what I didn’t know about the Revolution

I’ve enjoyed this book the most so far in class for several reasons. First of all, the format of the book is enjoyable and makes for an easy read. I think this is important that this book is a graphic novel because the Iranian Revolution was such a serious matter. Reading the book as one would a comic strip takes a lot of seriousness and previous political ideology out of the equation. There is no way we as Americans are used to reading about matters dealing with Iran in a similar way to which we read “Calvin and Hobbs”, and thus it brings many new ideas and perspectives to light regarding the situation as a whole. When combined with the narrative from a little girl growing up amidst the revolution, I find myself actually re-learning what happened. Some things I had misconceptions about includes everything from the attitude of the country (I had no idea there were so many sides to the revolution, or that so many events took place before the taking over of the U.S embassy; it seems Americans only perceive the revolution as taking place once our embassy was taken over). I also like the little girls depiction of God as a personable force in her life, as well as her religious comments in the beginning of the novel. We clearly see how religious attitudes of the country are much like our own in America, and possibly even more mild when considering the Evangelical Resurgence in the political climate of the U.S. Also, as clearly depicted in the last bubble on page 79, I learned that Arabs are NOT Iranians. This concept never occurred to me.

I was stunned to learn how repressive the regime was over a population which didn’t necessarily support a religious government. As seen with the family, people have very mixed views about religion – an idea embodied in the little girl. It amazes me how people use torture and violence to subjugate a population in fear and obedience. This concept is so foreign to me I can’t relate to it at all.

However, my favorite part about this novel is the humanity found within each character. I think it’s safe to say I’ve never been spoken to a group of Iranians in my life and therefore have never gotten a preview as to who they are as people. From what the graphic novel has pointed out, they are just like us; emotional, intelligent, and even funny. My favorite example of humor in the novel is on page 81. The little girl is complaining about the Iraqi’s telling her father how “they want to invade us”. Her fathers response really cracked me up; “And worse they drive like maniacs.” Its the same sort of everyday humor I could hear an American person using about some other group of people which we don’t understand or connect with.

Lastly, I’m fascinated by the clothing restrictions put on the population by the new Iranian government. Neckties, short sleeves and skirts were banned among other things. Recently I’ve also heard that Shorts and necklaces have been banned for men in that country. What does banning a style of clothing do to people? This is a question I will bring up in class. To show the hypocrisy of such an idea, here is a picture of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Please tell me that the lack of his necktie doesn’t still contradict his Armane suit. There is a stark contradiction to the traditional dress of the religious leaders of Iran, like Ayatollah Khomeini. Why is this? This is what puzzles me about the modern Iranian regime – the mixed signals we get in trying to understand them. Just like the little girl in Persepolis.

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