Why didn't the general want Jamila to sing in public in The Kite Runner?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

General Iqbal Taheri was used to giving orders, and he adhered to traditional Afghan ways, ruling his own household with an iron fist. He controlled the actions of his wife and daughter, and part of the conditions of their marriage included a ban on Khanum (Jamila) Taheri ever singing in public. Jamila had been a "famous" singer in Kabul, versatile in both popular and traditional Afghan music. The general liked his music:

"...-- he owned, in fact, a considerable collection of classical ghazal tapes by Afghan and Hindi singers--"  (Chapter 13)

however, he considered popular singing as a second-class occupation, and that the

"... performing of it best left to those with lesser reputations."  (Chapter 13)

The general no doubt believed that his wife's place was in the home where she could serve him and remain in the background. Even when Jamila begged the general to allow her to sing--"only one song"--at the wedding,

"... the general gave her one of his looks and the matter was buried."  (Chapter 13)

Jamila's voice may have been beautiful, and the general may have been a music-lover, but his traditional Afghan views (especially those of gender equity) left him believing that it would be a personal embarrassment had his wife "lowered herself" to sing in public.

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The Kite Runner

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