In Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, the veil acts as a disfigurer, a dehumanizer, and a visual cue that the setting has returned to one of oppression. The image, rendered as an uncanny void, blocking out any semblance of detail or personality, is used to great effect in practically every chapter of the novel. The first panel of the comic is highly representative: Marjane and her classmates are essentially indistinguishable from each other, each wearing shrouds of blackness that obfuscate more than half of their bodies. Satrapi explores the veil’s dehumanizing effects visually, illustrating her characters with unique facial details when they are without the hijab and transforming them into Anomalisa-like clones that are lumped into dark masses on the page when veiled. These images carry a heavy weight of subjugation, and often are in the context of archaic and barbaric religious traditions (e.g. flagellation) or nationalistic initiations.
Persepolis does not shy away from offering direct condemnations of the veil. Even after the bulk of the novel is spent discussing identity and individuality in Iran, Satrapi continues to decry the absurd regulations on appearance and femininity in her homeland when she portrays unveiled American women with hyperdetail that is nonexistent in the Iranian characters. The imagery of the mono-faced hijab-darkness that smudges the pages of Persepolis is repeatedly reinforced, even by the characters' dialogue. Government employees and religious fundamentalists that criticize Satrapi for her modernity abound, and just as their characterization is provided primarily by their disfigurement by the veil, their messages are largely identical. In essence, the repeated imagery of the hijab is employed to veil characters in terms of personality and physical appearance: Characters wearing the hijab are reduced to dehumanized beings that lack identity and agency in the world of the novel, and Satrapi operationalizes this reduction to condemn the use of the veil as a regulatory mechanism on individualism in Iran.