Study Guide

Persepolis Fear

By Marjane Satrapi

Fear

Chapter 4
Marjane

I thought my father was dead. That they had shot him. (4.23)

Living under the regime, Marji gets scared simply when her father is late coming home from work. In Iran, he might not be late because of work, or because of a traffic jam—he might be late because he's dead, shot in the streets by soldiers. That's scarier than rush-hour traffic in Boston.

Chapter 9
Marjane's Father

"Don't worry. Everyone who left will come back. They're just afraid of change." (9.20)

This is oversimplification on Marji's dad's part. They're not just afraid of change; they're afraid of the regime changing so much that they become the enemy and get imprisoned… or worse.

Chapter 12

It was war all right. Right away, the supermarkets were empty. (12.1)

War causes fear, and fear causes people to stockpile. It's like a snowstorm in New England when everyone, afraid they'll lose power for a few hours, needs enough Wonder Bread to last for three weeks. At least we'll be prepared for the zombie apocalypse, right?

Chapter 14
Marjane's Mother

"The masking tape is to protect against flying glass during a bombing and the black curtains are to protect us from our neighbors." (14.6)

Paranoia and fear are at an all-time high in Tehran at this time, because enemies come from all sides. Marji's mom has to try to protect the family against Iraqi bombers and neighbors, who might turn the family in because of their non-Fundamentalist lifestyle. No wonder they're so paranoid: they can't trust anyone.

"Put your cigarette out. They say that the glow of a cigarette is the easiest thing to see from the sky."

"But we're in the basement here!" (14.3)

This is a funny exchange—of course no one can see the light from a cigarette in a basement—but it shows how absurd the paranoia can get when you're cowering in fear from a bomb.

Chapter 27
Marjane

I was very scared. It was the end of my career. (27.23)

Being from Iran, Marjane is accustomed to living with fear. That's just how they roll there. As a result, even though she's scared of getting expelled for drug use… she doesn't curb her drug use any. At least she stops dealing, though—that's a step, we guess.

Chapter 29
Marjane

"Don't tell anyone that I'm back. I don't want to see people!" (29.34)

Marjane is afraid of seeing her friends for a couple of reasons: (1) There's that whole "inability to admit her shame" thing—living homeless in Vienna isn't something you proudly tell people about; and (2) she's probably afraid that she won't be able to relate to them anymore. They've been stuck in Iran for years—what could they have in common at this point?

Chapter 33

Suddenly, from the other side of the street, I saw a car full of guardians of the revolution arrive, followed by a bus. When they came with the bus, it meant a raid. "If they see me with this lipstick, they'll take me away." (33.3)

There's no such thing as being an easy, breezy, beautiful Cover Girl in Iran. Beauty is anything but easy and breezy there, and simply wearing lipstick can be a punishable offense. Next time you're afraid you have lipstick on your teeth, think of that: at least you have teeth to get lipstick on. If you were imprisoned for wearing makeup in Iran, who knows what might happen?

Chapter 34
Marjane's Grandma

"It's fear that makes us lose our conscience. It's also what transforms us into cowards." (34.37)

These are Grandma's words of wisdom, and they especially ring true for Marjane. The worst things she does—attempt suicide, live on the streets, turn in a homeless man—are all the result of fear.

Chapter 35

"I'm not coming to any more parties. It's too frightening." (35.82)

This quote, said by one of Marjane's friends after the police kill another friend at a party, is the equivalent of "letting the terrorists win." What makes this more scary is that, in Iran, the threat isn't always from outside. It's fear of your own police force that keeps people cowering in fear at home. Kind of like stop-and-frisk in New York City.