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Analysis of “Persepolis the story of a childhood” in political perspective

Updated on December 13, 2017


“Persepolis” is a short history of Iran, right from its first occupants, the Indo-Europeans, creation of the popular Persian Empire to the Islamic revolution of the 20th century as presented by Satrapi, Marjane. According to the author, the book was written mainly for the purpose of alluding perceptions that Iran is a country full of terrorists and fundamentalist and that the depiction of this nation by the West are absolutely wrong. The novel Persepolis presents the political environment of Iran from another perspective.


Iran has been a country considered as a riddle since the 1979 revolution. It astonished the world by incorporating Islam in its governance system. Furthermore, it flustered the world by exporting its passionate philosophies, sponsoring or supporting military allies from the Gulf and Lebanon. Additionally, the country has been affectively able or be seen to challenge and defy international norms, both from the West or East in favor of its own. For many years, the political context of this nation has been made more complicated by a myriad of challenges including its issues to do with its nuclear program, menacing rhetoric, cultural and political repressions among other. However, as Satrapi, reveals in his novel “Persepolis”, all these animosity towards the Western culture, systems or ideologies were fuelled by a similarly negative attitude from the region (p.55-75). According to the author, indeed there have been Islamic revolutions, uprisings and incidences of terrorism and terrorist gangs in the country (Iran). However, much of these incidences as observed by the author are either orchestrated or supported by the Western democracies with a focus of exploiting the opportunities in the oil rich nation. For instance, it was the British and the Americans who were supporting Reza Shah a rebel leader who was fighting against the Persian authorities for the purpose of installing a republic. This incidence was occurring during a time when the West was instituting their ideals in various nations of the world. While the British were aware of Reza Shah's ambition of overthrowing the Persian Empire, they opted to support him and hence when that becomes successful, penetrate into the rich oil fields. In this mission, the British ensured that Reza Shah was instituted as an emperor of Persia (p.119). With the support of the United States, Reza Shah leads a successful revolution, where people are involved in street protests, killings, and terrorism activities and other archaic acts. Consequently, many people end up dying in the process, thus making the mission of overthrowing the empire impossible for Shah. He subsequently leaves Iran for the United States which accepts and protects him. The idea that violence and political instability in Iran is fuelled by the U.S has been supported by the narrative of released political prisoners Siamak, and Mohsen who explains how they were being imprisoned and tortured by the US agents in order to reveal the secrets of the government. They point out that the torturers had been thoroughly trained by the United States CIA agents. Nonetheless, when the influence of the United States in causing terrorism and uprisings in Iran was manifested, the government and authorities began to revolt against the US and the Western sphere. This is why as the author Satrapi, Marjane notes that the American embassy was overtaken and forcing American citizens to leave Iran (P.27). This was because of the animosity that was stirred by America in supporting rival gangs to rebel and attach the central government and authorities. It should be remembered that the West had infiltrated the culture and system of the Iran contexts, the education system in terms of the curriculum, and the religion. Therefore, the first step in revenging this development was to attack and overtake the American embassy and then go on to force the Americans out of the nation. Thereafter, religious leaders of the country opt to close all education systems including Universities in order to change their curriculum which according to them had been influenced by the Western culture. In addition, some groups begin aligning themselves in order to restore the culture and system of their country. For instance, there are some group who go around accosting women and girls who are not wearing veils as their religion requires and those who fail to undertake some key religious customs such as praying five times a day as per their religion. The intent of these groups therefore is restoring what they call “normalcy” which according to them had been eroded by the Western culture and more particularly, the United States (P.33). Indeed, Washington has been working very hard to portray Iran as a nation that sponsors terrorism. According to Weinstein (p.44), the bad relationship between Washington and Tehran this is why Iranian based Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has been labeled by the US as a terrorist organization. However, a closer analysis of this outfit is that it mainly focuses on Iranian dissidents who are abroad and that it’s other activities entails countering ISIS in Syria. On his part, Sebestyen (p.118) points out that the conflict over the unavoidable and natural Islamic Revolution, as well as American arrogance when dealing with has contributed to the cold relationships between these two countries. On the other hand, there is also a desire for worldwide hegemony where US wants to take control of the nation for its own interests.


In essence, the book Persepolis has brought profound insights regarding the cause of the political instability and terrorist gang alignments in Iran. We have seen in this book that in its endeavor to control the oil rich nation, the West and more particularly the US has resorted to supporting rival gangs, the militia, and opposition revels, among other tactics to influence or weaken the political system of Iran. The core goal of America according to the author is to access the oil and other resources but it has been unable to do so because of the “unfriendly nature” of the Iran regime. This has been an overarching theme of Satrap’s book “Persepolis”.

Works Cited

Sebestyen, Victor, 1946: The Making of the Modern World. Pan Macmillan. 2014, ISBN 0230758002.

Satrapi, Marjane, Persepolis: The story of a childhood, Pantheon Publishers, New York. 2004.

Weinstein, Adam, The Real Largest State Sponsor of Terrorism. 2017, Available from


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