Chapters 1–2 Summary and Analysis
Malala relates that she was born at dawn and that this is considered auspicious in her Pashtun community. Though the birth of a girl is rarely celebrated in Pakistan, Malala’s father, Ziauddin, rejoiced and named her after the Afghan heroine Malalai of Maiwand. Malala is proud that she was named after the woman everyone calls the Pashtun Joan of Arc. Malala and her family live in Mingora, the largest town in the Swat Valley. In ancient days, the Swat Valley was a Buddhist kingdom; in fact, Malala's home is located in Butkara, or "place of the Buddhist statues." Islam did not come to the Swat Valley until Mahmud of Ghazni's invasion in the eleventh century. Malala tells us that her family consists of Ziauddin (her father), Toor Pekai (her mother), Khushal (her younger brother), Atal (her youngest brother), and herself. Malala is equally proud of both her parents; Toor Pekai is beautiful and devout, while Ziauddin is an influential community leader. He is the principal and owner of the Khushal School as well as a frequent participant in literary societies and Pashtun jirgas (tribal councils). Even at an early age, Malala remembers chafing against the limitations placed upon girls.
Malala confesses that her father stutters and that her paternal grandfather, Rohul Amin, made Ziauddin's struggles worse during his childhood. Rohul Amin was a local imam and high school theology teacher. He was a spectacular public speaker and had little patience for Ziauddin's stutters. Despite this, Ziauddin was...
(The entire section is 756 words.)