“Always keep your dignity and be true to yourself,” writes Marjane Satrapi in her graphic memoir Persepolis, which is our Unit Four text in ELA. She comments that, “In life you’ll meet a lot of jerks. If they hurt you, tell yourself that it’s because they’re stupid. That will help keep you from reacting to their cruelty. Because there is nothing worse than bitterness and vengeance…”
Through the lens of this text, we are exploring the ways in which identity is shaped by events that happen around us, that are usually out of our control, and on a scale both large and small–local, regional, national, global. And we’re examining the ways in which changes outside of the main character result in changes within the main character, which has led us into some very interesting and enlightening conversations about ourselves.
Reading Persepolis has also allowed us to investigate a wide variety of new concepts–most notably, we are looking at the graphic novel as its own literary form, discussing its benefits, and learning about visual literacy. Persepolis is also our first memoir, as well as our first exposure to world literature. And since the story is set in Iran during the Iranian Revolution of 1979, our conversations have branched out in all kinds of directions and encompassed an array of topics: we’ve watched historical newsreel footage of the revolution and the storming of the US Embassy, we’ve taken a video tour of the ruins of Persepolis itself, we’ve listened to Persian pop music, and we’ve considered the challenge of coming of age as a person in the midst of total societal chaos and instability. It has been, in all, quite an engrossing and engaging study of form and history and what it means to be human and fallible amid the sometimes painful process of discovering who you are.