Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini | Books | The Guardian
The relationship between Mariam and Laila rests at the heart of the novel, theme of Female Friendship appears in each chapter of A Thousand Splendid Suns. and find homework help for other A Thousand Splendid Suns questions at and her rushed marriage to Rasheed, a much older widower who has a shoe shop. After Rasheed takes Laila as a second wife, Mariam's motivations shift again. Preview: First Annual UCSB Womxn/Hacks Aims to Empower Female Programmers A Thousand Splendid Suns Intertwines Womens' Stories and son, A Thousand Splendid Suns switches to relationships between mother and daughter. After a tragedy, Laila is taken in by Mariam and Rasheed as.
She tells him that Mariam has died and he takes her to the kolba where Mariam grew up. Before Laila leaves, Hamza gives her a box he has been saving for Mariam. Back at her hotel, Laila finds a videocassette, an envelope, and a burlap sack inside the box.
The video is a recording of Pinocchio, the envelope contains a letter from Jalil to Mariam, and the sack contains her share of inheritance. Chapter 51—April Kabul's drought has ended and mud is everywhere. Aziza is ten and Zalmai is almost six. Kabul has changed, but it still has its problems. Laila works as a teacher at the orphanage where, two years before, she left Aziza.
A Kabul newspaper has recently published a story about the orphanage and the renovations Laila, Tariq, and the orphanage director Zaman have made to it.
Laila is pregnant again. He was killed while fighting the Soviets. He and his younger brother, Noor, were away fighting so long that Laila feels she does not know him. Because he suspects she may not be his, Rasheed consistently threatens to send Aziza away. Finally, when the family is threatened with starvation, Laila is convinced that Aziza is better off in an orphanage.
Although she is fed and clothed there, Aziza displays signs that all is not well. When Aziza learns the truth of her parentage, she is relieved to know Tariq is her father. Babi Babi is Laila's father and Fariba's, or Mammy's, husband. A sheepish, bookish, intelligent man, Babi adores his daughter.
After the communists fire him from his high school teaching job, he finds work in a bread factory. The most important thing in his life, after her safety, is his daughter's schooling. He believes that after the war, Afghanistan will need educated women as much as educated men, because a society has no chance for success if its women are uneducated. He and Mammy are killed when their house is bombed.
He welcomes Laila when she visits Herat. He is saddened to know that Mariam has died. He takes Laila to see Mariam's kolba and gives her the box he had been saving for Mariam. Mullah Faizullah Mullah Faizullah is an elderly village Koran tutor. He taught Nana the Koran when she was a girl, and does the same for Mariam. More than just her teacher, Mullah Faizullah is Mariam's champion and mentor. It is narrated by Atossa Leoni.
A tightly wound, scowling, bony little girl as a child, Giti blossoms into a flirtatious young woman. She is killed when a stray rocket hits her on her way home from school. She is older than Laila and Giti because she failed the third grade once and the fourth grade twice. She is not very accomplished in school, but she is clever and talkative.
Her family arranges for her to marry her cousin. He moves them to Frankfurt, Germany, and Laila and Giti never see her again. He brings presents to Nana and Mariam when he comes to visit.
Muhsin Kahn Muhsin is one of Jalil's sons. He suggested the location of Nana and Mariam's kolba and helped his father build it. Ramin Kahn Ramin is one of Jalil's sons. He, along with Mariam's other half-brothers Muhsin and Far-had, push a wheelbarrow full of supplies up to Nana and Mariam's kolba once a month. Farhad Khan Farhad is one of Jalil Khan's sons. He helps Jalil build the kolba where Nana and Mariam live. Jalil Khan Jalil is Mariam's father.
One of Herat's wealthiest men, Jalil has three wives, ten children, and a number of successful businesses. Nana was his maid when he got her pregnant with Mariam. He visits Mariam every Thursday while she is growing up, but when Nana dies, he refuses to take his illegitimate daughter into his home. When he marries her off to Rasheed, Mariam cuts off all ties with him.
Laila Laila is the daughter of Hakim and Fariba. As intelligent as she is beautiful, Laila is relieved to know her family will not try and marry her off at an early age. She is very proud of her father and determined to pursue her education in the same way he pursued his.
She loves Tariq and ends up becoming pregnant with his child. She does not discover this fact until after Tariq has fled Afghanistan for Pakistan and Laila's parents are killed in a bomb attack.
For the sake of her and Tariq's child, she agrees to marry Rasheed. She becomes close to Mariam, Rasheed's first wife, and is a loving mother to Aziza and Zalmai. After Rasheed is killed, Laila and Tariq are free to marry. Laila becomes a teacher, like her father, and dedicates herself to helping to improve Kabul. Mammy Mammy is Babi's wife and Laila's mother. She is a light-skinned, plump woman with a good-humored, almost perfectly round face in the beginning of the book.
Later, after years of missing her sons who are off fighting the Soviets, she is described as ferocious, indomitable, pacing, and ranting. She spends most of Laila's life in bed, brooding the fate of her sons and her country.
She is determined to stay in Kabul, despite the growing violence, because she is convinced peace is coming. She is finally persuaded to leave, but a bomb attack on their house kills she and Babi before they have a chance to flee. Mariam Mariam is Nana and Jalil's daughter. Because she is a harami, an illegitimate child, she is forced to live an isolated existence in a kolba with her mother for the first fifteen years of her life.
She fantasizes about living in her father's house and becoming a legitimate member of his family. She blames herself for her mother's death and comes to realize that her fantasies about living with her father will never come true. Mariam is devastated when he marries her off to a man thirty years her senior and sends her to Kabul to live with him.
She suffers seven miscarriages and is scorned by her husband, Rasheed.
Her life becomes less difficult after she and Laila, Rasheed's second wife, and Laila's children become close. Both Mariam and Laila suffer regular beatings by their husband until Mariam kills him. Before she is executed for her crime, she realizes that she has loved and been loved back, which gives her life legitimacy.
Nana Nana is Mariam's mother. She is the daughter of a stone-carver and Jalil's former housekeeper. She has a lazy eye and a rotting front tooth. Nana was happy once, until a seizure, or what she calls a jinn, scared away her would-be husband and all other suitors. She lives with Mariam, her illegitimate daughter, in a small kolba built in a clearing on the outskirts of Gul Daman.
She hangs herself when Mariam leaves to find her father. Noor Noor is Laila's older brother. He and his older brother, Ahmad, were in the army for the majority of Laila's childhood.
She feels like she knew them only through her mother's grief over their absence. He marries Mariam after her mother kills herself. At the time, he is forty-five and she is fifteen. He had a wife and son, but they died many years previous. Rasheed is a successful shoemaker with his own shop in Kabul. When Mariam fails to give him a child, he turns on her. He beats her regularly and forces her to wear a burqa whenever they go out.
After Laila's parents are killed, Rasheed takes the neighbor girl in and eventually marries her, too. He turns on her when she gives him a daughter instead of a son. He makes sure Laila believes Tariq is dead and is overjoyed when she gives birth to a son. He tries to kill her when he finds out she has spent the evening with Tariq.
Mariam kills him with a shovel to keep him from killing Laila. Salim Salim is an older Pakistani man Tariq befriends in prison. He sends out Tariq's queries about his mother and gently tells Tariq that she has died. When Tariq is released from prison, Salim gives him his brother's address and phone number so that he will have a place to go and a job.A Thousand Splendid Suns Ch 46
Sayeed Sayeed is Salim's brother and the owner of a small hotel in Murree. He gives Tariq a job and allows him to start his life in Murree. A soft-spoken, mannered man, Sayeed gives Tariq the money he needs to buy wedding rings for himself and Laila and arranges everything for the ceremony. Shanzai Shanzai is Laila's teacher. The students call her Khala Rangmall, or Auntie Painter, after the way she slaps her students.
She does not cover herself or wear make-up or jewelry and does not let her female students cover themselves. Tariq Tariq is Laila's oldest friend and the father of Aziza. He lost a leg in the war and has an artificial one. As children, he and Laila play a nightly game that involves signaling one another from their rooms with flashlights. They grow closer as they get older and he makes it clear that he loves her.
When he tells her his family is leaving for Pakistan, Laila becomes very upset and they end up making love. He spends a year in a Pakistani refugee camp where his father dies. After his father's death, Tariq devotes himself to finding a job and providing for his mother. He commits an illegal act to earn money, is caught, and is imprisoned for seven years. He starts a new life in Pakistan before finding Laila again. They are finally able to marry after Rasheed dies.
Laila comes close to aborting the child, but finds she loves him just as much as Aziza and regrets ever considering ending his life. The boy adores his father, who spoils him, but learns to accept Tariq after a while. Kaka Zaman Zaman is the kind director of the orphanage to which Aziza is sent. He makes a point of teaching the children something everyday, including reading, writing, geography, science, or history.
He promises Laila that Aziza will be fed and clothed and tells her that she should not feel bad about leaving Aziza with him. When Laila and Tariq return to Kabul after living in Pakistan, they help Zaman renovate and improve the orphanage. Over the course of the story, the reader is introduced to a number of women in various positions of power, but Hosseini makes clear that, for the most part, Afghan women in contemporary society are widely considered second-class citizens.
Like a compass needle that points north, a man's accusing finger always finds a woman. In the meantime, Mariam's fate is determined after her mother dies. She is married off, at the age of fifteen, to Rasheed, a forty-something shoemaker from Kabul because her status as harami, or bastard, bars her from becoming a legitimate member of her father's family.
When Mariam fails to provide Rasheed with a child she becomes nothing more than a burden to him. She finds living with his constant insults and ridicule hard to tolerate, but after four years of marriage, Mariam saw clearly how much a woman could tolerate when she was afraid. And Mariam was afraid. She lived in fear of his shifting moods, his volatile temperament, his insistence on steering even mundane exchanges down a confrontational path that, on occasion, he would resolve with punches, slaps, kicks.
Raised to believe in her worth, beauty, and intelligence, Laila ultimately suffers the same fate as Mariam. After her parents are killed and she discovers she is pregnant with her lover's child, Laila is forced to become Rasheed's second wife.
He treats her like a queen until she gives birth to a girl. Then Laila becomes as burdensome to Rasheed as Mariam. When he isn't threatening to get rid of the little girl, he is beating his wives, forcing them to wear burqas when they leave the house, and generally tormenting them. When he discovers they have tried to run away, a common practice that is also considered a crime, he nearly kills them both.
Things become worse after the Taliban takes control of the city. They forbid women to leave their homes, make eye contact with men, or speak unless spoken to. If they do any of these things, they may be severely beaten. Laila suffers these beating regularly when she tries to visit her daughter without Rasheed.
Before Mammy and Babi had died and her life turned upside down, Laila never would have believed that a human body could withstand this much beating, this viciously, this regularly, and keep functioning.
Look at me…only one skill. Laila, on the other hand, is taught to prize her intellect. Her father, a talented and passionate teacher, encourages his daughter to dedicate herself to her studies. He helps her with her homework every night and usually gives her some of his own. This was only to keep Laila a step or two ahead of her class, not because he disapproved of the work assigned by the school—the propaganda teaching notwithstanding.
A Thousand Splendid Suns
In fact, Babi thought that the one thing the communists had done right—or at least intended to—ironically, was in the field of education, the vocation from which they had fired him.
More specifically, the education of women. His interest in her education affects his decision to take her and Tariq to see the Buddhist carvings in Bamiyan one afternoon. While taking in the valley below, Babi says, The silence.
The peace of it. I wanted you to experience it. But I also wanted you to see your country's heritage, children, to learn of its rich past. You see, some things I can teach you. Some you learn from books. But there are things that, well, you just have to see and feel.
The kind orphanage director, Kaka Zaman, is also a passionate proponent of education for all. He cannot help the dire conditions of the institution, the bare rooms, windows covered in plastic, rising smell of urine, and weedy yard, but he makes an effort to improve the children's minds. If the Taliban comes snooping, he tells the children to put the books away and pretend to knit.
What significant events led to the invasion? Where did the majority of fighting take place? What caused the Soviets to eventually withdraw? How did the invasion impact Afghan life? Use your findings to write an essay that explores the invasion and its place in Afghanistan's history.
Imagine what it was like for Afghan women to have to adjust to the laws enforced by the Taliban. What do you think it was like for women who were used to working to quit their jobs and stay inside every day? How would you feel if you could not go out in public without a male relative escort? Write a paper that details your thoughts and feelings about these repressive laws and how you might react to them.
After the September 11,terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade CenterMuslims started receiving widespread negative attention in this country. Think about why this might be. What can be done to replace the negative stereotypes that have become common since the attacks?
A Thousand Splendid Suns | porkostournaments.info
List your findings in a paper and provide at least three tangible methods to end the negative stereotyping of Muslims. Despite their differences, Mariam and Laila become devoted, lifelong friends. In the history of literature and film, a number of such unlikely friendships and marriages have become famous.
Think of three unlikely friendships and write a paper about them. How are the two individuals alike or different? What brings them together? How do they maintain their relationship despite their differences? Defined as a central character who lacks traditional heroic qualities, who is unable to commit to any ideals, and who feels helpless in a world over which she has no control, the antihero accepts her position as social outcast.
As a harami, Mariam is a born outcast. Forced to live on the outskirts of a village in a clearing far from other people, she accepts her lot and does not attempt to change it.
Even when she goes in search of her father, she intends to return home. The crime she commits that leads to her execution may be considered by some to be heroic, but she might argue that she was only doing what had to be done to save her and Laila's lives. Interior Monologue A Thousand Splendid Suns is filled with interior monologue, a narrative technique in which characters' thoughts are revealed in a way that appears to be uncontrolled by the author.
Aimed at revealing the inner self of the character, this technique works particularly well in a novel about Afghan women trapped by political and domestic circumstance. Because the primary characters are unable to voice their thoughts and feelings much of the time, the interior monologues give the author a mechanism that reveals their psyches to the reader. They installed a puppet leader, but were met with fierce resistance by fighters called mujahideen.
These resistance fighters viewed the Christian or atheist Soviet control of Afghanistan as an affront to Islam and their traditional culture. They proclaimed a jihad, or holy waron the Soviets, which was supported by the Islamic world.
Using weapons taken from the Soviets or provided by the United Statesthe mujahideen employed guerrilla tactics against the Soviets, attacking and raiding quickly before disappearing into the mountains. This type of fighting caused great destruction and prompted the Soviets to try and eliminate rural civilian populations believed to house and feed the mujahideen. Soviet bombings destroyed entire villages, irrigation systems, and crops, which left millions dead, homeless, or starving.
Refugee camps around Peshawar, Pakistan, attracted staggering numbers of Afghans seeking shelter. These camps quickly became overcrowded, unsanitary, and insufficiently supplied sources of crime and disease. The invasion elicited a powerful response from the international community.
The United Nations voted to condemn it and repeatedly called on the USSR to pull out of the region, while the Arab world provided relief aid and money to the mujahideen. Inten years after the invasion, the Soviets withdrew their troops. The Rise of the Taliban The mujahideen set up a new government after the Soviet withdrawal, but various factions within it began fighting one another. Afghanistan became a collection of territories held by competing warlords as a result.
Groups of taliban, or religious students, became loosely organized during the civil war, but did not emerge as a united force until when they fought off rival mujahideen and warlords and took control of the city of Kandahar. Two years later they captured the city of Kabul, which marked the beginning of their surprising advance. The Taliban was popular among Afghans tired of anarchy and conflict. They were relieved when the devout Taliban came in and took the place of corrupt and often brutal warlords, restored peace, and, in some cases, resumed commerce.
This order came about under the leadership of Mullah Muhammad Omar and the institution of a very strict interpretation of Islamic law. Afghan soccer stadiums began hosting public executions and punishments; television, music, and the Internet were banned; men were required to wear beards or face public beatings; and frivolous activities, like kite-flying, were banned. Most striking were the Taliban's rules for women.
Girls were prohibited from going to school and women were barred from working outside the home or leaving home without being accompanied by a male relative.
Those who did not obey the laws risked being beaten. Women caught wearing fingernail polish risked having their fingers chopped off. The Taliban managed to reunite most of Afghanistan, but was unable to end the civil war. During its rule, access to clean water, employment, and food declined. A lingering drought and harsh winter at the end of and the beginning of prompted widespread famine and an increased flow of refugees to Pakistan.
After the Taliban harbored terrorists responsible for the deadly September 11,attacks on the United States, an international coalition, led by the U. On December 22,Afghan tribal leader Hamid Karzai was sworn in as Afghanistan's interim chairman of the government.
In Januarythe Taliban officially recognized the interim government. Afghanistan After the Taliban Many of the Taliban's most radical leaders and supporters fled the country or were killed or taken prisoner, but countless other former Taliban members returned home and continued to work to promote the organization's goals covertly.
Although many changes took place after Karzai was installed as interim leader—women were once again allowed to show their faces in public and go back to work; television, music, movies, and dancing were no longer outlawed; and public executions and punishments came to a stop—the future of the country remains uncertain. In this essay, she explores how war imposes an equalizing effect on the two main characters in A Thousand Splendid Suns. The two main characters in A Thousand Splendid Suns come from vastly different backgrounds.
Mariam, the bastard daughter of a successful businessman and his housekeeper, grows up a social outcast forced to live a reclusive existence on the outskirts of a small Afghan village. Her schooling consists of weekly lessons taught by the elderly village Koran teacher. Laila, on the other hand, is raised in the liberal and progressive city of Kabul by an adoring father and a headstrong mother.
Her university-educated father insists she receive—and value—a well-rounded education. A generation stands between the two women. Despite their differences, Mariam and Laila form a bond that, under other circumstances, would likely never be realized. The ravages of war serve to equalize these women's experiences and allow them to create a friendship, a family, and an enduring alliance that would not have taken root during peacetime.
The relationship demonstrates that money and social connection are of no value in a country that fundamentally disrespects females. It also demonstrates that no amount of brutality or injustice can break the spirit of these strong women.
Laila is born the night the Soviets invade her country. The Soviet invasion, though unwelcome in every other way, brought with it the idea that women were equal to men. Under Soviet communism, all people are considered equal. The arrival of the Soviets promises a rise in social status for females, better education, equal protection under the law, and better work opportunities.
Two years later, Laila and her family watch with trepidation as the last Soviet convoys exit the city; two years after that the mujahideen Afghan rebels turn on one another.
The constant rocket blasts and sharp rise in random violence after the defeat of the Soviet Union change Laila's life. Her male friend Tariq must accompany her everywhere for her own protection. Her father withdraws her from school—again, for her own safety.
The intertribal struggle produces unspeakable horrors: After Laila is nearly shot and killed, her mother finally agrees to leave Kabul. Before they have a chance, a bomb hits their house and kills Laila's parents. In that blast, whatever small advantages Laila social station may still have provided her are destroyed.
She is just a woman alone in a country where women are not valued. Before they take her in, Laila only knows Rasheed and Mariam as the reclusive neighbors down the street. Before long, though, Rasheed is her husband, and Mariam her older, jealous rival. Laila agrees to marry the old man, but only because she fears what might happen to her unborn child, fathered out of wedlock by her lover, if she does not.
She knows well what kind of life would await her in a refugee camp. She would have to care for a newborn baby while living in a tent, with little food or water and no help from friends or family. In all likelihood, the baby would die, and she might, too. Given her options, either marry Rasheed or suffer the consequences in a refugee camp, Laila chooses the former.
Mariam and Laila avoid one another as much as possible, until Laila stops Rasheed from beating the older woman one night. A quiet exchange of words and children's clothes leads to the sharing of tea and an unwavering truce between the women, even as fighting rages between the men throughout the country. They understand that theirs is a shared predicament; as women in Afghanistan, theirs is a reality shared with all Afghan women. They become co-conspirators in a plot to leave Rasheed and their stifled lives in Afghanistan.
They live, in microcosm, the reality of all women in Afghanistan: Two and a half years later the Taliban rises to power. Mariam and Laila's lives, which started out so differently have, by this point, dovetailed as a consequence of the civil war and their shared violent experiences as Rasheed's wives. The enforcement of shari'a, or Islamic lawby the Taliban becomes the final equalizing force in their lives.
But Mariam realizes that the law is simply reinforcing what had already become reality for herself and Laila.
What was once a private punishment informed by Islamic tradition has simply now become law. The political and historical tide has shifted and Laila and Mariam, along with every other Afghan woman, is made to endure it.
Under such hopeless circumstances, one might wonder how anyone would find meaning in their lives, or find anything worth living and fighting for. But Laila and Mariam do find meaning and strength, both arising from their innate femaleness and womanhood. The Taliban insists that all women be treated in a segregated women's hospital, but fails to provide this hospital with oxygen, clean water, medication, or electricity.
Unfortunately, Laila is forced to go to this grim institution when she experiences difficulty giving birth to her second child. Mariam, who accompanies her friend to the frightening place, has an epiphany while fighting a mob of people, who, like her, are desperately seeking medical attention for their loved ones. Mariam saw now the sacrifices a mother made. Decency was but one. She thought ruefully of Nana, of the sacrifices that she too had made….
Mariam wished she had been a better daughter to Nana. She wished she'd understood then what she understood now about motherhood. This realization echoes Laila's thoughts concerning her decision to marry Rasheed: She knew that what she was doing was dishonorable.
Dishonorable, disingenuous, and shameful…. But even though the baby inside her was no bigger than a mulberry, Laila already saw the sacrifices a mother had to make. Virtue was only the first. The conditions at the hospital, a direct result of the rise of the Taliban, jar Mariam into a realization Laila arrived at years earlier: When Laila is forced to send Aziza to live in an orphanage, she promises to visit her daughter at every opportunity.
Because the Taliban does not allow women to leave their homes without being escorted by a male relative, and Rasheed refuses to accompany Laila except on rare occasions, she risks regular imprisonment and abuse by the Taliban. She is beaten and accosted frequently on her way to the orphanage.
Still, Laila endures these beatings from the Taliban—and others from Rasheed who also punishes her for disobeying him—for the sake of her daughter. In the end, both Mariam and Laila create a kind of happiness for themselves.
Mariam loves Laila and her children, and makes the decision to both kill and die for them. As she is about to be executed for Rasheed's murder, she finds a kind of satisfaction with the control she has taken over her fate and a comfort in the knowledge of the good she has done Laila.
Laila, though plagued by the memories of her difficult past, finds happiness in marrying Tariq, who returns unexpectedly. A number of religious, cultural, and societal influences inform the unlikely alliance forged by Mariam and Laila. But the war and the political and historical changes that accompany it do the most to equalize the experiences of these two characters.
Had her parents not been killed, Laila would never have married Rasheed and gotten to know Mariam. Had the Taliban not come to power, Mariam might not have been executed. Maybe Rasheed, influenced by the public punishments he goes to witness and the brutally sexist shari'a being enforced all around him, would not have otherwise become so violent. You cry out in outrage. But Hosseini isn't finished. Rasheed is a kind man, albeit rather archaic in his manner and grumpy, but all things considered Mariam's life does not seem so terrible anymore.
And then the continual miscarriages.
A Thousand Splendid Suns
Yup, I knew there must be some somewhere. However, Hosseini does something new. You pity the husband, for his past is one with sorrow much like Mariam's- it does not justify his actions- but you feel sympathy for his situation.
Then comes the second narrative- Laila.
An innocent young child with a best friend who is a boy, a family torn by the war that steals her brothers away from her and in turn her mother's affection. Orphaned, torn from her love, Laila agrees to marry Rasheed. The stories of these two wives will make you gaze in awe at the sheer strength of love in desperate times. All the way through the novel Hosseini weaves in information about Afghanistan's situation nevertheless it is only here that it takes a role in the story.
Yet he makes sure that it is never a driving force in the novel- that is for the voices of these two women. Both trying to make do, muddling through life trying to find joy through the gloom, one innocent yet hiding a terrible secret and another bitter with age and resenting her life. Both still with a glimmer of hope in their eyes as they embark on a great journey. Hosseini's writing is simple, and that is all it needs to be, a welcoming contrast to Mariam and Laila's complex situations.