I Am Malala

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I Am Malala Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As the chapter begins, Malala’s Aunt Najma is crying. She and Malala, along with the rest of Malala’s immediate family, are sitting on the beaches of the Arabian Sea. Malala and her family have come to the seaside town of Karachi to visit Najma. Although Najma has lived in Karachi for thirty years, she has never seen the ocean, since she’s required to be accompanied by a man and to wear a burqa at all times. As Malala watches her aunt weep, she wonders to herself how it’s possible for an entire to society to repress half of its population.
Malala’s experiences with her Aunt Najma are just as moving as the story of her Aunt Babo. While Babo’s life was brought to a sudden, horrific end because of men’s sexism and cruelty, Najma is condemned to live out her entire life under the influence of this same sexism: she’s not even allowed to enjoy the simple pleasure of walking along the beach. This example makes the oppression Malala faces seem especially real and poignant.
Themes
Women’s Rights Theme Icon
The Power of Education Theme Icon
The year is 2012, Malala reveals. Malala has traveled to Karachi to appear on television—a school in Abottabad has been named in her honor, and journalists want to speak to her. Malala traveled by plane to reach Karachi—the first time in her life she’s traveled in such a way. Karachi, she notes, is one of the largest cities in the world. It’s an important port for Pakistan, and a place where hundreds of different languages are spoken. There is also a great deal of violence in the city, as a result of its diversity.
Malala has been capitalizing on her awards, but this doesn’t mean that she’s abandoned her political convictions. On the contrary, she’s using her fame cleverly and creatively, building influence and connections for herself, which she’ll use to enact real change in Pakistan—not the flashy, superficial change that Pakistan’s politicians seem to specialize in.
Themes
Women’s Rights Theme Icon
The Power of Education Theme Icon
In Karachi, Malala attends an assembly held in her honor, where she’s applauded by an audience of thousands. She visits schools in the city, including several which will be named after her. Children sing for her, and she receives an oil portrait of herself. Malala also visits the tomb of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. This is an especially important part of her visit, because the tomb is decorated with Jinnah’s speeches, in which he claims that Pakistan should protect people’s freedom of speech and religion. As Malala explores the tomb, she’s reminded of the foolishness of the Taliban: instead of worrying about the proper interpretations of the Quran, she thinks, Pakistanis should concentrate on practical issues like fighting poverty, and promoting education.
Malala’s awards are mostly important to her insofar as they represent money and prestige, which she’ll be able to translate into education and women’s rights. One notable exception is the award she receives in Karachi, as a part of this involves a visit to the tomb of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, one of her idols. Malala began her book by quoting from Jinnah, and it’s a mark of how far she’s risen in life that she’s now visiting Jinnah’s tomb on her own. Even while she’s at Jinnah’s tomb, however, Malala doesn’t think of herself at all—instead she thinks of how Jinnah’s example can encourage her to work harder and achieve more.
Themes
Women’s Rights Theme Icon
The Power of Education Theme Icon
Goodness Theme Icon
Fame, Power, and the Importance of Role Models Theme Icon
During her visit to Karachi, Malala meets a reporter named Shehla Anjum, who tearfully warns Malala that the Taliban have threatened to kill her. Ziauddin is shocked by this news, as he didn’t think the Taliban would stoop so low as to threaten a thirteen-year-old girl. He insists that Malala abandon her political activism for a time, but Malala promptly refuses to do so. She’s committed to supporting women’s rights and women’s education, and if she backs down now, the Taliban will have won a victory.
Considering all the violent acts we’ve read about so far, it’s remarkable that Ziauddin hasn’t asked Malala to abandon her political activism before this moment. To be fair, Ziauddin has taken many precautions to protect his daughter, like encouraging her to use a pseudonym when she wrote her diaries. Here, we see how selfless Malala has grown since the arrival of the Taliban in Pakistan: she cares not at all for her own safety.
Themes
Women’s Rights Theme Icon
The Power of Education Theme Icon
Goodness Theme Icon
Fame, Power, and the Importance of Role Models Theme Icon
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Malala and her family return to Swat, still shaken by the news that the Taliban wants Malala dead. Ziauddin speaks to the police in Mingora, who suggest placing Malala under surveillance to protect her at all times. Malala and Ziauddin say that they don’t need this protection, at least not yet. Nevertheless, Malala becomes paranoid about walking outside at night. She’s also disheartened to learn that she’s come in second place in her exams for the year—months of collecting awards and traveling have distracted her from her own education.
The chapter ends on an ironic note. Although Malala has spent the better part of the last two years using her influence to fight for education, she’s been neglecting her own education, and her grades are slipping. While this ending for the chapter is almost humorous, there’s a serious point here: Malala is still growing up, and is now often neglecting her own life in her enthusiasm to improve the lives of others.
Themes
Women’s Rights Theme Icon
The Power of Education Theme Icon
Goodness Theme Icon