Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is a narrative that describes the life of one of the main characters from her early years until she becomes an adult. Marjane is a young girl who grows in two nations with different cultures, both affecting her way of life. The setting is in Iran and the character grows amid challenges, but she still matures to a person of responsibility. She spends many years in Europe and, when she goes back to Iran, life is complicated and full of dark memories. The author utilizes graphics by employing black and white colour in man of the scenes. The reader can follow the story told in two parts of a country that undergoes several political changes and suffers greatly due to the war. The girl lives in different nations with contrasting cultures, since at one time she is in Europe and then back to her home country Iran (Satrapi 20). The transformation she undergoes in Europe affects her very much when she returns to her country. As a matter of fact, the changes are reflected by the use of black and white to contrast the two forms of lifestyles, situations, scenes, and emotions.
Black and white has been used to compare different experiences in life and perceptions which shape the behaviour of human beings. Children undergo several stages of life and encounter unique experiences before they reach their adulthood. The changes also affect their perceptions regarding certain aspects of life, such as cultural, social, political, and economic issues. Meeting with different people influences the perception of human beings and their way of understanding life. In Persepolis, the perception has been portrayed by using the contrast between black and white in which the former represents the dark side of life while the latter signifies purity and achievements. It somehow correlates with a children’s perception of the world, since the things are represented to them as either right or wrong. If gray is used, it shows a middle ground. In the Persepolis, the main character tries to build her personality and behave in the right manner as taught by her Islamic faith. In part one, she has a strong belief in God as a Muslim and tries to live by the teachings (Satrapi 76). This is portrayed in white, since she tries to maintain her values and keep her faith. However, some Islamic extremities make her lose her confidence because of the violence she experiences. Her parents influenced her when she was a child about the political changes in Iran. She formed a negative opinion about the whole idea. Persepolis presents situations in white and black as Marjane sees them. However, these matters also widens her way of perceiving the world as she grows from a little child to a young adult seeing both bright and dark side of life.
The two colours are used to highlight different situations and happenings in the narration. In the store, the blackened shades are portraying something negative, but the lightened shades mostly in white represent good and pure images. The two colours are also used to contrast ideas, such as in the case of demonstrating face in the streets. Some want to wear veils, while others are against them, and women who argue for it are portrayed in black (Satrapi 5). This shows their extreme conservative perception to retain their traditions and garments, but the women who prefer freedom are dressed in white. Those wishing for the veil were still living in the dark ages when women had no freedom of expression. Again, black and white is used when the poor boys are awarded gold keys, which symbolize paradise after serving in the military. However, they die fighting in the war and relatives are left with only sad memories (Satrapi 102). The scene when Marjane and her friends are dancing emphasizes on the use of colour, since the site is brightened to show their happiness. However, the execution of her uncle is a dark moment for her, since she cannot understand the cruelty in the perpetrators (Satrapi 71). When she rejects God, she becomes depressed, and the black colour has been used to show the situation. The picture is dark, indicating the level of despair she is in, as she wonders why her uncle had to die. However, God and uncle Anoosh are in light colours on the whitened side, showing that she regarded them highly.
Black and white is used to show moments of joy and sadness in the book. In part two of the book, Marjane grows into a young woman and is aware of the happenings around her. However, she is in Europe away from her home country and engages in activities, such as sex, drug use, and other aspects of city life. Afterwards, she returns to Iran and finds life tough, as she cannot adapt to the Islamic culture as required. She decides to find new friends, challenge Islamic faith, and goes against its establishments. Again, the destroyed buildings in the war-torn country are shown as dark walls, as well as other dark images of streets and religious murals (Satrapi 84). The sites were traumatizing to her due to the level of destruction, and she decided to go home. However, white has been used during her bright moments, such as during Marjane’s visit to a grocery store, while in Europe (Satrapi 96). She enjoys the site of fresh vegetables on display, since it was unique and had never seen it in her home country. She also becomes happy when she visits Kia, her friend who suffered injuries in the big war. Kia was happy for being alive and for having a caring friend (Satrapi 108-111). Although the war has ruined almost everything, those who are still alive are happy and trying to adjust to the new life. Young people were convinced to go to war by the government with many promises, but many of them died and even more property was destroyed.
Sometimes black color may not be used to show wickedness, darkness, secretive, hidden, or bad situations. The color is used to provide a contrasting background in various works of art to ensure that the figures are visible and enhance beauty. In this case, it guards emotions and feelings of the user by hiding the vulnerability or lack of self-confidence in an individual. For instance, it can cover situations and moments that can bring stress to individuals such as during funerals. When relatives of the deceased wear black they reduce the amount of attention from the crowd and have some peace of mind. Everyone knows they are moaning and avoids actions that may trigger more sorrow. In addition, it can help people in reducing attention on their weight, appearance, feelings, and fears since it enhance self-confidence. This way black plays a positive role in protecting the individual from psychological and emotional turmoil. In the Persepolis, black is not entirely used to depict bad things since in some cases it is used to promote human dignity. For instance, the veil worn by Muslim girls is for purity purposes since it helps the women in covering their body parts that should not be exposed according to the religious rule (Satrapi 79). In this case, it depicts moral purity of women that use it since they do not expose their face to the world to admire their beauty. Those that support its use can be considered pure since they want to remain loyal to their religion. The police officers sent to the battlegrounds are also in black uniform (Satrapi 108). This does not mean that they are evil as they have sacrificed their time to participate in the war. Since they are defending their country their black suits portray obedience, commitment, loyalty, and personal sacrifice.
White may also not represent pure, innocence, clean, or holy as people may believe. The color is quite conspicuous and revealing, which can lead to misinterpretation of information. Unlike black which is protective, white tends to reveal secrets and the wearer may feel uncomfortable due to the attention he/she attracts. It lacks comfort since someone can keep on thinking about the opinion of the crowd instead of concentrating on other important aspect of life. White may show weakness and love for attention from other parties such as the government, human rights groups, feminists, or agents that deal with various issues in the society. For instance, in the novel by Persepolis, those that oppose the wearing of the veil are in white to demonstrate their weakness of character (Satrapi 6). According to the Islamic faith, covering bodies is important for women since it is a show of respect. However, some are protesting against the rule dressed in white to attract attention from other people and groups to offer them support. White is also not formal and mostly is used for unique occasions such as weddings and parties. Wearing a white suit to work would attract too much attention and people would wonder about the intention of the wearer. It is used in many situations although it may create impressions that the users have some weaknesses and want to attract people by their looks. This demonstrates lack of self-confidence since someone wants others to notice his/her presence. White may not provide the comfort one may need especially in public as one may fear dirtying the garment and being embarrassed.
The two colours are used as metaphors denoting two different situations, such as right and wrong, happiness and sadness among others. For instance, Marjane experiences both happy and sorrow moments throughout the book, based on the circumstance. Black and white have also been used to strengthen the story by contrasting different phenomena depending on the mood or the situation. Persepolis utilizes black and white to communicate feeling, emotions, scenes, and situations in the entire story. Iran was in war and many people died there, and the author describes her experience in a story that portrays actions with the help of contrasting colours. Instead of using many words, she employs graphics to allow the reader interpret the scene as it is depicted.