Bibliography, Book Reviews

Closing the gap between east and west in “Persepolis”

Cover of Persepolis 1, 2000. L'Association Fre...
Cover of Persepolis 1, 2000. L’Association French edition. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In her graphic novel, Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi examines the pedagogical issue of “othering” and creates closeness between her western audience and its perceived enemy – the Iranian people – by speaking directly to and carefully instructing the reader on Iran and its people. She explicitly teaches the reader about the Iranian revolution and how she and Iranians like her are very much like us here in the West.

The history of Iran that Satrapi provides in the introduction creates a frame for her story in which the reader must consider the fact that the fundamentalists who now rule Iran were created by the west. She also strives to strip away the “otherness” and show us that we are, in many ways, more alike than we are different. Satrapi uses her text to show her western audience that she and other educated Iranians like her are more like everyday westerners than they are like the fundamentalist Iranians who are so vilified by the west.

Throughout Persepolis, the character of Marji often speaks directly to the western reader. There is no question that Satrapi uses her text to teach to a western audience. For example, in the scene on pages 114-115, Marji walks purposefully down a flight of stairs toward her audience. She may as well be an actor on a stage, pausing the show to step down to audience-level and explain her country’s descent into war. Such a move would not be necessary if she were writing for an Iranian audience. Continue reading “Closing the gap between east and west in “Persepolis””

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