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Social Class in Persepolis

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Abby Fallon

on 19 June 2014

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Transcript of Social Class in Persepolis

Thesis
Throughout the novel, Persepolis, the citizens in the lower classes are discriminated against and mistreated by the higher classes because of their lack of wealth and status in society.
“It disgusts me that people are condemned to a bleak future by their social class” (23)
From this quote, it is evident that Marjane’s grandfather is upset that the less educated people of the country are not given equal opportunities and are lead to believe lies that are told to them by the government. In this time period in Iran, it was difficult for people who were not as fortunate as others to get a job and live a stable life.
“The Shah’s father took everything [me and my husband] owned. I lived in poverty” (26)
The point demonstrated in this quote is the corrupt government of Iran in this time period. The guards of the Iranian prison take Marjane’s grandfather into jail because he goes against the words of the Shah. The given punishment he must endure is to show the people of Iran the consequences of going against him. Not only do they take her grandfather into jail, but they also take all of her grandmother’s belongings, leaving her in poverty. The purpose of taking all of her grandmother’s belongings is to scare the people into obeying the rules so that they do not end up poverty stricken like her.
“[The boys] come from the poor areas, you can tell… First they convince them that the afterlife is even better than Disneyland, then they put them in a trance with all their songs” (101)


This quote displays how the upper classes trick the lower social into fighting for their country. They promise a better life for the boys knowing that they will die in battle. Even after they fight for Iran, they are still seen as lesser.
"you must understand that their love was impossible" (Satrapi 37).

"Because in this country you must stay within your own social class" (Satrapi 37)
Mehri and the neighbor were not allowed to be together because she was a peasant and he was wealthy. The large gap between their social classes made it nearly impossible for them to ever have a relationship. During this time in Iran, social classes played an extremely large role in who you were to marry. Rich people married rich people, and poor people married poor people. It was very rare for anyone to branch outside of their social class because it was looked down upon.
Historical Reflection
We were provided with a reading regarding Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979. We learned that the Islamic people absolutely hated the Shah and a million people took to the streets to denounce the Shah. They held protests and demonstrations in hopes of overthrowing the Shah and replacing him with Khomeini. This related to the novel because Marji's parents went to multiple demonstrations to protest the Shah and the Iranian government. This historical article helped us understand that the people in Persepolis despised the Shah so much because he was a ruthless leader who abolished Iran's tenuous multiparty government and placed himself at a one-party state controlled by secret police. The lower and middle class, which is where Marji's family fell, sought greater political freedom. After the Shah was exiled and Khomeini was put into power, the women were forced to wear head coverings and full-body cloaks called chadors. This helped us understand that the reason Marji and the rest of the women in Persepolis had to wear veils was because when Khomeini took power the women lost all of the social gains they had made under the Shah. We also watched several scenes from the movie "Argo". In one of the scenes it showed thousands of Iranians storming the streets and protesting at a demonstration. Many people were getting shoved to the ground and hurt just like how Marji saw someone get stabbed at one of the demonstrations. This allowed us to comprehend how chaotic and out of hand some of these protests actually got. The historical resources really helped us capture a full picture of what was happening and why they were happening.

Social Class in Persepolis
By Meghan and Abby
“The key to paradise was for poor people. Thousands of young kids, promised a better life, exploded on the minefields with their keys around their necks” (102)

In this quote, it is evident that the higher social class did not care about anyone less than themselves in Iran. The social class that you are a part of when you are born is not only the social class you will be in for you entire life, but it will determine if you would be enlisted in the army and die at a young age or not.

Mehri, Marji's maid, grew up in a poor household and was forced to leave her family at 8 years old because her parents could not take care of her any longer. When she left home and became Marji's family's maid, she fell in love with their neighbor. They exchanged letters and gazed out the window at each other every day. Once Marji's father found out about this, he marched over to his neighbors house and told him the truth about who Mehri really was. As soon as the neighbor found out that Mehri was a peasant, he gave all of her letters back to Marji's father. When Marji's father told Marji what happened, she was very confused as to why the neighbor did not want to be with Mehri anymore. Marji's father explained to her that since the neighbor was wealthy and Mehri is a maid, they were not capable of being together. He tried to help Marji understand that their love was completely hopeless.
Personal Reflection- Abby
Upon reading Persepolis, I became aware of just how much can be conveyed through the medium of black and white graphic novels. In my experience, comic books make up for the lack of detailed narration in colorful artwork and progressive images, yet Persepolis managed to convey a wide range of ideas and emotions in simple black and white images with sparse text. Under an oppressive regime, Marjane Satrapi grew up with constant exposure to political strife and violence. The changes that were implemented under the new rule transformed her way of life and changed how she could function in her own society.I thought that it was sad to see how Marjane lived in perpetual confusion and unawareness of what was going on in her country because of how young she was. It was troubling to see how she was basically striped of her innocence due to her curiosity of the issues existing in her country. She even attended a demonstration in which she watched a man get stabbed. One of her biggest heroes was her uncle who was martyr, which explains why Marji was such a rebellious child. I even found myself at times relating with Marji in the sense that we both agree in order to be a hero and make a change in this world, you have to make some risky decisions. I really enjoyed reading this novel and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to read a fascinating story about the daily life in the history of Iran through a child’s eye view.

Personal Reflection- Meghan
Throughout this novel, I felt frustrated by the different forms of punishment that Marjane’s family members had to endure. I think that the way Satrapi wrote the novel was very enjoyable. Rather than writing a personal documentary about her experiences, I think that the comic strips were a more effective way of grabbing the reader’s attention. I felt very sorry for Marjane’s grandfather when he was put in the water cell. I felt her pain and thought that how she coped with the news was a very interesting. I think that the way she captured a child’s reactions to what was going on in this time period was very fitting. The reader could tell that although she was young, naive child, she was very mature beyond her age. Overall, in opinion, this was a very educating and amusing novel to read.
Works Cited
-Black, Ian. "Shah of Iran's Youngest Son Shoots Himself." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 06 Jan. 2011. Web. 11 June 2014.
-Diba, Roya. "Roya Diba . رويا ديبا." : The Air-raid Siren and Shelters Time. Web. 11 June 2014.
-"Iran: Islam and the Struggle for Socialism - Mohammad Ja'far and Azar Tabari." Iran: Islam and the Struggle for Socialism - Mohammad Ja'far and Azar Tabari. 7 May 2014. Web. 11 June 2014.
-"Iran–Iraq War." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 06 Oct. 2014. Web. 11 June 2014.
-Lantos Swett, Katrina. "Iran vs. Its People: Abuses Against Religious Minorities by Katrina Lantos Swett." Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. Web. 11 June 2014.
-Maloney, Suzanne. "Iran Surprises Itself and the World." The Brookings Institution. The Brookings Institution, 11 Sept. 2013. Web. 11 June 2014.
-"This Page Is about Iran after the 1979 Revolution." New Page 1. San Francisco State University. Web. 11 June 2014.
Bryson, Andrew. "Parting Shots: The Perils of Ambassadorial Predictions." BBC News. BBC, 29 Sept. 2010. Web. 18 June 2014.
Farrokh, Kaveh. "Iran Part 22." Kaveh Farrokh RSS. Kaveh Farrokh, 25 Dec. 2011. Web. 18 June 2014.
Gammill, Powell. "Iran Police Break up Memorial for Protest Victims." Iran Police Break up Memorial for Protest Victims. June-July 2009. Web. 18 June 2014.
Kadiver, Darius. "Persian Realm." ARISTOCRACY: Persian Aristocrats Take a Pose (1900's). 15 Sept. 2009. Web. 18 June 2014.
Reporter, Daily Mail. "Health Gap between Rich and Poor as Big as It Was in 1900." Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 11 Sept. 2009. Web. 18 June 2014.
This is a picture of a protest in Iran that escalated and got completely out of control. People are being beat up and thrown to the ground as police try to calm down the rowdy crowd. This shows how wild the demonstrations became and they are definitely not a place for kids. It is sad that Marji had to experience something so traumatizing at such a young age.
These photos show the opposite classes during the Iranian Revolution. On the left is an Iranian mother trying to seek medical care for her child, while on the left is a family who is well off and has nothing to worry about.

This is one of the many protests that were held in the hopes of overthrowing the Shah. The poster that several of the Iranian people are holding read "Down with the Shah the blood-sucker". This sign proves how much the Iranian people loathed the Shah.
This young boy, like thousands of others, would have been sent to the war at the age of 12 and would fight until he died.
Iranian child soldiers were sent to war by their parents to hopefully get out alive and live a better life.
Pictured in this photo is the poverty stricken citizens of Iran in 1980, waiting for hours hoping that they will receive food.
Lower class citizens of Iran protesting to gain a voice and answers to problems from the government.
Iranians protest against the oppression and mistreatment of citizens.
These are several woman peasants in Iran during this time who were maids to wealthier families, like Mehri.
These are wealthy Iranian men during the time, like Mehri's neighbor. These types men only married women of high social status.
These are women who were peasants in Iran during the time. These are the types of women that would be maids like Mehri. It would be extremely rare for them to get married at all and if they did it would be to another peasant man.
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