Prior to the revolution, Satrapi is sure about her identity, even though it is naive and childlike. “At the age of six, I was already sure I was the last prophet” (page 6). She has a clear mission as well: to bridge the gap of inequality of the classes. “I wanted to be a prophet because our maid did not eat with us” (page 6). Satrapi even takes steps for this idea of being a prophet to come to fruition. She has God as her best imaginary friend, has her grandmother to support her and is writing a holy book to further invigorate her beliefs. Sataptrai’s use of characterization establishes her as the protagonist early on in the novel as a young and naive child.
Growing up, Marji notices various changes as the revolution is taking place all around. “My faith was not unshakable. The year of the revolution, I had to take action. So I put my prophetic destiny aside for a while. Today my name is Che Guevara” (page 13). At this point, it is evident that the her surroundings are taking her away from her dream of becoming a prophet. As the revolution is happening, the author resorts to internal conflict to show Marji is confused of who she is. Her cultural beliefs come under pressure as she is trying to blend into her surroundings but does not quite understand why. “I really didn’t know what to think about the veil. Deep down I was very religious but as a family, we were very modern and avant-garde” (page 9). When the Shah is overthrown, Marji seems to have no identity of her own. She is now a mindless follower who is quick to jump to conclusions. Using character epiphany, the author shows how Marji is even ready to punish her friend, Ramin, because of his father’s so-called crimes, not even giving him a chance to explain first. “In the name of the dead millions, we’ll teach Ramin a good lesson. I have an idea…to put nails between my fingers…to attack Ramin” (page 48). Thus, Satrapi’s use of inner conflict serves to emphasize her uncertainty and the very beginnings of her road to adulthood.
As her uncle Anoosh is executed, using symbolism, Satrapi shows how the she banishes her former ideas and identity. “Shut up you. Get out of my life. I never want to see you again” (page 73). She sends her God away and banishes him from her life. The age of her innocence is over and she is really a blank slate waiting to be reborn. After Marjane banishes God from her life, she is depicted to be floating in space with no direction and a blank expression on her face, conveying a sense of timelessness. “And so I was lost, without any bearings… What could be worse than that?” (page 71) This panel invites the reader to feel lost in the page, similar to how Marjane feels lost in the world after breaking off her relationship with God. It is only on the next page when her father yells, “Marji, run to the basement! We are being bombed,” that this sense of timelessness is broken, and the reader is continues to follow the regular sequence of panels in the memoir. God was her guide with whom she would discuss the problems in her life that she found confusing and stressful, and without God, we see Marjane in future chapters becoming lonely and lost without the “safety” of her one true friend.
On pages 69 to 71, when Marjane visits Uncle Anoosh in prison for the last time, who she later discovers is executed. In the earlier pages, graphic weight isn’t very prevalent, but as the narrative progresses, the background becomes dark, signaling that something important is happening/will happen. This visual contrast of white and black also adds emotions, or lack thereof, to the novel, as the reader discovers alongside Marjane that Anoosh was executed. Marjane then denounces God from her life in an angry outburst, feeling “lost, without any bearings.” Satrapi again utilizes contrast in both visual and narrative forms to emphasize this big turning point in her life and bring meaning to it.
Nonetheless, slowly, this maturity sees a new identity come to light. To solidify this idea, over time, she dresses in a way to show her opposition to the regime as they impose restrictive garb to women. The distribution of flyers at the demonstration against the veil becomes also one of the ways she defends her opinions. Little Marji Satrapi is no longer a blind follower. As one of her friends tells her of the news of how many planes were lost in the ongoing war, Marji is quick to make sense of the propaganda. “Everyday they tell us we have destroyed ten planes and five tanks. If you start from the beginning of the war , that makes six thousand planes and three thousand tanks destroyed. Even the Americans don’t have an army this big” (page 114). Marji, misses school to go to see boys, knows how to try and manipulate her mother, and shows her rebellion with ease. The most concrete act she commits to signal a new chapter in her coming of age is when she steals a cigarette from her uncle to smoke in defiance of her mother. “As for me, I sealed my act of rebellion against my mother’s dictatorship by smoking the cigarette…With this first cigarette I kissed childhood goodbye. Now I was a grown up” (page 120). Through the use of symbolism, Satrapi expresses her defiance as a young woman.