Within only wearing the veils out of conformity. However,

Within the graphic novel, Persepolis, it talks about
the history and events that happened during and after the 1979 Iranian
Revolution through the eyes of a ten years old girl, Marji. While describing
the history of her childhood, she also indirectly showed the importance of
education in Iran. As we can see in the book, there are distinct differences
between the educational system of Iran and that of the Marji parents’. The
conservative educational system and the environment of Iran had significantly
impacted the development of students and controlled their way of thinking.
Meanwhile, Marji was able to think critically and learn not to accept
everything that she is being told through the liberal education of her parents.

            Iran’s
educational system is conservative and requires students to follow the rules.
After the Iranian revolution, the government decided to shut down all the
bilingual, co-ed, secular schools, and students were segregated by sex in order
to eliminate capitalism. Marji and students like her then are forced to switch
from a French non-religion school to a religious school and always get reminded
by their teachers to follow what they are told. For example, women are required
to wear veils. As shown in the first panel of the novel, (Satrapi1) Marji was
wearing the veil reluctantly without any facial expression, and looks as if she
is in prison, helpless and constrained, which shows that she is only wearing
the veils out of conformity. However, even though Marji described the veil
negatively, the Iranian government and school treats women wearing the veil as
an expression of Islamic culture, rather than repression. The graphic novel also
presents a gradual change on the behavior of students in Iran as time goes by. For
example, students used to walk around without their veils and even make fun of
the veil (Satrapi1), their behaviors later transform, and all of the girls sit in
the classroom with their veils and black dress on. (Satrapi 144)

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            In
addition to the strict regulation of the Iran’s school system, they also brainwashed
students to prevent them from rebelling. This idea can be best shown in the
topic of “the key”. The key shows how education corporate with propaganda. The
poor are hypnotized by the government and school, convincing the young adults
that the afterlife is even better than Disneyland, they are then thrown into
battle. The picture displayed on page 102 has
showed how the poor were being killed thinking that there they can live a
better life in heaven, when in fact the government is manipulate the poor. Besides
the poor, at school all of the girls are required to line up twice a day to mourn
the war dead, and had to beat their breast. (Satrapi 95) The hidden purpose of
reminding students the war at martyrs is to create students into a strong
nationalist who can support the Islamic regime regardless of what happens. The picture
depicted on that page has also revealed a strong uniformity of students’
action, and emotion; all of them look blank and empty, but they still put their
hands on their breast mechanically since they are all got enforced into a
common mind set. Overall, Iran’s education system cannot be trusted. the school
hide the truth from students, particularly regarding the established government.
The schoolbook said the king was chosen by the God, when in fact the king was
crowned by giving oil to the British. Teachers also revealed hypocrisy, and did
not teach students to have their own values and beliefs. For example, the
teacher who had initially emphasized that Shah was chosen by God, later told
students to tear out all photographs of the Shah from their textbooks after his
departure, students then followed what the teacher said without questioning it.

Unlike most of the clueless students
in Iran, Marji is an independent thinker and a rebellious student. Her family
focused on giving Marji a secular, liberal education so that she was able to
develop her own ideas. In order to keep her informed about current events,
Marji was encouraged to read different philosophical, religious books and to
have political discussions with her parents in addition to attending school. She
mentioned “I knew everything about the children of Palestine. About the Fidel
Castro… but my favorite was a comic book entitled “Dialectic Materialism”
(Satrapi 12). This demonstrated that a ten-year-old girl knowledge exceeds that
of the majority of students, and even adults. Under such secular education from
her intellectual parents, Marji has developed an independent mindset and the
ability to see the world from multiple perspectives, which had helped her to
realize the truth of her religion, and what the Iranian government had done to
her family and their society. For example, Marji was once an innocent girl who
believes what her teachers tell her and is an absolute loyal supporter of the
shah. After her family enlightened her about how the shah was chosen, and the
shah’s crimes, such as Anoosh’s execution, she becomes militarily anti-shah.

 As the development of the story is passing,
the more Marji knows about the truth and the history of the Iran, the more she
becomes politically active and seeks to proclaim justice. Unlike most of the
students in Iran, Marji stands out a lot in class because she is an extremely
outspoken young lady, who is not afraid to question the teachers and challenge the
authorities. For example, she denied the statement of the teacher when she said
there are no more political prisoners under the Islamic Republic when in fact
there are more prisoners than when they are under the shah. (Satrapi 144) Her
strong sense of independence and curiosity have made her a strong critical
thinker and became more involved into the society. For instance, she always
wants to join her parents’ active revolts against the Shah’s regime. In the
beginning of the book, she tried to convince her parents to let her attend the
revolutionary demonstration by saying, “for a revolution to succeed, the entire
population must support it (Satrapi17).” Her naïve thought got rejected by her
parents, however, as the story progresses, she decided to cut classes and climb
over the wall to have some leisure time with her friends, she said “I had
already broken the rules once by going to the demonstration in ’79. This was
the second time (Satrapi111).” This quote illustrated that Marji is aware that
she breaks the rules again and the consequences of breaking the rules, but she
chooses to follow her heart and do what she wants. This implied that she has her
own beliefs and ideas, her attitudes are the same towards the political world.
Sometimes her actions may be rebellious, and get herself and family into
troubles. However, it does not change how she behaves, and she will continue to
seek justice by protesting and speaking out.

Even though Marji’s whole family
support secular education, her mom is the one that focused the most on the
importance of education for an Iranian woman. It can be shown in the beginning
of the book that Mrs. Satrapi is a very revolutionary woman, who is upset with
the way things are going in Iran and went to protest against the veil.
(Satrapi5) She also plays a tremendous role on Marji’s education. She was very
upset after knowing that Marui cut classes to go enjoy with her friends, she
yelled at Majin and said,” Now is the time for learning. You have your whole
life to have fun… you have to know everything better than anyone else if you’re
are going to survive!! (Satrapi113)” However, she is not completely restricting
Marji’s social life and freedom. For example, Mrs. Satrapi decided to let Marji
to participate in the opposition demonstration as she grows older. She said “she
should start learning to defend her rights as a woman right now (Satrapi76).” This
shows that Marui’s mom supports her to get involved into the political world but
also have to focus on the education side.

Persepolis revealed the importance of
education by showing two different ways of education in Iran. A liberal educational
system serves a crucial role in such politically driven society, Marui was able
to develop and prepare herself into this real world more adequately, and keep herself
informed and understood the current problem of her times. Meanwhile, the students
under the conservative educational system of Iran got brainwashed, and do everything
that they are being told.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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