Monday, December 14, 2009

Overarching Themes of Identity

Throughout the novel, Persepolis, the theme of identity is established. This theme of different forms of identity can also be depicted in the four daily lesson plans on our website blog. Persepolis is a graphic novel that follows the development of one young girl, Marjane, who along with the reader struggles to assimilate into every culture she is placed into. In this graphic novel, the reader is shown both the physical turmoil (with Satrapi coping with the rules and regulations that have been placed onto her as a Mulsim women) as well as the internal crisis Marjane undergoes throughout the entire novel. The Shah has overthrown and placed regulations onto those who have differing views (meaning Marjane and her family specifically). Marjane is first shown as a naive and complacent young girl. However, as novel unfolds Marjane becomes informed and decides to fight back against the rules and restrictions that have been placed on her. Overall, Marjane’s story depicts her life struggle of physical assimilation into culture after culture, as well as her internal battle which is essentially a reflection of the issues she faces as a young women coping with the fight against the Shah’s power to take over her country. This power eventually results in Marjane Satrapi’s loss of identity, which is prevelant throughout the entire novel. For instance, how Marjane is never truly able to adapt to the culture in terms of the clothing, music, or language used. Marjane is a representative of the loss of culture that her identity has undergone as a women of Muslim descent.

The four daily lesson plans have been incorporated into the website blog as a means for an outlet for students who do not fully understand or comprehend the major and minor themes in Marjane Satrapi’s novel The Complete Persepolis. The website has been written from the perspective of a high school English teacher to answer the lack of understanding discussed in the above statement. The lesson plans were divided into the four main themes we found to be most prevalent in the graphic novel, Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi. For instance, the first daily lesson plan deals with issues of physical representation of one’s identity, specifically one’s religion. By having students undergo a mock simulation of wearing the veil, it is the objective and goal to have students fully understand the emotional as well as physical turmoil Marjane must have been experiencing when she was forced to wear a veil (a physical reminder of her religion and cultural identity day in and day out).

The second daily lesson plan was placed into a web blog as a outlet for students to comprehend the conflicting choices Marjane was forced to make, rather large or small. We always wanted to incorporate this aspect into the website blog to establish common ground and coherence among the many students viewing this blog. It was our belief that students would find this daily lesson plan as the most prevelant and relavent in their own daily life.

The third daily lesson plan was implemented into the website blog in order to address the issue of family relationships throughout the novel. Specifically, the close interpersonal relationships Marjane experiences with her Uncle Annosh as well as her mother and father depict the different voices and essentially identities Marjane is left feeling torn between throughout the novel.

The fourth daily lesson plan was placed into the website blog as a means to address transitions throughout the novel, and in turn the larger society. For instance, when Marjane makes her first trip overseas to Austria, she is left with the emotional turmoil and anxiety of dealing with her inability to assimilate into the Austrian culture. The above statements are reasons for the main characters desire to become an insider throughout the novel. Particularly, students should be able to pull the theme of identity that is incorporated throughout the entire piece, as well as the four daily lesson plan entries.

The theme of identity is incorporated into the aspect of Psychology, because the main character is reflective of both her own thoughts, wants, and desires. The reader is able to acquire a similar understanding and emotion of helping one’s fellow neighbor. Through this theme of common good, students will be able to acquire a better, more in depth retrospective understanding of themselves in comparison to the main character in the novel. There are many ways in which teachers can and should use this novel,Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi within a classroom setting.

This novel is extremely applicable within the classroom setting, and should be used as a reference for high school students looking for content involving identity. Evidence of this can be viewed in the following quote.

"A great way, I feel, to use Persepolis in a class lesson would be a as a study in non text based literature. Many times, English classes tend to only focus on novels and poetry, and never really delve into other forms of writing, such as memoirs, nonfiction essays, plays or scripts, and graphic novels"(Ryneb, 2008).

This author believes that it is of critical importance for these types of minority texts to be incorporated into the classroom and used and engaged with students as much if not more than the classical novels we are accustomed to. The novel is addressed as a strong piece of work because of its authentic and diverse representations of different and often times minority cultures. Because the themes presented in the novel,Persepolis, contains such deep and often times difficult controversial issues, the author discusses the importance of engaging other pieces of literature such as, historical references and other pieces of work which are more easily utilized in the classroom setting by high school students within the curriculum. This novel is relevant due to the controversial media in today’s society, dealing with the war in Iraq. Students are able to relate to these topics more easily because of their applicability in today’s modern era. Graphic novels also answer the void of getting students to read different forms of literature.

For instance, graphic novels are a more engaging way to address such controversial issues such as religion, cultural identity, war, and rebellion for students rather than strictly reading a history novel. The following quote discusses the key points and elements our group was addressing through the use of a daily lesson plan website blog.

"Satrapi’s book is very useful in the classroom because of it’s diversity and originality. Persepolis has a wide range of emotions and feelings that can create lively discussions in the classroom. It also spices up the classroom learning, creating a new and fresh reading that can provide relief from learning from text based books" (Ryneb, 2008).

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