Study Guide

Persepolis Mortality

By Marjane Satrapi

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Chapter 4

"People came out [of the hospital] carrying the body of a young man killed by the army. He was honored like a martyr." (4.28)

That's the one very small upside to dying in Iran: you're probably going to be honored as a martyr. The downside is that, well, you're dead, and that your memory is being exploited for political gain, depending on which side honors your death.

Chapter 13

At school, they lined us up twice a day to mourn the war dead. They put on funeral marches and we had to beat our breasts. (13.9)

This whole honoring-the-dead thing sounds kind of nice, but it's once again turning death into propaganda. It's a way of forcing people, especially kids, into believing that dying for their country is a good thing.

Chapter 18

"I don't want to die!" (18.6)

This is the only time Marji explicitly expresses this. The closer the bombs get to home, the more the reality sets in: Marji and her family could actually die. It's easy for them to think that it won't happen to them when the bombs are farther away.

Chapter 19

After the death of Neda Baba-Levy, my life took a new turn. In 1984, I was fourteen and a rebel. Nothing scared me anymore. (19.1)

Now that Marji has practically looked death in the face, she's realized that she has to live her life to its fullest. She harnesses her grief into energy used to speak her mind and stand up for what she believes in. After all, she's kind of survived being killed in a way. That's a liberating feeling, because what else could be scarier than that?

Chapter 29

Many [streets] had changed names. They were now called Martyr What's-His-Name Avenue or Martyr Something-or-Other Street. It was very unsettling. I felt as though I were walking through a cemetery. (29.38-29.40)

Iran seems to relish its death, or maybe they've just been desensitized to it. Everyone knows someone who has died in some war or conflict. Coming back from the world outside Iran though, Marjane has difficulty re-acclimating herself to death's prevalence.

"How many did they kill?"

"No one knows exactly. Many thousands, or rather, many tens of thousands of people."

"And the victims of the war?"

"Between 500,000 and 1,000,000." (29.70-29.72)

The war took a huge toll. These are frightening numbers, and the fact that many of these were the Iranian government executing its own people is even scarier.

Chapter 32

It's said that red tulips grow from the blood of martyrs. (32.43)

We know we're beating this martyr thing to death (sorry), but here's one last example of how much the Iranians glamorize dying for Iran: Your blood will grow flowers. Seriously?

Chapter 35

"Poor Farzad. He was so handsome. I can't believe he's dead." (35.80)

This is a loaded line for tons of reasons. What is this girl saying? Handsome people can't die? Most likely she's in shock because her friend died. You don't expect your friend to die, especially not at the hands of the police during a party.

Chapter 38

Since the night of September 9, 1994, I only saw [Grandma] again once, during the Iranian New Year in March 1995. She died January 4, 1996… Freedom had a price. (38.88)

Death is irreversible. Marjane will always live (well, until she dies) with the fact that she left Iran for her own freedom, and that means she barely got to see her grandmother again. What's that? Oh, we have a speck of dirt in our eye. That's all, we swear. *sniffle*

I saw a turquoise bracelet. It was Neda's. Her aunt had given it to her for her fourteenth birthday. The bracelet was still attached to… I don't know what… (18.45-18.46)

Talk about close to home—Marji is talking about the death of her next door neighbor here. The building literally next door to the one Marji lives in is flattened by a bomb… with her neighbors inside. This is the closest young Marji has ever come to death, and she doesn't know how to deal with it. This chapter even ends with a black panel, showing us that there are no words, or even images, to express the fear, anger, and grief.

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