The Breadwinner Reading Log

Topics: Taliban, Afghanistan, Third World Pages: 6 (2435 words) Published: February 1, 2014
Response 1
The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis is set in war-ravaged Kabul, Afghanistan during the Taliban’s rule of the country. The quote, “There had been a war going on in Afghanistan for more than twenty years”(13) indicates that it probably took place in the Taliban’s early rule between 1996 and 1998. The protagonist is a young eleven year girl named Parvana who has spent most of her life witnessing and suffering from the turmoil in her country. At the beginning of the story, she appears to be a naive and ordinary girl in the sixth grade who innocently believes that, when the Taliban close down the girls’ schools, she is getting a short holiday from school. Throughout the novel Ellis attempts to concentrate on Parvana’s personality rather than physical appearance by refusing to describe Parvana’s physical features. This gives the reader the impression that Parvana can be any Afghani girl. Parvana undergoes substantial mental and physical torment in the duration of the plot; along with being made to shoulder the responsibility of running her family’s household, she emerges as a considerably more mature and responsible character at the end of the book. The author of this paper believes that most of the novel is centered around Parvana and her other siblings being robbed of their childhood. This tells the reader that this was the happening in lots of households throughout Afghanistan. Some physical characteristics of Parvana are described after her transformation into a “boy”. Her hair that is described as “thin and stringy” is cut to a soft fringe. Her determination and courage are also regularly displayed over the course of the books as she takes over responsibility of earning for her household. Her affection towards her younger siblings is also indicated by her taking care of Ali when Fatana was in depression and complimenting Maryam’s art work. Nooria is one of the few secondary characters in The Breadwinner; she is Parvana’s older sister and is indicated to be around the age of 17. Her physical characteristics have also not been provided in detail, though we are told that she already has a woman's figure and also has long, beautiful hair (which Parvana is jealous of). Nooria’s reaction to the closure of girls schools indicates that she enjoyed her school. Like her mother, take great pride in her education and dreams of becoming a teacher. Her relationship with Parvana was the classic elder sister-younger sister relationship, with jealousy and affection for each other in equal measure. She usually treats Parvana with disdain. Nooria’s entrapment in the single room apartment, caused by Taliban restrictions on women's mobility, results in her becoming even more irritable. However, she does demonstrate her affection towards her family by helping her mother in most family chores and later by tending to Parvana’s injuries. The incidents of the story, especially where Parvana decides to sacrifice something (accompanying mother to the prison, agreeing to cut her hair etc), bring them closer together and when Nooria eventually leaves for Mazar for her unexpected marriage towards the conclusion of the book, both girls are saddened by their parting. The Breadwinner like many other narratives about the rule of Taliban (Khalid Hosseini’s books) describes the Taliban’s practice of punishing criminals in public. The chapter describing the punishments in the stadium is important in my opinion as it highlights the ignorance of the Taliban and their Despotism. It depicts a real event that apparently takes place every Friday. Friday is a holy day in the Muslim week. Muslims attempt to be even more pious, patient and generous than usual. The Taliban violate the sanctity of Friday my committing such heinous acts. Many other countries, monarchies even, like Saudi Arabia, where the author has lived also have laws relating to capital punishment. These countries use capital punishment as a method to deter criminals or criminal activity ....
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