Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Meg's Persepolis Week 6: Snippets

From page 307 to 309, the panels on these pages are very different from the rest of "Persepolis." These panels have no speech bubbles or captions. Since there is nothing to read, the reader just skims over the panels. The reader seems to fly through the pages, which mimics the frenzy of the characters having to clean up and pretend there was no party. I love it when a novel makes you do something physically that pertains to the plot. This is a great way that Marjane interacts with her audience, and shows a depicts a chase scene on page 309. On the last few panels on page 309, the figures seem to be jumping for the moon. I researched what the moon as a symbol represents, and the description is: intuitive, feminine, psychic, full illumination where everything unconscious is made conscious and all can be seen. This fits perfectly with the party. The fleeing figures are all men, who were just at a party with the women. On the 7th panel on page 309, the man jumps for the moon (femininity, illumination where he can be seen and free) but then falls because he is being chased by the guards. Women are an important part of "Persepolis", because Marjane seems to be feminist and life in Iran is extremely difficult for women. These men seem to be chasing and jumping for the moon which is feminism, telling the readers that possibly the men can't possibly continue to ignore the women. Even the guards who are also chasing the moon.

Meg's Persepolis Week 6: Class Act

Last class, we discussed why people seem to like the same types of stories. (When I refer to "hero" I mean both hero and heroine, male and female) For example: the hero is alone in the world, he/she is normally an orphan, the hero turns to a dark side which almost makes him/her evil, but they eventually return to the good side again. Sound fimiliar?
These stories, most commonly existent in superhero stories such as Spiderman, Superman, Daredevil or Wonder Woman, are and have been extremely popular throughout the ages. Why? Perhaps people enjoy reading about people that seem to be less off than we are, and seeing their struggles turn to success, fame and happiness is uplifting. This to me seems true, I enjoy reading story narratives in which characters that have faults are able to overcome fears and difficulties. Reading fiction or even non-fiction at times that has these factors make me want to overcome my fears and difficulties as well. I believe stories need to have some sort of un-good (Newspeak, 1984) event or issue to be interesting. Who wants to read about somebody who has a great life, great job, great family and dies happily in their sleep at age 100? It is not relateable, and there is nothing to be learned. In my opinion, the best stories are the ones where you can come away feeling "cleansed" and refreshed with a new sense of life. These as I now know, are considered a "catharsis."
When people are younger, most children are taught to look out for the "moral" of the story. In the "Tortoise and the Hare", the moral of the story is "Slow and steady always wins the race." This, even as a child, didn't make sense to me.
"Fast and quick wins a race!" I would think to myself. However, what bedtime stories were beginning to teach us children was that there are themes to written narratives. Themes are universal, timeless messages conveyed by a text that usually teaches something about life, or human nature. Themes cannot be confused with motifs, which are reoccuring subjects or elements in a narrative. "Slow and steady always wins the race" does make sense in some retrospectives. This certainly helps me in a egg and spoon race.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Meg's Persepolis Week 4: Literary Feature Hunt

On page 240, I love the transition of panels that shows the various facial expressions of coughing. Marjane isn’t afraid of drawing herself unattractively, which is perfect for a graphic novel style. This transition is somewhat of a synecdoche, showing time passing much like death. It is similar to the image of a flower growing from a seed and eventually withering away as well. It’s a message to Marjane that says if she keeps doing what she is doing, she will die metaphorically and literally. This relates back to the motif of black clothing. Every tough moment that happens leading up to when Marjane returns home, slowly “kills” her. She is unhappy most of the time, and gets into a downward spiral of drugs, and surrounds herself with people that don’t love her such as Markus, Frau Doctor Heller and friends that could care less for her feelings. Ironically, after this moment of realization, Marjane goes back to Iran, but still smoking cigarettes which her doctor says “will put herself into serious danger.” So, this shows that Marjane does finally understand that she needs to go back to her family who truly love her, but won’t completely put herself into complete safety.

Meg's Persepolis Week 4: Class Act

Last English day, we (thanks to our wonderful teacher Mr. McGuigan) were able to have class outside! It was beautiful, and a great backdrop to our philosophical discussions.

We discussed some questions, my favourites were:
-Does anybody actually have a personality?
-Can Marjane be considered the villain in this graphic novel?
-Is family vitally important in self-realization?

Within my group, we discussed whether Marjane could be considered a villain. This un-surprisingly lead to more questions. To answer the question, we needed to ponder:
-Are villains people that are un-likeable, or criminals?
-What is a villain?
-Can people be both a hero and a villain?

We discovered that the ever-changing definition in the dictionary was, “wicked, depraved or a criminal person.”
If this is the definition of a villain, then we are all villains at times. I don’t believe that people do villainous things throughout their lives, forever and always. It isn’t possible. However they can in moments, and this is the same with heroism. So, this idea of a hero and a villain in a story isn’t logical. In comic books, the villain is the one who is set to “conquer the human race, and destroy whoever gets in their way.” The hero, is someone who embodies the society they are presently in and protects it. And, if the story works out, the hero wins and the villain goes off to jail screaming, “I’ll get you, and your little dog too!”

This is present on page 286 where Marjane lies to the police, wears makeup (which is against the law) and unjustly send a man to jail for “saying something indecent” to Marjane, something that he didn’t do.

This was something villainous… to say the least. Marjane lied and to police to top it off! Marjane did a villainous act, but she is not a criminal. I believe people do unlawful acts, but this can’t officially prove that they are a criminal unless they go through court. Even this statement may not be true. It is a very complicated question.

In conclusion, Marjane isn’t a hero. Or a villain. Only in moments.

V's Week 4- Class Act

In our class on Monday, "the tree-people," were coming up with many ideas that sometimes we would have never thought of in a closed environment! Aaron, Kevin, and I came up with a lot of new ideas referring back to the weekly schedule. Connecting to the very first question: Where does identity and personality come from? After coordinating our ideas we came up with an answer: People have identities but personality is more like a mask that they can remove. There are also many places in the book where this comes up again. P. 87, P. 112, P. 270, P. 232, P. 219, and P. 109-110. On each of these pages, the "real personality" of the characters are revealed...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Megan's Persepolis Week 4: Snippets

During our English classes before Spring Break, we discussed the difference between empathy and sympathy. Empathy is feeling and understanding what another person feels, and sympathy is only knowing what another person feels. This is related to Persepolis in Satrapi's simple drawing style. Without many details of the character's faces, you can more easily be sympathetic to their experiences. I am not sure if we can all be empathetic towards the events that occur, because none of us live in Iran nor have been through a war to say the least.

This can also be related to another movie I watched about the life of a boy in pre-war Germany in WWII called "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas."

The young, main character, Bruno, lives with his older sister, mother and army commander father in the country where the father comands a prison camp. Bruno eventually befriends a young Jewish boy named Shmuel who lives behind an electric fence. Being young and uneducated about his surroundings, he eventually comes to realize on his own that Shmuel is a Jew, and that the yard behind the fence is actually a camp. It was a brilliantly excecuted movie that was both distressing and moving. I recommend it to everybody. This is quite similar to Persepolis in the sense that young Bruno is living in a society where war is present. However, unlike Marjane Satrapi and her family, his parents keep him in the dark. I also believe that Marjane is mature for her age and not only sympathizes with people involved in the war in Iran, but is also empathetic (in her own way) with all of them. On page 16, Marji dresses up as revolutionary leaders and this is considered her games as a child. Bruno, on the other hand throws a ball to Shmuel over the fence. Shmuel looks solemn and Bruno asks harshly, "Do you not like playing?" Another difference is that Marjane on page 12 is shown reading "Dialectic Materalism" while Bruno is reprimanded reading "adventure books" instead of German war books. This is what makes Persepolis such an unique story, because Marjane is acting so differently than how we understand that children act. But, we must remember that this is an autobiography written by Marjane Satrapi herself, and we do not know if it is all true.

Megan's Persepolis Week 3: Lit. Feature Hunt

On page 164, Marjane is annoyed with Lucia's hair dryer. This brings up hair as a reoccuring motif once again. Hair, is something very important to first impressions and outer appearance. It can say a lot about a person: cleanliness, how much you care about looking good, how outgoing or daring you are, and sometimes intelligence. Studies have proven that brunettes make more money than blondes or redheads, and that "the study, which was compiled by the folks at Garnier Nutrisse hair color, also concluded the following. Brunettes are. . .

-More apt to be taken seriously.
-Thought to be the most intelligent, according to 76 percent of the survey takers.
-Thought to be the most genuine, said 81 percent of those surveyed.
-Preferred in long-term relationships, backing similar data by British hairstylist Andrew Collinge." (

At this chapter called Tyrol on page 164, both Marjane and Lucia have short hair, which could show they are both at certain times in their life. People sometimes place short hair together with innocence or toughness (depending how short), and long hair with beauty and elegance. However, this is something that is really only specific to each person.

To add on to the topic of length of hair, people also get haircuts or shaves when they feel the need of a change. On page 155, Marjane is in a new country, Austria, and has a new haircut. On page 184, Marjane gets "done up" by Julie and has a different hairstyle (for change) because of a party they are going to.

So to conclude, the symbol of hair has reoccured throughout Persepolis many times, so I believe it is a motif.