"That morning we arrived in the narrow mud lane off Haji Baba Road in our usual procession of brightly painted rickshaws, sputtering diesel fumes, each one crammed with five or six girls. Since the time of the Taliban our school has had no sign and the ornamented brass door in a while wall across from the woodcutter's yard gives no hint of what lies beyond." (Prologue, pg. 9)
In the memoir's prologue, Malala describes her beloved Kushal School in great detail, painting a picture for readers of what it was like to arrive there every morning, excited for the day ahead. This imagery makes it clear that the day she was shot was first a day just like any other—things only changed later, on her way home from school.
"The highest mountain of all is the pyramid-shaped Mount Elum. To us it's a sacred mountain and so high that it always wears a necklace of fleecy clouds. Even in summer it's frosted with snow." (Chapter 1, pg. 16)
The admiring way that Malala talks about her home, Swat Valley, makes it clear just how much this place means to her. The first time she describes it in Chapter 1 is important, because it is the very first picture most readers are getting of Swat Valley; most have likely not heard of this place before.
"It was a girl about my age. Her hair was muted and her skin was covered with sores." (Chapter 6, pg. 45)
Malala sees the children working at the trash heap and takes in every detail of their appearance, feeling immediate sympathy. She herself has been privileged to have a good home and financially stable family, and, in particular, the chance to attend school. Malala is driven to stand up for universal education because she believes children like this girl should be given the opportunity to go to school and learn in order to better their own prospects.
"My left eye bulged, half my hair was gone and my mouth tilted to one side as if it had been pulled down so when I tried to smile it looked more like a grimace." (Chapter 24, pg. 145)
Malala's appearance drastically changes after she is shot, and she knows that seeing her like this is a big shock for her family, who were attached to her bright, positive smile. Malala wants to make it clear, though, that while she may look different, she is still the same Malala, and the Taliban have not managed to take away her spirit.
I Am Malala Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for I Am Malala is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.