In the Introduction to Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, author Marjane Satrapi offers a brief history of the nation that was for a time called Persia and would later be renamed Iran. She says that the nation’s wealth and the geographic location have made it a target for invaders from the time of Alexander the Great on, frequently resulting in its people being subjected to foreign domination. The discovery of oil led to a period of strong influence from the West—particularly from Great Britain and the U.S.—in the twentieth century. In the early 1950s, the prime minister, Mohammed Mossadeq, attempted to curb western influence, but was deposed in 1953 by the CIA and British intelligence. With the support of Britain and U.S., Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was known simply as “the Shah,” reigned from 1953 until he fled in 1979 to escape the Islamic revolution.
Since the revolution, Iran has been discussed mainly in terms of “fundamentalism, fanaticism, and terrorism,” which the author says paints a distorted picture of a great nation since it isn’t right to judge an entire nation by the actions of a few extremists. She also wants to honor the memory of the many Iranians who suffered and died fighting the various oppressive Iranian regimes and in the war with Iraq.
1. The Veil
It is 1980. Marjane “Marji” Satrapi is a ten-year-old girl living with her father and mother, Ebi and Taji, in Iran, a nation that was upended by the Islamic revolution the year before. Marji attends a liberal French bilingual coeducational school where boys and girls are now separated and girls must wear a veil as a result of the revolution—changes that make Marji and her friends unhappy, but also confused. People begin demonstrating in the streets both for and against the changes, including Marji’s mother, Taji, who is against them. When a photo of Taji protesting appears in magazines and newspapers appears, Taji becomes afraid. She dyes her hair and wears dark glasses to disguise herself.
Marji, who is very spiritual—and talks every night with God—feels conflicted about the revolution. She finds herself at odds with the strict ideas of the revolution and her family’s more avant-garde ideas. At age six, Marji had decided that she wanted to become a prophet, and since prophets must write holy books, she writes one too—but she tells only her grandmother about it. Knowing that her goal of becoming a prophet would alarm her parents, Marji told them that she wanted to be a doctor. Feeling guilty for her lie, Marji reassured God that she will become a prophet, but only in secret.
2. The Bicycle
The story shifts back to 1979, the year of the revolution. Inspired by the demonstrations against the regime of the king, or Shah. Marji decides that instead of becoming a prophet, she’ll become a revolutionary. Marji’s parents encourage her by giving her books on philosophy, famous Iranian revolutionaries, and the histories of revolutions across the world. Marji’s favorite is a comic book called Dialectic Materialism, which compares the ideas of the French philosopher René Descartes with the German political theorist Karl Marx. Now, when God comes to talk to Marji, she has less to say.
One night, Marji overhears her parents in their bedroom discussing a fire at a local cinema that killed 400 people. The cinema doors were locked from the outside shortly before the fire, and the police stood outside the building, blocking those who wanted to help from going inside. The authorities claims that a group of religious fanatics were responsible for the massacre, but Marji and her parents realize that it was likely the Shah’s government itself who are to blame. Distraught, Marji bursts into her parents’ room, proclaiming that she will demonstrate in the streets against the Shah. Marji’s parents forbid her to do so, saying it’s too dangerous. Later that night, with tears falling down her face, Marji calls out to God, but he does not come.
3. The Water Cell
Marji’s parents protest against the Shah’s government every day. They come home tired and beaten and too tired to engage much with their daughter. Marji tells her parents that despite their protests, she loves the Shah, since God chose him as leader. When Ebi, her father, asks her who told her that, Marji says she was told by her teacher and by God himself. Her father then sits her down to discuss what really happened.
Marji’s father describes how, fifty years before, the father of the current Shah—who was an illiterate low-ranking officer in the army—overthrew the emperor at the time and made himself king in his place. This new king, who went by the name Reza Shah, did this with the help of the British, who were given unfettered access to Iran’s vast oil reserves by Reza in return. Marji is stunned to learn from her father that the emperor who Reza overthrew was the father of her mother’s father, and that her grandfather was himself a prince prior to Reza’s putsch. Marji also learns that, realizing he needed someone educated and courtly to help his new regime succeed, Reza made her grandfather his prime minister. But Marji’s grandfather mingled with intellectuals and later became a communist, for which he was imprisoned and thrown into a water-filled cell. Later that evening, Marji sits in the bathtub for a long time, trying to feel what her grandfather felt.
Marji’s grandmother comes to visit. As soon as she arrives, Marji peppers her with questions about her husband’s time in prison. Marji’s grandmother tries to avoid talking about the gory details but does tell Marji how horrible Reza Shah treated both of them. She explains that the Shah stripped them of everything and that they were so poor and embarrassed that she used to boil water to pretend she was cooking food. Her grandmother tells Marji said that they were only able to get by because she took in sewing. She says that, as badly as Reza Shah treated her husband, the current Shah treated him ten times worse. Her grandmother adds that the Shah is a frivolous and terrible person and that she is happy that there is finally a revolution occurring. Marji isn’t satisfied with these stories, and her grandmother suggests she read books to educate herself better about what is happening in Iran.
At this time, Marji’s father is visiting a protest to take photographs. When he doesn’t come home after several hours, the family begins to worry. When he finally returns, Marji’s father describes how he saw a group of protesters hailing a pair of dead bodies being taken from the hospital as martyrs. One of the bodies was a man killed at a protest, but the other was a man who simply died of cancer. When this man’s widow explained the error to the crowd, one of the protesters said, “No problem, he’s a hero” too. Everyone laughs at the story except Marji, who feels confused. Frustrated, Marji decides to read more about the revolution and Iran so she can understand.
5. The Letter
Marji reads books by Ali Ashraf Darvishian, whom she describes as a “local Charles Dickens.” She talks about how his books portray working-class children being forced into labor, which suddenly reminds Marji that her household includes a young live-in maid. The maid, Mehri, was eight years old when she came to live with Marji’s family, and she was ten when Marji was born. Marji, who shares very close feelings with Mehri, realizes that Mehri’s experience was just like the children in Davishian’s books.
Marji tells the sad story of Mehri falling in love with the neighbor’s son, and as she (like most poor Iraninas) can’t read or write, Marji writes out Mehri’s love letters to him. When Marji’s father learns of Mehri’s letters, he tells the young man that Mehri is his maid, not his daughter. The young man gives all of Mehri’s love letters to Marji’s father and tells him that he’s no longer interested in Mehri. When Marji’s father realizes that the letters feature Marji’s handwriting, not Mehri’s, he tells Marji that Mehri’s low social class prevents her from having a relationship with the young man. Upset with this reality and by this latest example of her father’s inconsistent political views, Marji decides to take Mehri to a protest. The protests turn extremely violent, and the day is given the name “Black Friday” because of the many deaths that occur. When Marji and Mehri finally return home, Marji’s furious mother slaps both girls.
6. The Party
After many more massacres, there is a sense that the Shah’s regime is coming to an end. The Shah appears on television to pledge that Iran will become a democracy, but these efforts are not successful and the Shah finally departs. There is widespread rejoicing among the people. It is announced that President Carter has refused to grant the Shah exile in the U.S., but President Sadat of Egypt has allowed him to stay in his country. The schools are closed for a period, and when they open again Marji’s teacher instructs the students to rip out the Shah’s picture from their books. Marji points out the same teacher had previously told them that the Shah had been chosen by God and is told to stand in the corner as punishment.
Marji’s neighbors change too. One neighbor claims that the mark on his wife’s cheek is from a bullet wound from attending a demonstration, but Marji’s mother knows the mark existed well before the protests. Marji later learns that her friend Ramin’s father was a member of the Shah’s secret police, the SAVAK, and killed many, many people. Enraged, Marji gathers some friends to attack Ramin, but her mother stops them. She tells Marji that it isn’t her place to serve justice and that she’d be better off to learn how to forgive. Marji finds Ramin and tells him that she forgives him even though his father is a murderer. Ramin rejects her gesture, saying that the people his father killed were communists, who are evil. Nevertheless, Marji later reflects on the incident looking in the mirror, noting that she feels like a good person.
7. The Heroes
After the Shah falls from power, 3000 political prisoners are released. Marji explains that her family knows two of them: Siamak Jari and Mohsen Shakiba. Marji recalls an event before involving one of them before the Shah’s departure, when they were still imprisoned. Marji overheared her mother talking to Siamak’s wife, who is Marji’s mother’s best friend. Her mother invites Siamak’s wife over along with her daughter, Laly, who is Marji’s friend. Laly tells Marji that her father is on a trip and Marji tells Laly that that is just something people say when someone is dead. Laly, now distressed, refuses to speak to Marji. Marji feels confused, believing that she did the right thing by telling the truth.
Marji is proven wrong, however, when both Siamak and Mohsen arrive in their home. During the visit, Siamak and Mohsen describe the horrifying torture they suffered while imprisoned. Marji parents are too shocked to send her away, so Marji is able to listen to their tales in fascination. After Laly declares her father a hero, Marji feels upset that her father isn’t a hero too. When Marji hears her mother condone the murder of torturers, Marji becomes confused about what justice really is—forgiving people or punishing them. She privately abandons her comic strips about dialectical materialism and collapses into the imaginary hands of God, the only place she feels safe.
Marji’s uncle (her father’s brother) Anoosh, recently released from prison, comes to visit. Excited to have a genuine hero in the family, Marji begs him to tell her about his imprisonment. Sitting by Marji’s bed, Anoosh tells his story.
Anoosh says that when he was eighteen years old, his uncle Fereydoon was part of group that declared the province of Azerbaijan to be independent from Iran, and that Fereydoon declared himself to be its Minister of Justice. Against the wishes of his father, who remained loyal to the Shah, Anoosh joined Fereydoon in Azerbaijan. Their goal was to make all of Iran independent, one province at a time.
Anoosh explains that a bad dream warned him that Fereydoon was in danger. When Anoosh arrived at Fereydoon’s, he learned that the Shah’s soldiers had captured him. Anoosh escaped and was briefly reunited with his family in Iran before eventually fleeing to the Soviet Union. There, he learned more about Marxism and Leninism and married a Russian woman with whom he had two children. Anoosh shows Marji a photo of the family. Marji notes scribbles over the wife’s face. Anoosh tells Marji that he and his wife divorced, adding that Russians “don’t know how to love.” Anoosh then explains that when he returned home to Iran, he was captured and put in prison for nine years. As he concludes his story, Anoosh gives Marji a swan he made out of bread in prison. Pleased, Marji dreams of how she will tell her friends of all the heroes in her family.
9. The Sheep
While Anoosh stays with the Satrapis, Marji becomes exposed to more political ideas. Marji’s father argues that the republic is going back to an Islamic regime, but Anoosh doesn’t feel concerned, saying that it’s easier to unite the public around religion rather than political ideology and that eventually the proletariat will rule. Marji’s friend Kaveh—who she likes a great deal—and his family move to the United States, and many of Marji’s relatives leave Iran as well. Marji’s mother suggests that they should go to the United States too, but Marji’s father feels reluctant, saying they’d be reduced to working menial jobs there. Later, at home, Marji’s father receives a call that Mohsen was murdered, drowned in a bathtub. Shortly after, they learn that Siamak’s home was raided, and while Siamak narrowly escaped, his sister was killed. Siamak and his family, including Marji’s friend Lally escape Iran—hiding among a flock of sheep as they cross the border.
Finally, Marji learns that Anoosh has been imprisoned once again. Anoosh is allowed one visitor and he request that it be Marji. While Marji visits him in jail, Anoosh embraces her, saying she is the daughter he always wanted. He reassures her that one day the proletariat will rule and sends her away with one last bread swan. Shortly after, Anoosh is executed. Marji, distraught in bed, receives a visit from God. Furious, she sends him away, convinced there is no more comfort in life.
10. The Trip
In November of 1979, Islamic fundamentalists take over the U.S. embassy in Tehran, bringing an end to Marji’s dream of moving to the United States—which she admits was mainly about wanting to see Kaveh again—since now no one can obtain travel visas to the U.S. Then the new Islamic Republic imposes harsher regulations to guard against “imperialist” influences. Universities close, and women who do not wear veils risk being sent to prison. Moreover, men are forbidden to wear neckties or short-sleeved shirts and are discouraged from shaving. When Marji’s mother’s car breaks down, a group of fundamentalists threaten to brutally attack and rape her. She returns home depressed, unable to move for several days.
Ordinary people change along with the government. The Satrapis notice that their neighbors, who previously wore miniskirts and drank alcohol, now wear chadors, full-body coverings, and publicly condemn the use of alcohol. Worried, Marji’s parents instruct her to lie and tell people that she prays every day. In spite of the ongoing oppression, Marji’s parents make plans attend another demonstration against the fundamentalists. Marji asks to go as well, and her mother surprises her by agreeing to let her—saying that it is important for Marji to learn how to defend her rights as a woman. The demonstration starts off well, with Marji passing out flyers, but it quickly turns ugly when a violent mob attacks the protestors. Majri notes that this was her family’s last demonstration.
Knowing they likely won’t be able to travel beyond Iran’s borders soon, the family takes a three-week trip to Spain and Italy, which Marji finds wonderful. When they come home, they belatedly learn from Marji’s grandmother that Iran is now at war with Iraq. She explains that the Iranian fundamentalists provoked the Iraqi Shiites, prompting Saddam Hussein to invade Iran. Instead of feeling frightened, Marji feels excited to defend her country from yet another invasion.
11. The F-14s
Marji and her father are at his work when the Iraqis begin bombing Tehran with F-14s. They race home, relieved to find her mother safe. Marji notes that even though she knew they were at war, she feels surprised by the bombing. Marji adopts an aggressive attitude and tells her parents that Iran must retaliate by bombing Baghdad, the Iraqi capital. Her father is less enthusiastic, worried that Iran doesn’t have the fighter pilots to retaliate against Iraq, since many of them were arrested after a failed military coup d’état against the government. Marji counters that her friend Pardisse’s father is a fighter pilot who will bomb Iraq, and she goes to bed thinking her dad an unpatriotic defeatist. However, events soon show Marji that she was wrong about her father. First, when Marji and her parents hear the Iranian national anthem on TV, which the government had banned, they are surprised and deeply moved. Shortly afterwards, they rejoice when it is announced that Iran has bombed Baghdad. (The fighter pilots had been released from prison and agreed to the bombing mission on the condition that the government broadcast the national anthem.)
When Marji hears that only half the Iranian fighter planes returned from their mission, she worries about Pardisse’s father. At school, the teacher asks students to write and present reports about the war. Marji writes a piece on the historical context of war focused on the long history of Iraqis and other Arab nations invading Persia. Pardisse then brings the class to tears by reading a letter that she wrote to her father, who died while fighting. Marji tells Pardisse that she should be proud her father is a hero, but Pardisse replies that she’d rather her father be alive than a hero.
12. The Jewels
Marji and her mother go to the grocery store, where they find nearly empty shelves and people fighting for food. Disgusted with people’s behavior, Marji’s mother walks out of the store. Gas is also now being rationed because of shortages. Marji father shouts at her, exasperated with the stress of simply getting to work. One day, while the Satrapis are getting gas, an attendant informs them that the Iraqis bombed a local refinery in Abadan, a border town where Marji’s mother’s friend Mali lives. Worried, they rush home to find out if Mali and her family are all right. Mali explains that their home was destroyed, but she was able to save some family jewels. Mali’s family stays with the Satrapis for a week as they sell the jewels and look for a new home. Marji finds Mali’s children demanding and annoying and Mali bitter. One day, Mali overhears two local women gossiping about refugees, accusing them of clearing the grocery store shelves and becoming dirty prostitutes. Ashamed, Mali says that to be “spat upon by your own kind is . . . intolerable.” Marji feels bad that she ever thought anything negative about Mali and her family.
13. The Key
Iraq leads the war with modern weapons and artillery, but Iran has its own advantage: a large young male population. When these young soldiers begin to die in huge numbers, Iranian newspapers print their pictures and names, and they are declared martyrs. At school, Marji and her fellow students are required to join in funeral marches and line up twice a day to mourn the war dead—including beating their hearts as a show of grief, similar to the practice of self-flagellation in religious ceremonies. After a while, Marji finds these demonstrations silly, and she and her friends mock the rituals, much to their teacher’s fury. This leads to a heated confrontation between the teacher and the children’s parents in which Marji’s parents lead the way in questioning the school’s hardline ways.
The Iranian army begins recruiting boys from poor neighborhoods, luring them to fight by giving them plastic keys painted gold and telling them that these are keys to paradise. The Satrapis’ maid, Mrs. Nasrine, comes from one of those neighborhoods and becomes distraught when recruiters approach her son. Many of the boys who join the army don’t return, dying on the battlefield wearing their gold keys around their necks instead. One night, while speaking to her cousin Peyman on the phone, Marji asks if people give out keys to paradise at his school. When he doesn’t understand the question, Marji realizes that both of their school experiences vastly differ from those of children in the poorer neighborhoods. Later, Marji attends a party at Peyman’s house at which she wears a punk-rock style necklace that her mother has made for her.
14. The Wine
When Iraq begins heavily attacking Tehran, the Satrapis and the other residents of their building convert the basement into a bomb shelter. Marji’s mother covers their windows with tape to protect against flying glass if there is a bombing, as well as black curtains to protect against their zealous neighbors—since the government has forbidden many social activities like drinking and having parties. One of Marji’s uncles hosts a secret party to celebrate the birth of his child. Everyone at the party is having a good time, drinking and playing music, when the power goes out and sirens begin to sound.
On their way home, a young patrolman pulls over the Satrapis’ family car and accuses Marji’s father of drinking. He follows the Satrapis to make an inspection. When they arrive at home, Marji’s grandmother distracts the patrolman by saying she needs to run ahead because she is diabetic and desperately needs to treat her condition. Marji and her grandmother then flush all their alcohol down the toilet. Soon, Marji’s father arrives and reveals that all he had to do was bribe the patrolman. He regrets that they threw the alcohol down the drain, saying he could really use a drink.
15. The Cigarette
The war rages for two years. Marji, now twelve years old, spends more time with older girls at school. One day, two fourteen-year-old girls convince Marji to skip class to go to a trendy diner called Kansas located in the wealthy neighborhood of north Tehran. At the diner, the girls flirt with boys with stylish haircuts. Marji notes that the boys dare to look hip even though they know they could be arrested for doing so. At home, Marji’s mother reprimands her for cutting class. Marji, feeling angry and embarrassed from being caught, calls her mother the “dictator” of the house and storms off to the basement.
Later, Marji learns that Iran has finally retaken the city of Khorramshahr from the Iraqis, an event that many felt would lead to the end of the war. Iraq proposes a peace settlement, and Saudi Arabia backs it up by offering to pay for post-war reconstruction. But the Iranian government refuses these offers, pledging they will capture the holy Shiite city Karbala in Iraq. Walls on the streets are covered in belligerent slogans for war. One slogan, “To die a martyr is to inject blood into the veins of society,” particularly disturbs Marji. She realizes that the survival of the Iranian regime depends on the war and that the regime is using the war as an excuse to crush all descent in society. Marji lights a cigarette, her own defiant act against the “regime” of her mother, and she declares herself a grown-up.
16. The Passport
It is now 1982. Marji and her parents go to her aunt’s where they talk with her uncle Taher, who is distressed. Marji’s aunt and uncle sent their young son to Holland alone to escape the war and the repressive regime. Taher had wanted himself and his wife to join their son in fleeing Iran, but Marji’s aunt hadn’t wanted to be uprooted, so they stayed. The stress of not being able to see his son and the continual noise of gunshots in their neighborhood as the regime brutally puts down all forms of dissent has taken a toll on Taher’s health. He has experienced two heart attacks since his son left.
Later, the Satrapis get a call that Taher had another heart attack after the government set off a grenade near Marji’s aunt and uncle’s home. The Satrapis go to the hospital, and Marji is horrified to find it filled with war wounded, including victims of chemical weapons. The doctors tell Taher that he must travel to England for open-heart surgery since their hospital isn’t equipped for it. At this time, only the very sick are permitted to cross Iran’s closed borders. In a panic, Taher’s wife visits the hospital director’s office and is shocked to see that her former window washer holds the position. He tells her that whether or not Taher gets the permit and recovers is in god’s hands.
Determined to help, Marji’s father goes to Khosro, a former publisher who now prints fake passports. Khosro agrees to print a passport for Taher, but the process will take five days. In the meantime, the authorities raid Khosro’s home. Khosro escapes to Sweden, but Niloufar, an eighteen-year-old communist girl he was harboring, is captured and executed. Taher, is buried the same day his real passport arrives, three weeks later. His last wish, which was to see his son one more time before dying, is unfulfilled.
17. Kim Wilde
In 1983, a year after Taher’s death, Iran reopens its borders, and the Satrapis rush to get passports. Marji’s parents tell her that the two of them are going to on a trip to Turkey. Knowing that Marji will be disappointed that she won’t be coming along, they ask her what they can bring her back from Turkey. Marji asks for “hip stuff” that has been unavailable in Iran since the war began: a denim jacket, chocolate, and two posters—one of rock vocalist Kim Wilde and one of the heavy metal group Iron Maiden. Marji’s parents purchase Marji’s gifts in Istanbul, and to get the posters past customs, Marji’s mother sews them into the back section of Marji’s father’s jacket. Marji loves the gifts from her parents—a pair of Nike sneakers, a denim jacket, a Michael Jackson button, and the two posters.
One day, Marji’s mother lets her go outside wearing her new hip gear. After buying black market cassette tapes, including one by Kim Wilde, two guardians of the revolution—women trained to seize and arrest females improperly veiled—stop her. They call Marji a “whore,” pointing to her shoes and tight jeans. Marji offers up clever explanations for her attire, but the guardians reject most of them and threaten to take Marji in for questioning. Marji explodes in tears and tells them that she’ll end up in an orphanage, so the women let her go. At home, tells her mother nothing of what has happened since she fearful that her mother will never let her out again if she knows the truth. Marji goes to her room and blasts the Kim Wilde song, “Kids in America.”
18. The Shabbat
Word spreads that the Iraqis have ballistic missiles that can reach Tehran. Marji’s father appears skeptical, but her mother worries. The rumors are proven true when the missiles, called Scuds, begin to hit Tehran. The city de-populates as residents realize that most buildings cannot withstand the damage the missiles cause. Marji’s parents decide to stay, however, insistent that Marji’s future depends on her continuing her education. Some residents, including the Satrapis’ neighbors, the Baba-Levys, take shelter in hotel basements since hotels are known to be structurally durable. The Baba-Levys are a Jewish family who have remained in Iran in spite of the oppressive Islamic regime because of their deep self-identifying as Iranians. Their young daughter, Neda, is Marji’s friend.
One Saturday while out shopping, Marji hears on the radio that the Tavanir neighborhood where she lives has been attacked. She hurries home to find her neighborhood blocked off. Fearing her family is dead, she runs toward her home when she hears her mother calling out for her. The family is safe, but when Marji asks about the Baba-Levys’ home, her mother tells her that their building was destroyed. Although the Baba-Levys usually stayed in local hotels because they were more secure, on Saturdays they remained at home to observe Shabbat. When Taji and her mother walk past the site of the Baba-Levys’ building, Marji catches a glimpse of human remains sticking out of the rubble. She recognizes Neda’s bracelet attached to the remains and begins to scream.
19. The Dowry
After the death of Neda Baba-Levy, Marji becomes more intolerant of the lies she is told at school. She openly corrects teachers on political points and accidentally strikes the principal during an argument, which gets her expelled and that also makes it difficult for the Satrapis to find another school willing to accept her. As soon as she is allowed to start at a new school (through the efforts of an aunt with bureaucratic connections), Marji refusal to accept the falsehoods being peddled to her class get her into trouble once again.
Her mother frantically tries to reason with Marji, reminding her of Niloufar, the eighteen-year-old communist girl staying with Khosro who was executed. Her mother warns Marji that as a virgin, she would likely be raped before she was executed. Marji’s father confirms that this is almost certainly what happened to Niloufar, information that terrifies Marji. In bed that night, Marji thinks of the gruesome Islamic slogan she once read that said, “To die a martyr is to inject blood into the veins of society.” She considers Niloufar a martyr but doesn’t see how her blood fed society in any way.
Marji’s parents decide that it’s best that Marji should finish her education in Vienna, where her mother’s best friend Zozo lives. Marji feels heartbroken since she doesn’t want to leave her family or friends. (Her parents promise to join her in a few months, but Marji senses that they will not.) Marji packs a jar of Iranian soil and gives her most prized possessions, including her posters, to her friends.
The night before Marji leaves, her grandmother comes to stay with her in her bed. Marji’s grandmother tells her to not dwell on the stupidity of others, and consoles her by telling her always be true to herself. The next morning, Marji recites her grandmother’s words to herself in the mirror before making a tearful ride to the airport with her parents. At the airport, Marji’s mother says that they will visit her in six months, which confirms Marji’s fear that her parents don’t plan to join her permanently in Europe. Marji goes through security and decides to turn around one last time to wave goodbye to her parents. When she does, Marji is heartbroken to see that her mother has fainted and that her father is carrying her mother away.