The Breadwinner

by

Deborah Ellis

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Breadwinner can help.
A burqa is a long black garment that covers a woman’s body entirely from head to toe. For women in the novel, going out without wearing a burqa is illegal. Burqas also make it hard to see and navigate the streets without tripping.

Burqa Quotes in The Breadwinner

The The Breadwinner quotes below are all either spoken by Burqa or refer to Burqa. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Afghanistan, History, and Pride Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oxford University Press edition of The Breadwinner published in 2014.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Parvana knew she had to fetch the water because there was nobody else in the family who could do it. Sometimes this made her resentful. Sometimes it made her proud. One thing she knew—it didn’t matter how she felt. Good mood or bad, the water had to be fetched, and she had to fetch it.

Related Characters: Parvana, Mother, Nooria, Maryam
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

“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.

Related Characters: Nooria (speaker), Father (speaker), Parvana
Related Symbols: Malali
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

The little gifts from the window kept landing on Parvana’s blanket every couple of weeks. Sometimes it was a piece of embroidery. Sometimes it was a piece of candy or a single bead.

It was as if the Window Woman was saying, “I’m still here,” in the only way she could.

Related Characters: Parvana, The Window Woman
Page Number: 117
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

“Do you really want to do this?”

Nooria nodded. “Look at my life here, Parvana. I hate living under the Taliban. I’m tired of looking after the little ones. My school classes happen so seldom, they’re of almost no value. There’s no future for me here. At least in Mazar I can go to school, walk the streets without having to wear a burqa, and get a job when I’ve completed school. Maybe in Mazar I can have some kind of life. Yes, I want to do this.”

Related Characters: Parvana (speaker), Nooria (speaker), Shauzia
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Breadwinner LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Breadwinner PDF

Burqa Term Timeline in The Breadwinner

The timeline below shows where the term Burqa appears in The Breadwinner. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Afghanistan, History, and Pride Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Agency, Maturity, and Childhood Theme Icon
...They turn down the side street to their building and Parvana asks how women in burqas manage to navigate the streets. Father notes that they fall often. Parvana looks up to... (full context)
Chapter 2
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Agency, Maturity, and Childhood Theme Icon
...can’t help—they’d never make it up the dangerous, uneven stairs to their third-floor apartment in burqas, and they can’t go out safely without a man. Parvana is the only person in... (full context)
Chapter 3
Afghanistan, History, and Pride Theme Icon
...off into the streets. Parvana rushes behind; all the women look the same in their burqas and she doesn’t want to lose Mother. Occasionally, Mother stops and shows people a photo... (full context)
Chapter 4
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Agency, Maturity, and Childhood Theme Icon
Mother refuses Nooria’s help as she tears off her burqa and collapses onto a toshak. She sobs and allows Nooria to wash her dusty face... (full context)
Chapter 5
Gender Relations Theme Icon
Agency, Maturity, and Childhood Theme Icon
...or not. If she stands outside, she might get in trouble for not wearing a burqa; if she goes in, she might get in trouble for not acting like a woman.... (full context)
Afghanistan, History, and Pride Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Agency, Maturity, and Childhood Theme Icon
...nan and asks why Parvana didn’t buy anything else, but Mrs. Weera throws off her burqa and tells Nooria that the Taliban chased Parvana out of the market. Nooria looks relieved... (full context)
Chapter 13
Gender Relations Theme Icon
...Kabul. In Mazar, she can finish school, get a job, and go out without a burqa. This is what she wants. (full context)
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
...Nooria is nervous, but she happily tells Parvana that she’s going to tear up her burqa as soon as she’s out of Taliban territory. The next day, Parvana buys food for... (full context)
Chapter 14
Afghanistan, History, and Pride Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
...realizes they have a problem when she lights another match: the woman isn’t wearing a burqa. Parvana offers to go fetch one so the woman can come home with her, but... (full context)
Afghanistan, History, and Pride Theme Icon
...make noise while they walk—but she remembers that since this woman is out without a burqa and they’re out after curfew, noise will be the least of their problems if they... (full context)