Quote 1

“We can only feel sorry for ourselves when our misfortunes are still supportable. Once this limit is crossed, the only way to bear the unbearable is to laugh at it.”

This quote by Marji appears at the end of “The Joke” after a productive visit with her old friend Kia. Throughout the graphic memoir, Satrapi explores the theme of trauma and suffering, revealing many different attempts between her and other characters in trying to overcome it. Characters try altering their physical appearance through exercise, clothes, and makeup, and partake in both meditation and drugs. There’s also romance and looking to connect with others as a means of emotional support. All of these methods work, to varying degrees, but only for a time. Laughter and humor are sustainable life forces for the duration of Marji’s story. In this chapter, the joke shared by a childhood friend disabled in the war reveals how powerful laughter can be as a necessary and holistic survival mechanism. If her friend Kia can laugh in spite of his physical challenges, then Marji can navigate her struggles with a healthy sense of humor.

Quote 2

“I was a westerner in Iran, an Iranian in the West. I had no identity.”

This quote by Marji appears in “Skiing.” Satrapi examines the theme of identity from the first page of her graphic memoir through the end. Marji’s attempts to assimilate in Vienna have had varying degrees of success. Her traditional ways, resulting from her conservative upbringing in Iran, make her a misfit in the West. When she returns to Iran, she initially feels a sense of relief at the homecoming, but her more liberal ideas, especially about sex, keep her from fitting in with her old friends. With this quote, Marji directly addresses her struggle and her loneliness. Though she has the love and support of her family, she is a woman without a country. With Marji’s search for identity closely connected to her search for belonging, her lack of place makes her feel like no one. Marji’s depression and unsuccessful suicide attempt result in a turning point, allowing her to begin a physical transformation that launches a new phase of her journey of self-discovery.

Quote 3

“It’s fear that makes us lose our conscience. It’s also what transforms us into cowards. You had guts! I’m proud of you!”

This quote, spoken by Marji’s grandmother, appears near the end of “The Convocation” and concerns fear as a running motif. When Marji speaks out at school about the impractical nature of the dress code for female art students, she gets rewarded, not punished. By speaking up at the lecture, Marji does not let her fear stop her and she stays true to herself. This courageous act becomes redemptive for Marji in her grandmother’s eyes after her disgraceful behavior in “The Makeup.” Marji’s lie is an act of fear without concern for others, and her act of self-preservation is an act of pure cowardice. For Marji’s grandmother, fear is no excuse. The action is an insult to the legacy of Marji’s grandfather and her uncle. Early in the graphic memoir, Marji fears betraying her family by acting inappropriately in Vienna. By standing up and setting her fears aside, Marji is able to pave the path toward happiness and self-fulfillment.

Quote 4

“You only have one life. It’s your duty to live it well.”

This quote, spoken by Marji’s mother, appears in “The End.” Throughout the graphic memoir, Marji attempts to find her identity and her place in the world. Though she struggles and makes mistakes, Marji’s choices are her own and her family supports her. Upon returning to Iran, she only finds conflict rather than the comfort of home. Her inability to find a place with her old friends in her homeland and her inability to adapt to fundamentalist rule cannot sustain any semblance of a happy or fulfilling life. She cannot go back to an idealized country that no longer exists. The search for one’s true self thus becomes the most important theme in Persepolis 2. For Marji, that search cannot end in Iran. Living her life well means taking the best parts of her past and her culture and using them to build a life and a future in the wider world.