Within the graphic novel, Persepolis, it talks aboutthe history and events that happened during and after the 1979 IranianRevolution through the eyes of a ten years old girl, Marji. While describingthe history of her childhood, she also indirectly showed the importance ofeducation in Iran. As we can see in the book, there are distinct differencesbetween the educational system of Iran and that of the Marji parents’.
Theconservative educational system and the environment of Iran had significantlyimpacted the development of students and controlled their way of thinking.Meanwhile, Marji was able to think critically and learn not to accepteverything that she is being told through the liberal education of her parents. Iran’seducational system is conservative and requires students to follow the rules.
After the Iranian revolution, the government decided to shut down all thebilingual, co-ed, secular schools, and students were segregated by sex in orderto eliminate capitalism. Marji and students like her then are forced to switchfrom a French non-religion school to a religious school and always get remindedby their teachers to follow what they are told. For example, women are requiredto wear veils.
As shown in the first panel of the novel, (Satrapi1) Marji waswearing the veil reluctantly without any facial expression, and looks as if sheis in prison, helpless and constrained, which shows that she is only wearingthe veils out of conformity. However, even though Marji described the veilnegatively, the Iranian government and school treats women wearing the veil asan expression of Islamic culture, rather than repression. The graphic novel alsopresents a gradual change on the behavior of students in Iran as time goes by. Forexample, students used to walk around without their veils and even make fun ofthe veil (Satrapi1), their behaviors later transform, and all of the girls sit inthe classroom with their veils and black dress on. (Satrapi 144) Inaddition to the strict regulation of the Iran’s school system, they also brainwashedstudents to prevent them from rebelling.
This idea can be best shown in thetopic of “the key”. The key shows how education corporate with propaganda. Thepoor are hypnotized by the government and school, convincing the young adultsthat the afterlife is even better than Disneyland, they are then thrown intobattle. The picture displayed on page 102 hasshowed how the poor were being killed thinking that there they can live abetter life in heaven, when in fact the government is manipulate the poor. Besidesthe poor, at school all of the girls are required to line up twice a day to mournthe war dead, and had to beat their breast. (Satrapi 95) The hidden purpose ofreminding students the war at martyrs is to create students into a strongnationalist who can support the Islamic regime regardless of what happens.
The picturedepicted on that page has also revealed a strong uniformity of students’action, and emotion; all of them look blank and empty, but they still put theirhands on their breast mechanically since they are all got enforced into acommon mind set. Overall, Iran’s education system cannot be trusted. the schoolhide the truth from students, particularly regarding the established government.The schoolbook said the king was chosen by the God, when in fact the king wascrowned by giving oil to the British. Teachers also revealed hypocrisy, and didnot teach students to have their own values and beliefs.
For example, theteacher who had initially emphasized that Shah was chosen by God, later toldstudents to tear out all photographs of the Shah from their textbooks after hisdeparture, students then followed what the teacher said without questioning it.Unlike most of the clueless studentsin Iran, Marji is an independent thinker and a rebellious student. Her familyfocused on giving Marji a secular, liberal education so that she was able todevelop her own ideas.
In order to keep her informed about current events,Marji was encouraged to read different philosophical, religious books and tohave political discussions with her parents in addition to attending school. Shementioned “I knew everything about the children of Palestine. About the FidelCastro… but my favorite was a comic book entitled “Dialectic Materialism”(Satrapi 12). This demonstrated that a ten-year-old girl knowledge exceeds thatof the majority of students, and even adults.
Under such secular education fromher intellectual parents, Marji has developed an independent mindset and theability to see the world from multiple perspectives, which had helped her torealize the truth of her religion, and what the Iranian government had done toher family and their society. For example, Marji was once an innocent girl whobelieves what her teachers tell her and is an absolute loyal supporter of theshah. After her family enlightened her about how the shah was chosen, and theshah’s crimes, such as Anoosh’s execution, she becomes militarily anti-shah.
As the development of the story is passing,the more Marji knows about the truth and the history of the Iran, the more shebecomes politically active and seeks to proclaim justice. Unlike most of thestudents in Iran, Marji stands out a lot in class because she is an extremelyoutspoken young lady, who is not afraid to question the teachers and challenge theauthorities. For example, she denied the statement of the teacher when she saidthere are no more political prisoners under the Islamic Republic when in factthere are more prisoners than when they are under the shah. (Satrapi 144) Herstrong sense of independence and curiosity have made her a strong criticalthinker and became more involved into the society.
For instance, she alwayswants to join her parents’ active revolts against the Shah’s regime. In thebeginning of the book, she tried to convince her parents to let her attend therevolutionary demonstration by saying, “for a revolution to succeed, the entirepopulation must support it (Satrapi17).” Her naïve thought got rejected by herparents, however, as the story progresses, she decided to cut classes and climbover the wall to have some leisure time with her friends, she said “I hadalready broken the rules once by going to the demonstration in ’79.
This wasthe second time (Satrapi111).” This quote illustrated that Marji is aware thatshe breaks the rules again and the consequences of breaking the rules, but shechooses to follow her heart and do what she wants. This implied that she has herown beliefs and ideas, her attitudes are the same towards the political world.
Sometimes her actions may be rebellious, and get herself and family intotroubles. However, it does not change how she behaves, and she will continue toseek justice by protesting and speaking out.Even though Marji’s whole familysupport secular education, her mom is the one that focused the most on theimportance of education for an Iranian woman. It can be shown in the beginningof the book that Mrs. Satrapi is a very revolutionary woman, who is upset withthe way things are going in Iran and went to protest against the veil.
(Satrapi5) She also plays a tremendous role on Marji’s education. She was veryupset after knowing that Marui cut classes to go enjoy with her friends, sheyelled at Majin and said,” Now is the time for learning. You have your wholelife to have fun… you have to know everything better than anyone else if you’reare going to survive!! (Satrapi113)” However, she is not completely restrictingMarji’s social life and freedom. For example, Mrs.
Satrapi decided to let Marjito participate in the opposition demonstration as she grows older. She said “sheshould start learning to defend her rights as a woman right now (Satrapi76).” Thisshows that Marui’s mom supports her to get involved into the political world butalso have to focus on the education side.
Persepolis revealed the importance ofeducation by showing two different ways of education in Iran. A liberal educationalsystem serves a crucial role in such politically driven society, Marui was ableto develop and prepare herself into this real world more adequately, and keep herselfinformed and understood the current problem of her times. Meanwhile, the studentsunder the conservative educational system of Iran got brainwashed, and do everythingthat they are being told.