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The Use of Black and White in Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis

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Daney Kang Mr. Trajano Language and Literature HL March 5, 2012 The Use of Black and White in Persepolis As people age, changes in perception naturally occur. The experiences we go through, the people we meet, and the ideas we learn as we grow up help us to develop our own unique points of view. Most people would say that perception could be represented by the gradation between black and white; black representing the dark, the wrong, the negative, white representing the pure, the right, the positive, and the different shades of gray in between representing the middle ground of perception. In childhood, most of us learn what is right and what is wrong, hence our perception as children is mostly (and rigidly) in black and white. For some of us though, openness to new experiences and different people would allow us to see alternatives, to see the grays that are neither right nor wrong and entirely subjective, while still retaining the sense that there is a black and white, a right and wrong, when it comes to perception. ...read more.


The women for the veil are in black (which could be traced to Satrapi's negative perception of the veil and also how most chadors are black in real life) while the women supporting freedom are in white. The panels showing the integration of the poor boys, given keys that promise a paradise in the afterlife, into the army and their eventual deaths was another significant scene where the technique was used (pages 101-102). This tragedy is further emphasized by the juxtaposition provided by the panel below it, of Marjane and her friends jumping and dancing in a house party. Probably one of the strongest images for this is Marjane's reaction to the execution of her Uncle Anoosh (page 71). After rejecting God, whom she felt betrayed her, she seemingly gets lost in her depressed thoughts, represented by her floating alone in space. The darkness in the picture shows her despair about her situation, and also appropriately introduces the beginning of the war. As for the whiter side of things, both God and Uncle Anoosh always dressed in light-colored clothes, which undoubtedly shows that Marjane viewed both of them in a truly positive light, especially her uncle who was her childhood hero. ...read more.


There were also positive moments. One example is the first time she went inside a well-stocked European grocery (page 6). Her excitement in that situation was evident. Another example is her visit to her childhood friend Kia who had become handicapped after the war (pages 108-112). Although his condition should have made him feel bad, he was still laughing and somehow enjoying his life. White and black as binary oppositions functions literally and metaphorically. The two can represent other binary oppositions such as right and wrong, good and evil, positive and negative, and so on. Because it can be taken literally as well, it can serve as symbols for these other binary oppositions such as a dark sky meaning something ominous or a white dress on a woman to symbolize innocence. Satrapi was able to utilize both functions in her work, and she was able to strengthen the story that she was trying to tell through the ways that she used black and white to reflect and reinforce the events or the characters in her story. As a reader, the use of black and white by Satrapi conveyed a more critical impression for me and increased my appreciation of her work. ...read more.

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