The Yellow Birds

by

Kevin Powers

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Bartle’s platoon’s translator, Malik, is highly skilled in English but demonstrates a lack of knowledge about military safety that ultimately gets him killed. Malik also highlights the emotional and cultural impact of war on local inhabitants’ lives, as he recalls with nostalgia the peaceful atmosphere of his neighborhood before the war.

Malik Quotes in The Yellow Birds

The The Yellow Birds quotes below are all either spoken by Malik or refer to Malik. 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:
War, Violence, and Detachment Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Little, Brown, and Company edition of The Yellow Birds published in 2012.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Nothing seemed more natural than someone getting killed. […] I needed to continue. And to continue, I had to see the world with clear eyes, to focus on the essential. We only pay attention to rare things, and death was not rare.

Related Characters: John Bartle (speaker), Malik
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

I’d been trained to think war was the great unifier, that it brought people closer together than any other activity on earth. Bullshit. War is the great maker of solipsists: how are you going to save my life today? Dying would be one way. If you die, it becomes more likely that I will not.

Related Characters: John Bartle (speaker), Malik
Related Symbols: The Yellow Ribbon
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Yellow Birds LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Yellow Birds PDF

Malik Character Timeline in The Yellow Birds

The timeline below shows where the character Malik appears in The Yellow Birds. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: September 2004 – Al Tafar, Nineveh Province, Iraq
War, Violence, and Detachment Theme Icon
Justice, Morality, and Guilt Theme Icon
...soldiers perceived shapes they thought might be people. On the first day, the platoon’s interpreter, Malik, who studied literature before the war and speaks excellent English, sits next to Bartle. He... (full context)
War, Violence, and Detachment Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
Looking around, Malik tells Bartle that this used to be his neighborhood. He stands up and points to... (full context)
War, Violence, and Detachment Theme Icon
Companionship vs. Solitude Theme Icon
After Malik’s death, Bartle and Murph decide that this death doesn’t count, and that they are still... (full context)
War, Violence, and Detachment Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
When Malik dies, therefore, Bartle does not feel anything. He only remembers a woman who his conversation... (full context)
War, Violence, and Detachment Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
Four days after Malik’s death, when the soldiers prepare for combat, Bartle notes that the place where Malik pointed... (full context)