Persepolis 1st Part Summary

Persepolis is a based on the life of the author Marjane Satrapi put into a graphic novel. The first section is entitled "The Veil," which begins in 1980 when Marjane was ten years old. In 1979 the Islamic Revolution occurred, and the rules changed. The previous year Marjane had attended a French non-religious school, but then the new laws declared that girls and boys had to be separated. Women were forced to wear veils. Marjane's mom protested at a demonstration and had her picture put in the newspaper. She feared retribution, so she dyed her hair and hid behind sunglasses. Marjane had always felt that she wanted to become a prophet. She followed the rules of Zarathustra and then added on her own. When she told her teacher at school, the teacher called the parents to voice her concern, but her parents didn't seem worried. Her grandmother told Marjane she would become a disciple of hers because she liked the rule about old people not suffering.

The next section, "The Bicycle," Marjane describes how she and friends pretended they were famous leaders of countries, such as Fidel Castro, Trotsky, and Che Guevara. She knew that the people in her country had endured tyranny for a long time. She read books and wanted to be a revolutionary. Sometimes she had conversations with God. One night she overheard her parents describe how over four hundred people had been killed by a fire in a movie theater by religious fanatics. She asked her parents if she could go to a demonstration the next day to protest, but they said no.

"The Water Cell," the following section describes how her parents came home from demonstrating tired. Her dad wanted to explain to her that their king was not chosen by God as the children were taught in school. In reality, the king's father had overthrown the emperor. Marjane's great grandfather had been in line to become king, but instead they chose an illiterate soldier who would give oil to the rich. The new emperor asked Marjane's grandpa, the prince, if he would become his prime minister because he was well-educated. Her grandfather studied Marx and became a communist, so he was sent to prison where they would put him in a cell filled with water. Marjane decided to take a long bath that night to see how her grandfather might have felt.

In the "Persepolis" section, Marjane comes home to find her grandma there. She asks her about how difficult it was to have her husband in jail. Her grandmother doesn't really want to talk about it, but she tells her they were very poor. When they go in to ask for dinner, her mother says that they must wait for her father to get home. Marjane knows that her father has been taking pictures of the demonstrations even though it is forbidden. As they continue to wait for him, Marjane worries that he is dead. Finally, he returns home and tells them about the pictures that he took of people carrying bodies out of the hospital, honoring them for serving in the revolution even if they didn't.

"The Letter" describes how Marji realized that the reason behind the revolution was the difference in social classes. She discovered that she was in a higher class because they had a maid, Mehri, who lived with them and had taken care of Marji since she was born. In 1978 Mehri fell in love with the boy next door. Since she didn't know how to write, Marji would write letters for her to Hossein. Mehri told her sister about the boy, and her sister developed a crush on him too. Word spread to Marji's father who confronted Hossein. He returned all the letters from Mehri. Marji's father noticed they were written in Marji's handwriting, so he explained to her that Mehri could not be with Hossein because they belonged to different classes. Marji decided that she and Mehri would go to a demonstration. When they came home, her mother slapped them both because many people had been killed on that "Black Friday."

Related Links:

Persepolis 1st Part Quiz
Persepolis 2nd Part Summary
Persepolis 3rd Part Summary
Persepolis Summary
Persepolis Quotes
Persepolis Important Characters
Persepolis Quiz
Literature Summaries

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