Families throughout the country face challenging situations on a daily basis. Even though it can be tough, sticking with one’s family, they can make it through any situation. In The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, both authors use family relationships to show that even through difficult situations, they manage to stay together and make it through.
In Persepolis, the main character, Marji, is living through the Islamic Revolution. The Islamic Revolution was a major event in Iran in which the people revolted against the Shah, overthrowing him and putting the Ayatollah in charge. These sequence of events placed Marji’s life in danger, even at one point where her house is nearly blown up by means of a missile.
Throughout the novel, Marji shows us her distinctive relationships with different members of her family and how they help her develop as a person. In the beginning of the novel, Marji imagines having conversations with God at night, and asks him for intelligence. After deciding to become a prophet, she turns to her grandmother to become her first disciple.
Marji and her grandmother have a close relationship during Marji’s childhood. One of Marji’s reasons to become a prophet is due to the fact that she wants to cure the pain in her grandmother’s knees. Her grandmother is also the only person who supported her wanting to become a prophet, predominantly because “only my grandmother knew about my book” (Satrapi, 7). Marji’s grandmother never questioned her. Her grandmother enjoys telling Marji past stories of when her grandfather was a prince and how the prison guards forced him into the water cell. Marji’s grandmother helps Marji by talking about things in the past, to try and get Marji to understand the Islamic Revolution, even though she is still young.
Likewise, In The Kite Runner, Hosseini also uses family relationships to help with Amir’s coming of age. Amir is a young boy living in Kabul, Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion as well as the rise of the Taliban regime. He is from a wealthy background, living in a beautiful house with servants. As a kid, he is not aware of how terrible Kabul is becoming with the increase in poverty and the decrease in the economy. To Amir, Kabul is a serene town where he and his servant, Hassan, go to fly kites. He has always lived in Afghanistan, but was shielded from seeing the real Kabul, which is not as affluent and peaceful as Amir had supposed
Eventually, Marji meets her uncle, Anoosh, who she names her hero. Marji says, “and I had a hero in my family…Naturally I loved him immediately” (Satrapi, 54). Marji calls him a hero because of what he went through during his time under Prime Minister Fereydoon’s command. Anoosh and Marji spent merely one night together, but Anoosh manages to tell her about numerous events during his life. He tells her about how he went to the U.S.S.R. and got married, then divorced. He decided to return to Iran, but the Iranians placed him under arrest for nine years due to allegations that he was a spy. Marji and Anoosh develop a tight bond in the night they spend together due to the fact that Marji considers him as a hero, and wants to hear more about what happened. Their relationship does not last long, however, as he is soon executed in prison.
In a similar manner, we meet a character in Kite Runner, named Hassan, who appears to be a close friend of Amir. Amir then reveals that Hassan is his servant. Amir and Hassan are both young kids at the time, who are growing up and observing the world around them. Hassan, being poor and living in a shack, is more aware of the poverty stricken state in which Kabul is. Amir, however, is affluent, and believes that everyone else is as prosperous as he is.
Amir is not aware of his relation to Hassan at the beginning of the novel. His father, Baba, is essentially the father of Hassan, making Amir and Hassan half-brothers. Amir says, “Hassan and I fed from the same breasts. We took our first steps on the same lawn in the same yard. And, under the same roof, we spoke our first words” (Hosseini, 11) which shows just how close Amir and Hassan are growing up. If Amir had known, he might have acted differently when witnessing Assef physically abusing Hassan. Hassan has continuously stood up for Amir, such as when Assef threatened to beat them both up. When Amir realizes that Hassan is his brother, it is too late. Taliban had already shot Hassan dead because he had rejected to vacate Amir’s house.
Marji has a close relationship with her family, but as a child, is more fascinated in hearing about their memories of the Islamic Revolution and the times of when Marji’s family ruled Iran. She grows interest in her family members, such as her grandmother and her uncle Anoosh, when she finds out what they went through. Hearing the stories of how the government treated her family causes Marji to grow angry towards the government. It influences her to go out and want to demonstrate, which she does several times.
The primary family relationship would be with Marji and her parents. Throughout Persepolis, Marji mentions her parents in every chapter. She seems to have a close relationship with her parents, and admires their determination to demonstrate as much as they are able to. Marji begs to demonstrate with them, but they do not allow her, since they know that it is dangerous. Marji states that “For a revolution to succeed, the entire population must support it” (Satrapi, 17), which shows that Marji wants to demonstrate, to fight against the same government that had tortured her family. She believes that everyone must protest in order for the demonstrators to win. Her parents care much about her, since she is the only child, and do not want her to get wounded since the Shah is violently attacking the demonstrators.
Satrapi uses family relationships to show how Marji is growing up and coming of age. She uses her parents and other family members as figures who tell Marji about the Revolution and what it has done to their family. Marji believes that “The basis of education comes from the family” (Satrapi, 98) which means that the main source of learning, for everyone, is from their relatives. The terrifying memories they share with Marji help shape her opinion, allowing her to grow up with hatred towards the Shah. As a child, she is not aware of what is happening around her. It is her close loved ones who are responsible for telling her about the revolution. By doing so, they are helping Marji find her identity and shape her opinion, as do many other teens worldwide.
Amir has a close relationship with his father, Baba, throughout the story. In the beginning, Amir feels like he is a ghost. He had heard stories of his father being courageous and fearless and felt like he had done nothing to impress his father. It is not until he wins the kite-flying event that he starts to feel like his father notices him. Even then, Amir continues to embarrass his father, for example, when Amir threw up as a truck was smuggling them across the Afghan border. Amir believes that his father sees him as a coward due to his weak stomach.
While in America, Amir and Baba live together in a tiny apartment, so their relationship becomes stronger. Before, while living in Afghanistan, Amir lived in a massive house, and did not see his father as much as he does now in the apartment. They share many important memories together such as Amir’s graduation, marriage to Soraya, and publishing his first successful novel. Baba helps Amir build confidence in him by encouraging him to pursue his dream to become a writer.
In Persepolis and The Kite Runner, both protagonists, Marji and Amir have close relationships with their family. Marji and Amir both have a father figure, but Amir lacks a mother figure. Marji is close to her grandmother and they tell each other stories and get along well. Amir did not mention grandparents in Kite Runner, but he does mention his relationship with his father, Baba. At the beginning of the novel, Amir and Baba are not close. It is not until they move to America do they start getting along better. Even then, their relationship is not as strong as Marji’s with her family.
In the final analysis, we understand how the authors of both novels use family relationships to show how the main characters were influenced while growing up. They both used family members to help in shaping the opinions of both Marji and Amir on the events going on around them such as the Islamic Revolution or the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Without the use of family relationships, Marji and Amir would not have an adult figure influence on them to help them get through problematic events in their country.