and asks her for a cigarette (204). Marjane’s mother is not ignorant, nor does she hold her daughter back to the rules of society. She knows Marji is grown up and treats her as an adult, allowing Marji not only to view their relationship in a different way but also to view herself in a different way: an independent adult who can make her own choices.

Another major role model in Marjane’s life was her grandmother, her grandmother taught her to always be herself and to be happy, no matter the circumstances. In the beginning of the novel, Marji opens up to her grandmother and admits that she wants to be a prophet, her grandmother does not mock her or tell her she can not be a prophet, instead she announces she will be Marji’s first disciple. (7). Her grandmother also buys her books to help educate her on what is going on in their country (28). Both of these actions display that her grandmother wants her to be educated and also wants Marji to do whatever she desires and teaches her that she truly can be whatever she wishes. Before Marji leaves to go to Austria, her grandmother tells her “always keep your dignity and be true to yourself” (150). This is something that continually goes through Marji’s mind as she begins to make mistakes, being true to herself is something Marji is constantly struggling for and becomes a major theme throughout the novel. In the end of the novel Marji learns how to be true to herself and her ambitions as she divorces Reza and moves to Paris, which was an action heavily based on the ethics and teachings of her grandmother.

Satrapi describes many other women throughout the novel who had an...

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