“Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return”
a comic by Marjane Satrapi
I would have to say that I never cried on a graphic novel like what I experienced with Satrapi’s two graphic novels. Persepolis 2 just hit the spot for me because of how I can relate with her life away from her native country – well except for the whole sex, drugs and hobo thing.
After reading the second installment of the series – and I’m hoping the third and fourth to be translated in English very soon – I learned a lot more about the conditions of anomie which is something that I learned in one of my linguistics classes. Not only does anomie apply in language but also in terms of culture and traditions which migrants carry when they leave their motherland unaware of the future and the unprecedented changes that will take place there without them watching over or listening.
Anomie, according to the book by H. Douglas Brown about Second Language Acquisition, means a feeling “of social uncertainty, dissatisfaction, or “homelessness” as individuals lose some of the bonds of a native culture but are not yet fully acculturated in the new culture” (p. 376). This definition I believe truly defines my state in life at this moment thousands of miles from my homeland.
It’s the feeling that the character Marji felt exactly: when she’s abroad, she will always be an Iranian, but back home in Iran, she will always be a foreigner. The freedoms that she experienced in Europe – such as sexual freedom – is something that her friends in Iran can hardly relate to. But she kept strong with all the things that she went through. As someone who educates herself with all diligence and self-discipline, Marji fought against the challenges of life that she had to face.
What I found really emotional was the time when she was back in Iran to end up in a marriage that was not working, a society controlled by the guardians of the revolution and despite her freedom to study, a limited application of her education. Her decision to leave the country might be a really hard decision to make but with this decision I understood why I am where I am right now. I didn’t want to be betrayed by my view of my home country before I left but of course I didn’t hesitate to take the opportunity to watch news about it. As you experience life in such manner, you find yourself defining your love for your own country in another light.
I find my country as beautiful and rich in culture, traditions and history. But I don’t like the politics which influences the minds of people – to be watchful and speculative, to be fond of rumours and gossip and to be the ones who wish to take the law in their own hands.
But going back to Satrapi’s graphic novel. The main point of the Persepolis series is “freedom”. Being born in a country where this freedom is “abused” these days, I do find myself envious of those who never had it and are fighting for it. Those who are controlled by the state, by society, by the media, these victims who can never find freedom in their lifetime; these people are the ones who I always pray for a lot. When all they wanted to do is have a good and comfortable life, you’d ask why is it necessary for someone to interfere with them or why is it important that everyone in the society has to know about it. It’s not all about privacy but it’s all about freedom from ridicule that I find myself wishing for all these poor people and most especially for those victimized by a society who claims to have the right to make insensitive reactions about someone without a solid basis ridiculing them and eventually ostracizing them from the society. We just don’t learn.
One thing I agree with Marji is that there’s a price for freedom.