Study Guide

Persepolis Politics

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Chapter 1

In 1979 a revolution took place. It was later called "The Islamic Revolution." (1.3)

This quote does two things: (1) It sets the scene—Marji is growing up in a time of political turmoil, and (2) it shows us that revolutions are only named after the fact, which is an interesting way to think about history.

Chapter 3

"I love the king. He was chosen by God. […] That's what it says on the first page of our schoolbook." (3.6, 3.10)

This quote is such a messy stew of religion, education, and monarchy that it could only go under the theme of politics. Politics tries to find its way into all aspects of life, and the current regime wants to brainwash kids at a very young age. That is why they tell them that God chose the king. A kid won't ever want to go against God's wishes.

Chapter 4

"Since the dawn of time, dynasties have succeeded each other but the kings have always kept their promises. The Shah kept none." (4.11)

We never thought we'd meet anyone more dishonest than an American politician, but the Shah takes the cake. He doesn't just take the cake, either—he takes it, eats it, and spits the crumbs in the face of his kingdom. He makes things hard for everyone.

Chapter 5

We had demonstrated on the very day we shouldn't have: on "Black Friday." That day there were so many killed in one of the neighborhoods that a rumor spread that Israeli soldiers were responsible for the slaughter. But in fact it was really our own who had attacked us. (5.46-5.47)

This is a complicated quote to unpack. When Marji says it was their own who attacked them, she's referring to two things: (1) The scandal surrounding the attack that was blamed on Israeli soldiers, and (2) the people who slapped them for protesting on that day. Politically, Iran is still conflicted, and plagued by people attacking their own.

Chapter 6

As long as there is oil in the Middle East we will never have peace. (6.15)

Oil is a huge political motivator, because it's desired by every industrialized country. If people find a way to create electricity from lobster, then Maine is in trouble.

Marjane's Father

Politics and sentiment don't mix. (6.17)

Marji's father is talking about the relationship between Egypt and the Shah, but the same quote can be applied to Marji's internal conflict regarding her feelings and her politics. You've heard the phrase it's business, not personal, but sometimes business is really personal. Just ask Donald Trump, who loves "hiring" his friends on Celebrity Apprentice. We're looking at you, Joan Rivers.

Chapter 9
Marjane's Father

"The elections were faked and they believe the results." (9.5)

We're not sure if this is Marji's father telling the truth or him buying into political propaganda, but he definitely believes that this is the truth. At least their election didn't hang on the interpretation of a few hanging chads.

Chapter 29
Marjane's Father

"The regime got scared because if these opponents had reached Tehran, they would have freed those who represented a real threat to the government…" (29.66)

Marjane's dad talks a lot about Iranian politics in this chapter, and it can be confusing, especially for an outsider. The short of it is this: the few in power killed hundreds of thousands of people to ensure they stayed in power. That's some corruption right there. Notice that Dad says "real threat to the government," instead of a real threat to the people. The powers that be are not concerned with the people—only themselves.

Chapter 35

Between 1980 and 1983, the government had imprisoned and executed so many high-school and college students that we no longer dared to talk politics. (35.22)

Fearmongering is the main political tool in Iran. Disagree with your official? Go to jail. If the United States was run this way, pretty much everyone would be in jail at this point. How many times have you disagreed with the president? Exactly—it happens.

Chapter 37

The regime had absolute power and most people, in search of a cloud of happiness, had forgotten their political conscience. (37.28)

The Iranians seem to have forgotten that politics directly impact their lives. Instead of staying involved (remember all the protests?), they stay at home and watch cable TV. If they don't stay involved, how will they keep past mistakes from recurring?

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