Marjane Satrapi’s, Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, was insightful and intriguing. Continuing the story from Persepolis 1, it begins with her life at the Viennese French school. Having been away from home for part of my high school education, I related a lot to her experience. Except the part where she basically has no adult supervision. It hit home how bad things were in Iran in the late 80′s. So bad that her parents were wiling to send her halfway around the world to live with a family friend, who sends her to live with nuns, who kick her out, to living with 8 gay men in an apartment, to finally getting her own place. Did I mention she’s just 18 by the end of it?
Just her housing problems alone, I feel for Satrapi. Yet, she demonstrates a tenacity that many people don’t have. Whether it’s because of her upbringing, her personality, or the dire circumstances of what awaits her at home in Iran that makes her fight to keep pursuing her education.
But ultimately her circumstances become too much. After graduating from the French lycee in Vienna, she returns to Iran and to her family. Her desire to return to her social and safety network is understandable. Unfortunately, she realizes that her time away from home has made her a foreigner in her own country. While she was adapting to life in Europe, her generation was adapting to life under the conservative Islamic regime. She comes home greeted by a way of life that is foreign to her.
Once again showing her tenacious spirit, she casts off her past and embraces and embarks on her future. This is one lesson I think we all can learn from her story. That no matter how hard your past has been and no matter how hard it is to find that sometimes nebulous place called home, you always have the opportunity to build your future. So forget about the rubble of your past and look to the untainted future. I think all to often we fall into the trap of being victims and clinging to our hurt and angst. But those feelings won’t make us successful or find us the healing we need. Instead, we have to learn from our past, however painful it may be. As Satrapi’s mother continually tells her, we must make something of ourselves.