Persepolis

Persepolis The Heroes Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
A few days after the revolution succeeds, 3000 political prisoners of the revolution are liberated, among them Siamak Jari, the husband of Marjane’s best friend, and a long time political prisoner and friend of the family named Mohsen Shakiba. Marjane recalls how, before the release of the political prisoners, Laly, Siamak’s daughter, had visited Marjane’s family home. Marjane had told her that though her family was telling her that her father is on a long trip, really this means he is dead. Laly had run home crying, and Marjane was sent to her room. “Nobody will accept the truth,” she thinks.
The end of the revolution brings a semblance of normalcy: those who were arrested have now been returned. However, Marjane remembers how she was sure that Siamak Jari was dead, and how she had tried to tell the truth to his daughter, who believed he was simply on a trip. Though Marjane demonstrates her alertness in not believing what is obviously false (though she was also wrong herself), she is not able to muster the maturity to allow another girl to believe a white lie.
Themes
Children, War, and Growing Up Theme Icon
The Personal vs. the Political Theme Icon
When Laly’s father, Siamak, and Mohsen return from prison, Marjane concedes, “after the revolution I realized that you could be mistaken.” A tearful and happy reunion commences after which Siamak and Mohsen offhandedly describe the various tortures they experienced, including how their fingernails had been pulled out. So engrossed and horrified are Marjane’s parents that they “forget to spare me this experience.” When Marjane’s father asks for news of another friend, named Ahmadi, Siamak explains that he was assassinated, adding that he was burned with an iron as torture. Marjane is horrified that an ordinary household appliance could be used for torture. Afterwards, Laly proclaims her father a hero, and Marjane’s mother expounds that “all torturers should be massacred.” Deeply affected by the day’s events, Marjane thinks about the fact that her father “was not a hero” and that her mother “wanted to kill people...so I went out to play in the street.”
Further initiated into the macabre horrors of the revolution, Marjane is both fascinated and terrified by what she hears. This time, she wishes that her parents would protect her. Looking at the iron, she is struck by the ordinariness of the objects of torture; what she saw as an innocent object has now been turned into an object of inhumanity, something that was previously beyond her imagination or comprehension. Confusingly, Marjane’s mother seems to take back her mantra of forgiveness when she wishes for the killing of torturers. Moreover, Marjane feels jealousy towards Laly and her father, indicating how she still, childishly, romanticizes the war. Unable to compute the seeming contradictions within her family, she flees into the activity of childhood.
Themes
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
Marjane starts playing a game with her friends where they make up various forms of torturer. “Back at home that evening, I had the diabolical feeling of power…But it didn’t last. I was overwhelmed.” Back home, Marjane runs and cries on Marjane’s mother’s lap, and her mother reassures her daughter by promising that the torturers “will pay for what they have done.” When Marjane brings up that she had thought her mother told her that one should forgive others, her mother explains: “Bad people are dangerous, but forgiving them is, too. Don’t worry, there is justice on earth.” At night, Marjane lies in her bed and feels safe in the arms God.
Playing games becomes a defense mechanism for dealing with difficult information; by taking on adult torture in her childish games, Marjane diminishes the reality of the horror while allowing herself a sense of power. Still, playing is not enough to allay her trauma, and she runs to her mother and confronts her about the contradiction between forgiveness and punishing bad people. Marjane’s faith in God allows her to believe that there will be justice sometime.
Themes
Religion, Repression, and Modernity Theme Icon
Violence, Forgiveness, and Justice Theme Icon
Children, War, and Growing Up Theme Icon
The Personal vs. the Political Theme Icon