Study Guide

Persepolis Family

By Marjane Satrapi

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Chapter 1

Only my grandmother knew about my book. (1.31)

Marji is referring to a holy (well, holy-ish) book that she's writing herself. Marji's grandmother is the person in her family whom she is the closest to. Maybe this is because she tells her, "I'll be your first disciple" (1.31). She always believes in Marji, even at a very young age.

Chapter 3

My grandpa was a prince. (3.34)

Marjane's grandpa may have been a prince, but she's no Disney princess. Instead of prancing around in a gown and singing to blue jays, she is conflicted about so many things: class differences, culture differences, ideological differences… many of these come from being in a family whose status and history are both at odds with what they truly believe in.

Chapter 8
Uncle Anoosh

"It's important that you know. Our family memory must not be lost." (8.53)

Family stories are important, even the ones that are difficult to relive. Maybe the ones that are difficult to relive are especially important. Anoosh wants to share these with young Marji to teach her. Perhaps he doesn't want her to repeat his mistakes.

Marjane's Grandma

"It's a bit late to show your affection!!!" (8.24)

This is a little bit of dark comedy that only comes from family relations. Anoosh's mother is yelling at Anoosh's father as Anoosh lies almost dead in bed. Her anxiety about her son's wellbeing manifests itself in the only way she knows how: yelling at her husband.

Chapter 13
Marjane's Father

"The basis of education comes from the family!" (13.25)

We agree with this, but what happens when the family's educational ideals are directly opposite those of the state-run government's ideals? Is there a way to compromise? Marji's father stands up for his family's ideals and insults the female school principal's moustache. So there you go—way to go, Pops.

Chapter 14

Her mother had already abandoned her. Since that day, I've had doubts about the so-called "maternal instinct." (14.25-14.26)

This little aside says a lot about Marji and her observation skills. Her aunt, who had just had a baby, leaves Marji's small cousin in Marji's arms and runs. This woman decides to save herself over her baby, causing Marji to draw the conclusion that the "maternal instinct" isn't universal, and some women will save themselves first. This isn't a strange conclusion for Marji to make, particularly since she lives in a society where neighbors will turn in neighbors for being different. "Saving yourself first" is a big part of the culture in Iran, unfortunately.

Chapter 16

"Get real. Up to a certain age, you need your parents, then later, they need you." (16.9)

This is something Marji says—and believes—as a headstrong fourteen-year-old. She's right, up to a point. She'll later learn that she will always need her parents, and they will always need her.

Chapter 23

In my culture, parents were sacred. We at least owed them an answer. (23.8)

Marjane is shocked at the way Julie treats her mother—she doesn't even answer her sometimes. Why do you think the attitude toward family is so different in Vienna than it is in Iran?

Chapter 28

Where was my mother to stroke my hair? Where was my grandmother to tell me that lovers, I would have had them by the dozen? Where was my father to punish this boy who dared hurt his daughter? Where? (28.8)

Marjane realizes that she never has related to any of the friends she has in Vienna, that she never opened up to any of them, so now they cannot support her. In order to get the support she needs, Marjane has to return to Iran and to her family.

Chapter 29

Brother and sister are the terms used in Iran by the representatives of the law to give orders to people without offending them. (29.3)

It's a little strange that Iranians call each other brother and sister given how they seem to hate each other so much. You'd think this would remind them that they should all be working together, not against each other, but it doesn't. If everyone in Iran is family, this is the most dysfunctional family ever.

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