Little Said, Lots Told

To get this out of the way, I’m halfway through Persepolis and I think it’s great.  The serious overtones lightened by the perspective of a child’s innocence in the beginning of the story makes for an interesting way of conveying political history, and the narrative medium of the graphic novel takes it one step further in making it accessible to an even wider audience.  I’m looking forward to watching the animated film after I’m done with the book.

This isn’t the first graphic novel I’ve read, but it is the first one that has had obvious political statements.  There’s many places to choose from, but the page that felt really strong in statement was on page 48.  I felt it said a lot about why, often, certain nations offer up any kind of support to another nation or group: personal gain.

In the first row of panels we are seeing the report about the Shah’s exile and how Jimmy Carter is refusing him and his family refuge.  Marjane’s father then says, “It looks like Carter has forgotten his friends, all that interests him is oil!”  Very brief, but those few words have much more meaning.  It’s a direct statement on how the U.S. sets up puppet leaders for personal gain, then forgetting them when usefulness has been lost.  We are not the only ones though, as Britain was pointed out as setting up the now exiled Shah’s father for the small price of giving them the oil.  A reason I find this interesting is because it always seems that when looking at conflicted situations history is often left out of the picture, at least when it comes to informing the (U.S.) public at large.

In the second row of panels the father again makes an interesting statement: “In any case, as long as there is oil in the Middle East we will never have peace.”  This, to me, rings true, especially in light of what the author states in the introduction.  Unfortunately it comes down to cold politics, which, again, as the father says in the last panel, “Politics and sentiment don’t mix.”  Through young Marjane’s eyes we see the erosion of a way of life that seems to have been brought about by the setting up of a puppet for foreign diplomats seeking to enrich their own countries.  Their normal lives disrupted and largely lost because of self-interest without sentiment, compassion, for human lives.

Maybe I’m wrong on some of this and just venting some anger about the fact that these kinds of things have and do happen.  What’s great is that we have an example of a work produced in a medium that usually doesn’t get much wide-spread critical attention conveying political information in such an accessible manner.

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One thought on “Little Said, Lots Told

  1. Telling the story through the eyes of a child is a great way to start this book. Like you said, it lightens the mood, but I also think it helps bring the reader in. I think so because while she is a child the events that lead up to the war, along with the start of the war itself, are both explained in the beginning while she is still young. We as readers get to hear her parents explain it to her in terms that her childhood self can understand. This in turn allows the reader to get the information in the same way, informing the reader without being boring, convoluted, or even possibly condescending. Satrapi does this intentionally I think, not only because it’s part of her story, but also because it brings us as readers up to speed and engages us in the story as we understand the Iranian side of the war.

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