The Concept of Adulthood in Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

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By: Rebecca Ann Menezes

Persepolis is an autobiographical graphic novel written in Marjane Satrapi’s point of view. It is about how she was raised in Iran before and during The Islamic Revolution that started in 1979. During this time, Iran experienced great turmoil and suffered political unrest. Regarding the revolution, her parents were in support of the Marxist foundations against the monarchy of the last Shah, but then against the Islamic Government. They also frequently attended political protests. So, influenced by her socio-politically involved family, Marjane grew up with interests in social activism.

What Exactly IS Adulthood?

Adulthood is when one has reached physical/sexual maturity or a certain age. However, this essay looks at the definition of adulthood in its psychological sense, which is often synonymous with having “reached maturity,” being “fully grown/developed” and/or being “sensible: not childish.”[1] This is interesting as considering we are a constantly developing race, is it possible to truly be fully developed? Moreover, how do we define the distinction between ‘childish’/childlike behaviour and a misguided decision? E.g. when Marjane, as an ‘adult’ in terms of age, distracted enforcers of the constrictive religious law, from seeing her make-up, by accusing an innocent male bystander of verbal harassment. Was this a childish act because of its lack of careful/decisive thought even though Marjane was at a ‘mature’ age?

In The Book

Marjane experienced two opposite atmospheres in which to grow up; Vienna, Austria and Tehran, Iran, posing an interesting exploration of her journey into adulthood. I feel it is extremely important to note that Marjane did not simply reach adulthood. Instead, her journey there was a long and eventful one, which I think is one of Persepolis’s main themes. In my opinion, this theme, is the heart of what the novel portrays, adding to its value as a bildungsroman.

At age 10, Marjane sees her mother disguising herself because she was photographed protesting against a movement that made wearing the veil compulsory. Conflicted about being scared for or proud of her mother, Marjane recognises her inner conflict of religion versus modernism, despite the fact that she had not developed an opinion about the veil yet. One might say that this recurring theme of inner conflict in the novel can be portrayed as an inner turmoil that reflected the outer one Iran was under at the time. This shows this conflict by illustrating Marjane as half religious and half modern.

However, what I find interesting about this frame is that her modern side is shown as calculative and measured, perhaps implying a more thoughtful yet factual idea of it from her point of view. Her religious side is drawn artfully, perhaps implying an increasingly abstract relation to it. At this point in the book, she is not considered an adult, she shows maturity in her thinking as she recognises the importance of making her own decision. The journey to adulthood is all about vital experience, which is something Marjane does not lack. This is perhaps why she often displays this characteristic maturity in terms of how she handles the ongoing war, riots, conflict, etc. i.e. she has explored and experienced her different perspectives of it be it modern, religious, cultural, patriotic etc..

A prominent scene to consider when exploring adulthood, is when Marjane, aged 12, goes down to the basement, her ‘hideaway’, after an argument with her mother that involved some questioning about her skipping class and what Marjane will do in the future if she doesn’t learn as much and as well as she can. There, Marjane compares her situation against her mother’s ‘dictatorship’ to the repressive, systematic arresting and execution of those who opposed the regime. She tells herself that she seals her act of rebellion with a cigarette she stole from her uncle. This, to me, was youthfully ironic because as she declared “with this first cigarette I kissed childhood goodbye,” she did so with exaggeration as she compared her case to a far graver one i.e. the regime. She also performed her ceremony in a childlike manner as she used smoking as symbol of adulthood, which is what she thought to be a grown-up thing to do (we know this because she stole the cigarette from her admired uncle). I think, the fact that she now deems herself a grown-up through this childlike act shows that she has a lot of maturing to do and that there is innocence left in this ‘rebel’.

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The technique of putting the events of this scene in a continuous yet fast paced series of pictures by using equal sized illustrations placed in the same row on the page  is effective, as it allows the reader to see that Marjane perceives growing up as an instantaneous occurrence; a childlike thought. Here she is still in the midst of her budding and in fact, starts her journey at the very beginning of the novel, at age 10, as mentioned above. Considering Persepolis as a bildungsroman points out that the book is her experiences of coming of age and so in a sense, she, as a character, is growing for as long as the book continues.

Throughout her Iranian upbringing, she learns things about herself and the Islamic Revolution. She goes from wanting to be a Muslim prophet, wanting to be a revolutionary to reading everything she can about political affairs, further showing her inner turmoil. But despite all the knowledge she had acquired and her great attempts to be like her parents, she realises she doesn’t understand everything as of yet. We see this through one of my favourite quotes from the book, where Marjane says, “something escaped me. Cadaver, cancer, death, murderer… laughter?” This is said after she hears her parents laughing about an unfortunate event from that day.

What I enjoy about this frame is that she is drawn alone as she thinks about the situation and only admits her incompetence to herself. Here, we see that she does not understand dark humour, which is quite a mature thing to appreciate. She resorts to laughing out loud and acknowledges her lack of comprehension, noting that she needs to improve by reading more. I find her reaction to be rather sweet and quite typical of a child.

All that Marjane experiences in Vienna plays is essential to her development. She not only experiences a vast change in the society, its safety and her mental/physical state and appearance, but also gets to exercise her rebellious side. She acquires her own sense of fashion, which I think, is an important aspect of her growing up, as she learns who she is and is one step closer to being able to identify herself. She explores her sexuality, allowing her to further navigate herself. And after being cheated on, having her heart broken, getting bronchitis from smoking too much and roaming the streets of Vienna, she decides to go back to Iran. Her decision acts as an addition to her collection of learning experiences as she realises her personality was such that she “would rather put [herself] in danger than confront [her] shame”. This again shows her identifying with her personality which is an integral part of maturing into a woman. This is what I think adulthood is; knowing and accepting who you are as a person, accepting flaws and appreciating skills. If adulthood is truly based on experience, an adult should have enough of this to know that fighting their own personality benefits no one.

When back in Iran, she returns home to her old room that has all her old posters and pictures that she realises she has grown out of. She concludes that now, her “Viennese misadventures seemed like little anecdotes of no importance.” She decides “to take this little problem as a sign. It was time to finish with the past and to look forward to the future.” Here, she decides to let go of her childhood. Although this seems to be a minor scene in terms of size, I think it is significant in its simplicity and effective as it is indeed a part of her journey. It is here, that she accepts her changing self and allows herself to approach adulthood. Notice, that I say approach and not arrive or reach because I believe that this novel as a bildungsroman, explores Marjane’s coming of age. This does not necessarily mean she is now “fully developed” or “reached maturity”.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the novel Persepolis acts as a portrayal of Marjane’s journey to adulthood, which does not necessarily mandate that she ends as an adult. She shows characteristics of it such as acceptance of herself, but I think that as a character and a person, Marjane Satrapi is constantly growing and developing, as we are. Though physically an adult, exploring oneself never stops and I think that this is one of the main ideas behind Persepolis.

How Two of My Favourite Short Stories Evoke Horror

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By: Rebecca Ann Menezes

I feel that the short stories: The Yellow Wall Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs were most effective in making me feel tense and the intended mood, projected by the writers in their different styles and layouts of writing. This included their tones, and their two very different concepts of supernatural and realistic horror.

The Titles

The titles: The Yellow Wall Paper and Monkey’s Paw have two different senses of horror that are alluring for the readers. Monkey’s Paw brings a sense of direct horror and ere because monkey’s do not have paws, and to imagine two things that do not belong together, as a piece, automatically brings in the concept of supernatural, especially when considering it is just the ‘paw’ and not the entire body and the fact that it is a dead body part of a previously living animal. The Yellow Wall Paper seems like a normal, everyday object, so to have a title as such makes the reader question as to what could be so interesting about the paper that a story was written about it. In this way both titles bring about a mysterious sense that is quite ominous as we know it hints at the theme of horror.

Some Serious Situations

“…dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide-plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions” – this is The Yellow Wall Paper described by the woman. In my opinion, when one analyses this, it can be said that it portrays the woman’s subconscious views and feeling to do with her outcome that may be referred to as “destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions” which could interpret her future desire to “plunge off at outrageous angles” and “suddenly commit suicide” as the pattern of the wall paper does. The potential subtext in this realistic description evokes horror as it shows the reader how serious her situation is, and the scare that her conscious brain does not realise it, even though it may lead to something as harsh as death, is almost disturbing.

This theory is reinforced when the woman notes:  “I am getting angry enough to do something desperate. To jump out of the window would be admirable exercise,” this frightens me, to think that something so largely disturbing can come from restricting someone. “”It had a spell put on it by an old fakir,” said the sergeant-major, “a very holy man. He wanted to show that fate ruled people’s lives, and that those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow. He put a spell on it so that three separate men could each have three wishes from it.”” – this is the supernatural back ground story of the Monkey’s Paw told by sergeant-major. Personally, I feel that the mystery that arouses from the questions in the readers’ minds, portrays horror in the sense of suspense. Questions such as “Does it really work?”, “what does he mean by ‘did so to their sorrow’?” and “what’s going to happen?” come to mind at this point, inducing a feeling of uncertainty of the ominous events of the future from the horror that is this Monkey’s Paw.

Creepy Imagery

“”I’ve got out at last,” said I, “in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!”… so that I had to creep over him every time!” from this in The Yellow Wall Paper, our questions are answered. The realistic possibility of one going mad in an overly controlled environment is shown and we finally see that the woman she saw in the wall paper trying to break free is her subconscious mind’s interpretation of her situation. And as the picture of this gets clearer, it is documented that she gets worse, so the change in clarity of the picture shows the progression of the woman’s madness or sickness. This effective imagery of the woman crawling over her fainted husband in the room over and over, ‘round and round and round–round and round and round’ the room is disturbing; especially knowing that it came from this woman that started out to be perfectly sane, yet ends up the opposite in such little time because of her constricted routine. There is such horror in knowing that this madness is so easily attainable. “”I wish for two hundred pounds,” said the old man distinctly… “It moved,” he cried, with a glance of disgust at the object as it lay on the floor. “As I wished it twisted in my hands like a snake.”” This supernatural possibility is almost disgustingly horrible, as what is meant to be inanimate, or rather once alive but now should be very dead, is moving and granting wishes! This supernatural effect of giving an inanimate object power and life, is similar to what Gilman does with the wall paper, as it too portrays life; the life of the woman.

To Conclude

In conclusion, both writers insist we find horror in even the most obscure things, be it a cursed paw or dreaded yellow wall paper. Realistic horror makes it very effective as there is great chance of it actually happening, influencing the reader more towards the mood. Supernatural horror allows the reader to imagine further as there are no boundaries to what is not completely certain, influencing the reader by it’s tone, mood and imagery. So, in my opinion, I feel that both writers convey horror in the two concepts of supernatural and realistic horror, effectively.

 

Why Everyone Should Have Dogs Instead of Kids :D

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By: Diya Sanghani

Wonder why you hate it when someone walks slowly in front of you but you don’t mind your dog sniffing and starring at everything; When you meet a new baby, you smile and say “AWW,” but when you meet a new pup, you squeal, jump up and down, and spew out unintelligible words of affection? We’ll tell you why…

1. Dogs never crib and make a fuss about food. In fact they don’t mind eating the same food every day.

Source : Dogster

2. They’re always excited to see you even if it’s in intervals of 10 minutes.

Source: Know Your Meme

3. However old they are, you can openly show them affection.

Source: Husky Lovers

4. Dogs are a more economical source of love and don’t constantly ask for money.

Source: Pets- The Nest

5. These little bundles of joy are on top of the world with the simplest of things like a ball or a game of tug of war.

Source: Youtube

6. Unlimited love and poop. On this note, dogs are home and potty trained faster than kids!

Source: Drs. Foster and Smith

7. Let’s face it, no labour pains so the more the merrier.

Source: Pinterest

8. Holding a baby is a struggle, snuggling a puppy isn’t.

Source: BuzzFeed

9. Their baby pictures will always be cuter than any baby’s pictures.

Source: Husky Lovers

10. You have a long list of possible dog names, but are stumped when somebody asks what you’d name your child.

Source: MyDogsName

11. You never want puppies to grow up, but you really wish babies would.

Source: SpoiledNYC

 

Categories: Opinion

Why I Love The Wire: TV Show Review.

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I started watching The Wire about six months ago. I was told that it possibly is the best TV show one could come across. Armed with this knowledge, I took a three-month plunge into it and found myself a much better man at the end of the 5 phenomenal seasons of this TV Show.

 

The Wire talks about the city of Baltimore, which is rife with issues. It has a total of five seasons, each focusing on a pertinent issue- drugs, the seaport, government, education system, and the print media. Each episode is a healthy 42 minutes and every season is packed with content.

Throughout the TV show, in the various seasons and episodes, there is minimal background music. This TV show relies on natural background sounds to fill the void- when it’s not being barraged by bullets and expletives.

With this TV show, soon enough, the viewer realises that the TV show itself does not have any characters as conventional hero or villain- the protagonist does some pretty ugly things in most episodes. The “baddies” or villains have characters that often introspect and ask themselves whether what they’re doing is actually worth it, and try to resolve other issues in their own way. The recurring pattern throughout the 5 seasons is that the fault is in the system- however much a single person (or a bunch of them) try to change the system, they can’t.

Oh, in every season, the lead hero/protagonist character is also an alcoholic who always crosses the wrong people, but is smart. Every episode of each season is packed with entertainment.

The TV show is acted out brilliantly- shoutout to the characters of Omar Little, Cedric Daniels, and Bubbles. In season four and season five of this TV show, in most of the episodes, some of the detectives and journalists characters act as themselves, which just adds to the TV show.

The real winner  is the writing. Each character has been so elaborately written, in every episode of all 5 seasons. The character of Omar has to be the most well-written character in the history of Tv Shows. (Sorry, Tony Soprano and Walter White.) The scenes have been set appropriately, and no scene seems unnecessarily drawn-out. Case in point, in this one episode, there’s a scene in which the character Bunk Moreland and heartthrob character McNulty solve a case by saying nothing but the word “fuck”. It lasts in excess of four minutes, and you don’t need to follow the story to notice the Tv Show’s innate brilliance.

The Wire — Fuck (01×04) — YouTube

However, the TV show is held back by it’s strongest facet- the dialogues. Since majority of the characters are African-American, their conversations are often esoteric in nature, and require a heavy dependence on subtitles for reference. However, this keeps the realism of the Baltimore projects alive throughout every episode of the five seasons of the TV show.

Barack Obama calls it his favourite TV show, even over House of Cards. TIME, Slate and The Guardian have named it as the best TV show ever. Harvard and John Hopkins offer courses in sociology and filmmaking based on the TV show and certain episodes.

 

 

 

 

 

Shashwat Mohanty writes on his favorite TV Show: The Wire. Originally posted on Medium: https://medium.com/@mohantee/the-wire-dfc4c34af1af#.ju7bepqud

 

Sleep Paralysis

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Written by: Nivedita Sanjai

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Tired from a long hard day, you snuggle into your bed, under the warmth of your comforter. The day’s activities and your tiredness slowly fade away as you stretch and yawn and are finally pulled into the haven of sleep. Closed eyes though suddenly terrify you, when suddenly you are unable to move. A heavy object on your chest seems to constrict your breathing and your hands and feet are frozen, as if suddenly not yours, suddenly not in your control.

This phenomenon is known as sleep paralysis and it is rarely due to some disorder or psychological problems. It is a temporary paralysis that occurs during the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) period of our sleep. However, due to its unexpected nature and the temporary paralysis, it can cause panic and fear.

Though noticed first in the teen years, it can happen to both the genders and at any age. It can be triggered due to lack of sleep, change in routine, sleeping on the back and can sometimes also be linked to mental or sleep disorders.

Sleep paralysis has found its roots in almost all cultures of the world and in fact, Samuel Johnson in his A Dictionary of the English Language has defined it as nightmare, which has now become a common word for us all. The phenomenon is also mentioned vividly in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

In folklore it is explained by the term Night Hag which refers to a supernatural, evil or demonises presence that causes immobility by sitting on the person’s chest.

In the Kashmiri mythology it is referred to as a sayaa. One experiences this if they have not been worshipping god, not been cleaning their house or been doing something of evil nature. In Tamil Nadu, it is known as Amuku Be or Amuku Pei which means “the ghost that forces one down”.

Often people who have had sleep paralysis say that focusing on breathing and wiggling your fingers and toes is the best way to snap out of it. Trying new positions of sleeping also helps. If anxious about it, it is recommended to get a check up done. Though, once again, most people do not need a treatment for it.

When mastered, some people use sleep paralysis as a gateway to lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is when one is aware of dreaming and is able to control. Experts of it have been able to fly, eat fire and dance among the stars and call this experience extra ordinary. Since sleep paralysis happens during the REM period, it is easier to lose the paralysis and enter the world of dreams by becoming aware that the body is dreaming.

While this phenomenon is a terrifying one, it is also quite ethereal to the possibilities of our mind. If conquered over, it can open the dreamland and help in gaining self awareness.

Categories: Opinion