Marjane Satrapi

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Persepolis: The Passport Summary & Analysis

Marjane’s Uncle Taher visits Marjane’s family and tell them of his son, who he has sent to Holland for safety. However, the borders of Iran have now been closed to Taher, so he can’t leave the country, and he wonders whether he will ever be able to see his son again. He has already had two heart attacks because of the stress of the war. He also denounces what he sees as the regime’s gratuitous slaughtering of young men in the streets—men like his son. One day shortly after his visit to Marjane’s home, he has a fourth heart attack after hearing a grenade explosion near his home.
This section further explores the human cost of the war—families have been separated, and because the war threatens to drag on for a long time, many wonder, legitimately, whether they will ever be reunited with their loved ones. Taher’s situation also raises the prospect that in order to protect one’s children might also mean a parent having to sacrifice their own happiness and wellbeing.
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Taher needs open heart surgery in England, but the only way for him to receive a permit to leave the country is if the hospital director agrees. However, the hospital director, who is actually Taher’s former window washer, refuses to help him. He says it is up to the will of God. The former window washer has become very religious ever since the Revolution, which has undoubtedly helped him get appointed to his current job. Instead of helping Taher, a doctor shows Taher’s wife and Marjane’s family the swamped hospital premises, in order to explain why supplies are so short. In the hospital there are many men with chemical weapon wounds who await transport to Germany for treatment—though the doctor claims that it is also Germany that sells the chemical weapons in the first place. He says the wounded men are really Germany’s guinea pigs.
The episode in the hospital demonstrates how the new regime has allowed those opportunists who once were in a lower class to rise up to the higher class if they also abide by the religious rules of the regime. Most likely the hospital director invokes the will of God to show Taher how the tables have been turned—a power play rather than true religious devotion. Additionally, the idea that many men with chemical weapons await transport for medical aid in the country which supplies those weapons in the first place, demonstrates how all governments can act hypocritically and immorally.
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Marjane and her father go to meet a man named Khosro, who spent time in prison with Anoosh. Khosro manufactures fake passports for people seeking to leave the country. He also hides in his basement a young lady named Niloufar, a communist who the police have been trying to find. Khosro agrees to make Taher a passport, but says it will take a week. Before he manages to make it, though, Niloufar is spotted through the window of Khosro’s home, arrested, and executed. Khosro flees across the Turkish border by night in order to seek asylum in Sweden with his brother. Because he is unable to receive a fake passport in time to make it to London, Taher dies less than three weeks after the start of his hospitalization. His burial occurs the same day as the arrival of his government-issued passport.
Chance has a huge role in the fates of people during wartime. Though Taher would have been able to fly out to London with a fake passport and thus his life would have been saved, Khosro has to flee the country and cannot help him. The irony is that at the end Taher does receive a real government-issued passport, but only on the same day as his death.
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