Yousef Khalaf is a writer at BHSEC, Cleveland-West.
A person is expected to love his or her country and have a rigid connection to it. Even if the country changes for the worse, people are expected to stay loyal to their country. If they leave their country during tough times, they are perceived as scared and weak. They must stay no matter what, even if there is a war. Liberation is the freedom from restrictions on thought or behavior. Marjane in Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis has a strong connection to her country, Iran, that stops her from achieving freedom. Marjane expresses her profound love for her culture which includes her country Iran and her family, but this love deprives her from being liberated. Marjane wants to be free from social pressure in Iran and have the freedom to build her future.
Marjane demonstrates her intense affection for her country Iran and her family. After hearing a group of people trash talk her, Marjane explodes in anger, screaming “I AM IRANIAN AND PROUD OF IT!” Previously, Marjane believes being Iranian is a heavy burden to carry, so she tells someone she is French. Subsequently, she feels extremely guilty, even remembering her grandmother’s advice of keeping one’s dignity and being true to oneself. After hearing the people trash talk her, Marjane can no longer hold that guilt and affirms her Iranian pride. In the next frames, she cries, then feels proud and comfortable (197). She thinks that being Iranian is a burden, but it is really her denial of her Iranian origins that burdens her. After the outburst, Marjane feels better and her love for Iran is invigorated. Later, Marjane loses all of her sources of emotional support in Vienna, asking where was her mother to “stroke [her] hair,” her grandmother to assure her she would have lovers “by the dozen,” and her father “to punish” Markus “who dared to hurt his daughter” (233). Marjane feels alone when she realizes her friends in Vienna cannot support her. This leads her to ponder the consolation she would get if her family were available. These thoughts bring her to an intense epiphany. In order to get the support she longs for, she needs to return to her family in Iran. Marjane has a strong love for Iran, and her family is her only persistent source of emotional support in her life.
And yet, Marjane’s attachment to Iran and her family prevents her from enjoying a degree of freedom. Marjane looks at herself wearing the veil, a requirement in Iran which frustrates her. To herself in the mirror, Marjane says “so much for my individual and social liberties,” but states she “needed so badly” to “go home.” This frame is the biggest on the page, stressing the significance both her freedom to choose her clothing and her family hold for her (245). The veil symbolizes Marjane removing her individual and social liberties. In the illustration, Marjane has dark skin under her eyes, suggesting her fatigue with living isolated and deprived of love and care in Europe. Marjane understands some freedoms would be gone in Iran, but she is so attached to her family in Iran that she is willing to lose her independence. She wants to go home for support, but the price for that is losing certain liberties. Marjane and Reza go to their apartment after the wedding and when the door closes, Marjane claims to be “sorry” and that she “conformed to society.” She adds that being a married woman “wasn’t like” her and she “couldn’t accept it” but it was “too late.” She almost immediately regrets her marriage. She forgot who she was because of the pressure from her country’s society to get married. Her attachment to Iran pushes her to get married, taking away some of the few liberties she had. The illustration on this frame even shows Marjane behind bars with a depressing, regretful face (317). These bars look similar to the bars in a prison cell, representing Marjane being physically and emotionally confined. She gives in and gets married and is now trapped. She is coerced into doing something she does not truly want to do, causing her to have an identity crisis. Marjane’s strong connection to Iran and family makes her a person she is not and takes away her independence.
Although Marjane loves many aspects of her country, she must make a decision between her the people she loves and their culture or her freedom. It is this dilemma that causes problems for her. Marjane determines that her social freedom is worth more than loyalty to her torn country and she decides to go to France. The reigning politics of her country are not allowing her to be herself, creating problems for her. She takes time to make her decision, but when she does decide, she understands fully what she wants to do. The standard of loyalty to your country no matter what can be a form of self-repression. Some might ask, “I cannot ditch my nationality, it is a part of me, so how can I acquire freedom while kicking a part of me to the curb?” The truth is, you can support your country during conflict while getting your freedom. For example, you can leave the country but donate money to charities to try to improve your country’s situation. There are many ways to support your country without actually living in it. It is important that we try to diminish this repressive standard. Being free has more value and meaning than being confined socially and politically in a place you love.