Persepolis is an autobiographical graphic novel depicting Marjane Satrapi’s experience during the Islamic revolution of 1979.
Below are some reading passages that we have hand picked to supplement this book. Be sure to read the passage summaries and our suggestions for instructional use.
This easy-to-read article explains the economic system of capitalism along with some of its potential upsides and drawbacks, as well as alternative economic systems.
Introduce this text before students begin reading Persepolis, in order to help students understand capitalism as an economic system, as well as the anti-capitalist view. Ask students to discuss their views on capitalism in America and why they believe some people might support it, while others reject it.
Claude McKay (1889-1948) was a Jamaican-American writer and poet who was a seminal figure during the Harlem Renaissance. In this poem, McKay discusses facing death and other obstacles with courage and dignity, and reflects upon his perspective on the black experience during early 20th century America.
Have students read this poem after students have read “The Sheep.” Marjane has discovered that a number of her family members are rebels in the Islamic Revolution. Have students discuss whether they believe the deaths of Uncle Anoosh, as well as the decision of other members of Marjane’s family to fight against the regime, make a difference at all? Compare Marjane’s family to the speaker in the poem. Do they all fight in vain? Is a cause worth fighting for even if you know you can’t win? Ask students to use evidence from the texts to support their answers.
In her 2013 Speech to the United Nations, Malala Yousafzai states the importance of education and women’s rights.
Introduce this text after students have read “The Trip,” when the government closes the universities and Marjane grows concerned that she will not be able to become an educated and liberated woman. Pair Persepolis with “Malala Yousafzai’s Address to the United Nations, July 2013,” and ask students to analyze the importance of education in repressed nations. How can an educated person pose a threat to tyranny?
In this informational text, Jessica McBirney considers the benefits and disadvantages to censoring content.
Introduce this text after reading “The Trip,” when the government closes universities in order to revise schoolbooks, orders women to wear the veil, and forbids any participation in Western culture. Ask students to discuss the ways in which the Iranian government uses political and religious censorship to prevent Iranians from opposing the government and from disobeying the principles of Islam. How does censorship affect the daily lives of the Iranian people in Persepolis? What are the consequences of disobeying the new laws under the Ayatollah’s regime? Is the protection of one’s individual freedoms more important than the risk of getting caught by the Iranian government? Why or why not?
Linda Pastan’s “Egg” requires students to examine how a simple egg can symbolize more complex ideas in our world.
Have students read this poem after reading “The F-14s” when Iraq attacks Iran while they’re establishing their government. Ask students to evaluate the Iraqi attack on Iran through the lens of this poem and the notion that security is temporary. How does the egg in this poem symbolize Iran’s government? How does Iraq’s attack on Iran dispel the Iranian’s belief that their government is strong after the overthrow of the Shah?
This article describes life in North Korea under totalitarian government rule. In North Korea, the government has total control over the economy, the military, education, and people’s access to information—and it punishes those who try to change the status quo.
Introduce this text after reading “The Key,” when the people of Iran beat their chests in the ritual mandated by the Iranian government. Additionally, Marjane and her classmates are threatened with expulsion from school because they do not wear their veil correctly and find humor in Iran’s new laws. Pair Persepolis with “Total Control in North Korea,” and ask students to compare the North Korean and Iranian governments. How do these governments maintain control over their country and their people? How does totalitarianism affect the people in North Korea and Iran? Identify the ways in which rebels in both nations oppose their governments.
In this contemporary poem, a child has a realization about her own mortality.
Have students read this poem after reading “The Shabbat,” when Tehran is under attack and Marjane’s street is hit with a missile. At the end of this chapter, Marjane realizes that her friend Neda is dead. Pair Persepolis with “Making a Fist,” and ask students to discuss the loss of innocence that Marjane and the speaker of this poem experience because of the danger they must face as children.