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Chapters 19–20 Summary and Analysis

Chapter 19

Malala relates how she and her classmates enjoyed a school trip to Marghazar. The girls stayed at the White Palace Hotel, bathed in the river, and took photographs. Towards the end of the school trip, however, Ziauddin discovered that the Taliban was spreading false rumors about the Khushal School. The propaganda letters claimed that the Khushal School was promoting "vulgarity and obscenity" by allowing schoolgirls to visit various resorts. Meanwhile, representatives of Pakistan's intelligence services began questioning Ziauddin about the Khushal School's activities.

When Malala turned fifteen on July 12, 2012, the Taliban assassinated the owner of the Swat Continental Hotel. Not too long after, Zahid Khan, Ziauddin's fellow jirga colleague, was shot. Ziauddin was warned to be careful, for his controversial views made him a Taliban target. As a precaution, Ziauddin began varying his routines each day. Meanwhile, the army commander in Mingora refused to acknowledge that there were terrorists in the Swat Valley. So, even though Zahid Khan drew a sketch of his attacker, the army and police did nothing to apprehend the individual. Meanwhile, Malala found herself a target of harassment from a boy named Haroon.

Chapter 20

Malala relates how she began to have nightmares after her math teacher, Miss Shazia, had an especially bad dream about her. Malala's fear of the Taliban led her to take extra precautions in her daily life. She checked the locks on doors and gates after her family were asleep. She also began praying more, insistent that she would not let the Taliban define her Muslim faith. Soon, the October exams came, and Malala turned her attention to her studies. She remembers being especially nervous, as she did not want to come in second to Malka-e-Noor again. Malala's first exam was on physics and took place on October 8, 2012, and she recalls worrying about a particular question. The next day, she nervously sat for the Pakistan Studies exam and found that it went surprisingly well. Malala tells us that she took the second bus home that day. That was also the day two men approached the Khushal School dyna (bus) and brought the vehicle to a halt. Then, after identifying Malala, one of the men fired at her three times.


In Chapter 19, Ziauddin was accused of fostering debauchery and vulgarity by taking girls on school trips. The propaganda letters frightened the girls, but Ziauddin assured them that they had every right to "enjoy greenery and waterfalls and landscape just as boys do." This chapter reinforces the intolerance of the Taliban towards any sort of extracurricular activities for schoolgirls. Simple school trips are portrayed as acts of depravity,...

(The entire section is 649 words.)