Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Deborah Ellis's The Breadwinner. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
The Breadwinner: Introduction
The Breadwinner: Plot Summary
The Breadwinner: Detailed Summary & Analysis
The Breadwinner: Themes
The Breadwinner: Quotes
The Breadwinner: Characters
The Breadwinner: Terms
The Breadwinner: Symbols
The Breadwinner: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Deborah Ellis
Historical Context of The Breadwinner
Other Books Related to The Breadwinner
- Full Title: The Breadwinner
- When Written: 1997–2000
- Where Written: Pakistan and Canada
- When Published: 2001
- Literary Period: Contemporary
- Genre: Young Adult Novel
- Setting: Kabul, Afghanistan in 2000
- Climax: Father is released from prison.
- Antagonist: The Taliban
- Point of View: Third Person
Extra Credit for The Breadwinner
Girl Power. Father’s story of Malali (or Malalai) is tweaked a bit in The Breadwinner, but it is based on a real person. During the Afghan war with the British, an 18- or 19-year-old young woman named Malalai waved the Afghan flag, recited poetry, and inspired the Afghan troops to victory. Often referred to as the Afghan Joan of Arc, she’s the namesake of women’s rights activist Malala Yousafzai and of the activist and politician Malalai Joya.
One of the Boys. The practice of Afghan girls dressing as boys—known as bacha posh—is relatively common. The goal isn’t usually deception, as it is for Parvana, but families do often turn a daughter into a bacha posh so that she can help support the family or alleviate societal pressure for the parents to have a son. Most bacha posh revert to presenting as women when they reach marriageable age, a transition that many former bacha posh find difficult.