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Comparison: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by S. Alexie and Persepolis by M. Satrapi Essay

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Updated: Apr 23rd, 2020

Since a man is a social animal, being one presupposes integrating into the society efficiently; once failing to fit in, one is bound to bear the burden of an outcast for all his/her life.

Depicted lively in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and Persepolis, the life journey of an social misfit can twist in a number of ways, making it obvious that, despite there is a considerable similarity between Marjane and Arnold, each of them is a unique personality with his/her own vision of the world, life tracks and the ways to handle the complexities.

Among the most obvious similarities between the two characters, the status of an outcast is what meets the reader’s eye first. Indeed, both feel complete strangers in the world which they live in, and both are unwilling to accept the fact that they are being looked down at.

In addition, each character possesses his/her own system of values; for instance, Alexie evidently knows what power money can get him, which is why he shows a desire to become rich with the help of his art to draw: “That’s the only way I can become rich and famous” (Alexie 6).

Meanwhile, Marjane does not consider money such a great driving force; when being told that her grandfather was a prince and that the shah confiscated his property, Marjane is unable to embrace the scale of poverty which her grandfather was subjected to;; in her vision of the situation, the riches were “the tiles in the bathroom” (Satrapi, P1 23).

However, there is also a considerable similarity between the two characters; namely, each of them feels at certain moment that (s)he carries a heavy burden, being forced to force the behavior which the society approves of. In Marjane’s case, the strain is more obvious; the tension comes to its climax in the scene in which the girl “confesses” her “sin” to God: “I felt guilty towards God” (Satrapi, P1 9).

In Arnold’s case, the idea that he is supposed to stamp on his own dignity and become what the people around want him to be is less expressive, yet still quite depressive: “Sure I wanted to go outside. Every kid wants to go outside. But it’s safer to stay at home” (Alexie 3). Unwilling to see the “loser” and intentionally shutting him out, his classmates finally turn him into a recluse. However, while Marjane only pretends that she accepts the common viewpoint, Alexie really stops socializing.

However, several important differences between the two novels must also be addressed. The first and the foremost difference between the two is the attitude of the people surrounding them and the reasons for this attitude. In Persepolis, Marjane challenges the society by claiming that she is going to be a prophet. Meanwhile, Alexis does not actually do anything to become an outcast – the author is simply judged by his origin; the boy in the story is obviously looked down at for not being white: “I don’t know if hope is white. But I do know that hope is like some mythological creature” (Alexie 51).

The characters are obviously similar, yet it is clear that there are still certain differences between them. Lurking in the family background, the settings, the pace of the narration and other seemingly unnoticeable details, these elements add uniqueness to each of the characters and make Marjane and Arnold completely unique, three-dimensional characters. Thus, each author reaches the reader efficiently, making the latter sympathize with the character and stand for a moment in Marjane and Arnold’s shoes, which makes each of the graphic novels a really decent story worth taking a close look at.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Comparison: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by S. Alexie and Persepolis by M. Satrapi'. 23 April.

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