The process of maturation from childhood to adulthood, or coming-of-age, is a unique experience that often shapes the way that an adult will conduct his or her life in the future. In literature, a Bildungsroman outlines the transformational experiences of a young person as they transition into adulthood. Regardless of the circumstances, readers can often identify with the protagonist in such a story because the struggle between childlike innocence and adult understanding is a universal conflict. Marjane Satrapi's memoir, Persepolis, details her upbringing in Iran during politically tumultuous times. Through the protagonist's often conflicting and confusing experiences with the oppressive Iranian regime, the Iraq war and the dynamics within her own politically involved Marxist family, Satrapi relates her own coming-of-age story in an attempt to humanize the Iranian experience. Two shifts, including; her loss of innocence, prompted by the war's erosion of her sense of security and her increased awareness of social inequality; and, her gaining of mature insights through her family's political involvement and her own education and observations, led her to act in ways that were mature beyond her fourteen years. Ernesto Che Guevara told his own version of the coming-of-age story through the diary he kept while he travelled around South America during a break from medical school. Like Satrapi, he came from an upper-middle class family and, also like Satrapi (although to a greater extent), his recognition of social inequality shapes his maturation process. However, Guevara's actions at the end of the Diaries suggest that this portion of his story did not provide many of the major turning points in his life that led him to become the extreme political figure he was in adulthood. While the reader finds that Guevara's journey enables him to put a human face on the innumerable stories of suffering that he had only read about in books (a shift in view of the world), his actions towards certain minority groups suggest that he had not dropped all preconceptions about the then-current class struggle (handout). Additionally, he claims to denounce the class system he inhabits, but his actions and suggestions toward the end of the story (when compared with his actions in his later life) indicate that this journey did not directly transform him into a revolutionary.
[...] When Uncle Anoosh says he was in prison for nine years, she remarks, “Nine years!” and thinks, “Better than Laly's father!” (Satrapi 60). After the earth-shattering events through the middle of the novel, Satrapi exhibits more appropriate responses. For instance, when her friend Pardisse writes far the best” report in the class, (in the form of a letter to her dead father), Satrapi (despite the fact that she was very proud of her own report) attempts to “console” Pardisse, instead of trying to mentally compete with her as she did with Laly. [...]
[...] Like Satrapi, he has many youthful moments of childish immaturity (however, his behavior is obviously still objectively more mature than Satrapi's, considering that he was much older); for example, he and Alberto fool a local newspaper into printing a story about them as “Argentine Leprosy Experts.” Guevara describes this caper as epitome of [their] audacity” (59). Another instance of youthful indulgence comes when he is drunk at a dance and attempts to seduce a married woman; “[r]unning back toward the village, pursed by a furious swarm of dancers, Alberto loudly mourned the loss of the wine her husband might have bought (62). [...]
[...] The reader's opinion may also be colored by her cynical responses (during her rebellious years) to knitting winter hoods for the soldiers, but her cynicism is decidedly lessened towards the end of the story because of another aspect of her loss of innocence, her loss of a sense of security. The violence surrounding the revolution and the Iraq war are another facet of the young Marjane's loss of innocence.The arrest and execution of her “beloved” uncle Anoosh shows a symbolic turning point her in sense of agency in the world's injustices; this is the point where she kicks god out of her life, and because god had earlier represented the possibility of changing the world (by becoming a prophet), she has also lost her sense of security that things would go back to in her life (Satrapi 70). [...]
[...] This scene is similar to Guevara's sharing his blanket (discussed later) with the communist couple, for now both of the protagonists feel they have personal ties to the class struggle. This development is seemingly contradicted later in the story when she learns that only the poor children get the “keys to paradise” (which means that they were going to fight in the Iraq war) and she seems to quickly forget this injustice in lieu of going to a party with her other wealthy friends wearing clothes with fake holes and homemade metal jewelry because “punk rock was (Satrapi 102). [...]
[...] They had not one single miserable blanket to cover themselves with, so we gave them one of ours It was one of the coldest times in my life, but also one which made me feel a little more brotherly toward this strange, for me at least human species” (Guevara 78). This passage tells the reader that Guevara's previous world view saw the poor as a faceless, pitiful group with whom he would not usually associate, but that after living among these people for a brief time (and facing similar hardships), he realized that they were people, just like himself and Alberto. [...]
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