Parvana is not your typical eleven-year-old girl, but she would certainly like to be. She is living in Kabul—a city in Afghanistan—under Taliban rule, so she is surrounded by violence, oppression, and poverty… and before long, her family sees her as their only hope for survival. No pressure or anything though.
Parvana as Kaseem
After Father is kidnapped and imprisoned by the Taliban, Mother has a great idea: they'll dress Parvana as a boy so she can walk about the marketplace freely. This way she can get food and earn some money for the family; it will be great. And while the entire family makes plans to turn Parvana into Kaseem, Parvana doesn't have a clue what they are talking about—she's just a kid, remember—but Parvana's family knows something that she doesn't. And that is that she is totally strong enough to handle the situation.
So they cut her hair, dress her up in her dead brother's clothes, and then send her out to fool the Taliban. To Parvana's surprise, her family is right—no one pays any attention to her as Kaseem. As she buys rice and tea for her family, she feels proud, thinking, "I can do this!" (6.72). Over time, Parvana comes to enjoy her marketplace outings, watching the people and feeling the "sun on her face" (7.4), which for an Afghan woman at this time is a dream come true (the Taliban requires them to wear burqas when they leave the house).
These trips to the marketplace, however, aren't about fresh air and sunshine. Parvana is supposed to be taking over Father's job as a letter-reader, and she's a little skittish—she's only eleven, after all—but Mother reminds her that she has "more education than most people in Afghanistan" (7.11), and she's knows Mother's right. So Parvana takes a deep breath and reads the letters with confidence, and as she does, she learns something in the process: these soldiers who have ruined her life and country are real people with emotions just like hers. She wonders:
Could they have feelings of sorrow, like other human beings? (7.38)
This is a majorly insightful moment on Parvana's part—she recognizes the fundamental humanity in the very people who refuse to acknowledge hers—and it shows us how bright this young girl is. It's also a generous realization—it would be easy to write all members of the Taliban off after what they've done—which clues us into how fundamentally kind Parvana is.
While part of the reason Parvana gets sent to the market as Kaseem has to do with the fact that she's literally the only person in her family who can pass as a boy, we think another reason behind Mother's brilliant idea might be that she knows how smart and aware her daughter is—both of which seem like useful qualities while hanging around with the Taliban.
Parvana as a Friend
When Parvana runs into Shauzia in the marketplace she is relieved. Not only is Shauzia an acquaintance from school, but she's pretending to be a boy to help her family too. Finally, Parvana thinks, there are "other girls like her in Kabul!" (9.7). And while Shauzia isn't exactly like Parvana in plenty of ways—she's more adventurous and forces Parvana to take some risks (we're thinking about the graveyard in particular on this one)—she brings a bit of much-needed childhood back to Parvana's life.
Shauzia and Parvana laugh together, daydreaming about their futures and imagining themselves saving a princess while they "ride through Kabul in a cloud of dust" (13.43)—all while outwitting the Taliban, mind you. When they walk home someday, they talk about their classmates from school almost as though they were still allowed to go the way they used to. And, like true childhood friends, when it's time for them to go their separate ways, they refuse to say good-bye, and instead say, "so long for now" (15.75), agreeing to meet each other twenty years later in Paris.
But though Shauzia brings companionship and childish whimsy to Parvana's days, she isn't Parvana's only friend. Our main girl spends her mornings with a different friend—a.k.a. the Window Woman.
At first the Woman seems a bit creepy—she hides from sight and throws strange presents on Parvana's blanket—but Parvana only feels comforted by her presence. She looks forward to the little signs of life from the window, and the anticipation gets her through her days and keeps her focused on the positive. Again we can see friendship as helping Parvana tap into her childhood. The Woman drops presents down to her, impractical little gifts—treats, really—that speckle Parvana's days spent otherwise carrying the burden of being the sole provider for her family.
Before Parvana leaves Afghanistan, she plants the Woman flowers in the place where she usually set up her blanket, so that the Woman will have "something pretty to look at" (15.49) when she is gone.
As a gesture, it shows how kind and thoughtful Parvana is, and also how hopeful—she leaves the potential for beauty and growth as a gift to her mysterious friend. And even if the flowers don't grow, it won't matter because it seems the woman watches Parvana plant the seeds—when Parvana looks to the window to wave, she thinks she sees "someone wave back" (15.60).
Parvana as Malali
Parvana's father tells her of the story of Malali, a girl who inspires the Afghans to rally in war and beat the British; Father tells Parvana she has that same courage. It isn't just a cool story, though—it serves as inspiration for Parvana to act courageously later on when all she really wants to do is crawl in a hole and hide forever. Malali reminds Parvana that she may be just a little girl, but she can do great things.
Parvana pretends she is Malali when she needs to feel brave, like when she goes with Mother to the prison to find Father, and when she rescues Homa from the Taliban. Parvana thinks:
I'm Malali, leading the troops though enemy territory. (14.27)
And in this way, Malali becomes like a second alter ego to Parvana. And just as she is able to do things as Kaseem that she couldn't do as Parvana—due to Taliban law—so too is she able to do things as Malali that she can't do as Parvana. Malali isn't just a story her dad told her; Malali is the best pep talk Parvana knows how to give herself. And this means, that though Parvana quakes with fear sometimes, she's also figured out how to pull herself out of it, which is pretty impressive for an eleven-year-old.
Parvana Plain and Small
Parvana definitely rises to the occasion and becomes the family hero, but deep inside she just wants to be a normal kid. She was quite content playing with Maryam and fetching the water as needed, thankyouverymuch, and what she wants more than anything is to be bored in geography class and walk home from school with her girlfriends again. She says:
I just want to be an ordinary kid again […] I just want a normal, boring life. (12.36)
But for the good of the family, Parvana takes on Father's role, stepping into some pretty big shoes because she can, not because she wants to. This shift in her life only deepens the toll war takes on her though, and after seeing the prisoners' hands chopped off, she stays home for a bit because she doesn't "want to see anything ugly for a little while" (12.2). War has shown Parvana far more than she's ever wanted to see, and as the book ends—though we hope otherwise—it seems like Parvana's childhood is behind her.Timeline
The book Parvana is about an 11-year-old girl living in Afghanistan, under the extreme Taliban regime. The Taliban ban women from going outside without a man and Afghan women are forced to wear the burqa at all times in public. Her family lost almost everything due to the bombings/wars in Afghanistan. Her father sells their remaining family items at the market place and offers his service of writing and reading and documents for people to make a living. The story takes a twist as Parvana’s father gets arrested and put in jail because he attended collage in England. Parvana is forced to change her appearance, to look like a boy and help her family buy products from the market and also take her father’s place in the market to earn the family some money.
Characterisation- is the process of conveying information about characters. Characters may be presented by means of description, through their actions, speech, or thoughts. Details of characterisation might also include descriptions of what a certain character wears, looks like, and smells like and so on.
Parvana- is the main character in this book. She is a teenage girl living a tough life in a country where women don’t have rights. Her father calls her his little ‘Malali’. Parvana is a confident girl who never gives up hope.
Father- He is an educated man, working in the marketplace as a letter reader/writer. Father needs to be accompanied by Parvana, as a bomb blew off his leg.
Mother- Her name is Fatana, she is a loving and caring person who looks after the whole family. She is also educated and used to work for the women’s Afghanistan association before the Taliban took over.
Mrs. Weera- She is an old PE teacher who worked with Parvana’s mother. She is a great and very helpful woman who comes to live with the family. She is an independent woman who pushes the family to fight harder and often compares life to the hockey field, describing the family as a strong team.
Shauzia- An eleven-year-old girl, who also works in the market place and becomes Parvana’s best friend.
Homa- A shy girl that Parvana finds hiding in a bombed house. The Taliban murdered her family and she was left to die on the streets. Parvana’s family and Mrs. Weera adopt Homa, as she slowly recovers.
Setting- The setting is where the events/ story takes place. There may be more than one setting in a novel. The time of an event is also considered as a setting.
This book Parvana takes place in Kabul, Afghanistan
Theme- the main subject that is being discussed or described in a piece of writing
This book is full of themes like courage, perseverance, friendship, adventure, and many others. But the most important theme in the entire novel is courage, As of Parvana’s determination and boldness that she is able to deal with the challenges she faces. It is hard to believe that the naïve eleven year old of the opening chapters becomes the courageous young adult that her family must rely on.
This courage is first evident when Parvana decides to disguise herself as a boy and states, “In the end, it was really her decision…‘I’ll do it.”’ This shows us that Parvana realizes that her family is in desperate need and is willing to put herself in direct jeopardy for her family.
Diaspora/Displacement- the voluntary or forcible movement of peoples from their homelands into new regions Refugee / illegal migrants/ migrants/ asylum seekers- people who leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, natural disaster or just to live a better life. Emigrant/ immigration- an immigrant is someone moving into a country and an emigrant is someone moving out or away from a country. Dying or dead languages/ Mother Tongues- The Language that a person has grown up speaking from early childhood. Sub- cultures/ cultural landscapes- a cultural group within a larger culture, often having beliefs or interests at variance with those of the larger culture. Slavery- Slavery- is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Terrorism- the unofficial or unauthorized use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims. Women rights- Women’s rights are the rights and entitlements claimed for women and girls of many societies worldwide Taliban- a fundamentalist Islamic militia; in 1995 the Taliban militia took over Afghanistan and in 1996 took Kabul and set up an Islamic government; “the Taliban enforced a strict Muslim code of behavior” People/ religion- the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. Wars- a state of armed conflict between different countries or different groups within a country.
Definition of key concepts
War – definition of war by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.. 2014. war – definition of war by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/war. [Accessed 18 March 2014].
Thinking about why we read literature
-Why bother reading books?
Books are not only entertaining to read once you get the right one, but extend your skills in so many areas including grammar and punctuation and spelling. They boost your imagination and your creativity, and also, in my opinion, give you a different outlook on the world depending on the moral and/or plot of the story.
-How would the experience of life be different without books? The amazing thing about books is the community that revolves around them, and now with social media, sharing great books has never been easier. Books give knowledge, skills and creativity, so a world without books would destroy a large community of book worms and less creativity in people would be evident, not to mention the grammar and punctuation. -What does literature bring to the human experience that other activities cannot bring? Once you get really into a book, there is really nothing like it. The only thing I could compare to the experience of a good book is a movie. When I read a really good book, I have a mental image, almost a mental movie, rolling in my head all the time. I block out distraction and find myself gasping at the ink on the paper.
-What kind of books have you been reading over the past year? I have not read as many books as I would have liked to in the last year, mostly due to being busy, but the books I have read have been typically ones aimed at my age group, such as late-teen fiction, mostly action genre.
-Do you enjoy reading? Why/why not?
I only enjoy reading when I get immersed into a good book, if the book doesn’t really grab me early on, typically in the first half, I do not enjoy reading it.
-Does reading literature have much value to most young people now? I think young people such as myself think literature is no value to them, but they really don’t understand how broad the word literature extends. Most things they read on the Internet is literature such as quotes they find relatable or the latest celebrity gossip.
-Why do teachers push students into reading fiction rather than just non-fiction? Fiction is a fresh change from the reality of non-fiction. Fiction has much more versatility in the way it can let the imagination run free and create a story in which grabs the reader
-Why do so many cultures place great value on “literature”?
Literature is shared and passed around and down through the decades, this is the same across any culture around the world, whether it is through the Internet as previously stated, or through Aboriginal dreamtime stories.
-Will books survive this decade? Why/why not?
I think books will never go out of fashion; they will always be available whether through the physical paper format or the electronic format. They are too much of a unique experience when you get into one to not survive the current decade.
Ellis, D, 2002. Parvana. 2nd ed. Kabul, Afghanistan: Allen & Unwin. Journal
Abirafeh, L, 2003. The Impact of Religion on Women in the Development Process. CriticalHalf Journal of Women for Women International , Volume 1, part 1, 37-38. Newspaper
Bengali, S, 2014. Taliban threaten to attack Afghan presidential elections. The Guardian, 10 March. Website
No choice for Afghan girls brought up as boys. 2014. No choice for Afghan girls brought up as boys. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.asafeworldforwomen.org/children/c-central-and-south-asia/children-in-afghanistan/2191-no-choice-for-afghan-girls-brought-up-as-boys.html. [Accessed 13 March 2014]. Other (Web article)
Zavis, A, 2009. Taliban. Afghan corruption greases Taliban’s rise, [Online]. 1, 1. Available at: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2009-11-21/news/0911210199_1_president-hamid-karzai-opium-trade-taliban [Accessed November 21, 2009].
“Once upon a time…”
The Author of the book Parvana draws the reader into the book by putting them straight into the events of Parvan’s life. It makes the reader more and more curious about her life and it makes the reader to read more. The story starts off at the market place where Parvana is whispering to herself “I can read that letter as well as Father can” (Pg9), she wouldn’t dare to say it out loud because the man next to them would not want to hear her voice nor doesn’t anyone else in the market! The Author then goes on to explain the harsh rules of the Taliban and how girls are not meant to be outside. The whole book is in a chronological order, it explains their history as we read.
Where and when?
The novel Parvana is set in Kabul Afghanistan. Afghanistan is located in the Middle East. Afghanistan has been at war since 1978, when American backed fighters opposed the soviet0backed government. Before the U.S. invasion, before the Russian war, before the Marxist revolution, Afghanistan used to be a beautiful place. One of a few American schools in Afghanistan shows just how stable the country once was. The beautiful city of Kabul had become a city of ruins and bombed out buildings. Many buildings had become bricks and dust. The restaurants and stores were gone. The streets had many holes in them and caused people to fall.
How the city of Kabul changed
. 2014. . [ONLINE] Available at: https://mkislibrary.pbworks.com/f/Breadwinner+questions.pdf. [Accessed 18 March 2014].
Parvana is a very joyful and a strong girl. She is a 13-year-old girl and nothing can bring her down! She is also a determined, hard worker. If she has something to say she will say it, she demonstrates this as she stands up to the Taliban by saying, “stop! Stop it!” (Pg44) and she said this to protect her mother.
Through out the book Parvana grows stronger as a person, she went from a girl who barley had the guts to talk, to a person who was the source to the family and took care of everyone.
Before the wars Parvana and her family were living in a good and a peaceful life. When the Taliban took over, the whole country suffered. The family’s house used to be nice, and the parents had come from respected Afghan families. The house was large with servants, and many rooms. A bomb had destroyed the first house, and the family had moved many times until finally they all lived in one small room. Parvana and her friend came up with an idea of a portable “shop” by using trays to move their items around. But Money to buy trays, they did something revolting. Parvana took the decision to dig up bones from a graveyard to earn money. There are many other events like this that took part in her life.
She loves making her own decisions, as you can tell she loves adventures. She has achieved many things, one being working to take care of her family. Parvana is always willing to help out and she is a kind-hearted person.
Plot construction (what happens? When? Why? How?)
The Events are not really too different from really life, most of the events that take place in the book still happens in Afghanistan. Parvana is a brave girl who stands up to the Taliban, Parvana and her mum were beaten up by the Taliban just for standing up for their rights. An event similar to the story took place last year, a girl was shot by a Taliban for speaking out and attending school.
Plot structure: Is the sequence of events that make up a story, the plot usually begins with an exposition, Subplot: Is the secondary strand of the plot that is there to support the main plot. A subplot usually involves supporting characters, takes up less of the action and has less significant events occur.
Crisis – Critical event or point of decision which, if not handled in an appropriate and timely manner, a turning point and may turn into a disaster or catastrophe. Resolution – It is the point in the stories plot line where the original conflict is solved. The problem in the story is resolved.
Complication- complication means to have a problem that makes you have a decision between 2 things.
Flashback – recalling of a previous event or happening to clarify a current situation in a literary work. It is used to create suspense in the story. Climax- the most intense, exciting, or important point of in a novel/story. Coda- Is the very last paragraph of a story or a letter which puts the story to an end. Basically the concluding section of a story. Timeline of events that occurred in the book Parvana
The topic I’m going to discuss is when I broke my curfew and came home late. My perspective towards it was that I just couldn’t make it any earlier and I missed the bus that’s why I was late. But my mum’s attitude towards it was that I broke her trust and disobeyed her by not getting home in time. Her belief was that I don’t value her trust as much as she does.
First person narration- A point of view in which a story is narrated by one character at a time, taking about themselves. First-person narrators usually use of the pronoun “I,” as they are talking bout themselves.
Third Person narration – Third person is told from an outside narrator’s point of view and it uses pronouns such as “he” or “she.”
Omniscient narration- All‐knowing’ kind of narrator, mostly found in works of fiction written as third person narrative. The omniscient narrator has a full knowledge of the story’s and the unspoken thoughts of the various characters.
The one event from my book that I choose was when Parvana and Shauzia, see thousands of people huddle into the stadium and watch the punishment of thieves where they got their hands chopped off. Watching this event through Parvan’s eyes was terrific, scary and unbearable, as they are kids and it’s a very harsh punishment. Watching this through the other men in the crowd was no too bad because they are used to it, they are used to the Taliban scaring them with events like this as they probably have seen worse before.
Literature Glossary. 2014. Literature Glossary. Available at: http://www.shmoop.com/literature-glossary/first-person-narration.html. [Accessed 19 March 2014].
Theme is what the main idea is in the story. It’s the subject of the novel.
Plot is what a story is all about. It’s the general idea on what the readers or viewers must expect to happen in the story.
Parvana is full of concepts like courage, kindness, perseverance, friendship, adventure, and many others. In this novel there are a number of themes, but there are three more significant themes than the others. Courage is one of the most important theme in this novel, the determination and boldness that Parvana is able to deal with challenges she faces. A young eleven-year-old girl becomes the courage’s young adult that her family must rely on. The first sings of courage is shown when Parvana decides to disguise herself as a boy and says. “In the end, it was really her decision…‘I’ll do it.”’ This shows us that Parvana realizes that her family needs her and they’re in desperate need. Parvan’s behavior is courageous, as she knows that if the Taliban catches her, she shall be punished, but knows that it is necessary because she is supporting her family.
The second most significant theme would have to be kindness. Parvana is a kind willing person she treats others kindly, this includes family, friends and strangers. An example of one of her act of kindness is that when her sister Nooria was going to another city she decided to buy her a pen as a gift even though she did not have much money. Parvana had to work very hard in the market to earn the money she made. This demonstrates her kindness. Parvana puts others before herself, another example of Parvan’s kindness is her generosity towards strangers. Parvana found a girl named Homa she looked depressed and homeless. Parvana took a Homa to her house and gave her food, provided shelter, and comforted her as much as she could. Not many people would’ve treated a stranger as kind as Parvana treated Homa.
The last most important theme in this book is war, as Parvana and her family is living in an area where war is going on and the every choice they make are based on the fact that war is going on. War has destroyed their life and their house, the main aim in this book is to get away from war and live a peaceful life.
Packaging for Publication
The cover design of Parvana highlights the main theme and the setting of the book as you can see its set in a Middle Eastern country as the two ladies besides Parvana are wearing a burqa and she looks like she is hiding from something.
When deciding what goes on the front of your book you take into condensation the main theme and the plot of the book and the message your trying to get across to the reader, it also needs to be catchy enough. It should get someone who is walking past take their time to stop and read that blurb at the back of the book. The back should also have pictures to keep it looking exciting and not bland
Article about an afghan girl shot down by a taliban
Pakistan BANS memoir by Malala, the girl shot by the Taliban for going to school | Mail Online. 2014. Pakistan BANS memoir by Malala, the girl shot by the Taliban for going to school | Mail Online. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2497630/Pakistan-BANS-memoir-Malala-girl-shot-Taliban-going-school.html. [Accessed 18 March 2014].
Themes raised in Parvana
What Are the Three Most Important Themes Raised by the Novel Parvana by Deborah Ellis? – College Essays – Kevinnathanael. 2014. What Are the Three Most Important Themes Raised by the Novel Parvana by Deborah Ellis? – College Essays – Kevinnathanael. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.studymode.com/essays/What-Are-The-Three-Most-Important-430531.html. [Accessed 18 March 2014].
Home – The Breadwinner by: Deborah Ellis. 2014. Home – The Breadwinner by: Deborah Ellis. [ONLINE] Available at: http://ss-thebreadwinner.webs.com. [Accessed 18 March 2014].