“We are in good hands, and we know it at once.”

Satrapi’s graphic novel, “Persepolis” is one that I truly enjoy. Satrapi’s work is inspiring and fun to read. Although I have read a few works by her, including this one, I couldn’t wait to re-read it all over again. I’ve had the pleasure of watching the movie as well, so both perceptions of this work are in my head from the get go. However, I have enjoyed reading this graphic novel thus far within the context of this class. Her words are speaking to me in a political sense, rather than just a women’s stuides sense which is where I was introduced to this narrative in the first place.

I think something that I have focused on while going through these pages is the fact that the narrator is very important to this story. In the beginning, its a young girl, and that is a concept that we have touched this semester. Who can we trust?  Well, Debbie Notkin, author of the critical artical, “Growing Up Graphic” believes we can trust the narrator right off the bat, and I agree with her. “Satrapi, like all autobiographers, controls what we see and how we see it; unlike many, however, she is extremely cognizant of her control and wants her readers to share her understanding. We are in good hands, and we know it at once,” she states.  Notkin notices that the graphic novel is displaying a very serious subject, but she believes Satrapi chose “a medium that both suits her talents and makes her work accessible to a wide contemporary audience, perhaps including people of the age of her younger-self protagonist.” Creating a young girl narrator in the beginning sheds light a subject that people in Iran were terrified of. I love her innocence in the beginning and the fact that she seems so educated. Even though she “talks to god” she is still realizes something is wrong, especially while she speaks with her parents and grandmother. This poor girl just wants to live somewhat of a normal life, but as her lifestyle changes, she realizes that her life won’t be anywhere near normal, and that is something that makes this graphic novel stand out. It truly shows that innocense of a child can be taken very rapidly away from them with the corruption of the government.

Notkin sums up my growing perspective of this graphic novel: “Persepolis stands up well from a variety of different perspectives. It’s a telling memoir of girlhood; an informative and empathic window into the life of Iranian progressives as the country shifted from a dictatorship of the greedy to a fundamentalist regime; and a graphic novel providing immediate impact. As such, the personal, the political, and the aesthetic are all well-represented, and all are given comparable weight.” I am definitely falling more and more “in love” with this piece through this very political lens that I now possess.

Works Cited

Notkin, Debbie. “Growing Up Graphic.” Women’s Review of Books 20.9 (June 2003): 8. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Janet Witalec. Vol. 177. Detroit: Gale, 2004. Literature Resource Center.


2 thoughts on ““We are in good hands, and we know it at once.”

  1. Yeah, I totally agree about how readers don’t know whether to trust the narrator a lot. Having an unreliable narrator can really hurt a book in terms of what can be believed or not. I thought a lot about To Kill A Mockingbird when reading this novel. Scout, too was such a young narrator and as a reader I found myself wondering whether or not I could trust such a young child in what she understood about topics like racism or prejudice. The same goes for the narrator in Persepolis. How can we trust what she says to be right if she isn’t old enough really to understand everything around her, or does she? It really is an interesting topic to discuss when reading, especially a political novel.

  2. I, too, found it interesting the medium that Satrapi chose in which to present her story. I think accessibility was a huge factor in that decision. In my post I wrote about how she speaks almost child-like, and I think that ties in heavily to the medium that she chose and, again, the accessibility of her work. I can imagine her as a child when she says she read as much as she possibly could to try and understand everything looking for a work like this one. I wonder if maybe she wanted it to be accessible for other young women, like herself, as a sort of comfort or way to expand their knowledge on a subject that is incredibly hard to discuss.

    I love that she made the information so accessible and understandable. I don’t know that I would care much about war in other places if not for the accessibility of novels such as this one. Persepolis, along with Phantom Noise and Baghdad Burning have really opened my eyes to so many things I never would have thought of. I suppose that’s what the propoganda machines will do to you…

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