Conflicting and Challenging Patriarchal and Liberal Feminist Ideologies and Norms in Afghanistan: Critical Stylistic Study of Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed

Author: Aziz Ahmad

Keywords: critical stylistics, gender discrimination, ideology, liberal feminism, patriarchy


The study unveils the Afghan patriarchal ideology and norms that are in conflict and challenge with liberal feminist ideology in Khaled Hosseini’s (2013) And the Mountains Echoed, depicting the cultural and socio-political context of Afghanistan. Tools of critical stylistics, developed by Jefferies (2010), have been used to delve into the conflict as mentioned above. The conflict in ideologies leads to gender differences, and inequalities. Patriarchs view liberal feminism and its motive as a threat to patriarchal social structure. The study reveals how women challenge the monopoly and status-quo of patriarchs to raise their voice for their emancipation and free will in matters of their life. Women in Afghanistan are the nang (pride) and namoos (honor) of their families. Men, especially patriarchs, misperceive the status and image of women as damaging their reputation if they are granted full freedom in matters and walks of life. Nila Wahdati, a liberal feminist character in the novel, challenges the stereotypical image of women as fragile, fickle, and prone to sex. She even resists and negates the imposed traditional, conservative ideology and supremacy of her father. Through the use of language, women challenge the Afghan patriarchal thinking. The novelist has manipulated verb processes to represent the patriarchal ideology of the Afghan men, while the discourse-producers utilize nouns and modifications to indicate patriarchs’ contrary thinking towards women. Linguistic tools, like nouns, pronouns, pre-modifiers, negative evaluative words, epistemic modality, and subordinate clauses, describe the conflict and challenge between patriarchal and liberal feminist ideologies.