The Molding Hand of Oppression: Forming an Identity in Persepolis

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Instructor Bachman
Writing Across the Arts (Porter 80A-21)
2 November 2012 (1278 words)
The Molding Hand of Oppression: Forming an
Identity in Persepolis
Every person is unique. However, there are many similar parts that go into creating every person’s identity. Of course, there is the biology, the genetics. Then there are outside forces, the nurturing of a person. When trying to form an identity, there are numerous outside factors that contribute, such as gender, culture, and environment. For Marji, the protagonist of the Persepolis series, being an Iranian woman is absolutely a factor that featured prominently in the shaping of her personality. She was not allowed to experiment with her identity by her clothing or style, because the government controlled what women were allowed to wear. She had to have some sort of connection with religion, because the government forced the religion upon its subjects. She also experienced hardships, like the death of family members, because of war against the tyrannical government. Growing up under the oppressive hand of the Iranian government has formed Marji’s strong identity. Clothing, a big form of self-expression, was predetermined for Marji, so that she had a few options of how to proceed. The first thing Marji introduces in the story is the veil, which is a headscarf that women are required to wear for public decency. Marji does not like the veil since she does not understand why she has to wear it. When Marji is young, she says, “I really didn’t know what to think about the veil, deep down I was very religious” (Persepolis 1, 7). Since she is so young, she is unaware of the real point of the veil. It is forced on because the government wants to hide the potential power women have. Later, Marji finds out that the restricted clothing has constrained her freedom by not allowing her to express a part of her individuality. After her parents come back from a trip to Istanbul, Turkey, she gets gifts such as 1983...