Objectives: You will develop your ability to analyze, synthesize and evaluate complex ideas in your essay on The Complete Persepolis. You will also demonstrate proficiency with basic grammar and literary terms in order to critique literary themes, characters and symbols within the short novel as well as providing critiques of your classmates’ written arguments.
ESSAY ONE: LITERARY ANALYSIS
Choose one of the following prompts listed below to create your paper. If you decide to write about something different, please let me know via chat or private message, so I can make sure you are on the right track.
Due Week Two to be posted on the Discussion Board:
One introductory paragraph with a hook, plot summary and a thesis statement.
One MLA format support paragraph that uses SEE format.
You will revise these two paragraphs based on your classmate’s peer review and my feedback; both of which will be posted on Discussions. Then submit these revised paragraphs as a part of your final draft of a 4-5 page essay due Week Two.
You may choose one of the following or a different topic with my approval.
1. Analyze the theme of conformity and rebellion in the novel as a whole.
Ideas to think about: How does Marjane develop her ideas of rebellion? In what ways does she conform in Iran? In what ways does she conform in Austria? How do these ideas evolve during the course of the novel? What role does her family play? Her friends? How can you trace her evolving consciousness of rebellion and social identity?
2.Trace the symbolic meaning of all the references to religious and patriotic symbols vs. symbols of rebellion throughout the text.
Think about religious and patriotic symbols like the veil, the key, or any other in the text. How does Marjane relate to these symbols embrace/reject them? Then think about symbols of rebellion like wine, cigarettes, Kim Wilde, skiing, or any other in the text. How does Marjane relate to these symbols, or embrace/reject them? How is she defined by these stances? How does she forge her individual identity by adopting, rejecting, or transforming these ideas.
3. Analyze the role of story telling in the novel as it relates to Iranian history, religion, and myth, as well as to family history in the novel.
Ideas to think about: How do Marjane and her family members use story telling as a source of power, or solace, or humor? How do they present their country and their national identity? Who are their heroes? What are their ideals? How do Marjane’s parents, grandmother, and family friends connect to Marjane and each other through story telling? How is this story telling a source of personal and political transformation?
4. Analyze the role country and identity plays in the novel.
What is Marjane’s relationship to her country? In what ways does this relationship comfort her? Disturb her? In what ways does this connection manifest itself? What are the many lenses that she may view herself and her country with as a girl, a young woman, as an Iranian, as an Iranian, living in Europe, or as an Iranian who has lived abroad? How does her identity evolve?
5. Analyze how Marjane comes of age in the novel.
Ideas to think about: How does Marjane become a woman in the novel? Can you think of any pivotal incidents that push Marjane into adulthood? Why are these incidents important? How do they shape her into a woman? What does she realize about herself that helps her cross the bridge into adulthood?
6. Satrapi explores the many ways we love: with family ties, romantic love, friendship, through fantasy, memory, words, and actions. Choose one or more of the characters and analyze what Marjane learns about love through this relationship.
8. Is this novel about the importance of being true to ones’ self or remembering our shared humanity? Why?
9. There is a lot of violence in the novel : the Islamic Revolution and counter revolution against it, the burning down of the Rex theater, “Black Friday”, the torturing of political prisoners, the imprisonment of her grandfather, the imprisonment and execution of her uncle, the war against Iraq, the bombing of her apartment building, the execution of a girl Satrapi meets when her family is having passports made to travel. How does Satrapi’s understanding and reaction to this violence evolve throughout the novel? Trace the meaning of this violence as it relates to both Iran and to Satrapi herself.
10. Who are significant women in Satrapi’s life? How do they shape her identity? How is her identity shaped by cultural, political, and economic influences? How does her experience as a woman differ in Iran and in Austria? In what ways is it the same?
11. Satrapi ends her novel with the line “Freedom had its price.” Examine the theme of freedom in the text. What is freedom to Marjane? How do her ideas of freedom and her experience of freedom evolve in the text? What is the price of freedom?
12. Examine the role of humor and irony in the text. How do humor and irony help Marjane and her family to survive the horror of political violence and oppression? Do you think this has something to do with her choice to craft a graphic novel of the experience?
13. Explore the interplay between text and images in Satrapi’s novel. Analyze how she weaves the two together to create meaning. Why does she choose this format for the novel based on her life? Why does she choose black and white images? How does she arrange each chapter? Why does she organize the text in this way? How does it impact your understanding of Satrapi growing up in Iran?
14. Read Satrapi’s introduction where she states that one reason she wrote the book was to correct stereotypical images and misperceptions of her homeland. Do you think Satrapi succeeds in this goal? Why or why not? Does she stereotype in her depiction of any characters in the text? Why or why not?
15. Analyze the role of memory in the novel. Why is it important to remember even the most painful moments in Satrapi’s personal, cultural, and political history? Why are both individual and collective memory important to us all?
16. Choose any of the above themes to explore and write a literary analysis. If you relate to any of these themes/ ideas on a personal level, analyze your connection by integrating your personal narrative with the literary analysis. This is a challenging topic as you must not only analyze Satrapi’s text, using direct quotes and analysis to substantiate your views, but you will also connect it to your own life story. However, some students find it more meaningful to write a literary analysis in light of their personal experience.