One Book Blog: On Social Class and Forgiveness

By Shannon G RSS Thu, November 12, 2009

Two months ago, we announced the 2010 One Book, One Philadelphia featured reading selection, Marjane Satrapi’s The Complete Persepolis. The programming period officially kicks off in January, so we are encouraging everyone to dig into Persepolis now. That way, you’ll be prepared with plenty of ideas for thought-provoking discussions and workshops! In my last One Book blog, I asked for your thoughts about the first 30 pages of the book, in which a 10-year-old Satrapi struggles to understand the Islamic Revolution.

In the next few chapters, two themes are very apparent—social class systems and the art of forgiving. After watching how the reality of social classes caused heartbreak for her maid, Satrapi struggles with understanding the socio-political norms. Her father explains that certain loves are impossible because, in their country, they must stay within their social class. Wise beyond her years, Satrapi challenges him: “But is it her fault that she was born where she was born???” Have you ever been a part of, or witnessed, a similar situation? What are some ways that you have seen the social class system disrupt personal relationships?

Satrapi also learns about the importance of forgiveness after her mother catches her planning to attack a friend, the son of a man who was a member of the secret police. Her mother explains, “It is not for you and me to do justice. I’d even say we have to learn to forgive.” Later, Satrapi learns about the torture endured by her parents’ friends and becomes overwhelmed. Trying to comfort Satrapi, her mother says, “Don’t cry darling. They will pay for what they have done.” Confused, Satrapi questions her mother’s previous lesson on forgiveness, but her mother responds by saying “Bad people are dangerous but forgiving them is too. Don’t worry, there is justice on Earth.” Have you ever struggled with forgiveness? What are some lessons you have learned about forgiveness?

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