East vs. West by Satrapi's Persepolis - Argumentative Essay

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University of Richmond
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Argumentative essay
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The theme I chose for discussion is the East vs. West view that is vividly displayed by Satrapis Persepolis. This article gives discussions based on the number of interactions that are between the eastern and western sides and the relative influences that are portrayed within the graphical novel. From the novel we can view more than just a single perspective based on the east and west influences upon each other. To begin with, in Iran, we can see a western influence to the east at the point Marjane leaves to Vienna, after which we can see the opposite, an eastern influence to the west side, and finally, with the return to Iran, we can clearly see a west-side influence to the east (Naghibi). Despite the vivid differences in culture that bring about the main influences between these two sides in the novel, there is the need to critically evaluate the other such influences. The novel melts down to a constant entanglement between two sides, east and west with a show of who possesses the best culture, which has more morals, among so many other questions. There are multiple influences from the west as the Iranian youth comes into contact with new forms of clothing, pins, music and much more but what is more disturbing is how Marjaness period in Vienna displays just how the eastern culture is heavily scorned by the west. She has to deal with the stereotyping of Iranians and is even at some point accused of coming up with fake stories related to her hardships back home (Naghibi). It is vivid in many instances of the unwillingness of the west to accept the eastern culture which is ironic because at the time she was leaving Iran, the western culture is one that is deemed appealing to many in the east.

Ones she returns to Iran, we see a clear influence on the eastern culture from the west but in a more concealed or secretive manner. The western influence are used in a kind of regime against the east but in a more subtle manner example being revealing a little more hair than before or applying makeup. Relative to her sexual encounters in Europe, the east compares her to a prostitute which is a clear avenue of the battle between the cultures in these two regions (Naghibi). The eastern culture clearly builds a heavy block against the western side but at some point the western culture sneaks in disguised as parties or even satellite TV.

The difficulty that Marjane is exposed to while she is on transit between these two region is a clear show of how these two regions have vivid difficulties in one trying to be the other. In Vienna, she is without a doubt Iranian and not one of them despite the efforts made to try and fit in, whereas back in Iran, she is seen as an outsider considering her time spent in Vienna (Root). The theme of trying to be the other clearly takes a toll on Marjane, and the relative mixture of cultures that is portrayed in the novel, despite the two cultures having the potential to mix at an artistic level, they do not really mix to a deeper level (Root). The cultural fluctuations of Marjane are seen as a definition to her and this causes her basically lack a place both in the east and west and this is why the theme east vs. west because both the sides do not really seem to bare each other.

Works Cited

Naghibi, Nima, and Andrew OMalley. "Estranging the Familiar." East and West in Satrapis Persepolis1. 2-3.31 ( 2005): 223-247.

Root, Robert L., and Marjane Satrapi. "Interview with Marjane Satrapi." Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction ( 2007): 147-157.


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