Study Guide

Persepolis Contrasting Regions: Iran and Everywhere Else in the World

By Marjane Satrapi

Contrasting Regions: Iran and Everywhere Else in the World

Chapter 14

"You think I'm stupid?!!!... I can tell by your tie! Piece of westernized trash!" (14.33)

Being called westernized is an insult in Iran. It's the most ironic of insults, too, considering how many people secretly idolize western culture, like pop music and movie stars.

Chapter 20
Marjane

It had been four years since I'd seen such a well-stocked store. […] Even today, after all this time, you can always find at least a dozen boxes of good-smelling laundry powder in my house. (20.38, 20. 41)

Marjane locks onto grocery stores—and detergent—as symbols of Western safety. In Iran, they can barely find bread sometimes because people hoard food due to the constant threat of war. Detergent is a sign of both safety and a little bit of Western excess. Just how many good scents can there really be though?

Chapter 21

"It's wonderful to have international friends." (21.47)

This attitude seems to be the exception in many places in the world, especially when it comes to Iranians, whom many people are scared of. Lucia's family, however, enjoys meeting Marjane and talking to her about her culture. Marjane relishes the brief opportunity to be treated as a human instead of as a scary Iranian.

Chapter 22

"It's true what they say about Iranians. They have no education." (22. 32)

This is coming from a nun. A nun. Even Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act wouldn't mouth off like this. But it just goes to show us how widespread hatred for Iranians is. Even nuns in Vienna hate them… and they probably eat those weird little sausages in a can.

Chapter 24
Marjane

I was distancing myself from my culture, betraying my parents and my origins. […] I was playing a game by somebody else's rules. (24.29)

Do you think Marjane is being too hard on herself? After all, pretty much any place she goes is going to have different rules than Iran. She has to compromise a little in order to fit in, right? Or does she compromise too much?

"I AM IRANIAN AND PROUD OF IT!" (24.47)

Today, this would be akin to shouting that you have a bomb in an airport. While it wasn't as dangerous back in Vienna in the 1980s, it still doesn't win Marjane any friends. Most people, even then, look upon Iranians with disdain and fear.

Chapter 25

"As soon as they learn our nationality, they go through everything, as though we were all terrorists. They treat us as though we have the plague." (25.42)

The way the world treats Iranians affects them greatly. Their morale isn't just beaten down by their own government, it's beaten down by the world. It must be hard to stand up for yourself when everyone makes you feel like you're worthless.

Marjane

My eight housemates were eight men, all homosexuals. (25.4)

This is a huge change for Marjane because, as you may or may not know, there are no homosexuals in Iran. At least, that's what Iran wants you to think.

It had been so long since I'd been able to talk to someone without having to explain my culture. (25.62)

Marjane has a hard time being an Iranian anywhere in the world. Even outside Iran, she's constantly having to explain Iran. It must be exhausting. She has a good time just relating to her mother on a person-to-person level. Maybe this is why when people from other countries get together, they prefer speaking their culture's language instead of English.

Chapter 31
Marjane

I didn't understand why the mother-in-law [on TV] hated the hairdresser so much. Much later, I got to know a girl who dubbed television shows. She told me that Oshin was in fact a Geisha and since her profession didn't suit Islamic morals, the director of the channel had decided that she'd be a hairdresser. (31.17)

This isn't TV… it's not HBO, either… it's ridiculous censorship. The director didn't make any effort to change the context, he just changed one word and assumed his viewers would swallow it without question. Sadly, most of them probably did. That's how Iran is the place it is: many people swallow what those in power tell them without questioning it. Heck—it's how all sorts of places operate.

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