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My Forbidden Face

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In your opinion, how have the characters changed over the course of the novel? ‘Terror and Chaos are now our rulers. ’ These words haunt and rule over the people of Kabul. The main characters endure through physical and emotional torment, living in a world where fear is lived in ordinary daily routine. The book ‘My Forbidden Face’ by Latifa illuminates the world of Afghanistan before and after the Taliban invasion. Latifa’s mother faced detrimental physical and emotional trauma throughout the novel. Latifa changes from a cheerful teenager to a fearful and cautious woman, simply overnight.

Her experiences, sights and stories shape her psychological health, enabling her to become an independent and rebellious voice. The people of Kabul are degraded and dehumanised by the Taliban. Latifa’s anonymous character and emotional outcries inspire and teach the readers to understand the pain and turmoil of the women of Kabul. A reoccurring theme throughout the book is violence and fear. Latifa is now living a life of fear and submission. Latifa must now abide by the rules of the Taliban; she is the will of their instrument. Her serene nature of the world is left behind when the white flag is embedded upon the Mosque hanging victoriously.

The hanging of Najibullah strengthened and enhanced this fear. This single act, the hanging of Najibullah is what changes Latifa for the first time. The realisation that the world she once knew is now over. The horrific sight has detrimental physical and psychological effects upon Latifa. The death of Najibullah poses a great impact upon Latifa and her family, the realisation that they are not longer safe and that the Taliban have no remorse. ‘Anyone can die under the hands of a Taliban’.

The prominent terror in the city is intensified by whips and gunfire. She is no longer a woman of her age. I’m struggling to live the normal life of a girl my age’ this encapsulates the loss of freedom and youth by Latifa, being stripped of her nail polish, accessories, magazines and video cassettes. The hanging of Najibullah was symbolic for Latifa; the death of Najibullah meant the death of her freedom, the death of her. Latifa and her mother must face the inevitable fact that they will give into submission and eventually fall to depression and illness. Latifa changes from a cheerful teenager to a prisoner under the Taliban, with her basic rights of freedom taken away.

The loss of freedom in Kabul has weighed down harshly upon Latifa and her family. The turmoil faced by Latifa and her mother had endured for months. The inevitable end of their freedom had arrived. The degradation suffered by Latifa is immense. She can no longer roam the streets with blithe. She must walk around like a phantom hiding behind the oppressive reign of the Taliban. Latifa is isolated from the world she was once open to. The ‘Canary in a Cage’ is a symbolic moment for Latifa.

‘Father, we have to let the canary go. I want him to be free. At least let him be free. Latifa’s wings are worn out, no longer able to be flap, but hope yet lingers for the canary, the canary can still spread its wings and fly. This is an important act for Latifa, a symbol of hope; this is symbolic in the fact that Latifa may one day be free too, like the canary. Latifa feels the strong need to set the canary free. It is inevitable for Latifa to give into submission. The metaphor of the canary in a cage is very strong, a symbolic act by Latifa in setting the canary free. Latifa has been degraded and dehumanised in the past few months. Her psychological wellbeing has suffered immensely.

Latifa and her family are changing throughout the course of the Taliban invasion. Her mother has suffered a great deal. The degradation and dehumanisation suffered by Latifa and her mother have no end. Setting the canary free is a necessary act for Latifa and her mother, that one day they too will regain their stolen freedom. ‘He’s taking my freedom with him. ’ This quote in the book represents and illuminates the physical and psychological turmoil suffered by Latifa; she was once a confident and independent young woman, now she is a submissive shadow under the Taliban.

Through the reign of tyranny of the Taliban, Latifa’s sights and experiences have left a deep and uncared for scar. Latifa’s mother was once a strong and noble woman before the invasion of the Taliban. She was a renowned doctor in the field of medicine. Now, during the Taliban invasion, her mother has faced detrimental psychological damage. She treats patients whom suffer torture from the Taliban, unable to go outside without a Mullah or Chador. Towards the end of the book, after years of the Taliban’s reign of tyranny, Latifa realises that nothing is gained in a self pitied state.

She rises from her state of depression and takes more action. Latifa seizes the chance to open a school to teach young children. Thus, giving the children of Kabul the opportunities Latifa had at education and a small means of socialisation. This act changed Latifa’s mother, allowing her to help with the classes. ‘Despite her weakness, mother has a sudden burst of energy and encourages us. ’ Latifa along with her sister undertake the publishing of a newspaper to reconnect the people of Kabul with the outside world. With this, Latifa is able to regain her voice and independence in helping her country.

Latifa’s fate then sets her on the path to France where she continues to campaign against the civil war back in her home country. ‘I’ve changed. I’ve grown up. ’ This quote by Latifa emphasises that she has matured as a woman and regained her lost identity. Latifa has transformed into a rebellious and wise woman. Ultimately, it is obvious from the inferences from the novel ‘My Forbidden Face’ portray that the characters have changed over the course of the novel. The audience witness through the sorrowful transformations of Latifa as she is forced to throw away her youth and freedom.

The book ‘My Forbidden Face’ illuminates the world before and after the Taliban decree. Throughout the novel, Latifa is transformed from a cheerful and free-spirited teenager into a state of depression and self pity at the hands of the civil war. But she resiliently finds the courage the mass her strength and hope to fight and stand for her country with a rebellious and independent voice. Her mother, who was once a free independent woman, falls to a world of submission and depression. Latifa is changed throughout the novel through her retelling of the horrifying truth behind the Taliban invasion and how it affected Latifa and her family.

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