Analysis of Social Class Conflict in the Novel, Persepolis


Marjane Satrapi's novel Persepolis examines a number of subjects in an Iranian context. The author's topics describe how life changed following the colonial period and how the Islamic revolution stripped the country of its cultural legacy. Satrapi, a forthright westerner who protested against the harsh regime, presented a negative description of Iran, which she regarded as the past from a very dark period in her life (Hattenstone). This essay will look at the socioeconomic class war as shown by Marjane Satrapi.

The Socioeconomic Class War in Persepolis

Over the past decades, social life in most countries has been determined by the social classes hierarchy, which has stratified the society. Thus, several activities determine the social identity of people, which Persepolis addresses. Considering the novel, there are a number of examples that Marjane uses to highlight the social prejudice in the community. Firstly, the author characterizes Iran as a country with great unjust distribution of income with many people left in poverty while the upper class being wealthy. As a result, the economic gap between poor and rich was so wide that there was a conflict between the classes of people in the society (Satrapi 15). This issue led to several revolts including the 1979 revolution, which was classified by Satrapi as Marxist insurrection. Therefore, the march against oppression by the rich caused instability and chaos in the region to the extent that most of the people lost their lives, with Satrapi saying that it was "largely a Marxist revolution undertaken by the urban cultural elites on behalf of the impoverished people of Iran's countryside" (46).

Conflict in Marriage Proposals

Also, the conflict between the social classes was evident in marriage proposals. In most cases, people of the same social class want to marry each other for the purposes of well-being. In the novel, Marjane’s maid is forced to leave her love for a neighbor because she was not in the same social class (Satrapi 23). The inability to make a choice of her own concerning marriage was a social injustice not only as per the maid, but also to her beloved person who felt rejected and betrayed. The author considered this issue as a form social segregation in people’s interactions in wedlock that led to a conflict of classes where the poor felt they are not worthy of anything good in the society. Consequently, Marjane rejects this belief of social stratification despite her parents supporting it fully (25). In this regard, she reminds them of the time they protested for the same reasons they are purporting to support. Therefore, the author gives a clear indication of how social class influences family matters like marriage. Despite it being a union of two people, Satrapi uses this concept to present a message of class conflict as a vital component affecting the society.

Ownership and Societal Command

Furthermore, ownership of property and societal command is attached to the people in the society whose interests always conflict the motivations of others. When persons move to a high social class, they forgot where they came from, their friends, family as well as betray their moral principles. This fact leads to a conflict between their new-self and the old-self identities in the society. This phenomenon is evident in the novel when the author writes that, "Marjane cannot quite grasp how her father can drive a Cadillac and her family can have a maid while also preaching the virtues of class-consciousness and equality" (Satrapi 35). This statement means that those who become rich in the society create an automatic gap between those who are poor despite them having the same background. In addition, these families or particular persons perceive themselves as westernized people, since possessing more modern attributes of wealth such as jeans and jackets as the author explains it.

Breach Between Modernism and Fundamentalism

Moreover, the social class conflict is depicted by a breach between modernism and fundamentalism. Thus, the people from high social class own modern items and hold western social beliefs that are different from other members of the community. Their values such as human rights, liberal education, and the equal position of women in society are soundly upheld, with these beliefs being denied by other members of Iran. In this regard, conflict of different ideologies was experienced (Satrapi 110). The book highlights the hostile attitude of ethnic groups towards western culture and its upholders as well as the oppression of nationalist forces against any attempts to modernize the traditionalist society, even in cases concerning human rights, such as gender equality (Cawley). Given this fact, the author also indicates how fundamentalism and religious ideologies are a hindrance to the exponential growth of Iran. This conflict occurs when fundamentalism deprives people of the right to enjoy material wealth and maintain their identity. As a result, Satrapi uses this conflict to illustrate how a few extremists are punishing and prosecuting modern Iran by using their conflicting ideologies (70).


The novel explained the social challenges in Islamic Iran that mainly relate to high social stratification, fundamentalism, and prejudice towards others. It is concluded that these social conflicts must be settled as they lead to further complications and prevent the stable development of the country.

Work Cited

Cawley, Stephanie. “Persepolis: A Postcolonial Feminist Reading.” The Stockton Postcolonial Studies Project, 4 Apr. 2011,

Hattenstone, Simon. “Simon Hattenstone interviews Marjane Satrapi, whose best-Selling comic book Persepolis is now an award-Winning film.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 28 Mar. 2008,

Satrapi, Marjane. The complete Persepolis. New York: Pantheon Books, 2007.

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