And the Mountains Echoed

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The son of Baba Jan, and a resident of the city of Shadbagh, Adel is a young, innocent child, and the main character in Chapter Seven of And the Mountains Echoed. For most of the chapter, Adel regards his father as a hero who selflessly gives his money to build schools and hospitals for the people of Shadbagh. As the chapter proceeds, however, Adel learns from Gholam that his father is a cruel, criminal man, who’s used his military force to do great damage to the people of Afghanistan. Ultimately, Adel comes to view his father with a mixture of fear and awe—a far cry from the unconditional love he felt for Baba Jan prior to meeting Gholam.

Adel Quotes in And the Mountains Echoed

The And the Mountains Echoed quotes below are all either spoken by Adel or refer to Adel . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Riverhead Books edition of And the Mountains Echoed published in 2014.
Chapter 7 Quotes

“My father is not a thief!” Adel shot back. “Ask anyone in Shadbagh-e-Nau, ask them what he’s done for this town.” He thought of how Baba jan received people at the town mosque, reclined on the floor, teacup before him, prayer beads in hand. A solemn line of people, stretching from his cushion to the front entrance, men with muddy hands, toothless old women, young widows with children, every one of them in need, each waiting for his or her turn to ask for a favor, a job, a small loan to repair a roof or an irrigation ditch or buy milk formula.

Related Characters: Adel (speaker), Baba Jan / The Commander / Commander Sahib , Gholam
Page Number: 278
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, we meet Adel, a young, idealistic boy who hero-worships his father, "The Commander." Although it's never explicitly stated, we get the sense that Adel's father isn't such a good man--in fact, he's probably a member of the Taliban, a fundamentalist, terrorist group that hurts and oppresses innocent people. The reason that Adel thinks of his father as a "good man" is that The Commander makes a point of granting special favors to the people of his community--he uses his wealth and prestige to make his neighbors loyal to him. As far as Adel is concerned, The Commander's actions are good and generous--but we can tell that they're just the opposite: selfish and calculating.

The passage brings up an interesting point: is generosity "good" if it's designed to make an evil person more influential in his community? The Commander may be an evil person, but he's still using his money to give jobs and repair roofs, after all. Perhaps there's no simple way of answering the question: as the div said in Chapter One, there's no real difference between cruelty and benevolence.

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Adel knew he would not love his father again as he had before, when he would sleep happily curled in the bay of his thick arms. That was inconceivable now. But he would learn to love him again even if now it was a different, more complicated, messier business. Adel could almost feel himself leapfrogging over childhood. Soon, he would land as an adult. And when he did, there would be no going back because adulthood was akin to what his father had once said about being a war hero: once you became one, you died one.

Related Characters: Adel (speaker), Baba Jan / The Commander / Commander Sahib
Page Number: 303
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Adel finds out the truth about his father: his father is a dangerous, violent man who's caused the deaths of innocent people. The boundless, worshipful love that Adel feels for his father evaporates the instant he learns the truth--and in the process, Adel senses that he's become an adult. As Adel sees is, childhood is defined by unconditional love, like the love he felt for his father (or, we might add, the love that Abdullah felt for Pari). Adulthood, by contrast, is defined by a cautious, cynical, self-deluding love. The only way that Adel can continue to love his father is to lie to himself, just as Adel's mother seems to lie to herself. In short, the passage paints a deeply cynical portrait of adult life: it's only possible to truly love people when you're too young and naive to know the truth about them--the second you learn the facts, you love in a "messier" way and become an adult.

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Adel Character Timeline in And the Mountains Echoed

The timeline below shows where the character Adel appears in And the Mountains Echoed. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7
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The chapter begins with a teacher, Malalai, telling a young student, Adel, that his father is a great man. Adel lives in a town called New Shadbagh,... (full context)
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Adel thinks about his relationship with his father, Baba jan. As a younger man, Baba jan... (full context)
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The opening ceremony draws to a close, and Baba jan motions for Adel to accompany him to his car. An old man, accompanied by a child, stops Baba... (full context)
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The car swerves out of New Shadbagh toward Adel’s home in Old Shadbagh. Adel remembers growing up in the larger city of Kabul. When... (full context)
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...stubbornly says that he’ll wait as long as it takes for “the commander” to return. Adel, listening to the conversation, asks Kabir what he does for his father. Kabir explains that... (full context)
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A few days after Baba jan leaves for Helmand, Adel walks into his parents’ bedroom. There he finds his stepmother (whom he thinks of as... (full context)
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Adel decides to spend the day walking around his house’s enormous grounds. He wanders by his... (full context)
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Adel and Gholam continue talking. Gholam explains that he was born in a Pakistani refugee camp... (full context)
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Gholam and Adel continue talking. Gholam mentions that Adel’s father has many enemies. Adel has heard this from... (full context)
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In the coming days, Adel sees little of Gholam. Then, about a week after meeting him for the first time,... (full context)
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One day, Gholam tells Adel something unpleasant: Adel’s father built his mansion on Gholam’s family’s land. The orchard area used... (full context)
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The evening after his fight with Gholam, Adel still isn’t sure what to believe. On one hand, he worships his father, and finds... (full context)
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A few days after he speaks with his stepmother, Adel sees Gholam wandering through the orchards. Gholam tells Adel that there’s been a highly suspicious... (full context)
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A few days after Adel’s talk with Gholam, Baba jan returns to Shadbagh. Adel is overjoyed to see him, though... (full context)
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Shortly after the incident with the window, Adel sneaks into his father’s study and uses his computer to look up information about the... (full context)
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Adel leaves his father’s study, thinking about everything he’s experienced. He realizes that he’ll never be... (full context)