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The bookseller of Kabul is a true story about life in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban rule. It is based in Khans extended family, Mr. Khan is a bookseller in Kabul and has two wives, Sharifa and Sonya. Bibi Gul is the mother to Khan and also lives with them she is old and aging. Mr. khan has three sons Mansur who is the firstborn, Eqbal and Aimal. Khan also has two daughters Shakila and Latifa. They also live with Fazil his nephew, Yunus whi is his brother and Bulbula and Leila his sisters who are not yet married. The Khans family is not a normal Afghan family, this is because they are well educated and can even speak English and can even read and write. They are wealthy compared to the Afghans standard this is because they can be able to afford meals and can afford to flee Afghanistan in times of crises. His children were educated in Afghanistan.
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The sultan, who is the father to Mansur, is well educated, travelled and a seasoned fighter, he has witnessed his books censored and even set on fire by the Taliban regime. He has survived prison and also protected his book against competition and theft. He is a very committed Muslim with very different views and respect for women and their role. He is the ruler of the house and is treated in the house as king. Though he is well educated and well traveled he treats the women in his household differently with no respect. He always expects the women to be bidding. When he travels he leaves his son to be in charge of all the women in the household.
Mansur is the eldest son of the Sultan, he is well educated compared to his peer and comes from a good background. He is forced to work in the bookselling shop in Kabul just as his father wishes. Mansur has taken after his father, as he is naïve of the role of women in the society. He show no respect for women right from the time he is left in the shop to sell books. He is a man of good intentions but as the eldest son he is torn between responsibilities and freedom.
When Mansur is left in the shop, he uses his knowledge of English and also his father's wealth since he owned a car and could afford good restaurants to try and impress women. He always believes he can buy love and can manipulate the women using wealth and material things. Like when the lady had come to the shop to buy a chemistry book Mansur tries to deceive the lady that the book is at home though he knows very well that he has no such book. He tries to take advantage of the girl. He also mistreats Leila and he sees her as their house slave and never treats her well. He is not supportive of Leila being a teacher
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"...He lights a cigarette, and his mother starts to cry. Mansur would never, ever, light up in front of his father. But as soon as his father is out of the house, he not only takes pleasure in smoking but also in irritating his mother by smoking before, during and after the meal..." this shows that Mansur has no respect for women and always does thing to irritate and hurt even her mother who is older than her by age. This behavior is hurting and one wonders why he does this as he is well educated.
His behavior toward women does not change even at the end of the book he has a mindset that women are inferior "...Mansur has forbidden his mother to work as a teacher. 'Not good,' is all he says. Sultan did not mind her working again, but as long as Mansur, her oldest son, forbade it, nothing came of it..." he denies his mother and Leila the opportunity to go teach.