The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis is a harrowing historical fiction novel about an 11-year-old girl struggling to survive alongside her family under the oppressive and brutal regime of the Taliban in the 1990s. Sadly, this book is as relevant today as it was when it was written in 2000. It is an important novel that helps students understand and empathize with the reality that women and girls are cruelly oppressed in some parts of the world. While the events of the story are tragic and traumatic, the book emphasizes the importance of education and the powerful courage of those who resist oppression.
Have students define and illustrate key terms and allusions from The Breadwinner in order to better understand the story
TALIBAN / TALIB
(n.) Persian word for a thin mattress that the family uses for sitting and sleeping
(n.) a person who earns money to support their family.
(n.) a long, loose garment covering the whole body from head to feet, worn in public by some Muslim women
The Taliban is a fundamentalist Islamic political movement and military organization in Afghanistan that refers to itself as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, many groups vied for power. The Taliban took control in 1996. Talib means a member of the Taliban, meaning "student" in the Afghan language, Pashto.
THE BREADWINNER TERMS AND ALLUSIONS
(n.) a large piece of cloth that is wrapped around the head and upper body leaving only the face exposed, worn especially by some Muslim women
(n.) Unlevened, oven-baked or tawa-fried flatbread which is found in the cuisines mainly of Western Asia, Central Asia, Indian subcontinent, Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Caribbean
Kabul is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan, located in the eastern section of the country. Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central and South Asia. It is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south, Iran to the west, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to the north, and Tajikistan and China to the northeast.