False Maturity in Persepolis

How does Satrapi present and reflect on the issue of false maturity in her graphic novel Persepolis?

During Marjane Satrapi’s childhood, her country of Iran underwent a cultural shift known as the Islamic Revolution. As a result, Satrapi met countless atrocities in her war-torn country, forcing her to cope with such conflicts as a young child. However, as shown in her childhood memoir Persepolis, children try to come to terms with their environment, but are held back by their childish naivety. Thus, children, including Satrapi herself, attempt to be adult-like and voice their own opinions, when in reality, regurgitate propaganda and other’s opinions.

Focusing on the characterisation and language spoken by Marjane in pages 82-83, it is clear that Marjane’s facade of maturity is exposed by her childish behavior. In the top left panel of page 82, Marjane expresses her ‘own’ political beliefs while placing her feet upon the table. Her mother responds to this act by telling Marjane that “it’s impolite,” implying that Marjane still is the child of the household, and that she has no real bearing on society’s troubles. This narrow scope politics is further emphasised in Marjane’s expressions on the disappearance of her friend’s father. Coming to the realisation that Pardisse’s father was arrested, she remembers that Pardisse “didn’t come to school for a whole month”. The focus of the quotation suggests that Marjane has no consideration on the wellbeing of Pardisse and her family, but rather on why Pardisse was skipping school. This shows that despite voicing opinions on national issues, Marjane is still a young girl that worries about her own environment and what affects her directly. The eventual culmination of Marjane’s naivety is laid bare in the bottom left panel of page 83, where Marjane asserts her opinion against her parents by pointing to the TV as evidence. However, similar to how her mother had dismissed her in an earlier panel, her father suggests that Marjane should not believe the national news, as it filled with propaganda. This shows that despite Marjane’s passionate stance on the bigger global picture, she still fails to form her own opinion and instead blindly follow the words of the state. Even in the next paragraph, Marjane insists that her father doesn’t “believe anything,” implying that she herself sees no issue or bias in the information that she consumes, a characteristic of an immature figure.

Throughout Satrapi’s graphic novel, the development of her own figure progresses from a young innocent child to a patriotic adolescent. As a product of her time, Marjane must cope with mature concepts at a very young age, which she undoubtedly struggled with. Satrapi expresses her story through the form of a graphic novel to show that despite the children’s shortcomings, it is only natural and that their social environment is ultimately to be blamed for such issues.

 

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