Persepolis

Themes and Colors
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
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Persepolis, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Violence, Forgiveness, and Justice Theme Icon

The historical body count by the end of Persepolis is enormous: from the start of the Revolution to the end of the Iraq-Iran War over a million people die—on the battlefield, in the streets, and in prison cells—killed by the Shah and by the Islamic Republic that replaces the Shah. By the end of the book, Marjane expresses her sorrow that “we could have avoided it all”, indicating a belief that much of the damage done to the Iranian people was a result of the Iranian regime’s own actions: its warmongering with Iraq, its radicalization of young soldiers, its religious fanaticism, its valorization of martyrdom. Official, legally sanctioned punishment for infractions as small as an improperly worn veil or the possession of forbidden party fare could be shockingly severe, including torture and death, and the people who carry out these punishments are usually agents of the regime. As such, Marjane claims, “it was really our own who attacked us.”

Marjane must therefore contend with the reality of the complicity of the people around her. In the early days after the end of the Revolution, Marjane and her friends find out that Ramin’s father was part of the secret police under the Shah that killed many people. They decide to get revenge by holding nails between their fingers and attacking Ramin. However, Marjane’s mother teaches her that one cannot blame and punish the child of the perpetrator, who has nothing to do with the crimes committed. She claims that one must forgive, and Marjane takes this to heart. Later, however, after seeing the deaths perpetrated by the new Islamic Republic, she contradicts herself somewhat, saying that “bad people are dangerous, but forgiving them is, too.” This comment suggests the realization of an impossible situation, the realization that despite what the storybooks might say, forgiveness is not a cure-all, that forgiving bad people won’t magically turn them good. At one point, Marjane’s mother claims, “Don’t worry, there is justice on earth.” But the book seems to constantly question the veracity of this claim. In Persepolis little justice is to be found.

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Violence, Forgiveness, and Justice ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Violence, Forgiveness, and Justice appears in each section of Persepolis. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Violence, Forgiveness, and Justice Quotes in Persepolis

Below you will find the important quotes in Persepolis related to the theme of Violence, Forgiveness, and Justice.
The Veil Quotes

I wanted to be justice, love, and the wrath of God all in one.

Related Characters: Marjane Satrapi (speaker)
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Bicycle Quotes

“The Revolution is like a bicycle. When the wheels don’t turn, it falls.”

Related Characters: Marjane Satrapi (speaker)
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

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Persepolis Quotes

“You know, my child, since the dawn of time, dynasties have succeeded each other but the kings always kept their promises. The Shah kept none.”

Related Characters: Marjane’s Grandmother (speaker), Marjane Satrapi
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

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“All the country’s money went into ridiculous celebrations of the 2500 years of dynasty and other frivolities…all of this to impress heads of state; the population couldn’t have cared less.”

Related Characters: Marjane’s Grandmother (speaker), Marjane Satrapi
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Letter Quotes

The reason for my shame and for the revolution is the same: the difference between social classes

Related Characters: Marjane Satrapi (speaker)
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Party Quotes

“As long as there is oil in the middle east we will never have peace.”

Related Characters: Marjane’s Parents (Mother and Father) (speaker)
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Heroes Quotes

My father was not a hero, my mother wanted to kill people…so I went out to play in the street.

Related Characters: Marjane Satrapi (speaker), Marjane’s Parents (Mother and Father), Siamak Jari
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:

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The F-14s Quotes

“The real Islamic invasion has come from our own government.”

Related Characters: Marjane’s Parents (Mother and Father) (speaker), Marjane Satrapi
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

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War always takes you by surprise.

Related Characters: Marjane Satrapi (speaker), Marjane’s Parents (Mother and Father)
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

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“I wish he were alive and in jail rather than dead and a hero.”

Related Characters: Paradisse (speaker), Marjane Satrapi
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

The Jewels Quotes

“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!”

Related Characters: Mali (speaker), Marjane Satrapi, Marjane’s Parents (Mother and Father)
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

The Key Quotes

“Our country has always known war and martyrs, so, like my father said: ‘When a big wave comes, lower your head and let it pass!’”

Related Characters: Marjane’s Parents (Mother and Father) (speaker), Marjane Satrapi
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

The Cigarette Quotes

“To die a martyr is to inject blood into the veins of society.”

Related Characters: Marjane Satrapi
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

The Dowry Quotes

“If [people] hurt you, tell yourself that it’s because they’re stupid. That will help keep you from reacting to their cruelty. Because there is nothing worse than bitterness and vengeance…Always keep your dignity and be true to yourself.”

Related Characters: Marjane’s Grandmother (speaker), Marjane Satrapi
Page Number: 150
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.