Persepolis

Persepolis The Jewels Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Not much food is left in the supermarkets, and when Marjane and her mother look for food there they see women fighting with each other over boxes of food. Even Marjane’s mother and father fight. At home, when Marjane’s mother does not answer quickly enough about whether the jerry cans she has are for storage or gasoline, her father starts screaming and yelling about the sacrifices he must make to keep the family safe and peaceful. Marjane, in the middle of the two, at first trying to defend her mother, then begins to cry.
Everyone’s fuses have been shortened by the stresses of the war. Normal life has been disrupted, and so people cannot behave as they normally would. A child still, Marjane cannot easily handle the familial rifts that the stresses of the war create, and when she feels that she has to choose a side, just as she feels she must in the larger war around her, she weeps instead.
Themes
Violence, Forgiveness, and Justice Theme Icon
Children, War, and Growing Up Theme Icon
When the family goes to the gas station to fill a jerry can, the gas attendant tells them he will not fill the cans for them, as everyone needs to ration the gas. The press says nothing about what has happened, but the gas attendant tells them that Iraq bombed a refinery in Abadan, leading to the shortage. Marjane’s mother thinks of Mali, her childhood friend, who lives in Abadan. Back at home the family tries to call Mali, but they get no response. Some days later, Mali and her family, her husband and two boys, ring the doorbell at Marjan’s house. They, like many other people from border towns like Abadan, had to flee northward. Marjane takes it upon herself to care for the two boys who have come to stay in their house, offering them hot chocolate. When they ask for toys, she tells them she doesn’t have any because “I’m all grown up.”
The bombings in the south of Iran lead many people to flee north, and it is now up to the people in the north to help out the refugees. It remains a moment of national crisis, and thus people expect everyone to chip in, from rationing gas to housing refugees. Marjane uses the opportunity to assert herself. She wants to help out, but more than that, she wants to prove that she is in fact grown up, responsible, caring, and capable. Of course, anyone who has to say that they are all grown up is revealing, in fact, that they are still a kid.
Themes
Nationalism, Heroism, and Martyrdom Theme Icon
Children, War, and Growing Up Theme Icon
The Personal vs. the Political Theme Icon
That night, Mali’s husband moans over the loss of his house, which cost a lot of money to build. Marjane’s father does not like Mali’s husband because he is materialistic. In the morning, one week after they’ve come to live with the Satrapi’s, the two families go to the supermarket. The two boys point at objects they want, as they are still used to their previous lifestyle. The family overhears two women speaking about the southern refugees and how it is so hard to find food now that they have come. Prejudicially, they claim that “southern women are all whores.” Embarrassed and ashamed, the family leaves the supermarket. In the car on the way home, Mali says soberly, “To have the Iraqis attack, and to lose in an instant everything you had built over a lifetime, that’s one thing…but to be spat upon by your own kind, it is intolerable!”
Marjane’s father’s negative feelings about Mali’s husband shows how different people can have very different values, even though they are all Iranian. Yet Marjane’s family continues to offer support and comfort to Mali and her family – the war can bring people together. Yet at the supermarket the prejudiced remarks of the two women indicate how the war is also ripping the Iranian’s apart. People’s own suffering can make them blind and uncaring to the suffering of others.
Themes
Nationalism, Heroism, and Martyrdom Theme Icon
Violence, Forgiveness, and Justice Theme Icon
The Personal vs. the Political Theme Icon