Author’s draw upon the complex interplay between modes of representation and their ability to shape meaning, in order to reflect upon their attitudes towards the past. This interaction manifests in the examination of the conflicting strengths and limitations of history and memory throughout Mark Baker's memoir The Fiftieth Gate and Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis as both texts place emphasis on the inherent bias of acts of inclusion, emphasis and omission. Consequent of the inability to objectively capture definitive truth, all modes of representations of the past are unassailably mediated by the author and thus the purpose of the construction is crucial to the perspective of the past offered. By limiting the pervasive influences of historical and contemporary zeitgeist through the examination of multiple mediums, sources and perspectives the more holistic representation of the past informs the individual’s awareness of the universality of the human experience by informing the present of the past.
Through Baker’s journey towards his conscious recognition of the dichotomy between definitive truth and the authorial mediation of historical discourse and memory, Baker highlights the complexity of his contrasting role as both a son and historian. His dual purpose of mediating “an exchange of pasts” accentuates this conflict as whilst he questions of the reliability of his parent’s memories, “it was not the facts held under suspicion, but credibility as a survivor”, his personal triumph with the approval of his parents is emphasised by the first person narration “I have won their interests”. His need to vindicate his parent’s memory as a historian with documented evidence manifest in his search for evidence. Although he is able to confirm aspects of her mother’s story that “she was once rich, tremendously rich” with a document in Gate 47 written by the Head and Secretary of the Village of Bolszowce, “bought a village, Kinashev, a stable, barn” tension...
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