Malala Yousafzai & Christina Lamb

I Am Malala

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I Am Malala Themes

Individual vs. Society

Much of the narrative revolves around Malala’s struggle against societal inclinations. She is a girl in a man’s world. Around her, people expect girls to leave school early or not attend at all. Instead of fitting into the mold, Malala fights for her right to learn.

Similarly, her entire family can be looked at as an “individual” against society. They are one group looking to go against the grain. Her father struggled against what was expected of him as a teenager, which did not include school. He puts himself through school and beats the odds of opening his own school, particularly when he takes on the system of bribery and unjust payments needed to open and maintain a school. He is one against many.

Malala’s father instills the same fighting spirit in her. Despite societal pressure to stop going to school, Malala pointedly remarks the Taliban can take the books and pens, but they cannot take away her thoughts. She continues to think, to question, and to learn.

Malala and her family find little support during the days of the Taliban and the military operation. Even immediately before she is shot, Malala and her family receive support only from outside sources, including the media. However, the theme of individual versus society is briefly broken after Malala is shot—the country and the world rally around her. Once out of the hospital, though, Malala finds herself alone in an unfamiliar country, again one among many.

Knowledge vs. Ignorance

Another consistent theme throughout Malala’s narrative is knowledge versus ignorance. Malala’s goal is to move as far away from ignorance as possible. She is born into a family that values education. Her father went to college, even with the odds stacked against him, and opens his own school. Although her mother did not go to college, she understands the importance of learning and encourages Malala to attend.

In contrast, Malala sees the general ignorance of her community, particularly when the Taliban first shows up. Using religion to convince people to turn away from education, the Taliban takes advantage of the community’s ignorance. Most people are uneducated and…

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