Marjane “Marji” Satrapi

The graphic memoir’s author and protagonist. As a teenager, Marji lives in Vienna away from her parents. Her search for identity and conflicted feelings about her culture often leave her on the outside looking in. She is intelligent, irreverent, and rebellious. She also lacks confidence as a result of her changing body, inability to fit in, and poor luck with romance. In many ways, she’s a typical teenager, though her experiences in the world are anything but typical.

Marji’s Mother

An intelligent, rational, liberal mother who wants the best for her daughter. Marji’s mother supports her and allows her to be independent. Though she loves her daughter, she wants nothing more than for Marji to leave Iran and its fundamentalist regime behind.

Marji’s Father

An intellectual, open, encouraging man who wants his daughter to be educated and independent. Marji’s father shares his thoughts openly, but he allows his daughter to make her own choices. He loves his daughter but believes her future is not in Iran.

Marji’s Grandmother

A non-traditional, irreverent woman who serves as a guiding influence in Marji’s life. Though she does not hold fast to traditional ways, she does believe in personal honor and integrity. The one and only time she’s angry at Marji makes a lasting impact on the young woman.


A former tank gunner in the war and Marji’s first husband. When Marji meets Reza at a party, she hears he has a reputation as a ladies’ man, though that turns out to be inaccurate. His first impression of Marji as a sophisticate also does not hold true. Though the couple are complete opposites, they complement each other. In Reza, Marji finds a connection to the war in her country. In Marji, Reza finds an innocence his wartime experiences no longer allow.


The boy who Marji calls her first great love. Markus is attractive and charming but far from the ideal boyfriend. His refusal to stand up to his mother’s anti-immigrant rant against Marji, as well as his putting her at risk of arrest by sending her to buy drugs, shows his weakness and willingness to take advantage of her.


A young woman from Austria and Marji’s first roommate at the boarding house run by nuns. The girls struggle at first as neither speak the same language, but the two cement their bond when Lucia invites Marji to her home over Christmas. Marji refers to Lucia as her sister and Lucia’s mom and dad as a new set of parents.


An older French student and Marji’s first friend at school. Julie is drawn to Marji’s independence and her association with war. She introduces Marji to the fellow outsiders, a group of anarchists who become a found family for Marji. Julie is sexually permissive and disrespectful to her mother.