12 March 2014

As Told by Marjane

"And that was that..." says Marjane Satrapi in 1980 about the requirement of wearing a veil to school and the separation of bilingual schools in Iran. Just 10 years old and Marjane witnesses a "cultural revolution" before her eyes; her own parents even took part in the demonstrations. She felt torn between the modern world and the Islamic world. She says by the age of 6 she knew that she wanted to be a prophet. She kept with this idea for a while; she found herself talking to God often. Ironically, when she felt she needed him most, he did not come talk with her. Fast forward to her teenage years, Marjane is now moving with her mother's best friend, Zozo, to escape "religious Iran." Eventually, Zozo felt the house wasn't big enough so she sent Marjane to a boarding school in Vienna. As Marjane thought she left "religious Iran," she found herself living with nuns. Marjane found herself a group of "friends," who really only wanted to hear of her stories about war and death. Then vacation time came. Having nowhere else to go, Marjane went  with her roommate Lucia, whom she wasn't too fond of at first but became very close to her and her family after that trip. Marjane then decided to spend vacations at school to read in order to educate herself. Marjane ended up getting expelled due to a remark she made to the nun and moved with her friend Julie. 

I think that Marjane, as a character, is more believable as a 14 year old than as a 10 year old. I say this because I can't think of any 6 year old, in the middle of a demonstration or not, that would want to be a prophet or a 10 year old that plays "revolution" with their friends in a yard. I think that her, at 14, having to move due to the events taking place in Iran, living on her own at boarding school, and trying to educate herself so she can actually revolt due to childhood is more believing. I believe she tells this story to further educate people on what took place in Iran in her childhood. She may have also wrote it because it was personal to her being that her parents did partake in the demonstrations. She says "at one of the demonstrations, a German journalist took a photo of my mother. I was really proud of her. Her photo was published in all the European magazines."  The story is a typical coming of age story because she left Iran to escape oppression and finds herself in another religious place. In this she finds comfort in reading in order to educate herself so that she can rebel, instead of simply witnessing it. Although she did not rebel in Iran, she rebels against the nuns in eating out of her pot and calling them prostitutes, which is extreme because nuns are considered as holy and pure. I think that the story being told by a woman is important because women in middle eastern cultures go through more than men because they are women. It is said that women are not as strong as men, mentally and physically, and in the story, Marjane thinks of herself as equal to all regardless of sex and race; she expressed at a young age to her parents that she wanted to partake in the demonstrations with them. 


  1. Really insightful observations here, Aliyah, especially concerning her acts of rebellion! But does her reality not explain her childhood playing at rebellion?

    1. I do believe that her reality does explain her rebellion BUT I think at the point where she moved from Iran, she needed not to be rebellious at the school with Nuns except at the point where she called them prostitutes because of what they said to her.

    2. Ah! That's a good elaboration! I agree to a certain extant; I don't think anyone should allow themselves to be bullied in that way. BUT I can see where it might not be believable :-)