One idea I found to be quite prominent in Persepolis is motion, or rather, the idea of moving forward. Throughout the comic autobiography, it is obvious that Satrapi had the courage and endurance to relocate herself numerous times, constantly surrounding herself with different groups of people. Perhaps it was just her coping mechanism. She readjusted in response to the many negative aspects of her life while growing up, rather than submitting to what she felt was unbearable. She exposes her vulnerability and naivety as both a child and adult using honesty and humor. Though oftentimes crude, she was able to portray herself as a character for readers to relate to. I found it difficult, though, to keep in mind that the majority of political events in the novel were taking place during her childhood and that her greatest transformations in ideology and character took place during her adolescence while she was away from home. It is intriguing how she came to accept both herself and her cultural background, and her independence throughout her journey should be noted. It is admirable in the way she found such strength, especially at such a young age and with so many catastrophic events going on. This reoccurring idea creates an optimism throughout the work. There is a valuable lesson to be learned here. As Satrapi stated, “It was time to look finish with the past… and to look forward with the future” (249).
This idea of change, more specifically, change towards modernism, conflicts with the traditions of the Iranian people who have stressed the importance of conservatism. Pressures of society and its norms sometimes control people better than threat of arrest and execution. It is clear that Marjane Satrapi was on a search for her identity right from the beginning of Persepolis. Even though Satrapi often viewed herself as a rebel, remaining “in the margins,”she ends up conforming to society when she chooses to marry at a traditionally young age (Satrapi 317). Her choice is not difficult to understand given that she had faced loneliness all throughout her life, especially upon moving to Austria and returning back home; acceptance is what she truly needed.
Although I find the illustrations in graphic novels to be somewhat distracting, I feel that Satrapi achieved some purpose with her use of comics to illustrate her autobiography, literally. Even as a reader who prefers written novels over graphic novels, I found that the use of images made her story more compelling than what the text could have done alone. Because the comic strip is able to depict her life so vividly, it allows the reader to pick up the emotions she had experienced during the events before, during, and after the Iranian Revolution, making her appeal to emotion undoubtedly effective. I think her style in drawing the comics the way that she did had its own purpose. The simplistic, black and white, illustrations help to create contrast between the very different worlds of Austria and Iran, between her childhood self and adult self, and between the people whom she encountered and herself. The novel, not only clarified what the Iranian Revolution was, but it allowed me to gain perspective from someone who has lived through the event.