November 5th, 2012
Persepolis: The Veil and Identity
The movie Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s autobiography. It covers her childhood and teenage years in her hometown, Tehran; her experiences abroad while she studies at the French Lyceum in Austria; and her return to a country devastated by war and mistreated by the Regime. Therefore it is hardly surprising that the Marjane’s identity is formed at the crossroads of two cultures, the Western and the Eastern ones, without really belonging to either of them. The symbol of the veil played a pivotal role in Satrapi’s life and her struggle to find herself in a world of social norm. Through veiling, a woman was no longer capable of constructing her own identity but had it constructed for her by her social environment through the form of a cloth repeatedly placed and removed from her head. In what ways does the film Persepolis illustrate the power of the veil? What affects did the veil have on Marjane during adulthood, childhood as well as adolescence? What is the connection between the movie’s perception of the hijab and the struggle to find individuality in a world of social conformity? Torn between modernism and her country, Marjane shows off her fragmented identity and portrays a side of her rebellious youth through her attire.
Persepolis’ lack of color in the film and illustration of appearance with the veil might portray Islam’s black and white views on apparel. Islam only recognizes two types of women in the world: those who are veiled and those who are unveiled. Marjane’s mother explains, “They insulted me. They said that women like me should be raped and then thrown in the garbage […] and that if I didn’t want that to happen, I should wear the veil” The forced veiling leaves Marjane in a state of fragmentation and struggle with her body. Satrapi reveals to her audience through the attack upon her mother the power that men exert over women’s moral status in Iran as...