The historical figure Malali symbolizes Parvana’s vision of how she’d like to be seen as an Afghan woman: strong, courageous, and capable of creating change in her country. Malali was a 19th-century young woman who inspired Afghan troops and led them to victory during the war with the British, and Father tells Malali’s story often to inspire his daughters to be brave and take on challenges. For Parvana, thinking of Malali connects her to her father, the supportive person in her life who encourages her to bravely face everything that comes her way. Malali’s story also reminds Parvana that it’s possible to resist oppression and hopelessness and in the future, make Afghanistan a place that once again celebrates women like Malali—and possibly, women like Parvana as well.
Malali Quotes in The Breadwinner
“How can we be brave?” Nooria asked. “We can’t even go outside. How can we lead men into battle? I’ve seen enough war. I don’t want to see any more.”
“There are many types of battles,” Father said quietly.