HL Essay Reflection #2

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In the beginning of my essay planning, my initial topic sentences were to focus on how in different ways women in the novel were represented by the author and how it connects with the Japanese society historically and even now.

My previous topic sentences and ideas were;

  • Topic sentence 1 – how are female characters represented ? (strong, powerful, weak, moving towards modernisation, holding on to culture etc)
  • Topic sentence 2 – Predominant male character representation (Kikuji) – how does he think and act with different female characters in the novel with different intension and traditional values.
  • Topic sentence 3- Weak women are more subordinate.

My topic sentences were not very focused and I found my ideas floating all around. When I did research and tried to find evidences to support my statements from the text, there was very less of them and I found myself researching and looking into the ideas of how women were simply presented in the book which were clearly visible to the readers as well and thus I felt my topic sentences did not make my arguments stronger.

However, after talking with my friends and teacher, I came to focus my topic sentences. While my main thesis idea is still the same as how women are represented in the novel but I would be focusing on only the idea about the different levels of subordinate women representation by the author and their insights.

Initial Topic Sentence:

  1. Representation of woman as less subordinate. (Chikako)
  2. Representation of woman as very subordinate (Mrs.Ota)
  3. Representation of woman who could fall under being a subordinate but one that pushes the factors affecting her to be submissive away (Fumiko)

With this initial topic sentences, I can focus my idea on one concept and at the same time refer my evidences from the whole body of book (Thousand Cranes).

HL Essay Reflection #1

  1. How might you use precise terminology to unpack the text more effectively? 
  • Note down the specific terminologies that I think are relevant to the text while stating evidence for that during the planning time since I forget to use them when I am nervous at the beginning of writing.
  • Practise use of terminologies before tests to get used to it and on how to use/apply them.
  1. How might you unpack the verbal and visual elements of the text to derive more plausible arguments and clearer insights?
  • Use Point, Evidence and Evaluation 
  • identify carefully what kind of text/prompt it is in order to use specific and relevant visual and lexical elements.
  • Study the role played by male/female characters in the text.
  • You put yourself in the audience’s shoe and imagine what it could mean to you.
  • how are different gender identity represented in the text? why? how?

Visual elements;

  • Rule of thirds – break and analyse- supported by evidence 
  • Angel, shot and framing composition 
  • Colour contrast 
  • Use of characters – male vs female – if relevant connecting to resistant reading 
  • Placement/ representation of social classes 

Verbal or lexical elements

  • Fonts – size 
  • Punctuation 
  • Repetition of phrases 
  •  Headline 
  • Power dynamics 
  • Ethos? Pathos? Logos? → Identify them and show why?how?


–> I began my English language and literature HL essay planning earlier and quickly in order to get more ideas and do more research on it. My first idea was on writing the essay based on the significance of preserving  tea ceremony as part of Japanese culture and tradition and the consequences of not respecting it as I thought it was one of the open and main motif of the novel. However, as I started researching and reading more hidden messages in the novel, I found how the author represented woman’s role in the novel quite interesting and fun. After getting this idea, I was able to research on how Japan has always put heavy responsibilities on preserving their culture since the first world war and restrictions for women in the society which helped me to connect my idea from the novel to how women should/must be represented in the society. Additionally, watching the class video on “Deciphering Japan” by journalist Yumi Araki on “Japanese Identity” and “the role of women” helped me to focus my idea on my line of inquiry “How does Kawabata Yasunari represent women in Thousand Cranes?” 




Happily Divorced

Happily Divorced (episode 6) – Esther Perel


  1. Focus on a Central idea 


 Esther Perel uses these elements in her podcast really well as she shows clearly what she is trying to address to the audience both directly and indirectly through this podcast analysing the situation of the couple who thinks that they are actually divorced but they are not intellectually. 

21:00 “. You’re a LAT. You live apart, but you are together. You could say, “We are divorced,” or you could say, “We have a new marriage” 

3:30 “Confrontation. Even though I’m a litigator and I confront personally” one of the main reasons that led to their divorce and avoidance from the husband when the wife was trying to make the relationship stronger. 

In addition, through her divorce she didn’t want her son to experience the same thing that the she had to experience when her parents divorced when she was 10 years old. both of them wanted to put their son’s needs above their own “13:00 When we divorced, it was very important to me to make sure that our son was not dragged into the middle of it because our problems or our issues are ours and not his. I think it’s worked. Like I said, he’s a very good father.”


  1. Play to the audience 
  • Esther Perel knows her audience well and her analysis of the situation brings them together. On the other hand, her podcast also refers to most of the audiences in America who are also middle class and are around 30 -40 years old ’s situation and how to analyse them
  • 22:30 “Mexican-American, and we grew up Catholic. It has a particular effect when you use the word marriage.” 
  • In America only a quarter of the population believe that actual monogamy is not realistic but they also know that marriages can’t be warm and fuzzy all the time. On the other hand jealousy and poverty being one of the most real dampeners. This fact is also shown in the podcast of the couple as well. For example in “10:30 “He’s very concerned about wanting to be financially responsible” “27:00 First, you would’ve complained, “We can’t afford it,” when Esther mentioned that one of the reasons was him being jealous of her when she got talk with her mother while he did not as he mother passed away “39:00 The real thing was he was jealous
  1. Regular schedules
  • Esther Perel’s season 3 podcast starting with episode 1 (young love) which started in October 10 2019 , 2 (A small town affair in Oct 17 2019), 3 (The other women in Oct 24 2019), 4(The romantic revival in Oct 31st 2019), 5(Mom and Monique Nov 7 2019 ) and 6 (Happily divorced in Nov 14 2019 ) where all podcasts were scheduled to air on the Thursdays  of the week. 


  1. Show Structure
  • She starts the conversation by understanding their situation first so that she can analyse it as they talk “00:30 I always ask people why they choose to come and share their story with me. Particularly in this couple, I was intrigued.”
  • She then slowly moves into what was problematic and how it started; speaker 1 3:30 “That’s right, I’m avoidant.” “Confrontation. Even though I’m a litigator and I confront personally.” 
  • Esther Perel then tries to know about why they are like that which relate to their past, especially the wife as she says that she doesn’t want her son to experience the same thing that she had experienced before when her parents divorced and how it affected her. 12:30 “When we divorced, it was very important to me to make sure that our son was not dragged into the middle of it because our problems or our issues are ours and not his. “
  • as they talk about their past experiences and how it affected both of them, it even led to one of the reasons for why the husband was being confronted and ignorant most of the time with her. The reason was her mother “ How dare you talk to your mother every day when I can’t? Not just I can’t because my mother is dead, but even if I did, I would never know if I would have a good day or a bad day with my mom. How dare you have such a wonderful time” —> 38:00 “. I was so resentful of her mother, and the thought of going down there and being subsumed in all of that. She has this family. She has all of this. I just have the memories of a mom who was simultaneously really great, and sacrificed, and all of it but carrying around all of the other stuff.”
  • Towards the end of the conversation, Esther Perel makes a judgement about the couple (is typical of Esther Perel podcast) “48:30. I think these people finally have the relationship that they both would want.”


  1. authenticity
  • From my point of view, the couple’s situation and how Esther analyses their situation by asking them questions seems authentic as it is based on reasons and experiences from both the parties. If the opinions of the couples; while sharing their reasons for the divorce were not really related then I would say it is less authentic 

……..(not so sure)


Essay Outline

External factors → change religion → changing culture → affects identity 

Concept: culture (change in the culture directly affects change in the identity)

Line of Inquiry: How does Marjane Satrapi show the change in culture in Persepolis? 


  1. Religious and governmental power affecting culture 
  2. Change in Society values and beliefs affecting culture 
  3. Change in person itself both internally and externally due to different factors 


Topic sentence A: people were forced to wear the veil in their daily lives after the Islamic revolution started which completely changed their lives (culture and religion) and their identity in the society. 

Support A1: Marjane’s real self (with veil)  and her ideal self (without the veil) 

Support A2: marjane as a child used to believe in god and is really religious unlike her parents. This is important to marjane herself as it shows the understanding of herself. However, when she was around 10, the Islamic revolution started → private religion vs organized religion 

Support A3: Abandoning her faith → she was deeply immersed into the war

Mini-conclusion – different external factors can change one’s culture and identity easily with power 


Topic Sentence B: People around Marjane; especially herself, was influenced by the people around them who had different beliefs, values, lifestyle and cultural background 

Support B1:  taking away freedom, individual rights, justice and safety in society 

Support B2:changing her identity after she was exposed to different cultures in her surrounding → Austria 

Support B3:   women were mostly looked down upon by the fundamentalists. If they didn’t wear their veil, they were told that they would be sexually assaulted. 



Topic Sentence C: Mental struggle due to sudden change in cultural environment and feeling unconnected 

Support C1: torn between the modern part of herself and her religious part of herself 

Support  C2: accepting her culture and nationality but had to follow the organized culture at the end

Support  C3:  inner conflict; because she was influenced by various western cultural backgrounds, it made her incompatible with society constrained by Islamic traditions and consequently led to her.



Restated thesis: change in political control and religion, change in society values leads to change in personalities and identities of individuals. 

Insight :  One’s culture is created by external factors due to power dynamics  which affects internal personalities and beliefs in their own culture. It depends on the type of people that we are surrounded by and exposure to different cultural backgrounds.

IO Essay – Persepolis

Line of inquiry –  How does Marjane Satrapi show the change in culture in Persepolis? 

The graphic novel “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi set between the years 1976 and 1994 during the time of the Iranian Revolution, was really chaotic at that time as everything was changing due to the revolution. The people of the country  drastically changed from living as westernised citizens to religiously oppressed people. Marjane Satrapi was only nine years old when the Islamic Revolution started in 1979 where they reintroduced a religious state in Iran.Though she was influenced by western culture that she received from her parents, she still believed in God and trusted him unlike her parents. However, her perception about god changes completely due to different cultural backgrounds that she experiences when she goes to Austria. Furthermore due to governmental and religious power, it led to change in their cultural beliefs and values in the society. Her life changed dramatically under the new regime and they were downtrodden by Muslim fundamentalists who took power. Marjane wrote Persepolis, a graphic novel based on how she spent her childhood in Iran and changes she faced living in another country. 

The book being a graphic novel helps Marjane to target the younger generations and help them understand the importance of preserving culture and identity, regardless of external factors. The use of flashback and first point of view effectively portrays the reality that the author had faced as she grew up experiencing different cultures and challenges. Also, a more personal approach is used in order to convey the sorrowful impact of war on freedom. In most parts of the book, including my chosen text (page 131), the angle is eye level and it puts the audience on the same level as the character so that readers can easily understand the author’s situation. On the other hand, the author wrote the book in graphic form where she uses frames of drawing with minimal use of texts and styles; all in black and white as the novel expresses her childhood experiences which was in the past and the use of six – eight panels on a page, so her targeted audience can easily understand. Artistic drawings are also important as the texts in the novel as it shows the culture and the context of that time. However, the images give an overview and understanding of the text and encourages the children (target audience) to read the whole book.

The culture, lifestyle, religion and political factors of the country gradually changed as a result of the Islamic Revolution. Islamic veil symbolises oppression and the limitations imposed on religious people. Thus, in the novel, everyone was not only forced to wear the veil, but also have to follow the Islamic religion and be religious though they are not.  The change in their religion changed their culture as what they believe, value and celebrate changed into something they aren’t used to. However, Marjane doesn’t take it seriously most of the time and she often wears the veil in an inappropriate way. For example page 131 (figure 1) , she wears her denim jacket with Michale Jackson button and her headscarf. She even had two posters of western pop singers in her room which were strictly forbidden in Iran during the revolution. This highlights her desire for freedom of dressing and her rebellious state going against the authorities. On the same page, the second row is medium shot and it focuses on the characters interactions and her dialogues. We can clearly identify her western clothes and shoes but she also wears the veil on her head with her some hair in the front. This shows the mixture of culture that the author is facing and she doesn’t know which culture and religion she should actually follow; the organised islamic culture or her private western culture. Keeping her hair loose in the front shows her position and attitude towards the veil. The first row and the last two pictures of third row is a long shot and it stresses the surroundings of the main character with western posters and her mother in the background. Her mother also wears clothes that do not cover her legs which highlights the family’s desire of escaping oppression.

At the beginning, Marjane talks about religion and her interest in becoming a prophet. Deep down, she was really religious and believed in god contrasting with the modernised views of her parents which has some influence on Marajne’s beliefs(page 6) figure 3. The part where Marjane is internally religious and the external religious oppression happening around her portrays religion as either good or bad. Religion is one of the motifs shown throughout the book and it shows the importance of the author’s understanding of her identity and which religion she should follow exactly and whether she still wants to become a prophet. However, after they reintroduced the religious state in Iran,  everything changed and Marjane was exposed to a different cultural and religious background which changed her perspective completely.  

In Persepolis, one’s physical appearance becomes pivotal. Since women were forced to wear  the veil, Marjane was unhappy with the way she had to dress causing the feeling of being imprisoned and oppressed. Page 302 (figure 2) shows how much she is being constricted by the new regime and the loss of her individual freedom. She had to be really careful and always think about how much makeup she can put and whether her clothes are covering all parts of her body. She could no longer ask for her freedom and rights. Thus, in the image she walks away, leaving her second thoughts behind. These factors changed their Iranian culture which eventually led to change in their own identities and behaviours towards the society.  The changes in their lives represent the external social phenomenon, while their psychological reactions show the tension, anxiety and unrest triggered by the social disruptions. This also reflects how the revolution influenced peoples’ interiority and identities.

It was not safe in Iran anymore. Those who did not obey the new regimes were systematically arrested and executed; fake votes were made for the acceptance of the new Islamic culture and people were taken to the prison. There was no justice in the society.  The change in society’s values and beliefs due to politics completely changed the culture of Iranians. In addition to that, all the universities were shut down in order to open new universities with all the Islamic system and curriculum. The government recruited Islamic teachers at schools; children were taught how to pray in Islamic religion and they were forced to mourn for the dead people at the war by beating on their chest twice a day. Iran’s school systems were slowly changing into Islamic system. On the other hand, those women who do not wear their veil properly were told that they will be sexually assaulted by the beard men of Islam and throw them into the garbage. Marjane’s parents got worried about her so they sent her to Austria to study and live there safely. However, this changed her completely as she was exposed to different cultural backgrounds. 

Marjane was open to the various cultural backgrounds and she made friends with different people who had different perspectives and lifestyles. She also stayed in several frustrating relationships which brought her to change her own personality just to fit into that society and be loved by her people around her.  While her friends had sex and kisses with many boys which was a normal thing in their culture. Marjane gets culture shock as she spent more time in Austria with her friends since she came from a very preserved family in Iran. She tries to change herself and follow their culture which is not hers. At the end, Marjane dives into an unexpected path and gradually loses herself. 

Though Marjane was physically free in Austria, she was never internally free. She was anxious and worried about her family in Iran. Due to the revolution, Iran was collapsing and slowly coming under Islam where Marjane thinks that she is also losing her Iranian culture and identity. Thus, Marjane started lying to her friends about her nationality. On page 195, she pretends to be French in front of her other friends and says that “to be Iranian was a heavy burden to bear”. She realizes what her grandmother told her about being true to yourself and keeping your dignity and feels guilty for distancing herself intentionally from her Iranian culture and identity. Marjane doesn’t really accept her true identity unless she finds people judging and talking bad about her identity in a cafe. On page 197, she shouts at them “I AM IRANIAN  AND PROUD OF IT!” all in capital letters with an exclamation mark at the end, where she accepts her Iranian identity completely. Though she accepts her identity as Iranian, her culture changed. She had to follow the organised Islamic religion and culture in Iran, whereas, she followed her free culture in Austria where there were no restrictions and limitations. 

In conclusion, through Persepolis, Marjane intends to remind the readers of the precarity of survival in political and social situations. The external factors like religion, politics, society values can change one’s culture, thus the author intends to empower women and remind the readers that we cannot change the truth or things that are created by superiors but being true to ourselves no matter how the situation changes is what is important to every individual. 




Figure 1                                                                       Figure 2


Figure 3


Page 131


what to do while preparing for the real IO.

  • Bringing in new perspective and explanation- strong points 
  • Provide evidence when you are explaining 
  • Prioritise your points – which point to speak first 
  • Clear connection to the global issue- both lit and non-lit
  • Explanation and understand the text clearly before thesis statement 
  • Balance between the texts (4 mins each)
  • Going depth in one or two specific global issue not the whole GI- like eg: identity, communication and culture; you don’t have to talk about all of them but just focus on one and other one as supporting the main one. 
  • Work and brainstorm with the people who are doing the same body of work as you
  • Choose only 40 lines of literature text
  • Never repeat the points 
  • Make the connections clear for yourself
  • Chose the text that are related to each other (both literature and non-literature); that has both the same global issues and concept
  • The global issue should make sense to both literature and non-literature. 
  • Chose the text where you think that you can finish the elaboration in 10 minutes. Do not choose broad topics or texts