Study Guide

Persepolis Drugs and Alcohol

By Marjane Satrapi

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Drugs and Alcohol

Chapter 14

My uncle was the vintner. He had built a genuine wine-making lab in his basement. (14.19)

Making wine in a basement in Iran is like smuggling liquor into the U.S. during Prohibition. The consequences of being caught would be severe. But what kind of party would it be without wine? The government doesn't allow people to party anyway, so you might as well add forbidden wine to the mix.

Chapter 23

In Iran, at parties, everyone would dance and eat. In Vienna, people preferred to lie around and smoke. (23.42)

Marjane forgets to mention that people in Iran also like to drink, but there's still a contrast between the two. Iranians get more social at parties when they drink, but in Vienna, people instead get stoned and become more isolated. Well, or they pair off and go have sex in dark corners.

"I don't believe it. You… You… You're stoned!" (23.59)

Marjane gets stoned at Julie's party, the first night she sees a naked woman and a naked man. The drugs are a big part in Marjane's "liberation." We have to wonder if she'd have been as relaxed toward sex as she is, having come from such an oppressive culture in Iran, if she were totally sober.

Chapter 24

Becoming a vegetable was out of the question. (24.25)

Marjane's parents instilled in her a fear of drugs. Too many drugs and you'll turn into a vegetable is kind of their version of keep doing that and your face will freeze that way. We're not sure if they have a point, or if they're just saying it to instill fear in their daughter. We do know that Marjane "vegetableizes" a bit eventually, but it seems like she is able to snap out of it.

I didn't like to smoke. […] So I pretended to participate, but I never inhaled the smoke. (24.23, 24.26)

Marjane pulls a Bill Clinton with the whole I didn't inhale thing. She wants to fit in, but she doesn't want the side effects from it. What do you think her friends would do if she just refused to participate?

Chapter 26

I didn't always like [tripping], but I by far preferred boring myself with [Ingrid] to having to confront my solitude and my disappointments. (26.75)

Marjane doesn't tell us anything about her "friend" Ingrid. Maybe it's because the only thing the two of them have in common is a taste for hallucinogenic substances?

The communal life went hand in hand with the use of all kinds of mood enhancers: weed, hash… I tripped every weekend, and you could see it on my face. (26.49)

Living on the anarchist compound, Marjane experiments with all sorts of drugs. This is another reason we equate these anarchists with the free-wheeling hippie lifestyle of the 1960s in the United States—both really liked their "mood enhancers."

This is how, for love, I began my career as a drug dealer. (26.105)

Marjane goes to extremes to fit in because, as an Iranian woman living in Vienna, she is an extreme outsider. Because of this, she makes fun of people to fit in, changes her appearance, and yes, deals drugs. Drugs seem to connect a lot of outsiders, at least on the surface. How connected can you be if you're high all the time though?

Chapter 27

I had started taking more and more [drugs]. At first, Markus was very impressed, then, he started to lecture me, and finally, he distanced himself. (27.4-27.26)

Ah, this perfectly illustrates what we talked about above, with drugs connecting people at first, but ultimately driving them apart. With Marjane high all the time, Markus has no way to relate to her, so he pulls away from her… and eventually finds someone else.

Chapter 35

That same night, Ali had a big party at his house. I never drank so much in my life. (35.85)

Alcohol is both a form of defiance and a way to cope. Marjane drinks because the government doesn't want her to drink, so her raised wine bottle is like a big ol' middle finger to the government. She also drinks because a friend just died, though, which is something she wants to forget, if just for a little while.

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