the importance of music in the expression and affirmation of marginalised voicesl

Notes from the oral (maximum of 10 bullet points) :

  1. In this oral I will be analyzing the works “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi and “the hanging” by George Orwell. I am focusing on the question “To what extent is personal identity shaped by national circumstances?” which comes under the global issue of “Beliefs, values and education”.The focus beliefs are shaped by national circumstances as this is the issue which I believe changes the most over time. These have the biggest impact on not just the narrator but also on the decisions that the narrator makes, affecting the storyline. I will also focus more precisely on how these national wars have had an influence on rationale and the narrators’ decisions. Persepolis and The Hanging reflect this global issue well because the events and themes in the story both portray viewpoints about being influenced by national circumstances as the setting of both stories is amid national wars. These are both autobiographies which explore how national circumstances shape the narrators’ careers, viewpoints, and approaches on life. The texts show protagonists making decisions against their personal (and societal) values influenced by tensions in the surrounding circumstances they are in. .


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  1. Persepolis is an autobiographical comic book written and illustrated by Marjane Satrapi translated from French. In Persepolis, Satrapi is a 10-year-old girl living in the middle of the Iranian revolution and the everyday impact of how society (her school in particular) must deal with religious extremism (children are segregated and can’t go to school together. Girls are forced to wear the veil regardless of religion). Personal identity is the perception of oneself that shapes starting from childhood. Things which affect Satrapi’s identity is her cultural (Iranian) and the religious (Islamic) setting which she is immersed in. We see that her cultural identity has been significantly changed and prominent during the story.


  1. “The hanging” is a short story written by George Orwell. Orwell reflects on a chapter of his life when he worked as a police officer with the Indian Imperial Police force in Burma. He described the personal impact of having to routinely use capital punishment as part of his job, even though he was convinced that it was morally wrong regardless of the crime that was committed. Orwell doesn’t take a direct part in the hanging.


  1. Persepolis is narrated from a 1st person perspective. This is a completely tragic but a realistic tone where Satrapi acknowledges her pain and her circumstances but at the same time she is determined to create a better outcome for herself and eventually for the people in her country. She wants to be politically involved in shaping a better future, saying “Maybe I’ll be even better as Fidel Castro” The facial expressions of the characters are mainly neutral or negative (sad, angry, scared, etc) This helps enhance the mood of the story and the reality of everyone’s lives. They also tend to be the same for most people to show that everyone is feeling the massive effect of the war. When she finds out about demonstrations taking place she decides to participate “I want to go too”. She has a proactive attitude and is very independent, not allowing others to dictate how she should live. It can be very different, perhaps the opposite to Persian expectations from a girl at the time. An example that shows the global issue of which is pg. 74-75. Marjane rejects her faith after learning that her uncle was executed because she didn’t believe that God was helping her. Regarding the layout of the graphic novel, it’s a comic strip panel as opposed to a typical book, making it easier to interpret inconvenient situations. There are only two colors used for the panels. The contrast of black and white can mean a wide variety of things. Some of the reasons can include making the image bolder and more important to the readers. This could also do with the dark period of Satrapi’s life and that there is only right and wrong (situations have black or white outcomes). The Yin Yang concept is also present which is how opposite forces work together and depend on each other to make something occur. This could also evoke or heighten emotions for the reader so that they can get the perspective of what the narrator is going through (situations, emotions, etc.). Every time that a page ends, there’s an unfinished situation leaving room for ambiguity unless you read further. There are punchlines and cliffhangers used to push the readers to continue. Boxes show narration of the story. Most Persepolis has narrative boxes explaining the story plot, helping readers gain an understanding of the context, plot, and Marji’s personal dialogue.



  1. Satrapi also uses many examples of humor to lighten the mood of the story. An example of this is when Satrapi and her classmates tied multiple veils together to form a jump rope, decorated the classroom with toilet paper for the anniversary of the revolution. There are also many hidden meanings to some of these illustrations, such as a seemingly humorous situation but with a deeper, darker meaning. Every single panel is framed with attention to the specific perspective, with key factors of emotion, position, and setting of the characters. The panels can be considered as a specific moment in time, a  single perspective as well or as a completed narrative block. Panels in the middle can represent tension and superiority whilst panels below can represent the perspective of her little self also showing superiority.The veils symbolize segregation from various groups in the public and society (including boys)When tensions are high or something which is very important happens (such as when Satrapi fights with God in pg 74), the background turns dark. This can help create a mood. The cartoon theme of the novel can help to ease the serious emotions of the war.


  1. The narrator dehumanizes the prisoners and compares their living situation as to animals in cages in lines 2-5. The condemned man is given no name, nor is it explained what crime he has committed. For the British police who supervise his execution, the hanging is an unpleasant but routine piece of business. The narrator takes no active part in the hanging, and appears to be less experienced than his colleagues. As the prisoner is marched and handcuffed to the gallows he steps slightly aside to avoid treading in a puddle of rainwater; the narrator observes his surroundings, and reflects on it. In the hanging, the story is written through a 1st person narrative. The tone is quite pessimistic as Orwell is looking at the world and his situation through negative lenses. The world he describes is bleak and injust such as when refers to the Burmese people as  “yellow faces”.In lines 2-5, we can see that the men are treated as animals. Due to the national circumstances, the prisoner’s lives are compared to those of animals.



  1. In the gallows, Orwell makes observations about a random dog who appeared out of nowhere and suddenly jumped onto a prisoner and licked his face. This is a contrast between the rest of the police force who see the prisoners as “condemned” for their crimes and Orwell (and the dog) who see these people as humans who are as deserving of a life as anyone else. In a way, the dog shows more humanity than others since it preaches tolerance and kindness, This could be a sign of irony because the dog is positive in situations and dark environment where everything seems negative. In other words, the dog was set as a symbolic role to prove Orwell’s point of how these were all deserving humans who shouldn’t be treated with the death penalty no matter the severity of their crimes.  The dog helps distract prisoners from their lives being cut short, and rather may seem like time may be going longer for a while. This can be found from lines 26-38.Lines 28-31 especially show the dogs’ emotional state when seeing the people in prison and the last 3 lines show Orwell’s opinion on capital punishment.


  1. Now I will be making references to Orwell’s Shooting an elephant. Both stories take place in Burma over the 5 years where Orwell works abroad as a police officer. “Shooting an Elephant” talks about what actions the elephant is being punished for in lines 37-43. They were both about execution. One about humans and the other about an elephant. Lines 85-92 show that unlike in the prisoner situation where he is powerless, Orwell takes control over the decision for the elephant not to die.  Lines 99-104  show that just as the prisoners who were condemned to die before their time for not following societal rules, the elephant is also punished with death just because it was doing things in its nature. Although there is a difference capacity portrayed in the moral judgement between the humans and elephants, Orwell feels that killing either is equally as unjust.
  2. I will also be referring to “Why I Write”, another short story by the same author. In the book, he lists out the reasons why he writes. The most applicable of these reasons to the other analyzed texts is 4. Political purpose. He cannot agree or disagree with any main political directions as he experienced a variety of unjust situations while being a police officer in Burma, which didn’t suit him. He is mostly preoccupied with telling the truth about specific situations Orwell wishes for people to focus on their political bias as this is the only way for them to maintain integrity.


  1. The two main texts show protagonists making decisions against their personal (and societal) values influenced by tensions in the surrounding circumstances they are in. Both stories are shown from self-perspective including the demonstration of national events and how the narrators must challenge a sudden change, leaving them with no choice but to shift their beliefs, values, and education to adapt.There are also key factors such as their mentality which affect the way that the narrators perceive (external) out of control situations. There are, however, major differences since the narrator in Persepolis is trying to be proactive in her society while Orwell takes a more passive approach, where he backs away. In other words, Satrapi is willing to make personal sacrifices while Orwell is hesitant to do so. Orwell is more accepting of fate while Satrapi is challenging it.



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