‘With this first cigarette, I kissed childhood goodbye’: girlhood in crisis in Persepolis

Kate Douglas, Edith Hill, Shannon Sandford, Jacob Linsenmeier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Marjane Satrapi's 2003 graphic memoir Persepolis is a coming-of-age story set in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. 19 years after its publication, at a time when we are witnessing increased cultural displacement across the globe, Persepolis's representation of an adolescence lived across and between cultures feels as insightful and provocative as ever. Satrapi explores Marjane's childhood development as she grows into adolescence and experiments with identities. In Persepolis, Marjane's coming-of-age does not result in her becoming comfortable or fixed in a particular identity (or identities) but represents Marjane's acceptance of her liminal and marginal status in the various cultures she occupies. Marjane is shown to be engaged in an ongoing journey through identity formations that does not end when the memoir does. In this essay, we consider the chapter titled ‘The Cigarette' from Persepolis to explore how Satrapi develops a narrative style and an aesthetic for representing a liminal adolescent experience. Through her use of an episodic structure; simple, graphic repetition; and dialogic and multivocal encounters between the child and adult self and the protagonist and her mother, Satrapi shows the complex negotiations with ‘the self’ that characterise her coming-of-age.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
Early online date30 Nov 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Nov 2022


  • Marjane Satrapi
  • Persepolis
  • Bildungsroman
  • graphic memoir
  • autobiography


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