Persepolis

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Veil Symbol Icon
The veil is an extremely vital piece of clothing to Marjane’s identity, not because she feels pious and wants to wear it and thus asserts it as part of herself, but instead because she doesn’t want to wear it and must anyway. Persepolis opens with Marjane describing how she first has to start wearing the veil at school. This moment for her most markedly divides her pre-Revolutionary life and her post-revolutionary life, when the rise of the Islamic Republic creates an enormous schism in society between those who are traditionally religious and those who are not and prefer to dress with Western influences. Marjane, though she still considers herself Muslim, belongs to the latter category. But the Islamic Regime dictates the moral code of society, and Marjane must contend with a world that disallows her regular mode of expression. The veil for Marjane and for many women in Iran becomes the key symbol of repression, particularly against women.

Veil Quotes in Persepolis

The Persepolis quotes below all refer to the symbol of Veil. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Religion, Repression, and Modernity Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the L'Association edition of Persepolis published in 2000.
The Veil Quotes

We found ourselves veiled and separated from our friends.

Related Characters: Marjane Satrapi (speaker)
Related Symbols: Veil
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

After the westernized Shah of Iran is overthrown by the Islamic Republic in 1979, Iranian women and girls are suddenly forced to wear a veil in public. The Revolution also led to the abolition of bilingual schools, such as the French-Iranian school that Marjane attends as a child, due to the government's belief that they are a symbol of "decadence." Thus, Marjane is forced to switch into a single-language, single-gendered school. 

In this quote, Marjane refers to the veil as a method of separation not just from the public and a woman's body, but also between different groups of people and culture. Though she enjoyed a co-educational, secular and bilingual education prior to the Revolution, after Islamic Law was put into place, her world became much smaller as she was forced into a dogmatically-religious, single-gender and monolingual education. The reference to the veil here serves to represent not only the opression of woman, but also a curtain of sorts between Iran and the rest of the modern world after the Revolution of 1979. Iran, like Marjane, was veiled and separated from its "friends" (other modernized nations) after the Revolution.

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I really didn’t know what to think about the veil. Deep down I was very religious but as a family we were very modern and avant-garde.

Related Characters: Marjane Satrapi (speaker)
Related Symbols: Veil
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

Though Marjane's family is religious, her home life is not as devout as her school life becomes after the Revolution. This leads to tensions within herself as she grows up and hears one thing at home and another in school. Though she feels strongly about the religion she learns at school, it conflicts with her parents' views, two people whom she loves and respects above anything. In this quote, Marjane notes that she is unsure how to feel about the imposition of the veil in 1980. She has previously been religious in her heart, but feels oppressed when she is suddenly forced to wear the external trappings of religion--showing how counterintuitive any real state-sponsored or nationalistic religion is (since true religious faith is always a personal choice, not a government rule).

This quote is representative of Marjane's larger feelings about Iran as she grows up. While she knows logically that the sociopolitical situation in Iran is grim, she cannot help but feel deep love and allegiance to her homeland. Even when her parents help her escape the repressive regime by sending her to Vienna, she cannot bear to shed her "true" self in order to assimilate to Viennese culture, and she ultimately returns to Tehran. Marjane will grapple with her innate love but logical problems with Iran for years to come.

The Trip Quotes

I wanted to be an educated, liberated woman…and so another dream went up in smoke.

Related Characters: Marjane Satrapi (speaker)
Related Symbols: Veil
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:

After the success of the Revolution, the fundamentalist regime that takes over the Iranian government decides to close the universities for the time being, since that kind of education was thought to be too "decadent," leading students away from the "true path of Islam." As an educated woman, Marjane is crushed--she had dreams of studying chemistry at university, like her hero Marie Curie. 

In this quote, Marjane notes that her dream of becoming a famous chemist like Marie Curie has gone "up in smoke," just like her dream of moving to America prior to the fundamentalist student take-over of the American Embassy in Iran. Though the Revolution has succeeded, Marjane's family and other supporters of the Revolution are slowly realizing that this was not the outcome they had intended. Though the Shah was corrupt and oppressive, he had at least supported a modern Iran; the new regime serves to impose a fundamentalist version of Islamic law onto Iranians, which rendered women as second-class citizens to men. Without the chance to continue her education, Marjane realizes that the prospect of becoming a housewife with many children is far more likely than is a career as an educated scientist.

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Veil Symbol Timeline in Persepolis

The timeline below shows where the symbol Veil appears in Persepolis. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Veil
Religion, Repression, and Modernity Theme Icon
Nationalism, Heroism, and Martyrdom Theme Icon
Violence, Forgiveness, and Justice Theme Icon
Children, War, and Growing Up Theme Icon
The Personal vs. the Political Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
The opening chapter of Persepolis describes the implementation of the veil policy in Iran. After the populist 1979 Islamic Revolution, during which the westernized monarch, called... (full context)
Religion, Repression, and Modernity Theme Icon
Nationalism, Heroism, and Martyrdom Theme Icon
Violence, Forgiveness, and Justice Theme Icon
Children, War, and Growing Up Theme Icon
The Personal vs. the Political Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
...because bilingual schools are seen as markers of capitalism and decadence. Afterwards, “we found ourselves veiled and separated from our friends,” Marjane describes. On the streets there are demonstrations for and... (full context)
Religion, Repression, and Modernity Theme Icon
Nationalism, Heroism, and Martyrdom Theme Icon
Children, War, and Growing Up Theme Icon
The Personal vs. the Political Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
Marjane speaks to her conflicting feelings about the veil. Though her family is modern, she “was born with religion” and feels deeply religious herself.... (full context)
The Trip
Religion, Repression, and Modernity Theme Icon
Violence, Forgiveness, and Justice Theme Icon
The Personal vs. the Political Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
...explains that by “women like me,” the men meant women who do not wear a veil. Marjane’s mother comes home markedly shaken. The family watches TV, where a fundamentalist representative explains... (full context)
Religion, Repression, and Modernity Theme Icon
Nationalism, Heroism, and Martyrdom Theme Icon
The Personal vs. the Political Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
...women wear full covering from head to toe, with just the face showing behind the veil, the “modern woman” shows her “opposition to the regime by letting a few strands of... (full context)
Kim Wilde
Religion, Repression, and Modernity Theme Icon
Children, War, and Growing Up Theme Icon
The Personal vs. the Political Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
...Revolution, which was founded in 1982 to arrest women who do not conform to the veil wearing law. Marjane wears her veil improperly. The two members question her about her clothes,... (full context)