A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns (SRA)

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

Exposition: Miriam lives with her mother who seems to be mentally unstable. Her father is Jalil, a wealthy businessman. She is a harami. When she turns 15 she wants to go to one of his cinemas but it seems he refuses to take her. So she walks to his house and waits outside all night just to realize that he has been hiding inside the whole time. When she returns to her home she finds that her mother has hung herself. Her father takes her into his home but his wives are quick to rid of her for they feel she is a burden to them all. So they marry Miriam off to a Shoemaker. The Shoemaker, Rasheed, treats her well at first but when they find Miriam can’t get pregnant he begins to beat her and treat her like garbage.

Rising action: Mariam and Rasheed are married for some years. We’re introduced to Laila who is a beautiful girl unlike Miriam who is plain. She lives near Mariam and Rasheed. Her father is a teacher who feels education is important and her mother seems to also be mentally unstable showing signs of bipolar disorder. After a man comes to their home to break the news that her brothers have been killed at war and her lover Tiraq and his family escape her parents are killed in a bombing that she survives. Rasheed comes to her rescue but with the intention of asking her hand in marriage. She agrees but only because she is pregnant with Tariqs child and for her safety.

Climax:. Miriam and Laila get off on the wrong foot but learn to become friends. Laila is married to Rasheed for almost a decade. Mariam has been told that her lover Tariq has been killed years before but discovers that he is actually alive. She takes him to her home and they catch up. Rasheed finds out that she has taken this man into his home and becomes very angry. He beats and then tries to suffocate Laila. Miriam won’t let this happen so she kills Rasheed with a shovel.

Resolution: Mariam turns herself in and is executed. Laila finally marries Tiraq. She visits Mariams old town and gets a box from Mullah Faizullah’s son. The box was for Mariam from her father it had a note, a movie and some money. Laila is pregnant again if its a girl she will name her Mariam.

The theme of this Novel is perseverance through hardships . Both of the main characters in this story have been through pain, both physical and emotional, and suffering. Miriam, she has been through the death of her mother, rejection, guilt, verbal abuse, physical abuse. Laila, she’s been through the death of both her parents, Tiraqs supposed death, a bomb, childbirth, and physical abuse as well. Both women learn to get through it. Another example of the theme in the book is when Laila pleads Rasheed to take her to see Aziza at the Orphanage but he refuses so she says “ Then i’ll go by myself. You can’t stop me, Rasheed. Do you hear me? You can hit me all you want, but i’ll keep going there.” p.289

The moment in which the protagonist, Miriam, realizes her worth is when Rasheed is at his worst and goes into a murderous rage. She looks into his eyes and realized she had been too apologetic. She questions her entire marriage. “What harmful thing had she willfully done to to this man to warrant his malice, his continual assaults, the relish with which he tormented her? Had she not looked after him when he was ill? Fed him and his friends, cleaned up after him dutifully?” p.309 She realizes that she didn’t deserve the way he treated her. And this gives her more of a reason to kill him.

Laila is more or less Miriam’s foil. Laila is beautiful, Miriam is plain. Laila can have children, Miriam can not. Laila’s parents cared about her, Miriam’s parents saw her more as a burden. Laila is told by her friends and her father that someday she would achieve something in life unlike miriam’s mother who told miriam she was nothing and that she would always be nothing without her. Laila’s father encouraged her daughter to go to school and emphasized the importance of an education, Miriam’s mother forbid her from talking about school and claimed she would never learn anything of value there. These differences show contrast in their outlook on life, Miriam is bitter but Laila still has a sliver of hope. Laila at some degree makes Miriam’s life look even more miserable.

In this novel cruelty is really all Miriam knows. Whether its physical, sexual or mental abuse Miriam has been through it. Cruelty in Miriam’s life alters her sense of the world and makes her resentful. Rasheed’s merciless ways motivate Miriam to murder him “He’s going to kill her ,she thought. He really means too. And Miriam could not, would not, allow that to happen. He’d taken so much from her in twenty seven years of marriage. She would not watch him take Laila too”. Pg 310, revealing to us that everyone has a breaking point even the most feeble and manipulated.

Mariam (Dynamic Character), Mariam would be considered a dynamic character because she was very easily manipulated and never really stood up for herself. Throughout the story she always does what anyone tells her to do. But in the end she gets to choose her fate when she kills Rasheed and turns herself in. Another way that she’s changed is that she at first was a harami, unloved and a burden to her authoritative figures but realized after meeting Laila and Aziza and Zalmai she felt loved by them and she loved them back. “She thought of her entry into this world, a harami child of a lowly villager, an unintentended thing, a pitiful regrettable accident. A weed. And yet she was leaving this world as a women who had loved and been loved back.” pg 329. This is important for the plot because at the end of her life after all those years of being a burden to all she finally felt she had a purpose. Miriam is damaged, courageous, and tough.

Rasheed (Static Character): Rasheed would be considered a static character because he remained a horrific person throughout. He continues to abuse his wives with no signs of empathy or change of heart. He had locked Laila and her baby in a hot room with no food or water. “She woke again to Rasheeds heavy footsteps in the hallway. She dragged herself to the door, slapped her palms against it. ,’Just one glass Rasheed. Not for me do it for her. You don’t want her blood on your hands.’, He walked past” pg .242 . His character is important because it leads to his demise and brings forward the resolution. Rasheed is cold blooded, brutal and merciless.

Jalil (round character). Jalil would be considered a round character. His demeanor towards Miriam changes immensely. At first he only pretended to care about her, bringing her half hearted gifts and refusing to take her to his cinema. But at the end it is revealed in his note that he realized he shouldn’t have taken Miriam for granted. “Now all i can say is that you were a good daughter, Miriam Jo, and that I never deserved you.” p. 359. This is important because it makes the story more emotional and tugs at the heartstrings. Jalil is pitiful, deadbeat, redeemable.

The setting Really contributes to the story and mood for Mariam and Laila because they are in Afghanistan and some time in Pakistan where women are oppressed. The mood is hopelessness. And there is also a war going on. Many of the problems these women are facing could have been easily solved if they were here in America but since they are in Afghanistan there’s little they can do for their situation. “Attention women: You will stay inside your homes at all times it is not proper for women to wander aimlessly about the streets if you go outside you must be accompanied by a male relative if you are caught alone on the street you will we be beaten and sent home you will not under any circumstance show your face you will cover with a burqa when outside if you do not you will be severely beaten…” p.284./p>

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Family Relationships in a Thousand Splendid Suns

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a well- written novel by Khaled Hosseini. Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan on March 4, 1965. In 1970, the Hosseini family was advanced to Tehran, Iran and in 1973 they moved back to Kabul. In 1976, the Afghan Foreign Ministry migrated the Hosseini family to Paris in due to his father getting another job. In 1980, they went for political hide out in the United States and moved to San Jose, California. They left Afghanistan with only the clothes on their back, and because of this they were forced to live on welfare and food stamps for a while. Hosseini had many journies throughout his life that caused him to experience many different adventures.

Hosseini had an educated family including his mother, who was a history and Farsi teacher, his father, who was a diplomat with the Afghan Foreign Ministry, his four siblings, and himself. Hosseini went to high school in San Jose and graduated in 1984. After graduating, he enrolled at Santa Clara University. There he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1988. Soon after, in 1993, he went to University of California- San Diego School of Medicine, and he earned a medical degree. Between the years of 1996 and 2004, he practiced internist. Hosseini was interested in literature from his youngin days.he would read Persian poetry and Persian translated books. He has written two books: The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splended Suns, which have both been New York Times Best- Seller.

A Thousand Splendid Suns starts off with a story of a mother in the kolba and her daughter Mariam, who is a harami, bastard. The mother, Nana, does not like Mariam’s father Jalil, who is a rich man with three wives. While Mariam was waiting one day for Jalil outside the kolba he did not show up. Nana told Mariam not to wait and that he is tricking her, but Mariam did not listen to her and left the village for the city where Jalil lived. Mariam went on a journey for Jalil’s house. When she got there they did not let her in the house, and the next morning when she went back home, Nana had hung herself because the action Mariam did. Jalil’s driver takes Mariam back to his house where Jalil’s three wives kept her for a couple of days, but not for long. The arranged a nikkah, marriage, for her, even though she was not happy, She got married to an older man in a city on the other side of the country.

Mariam and her husband sleep in different rooms for a while until they get used to each other. Mariam is home alone when Rasheed goes to work and when she is home, she cooks tasty dishes for her husband. Mariam and Rasheed are very happy until Mariam keeps getting pregnant but is not capable of keeping her baby. At this time, in Afghanistan, there was war and bombs exploding everywhere. Their neighbor Fariba had two sons in the army that got killed, and one daughter named Laila. Laila loved her friend Tariq who had one real leg and one artificial leg. One day Tariq left to Pakistan and Laila’s parents where in the process of moving when her parents died in a bomb explosion. Laila was also injured and unconscious in the explosion.

Rasheed and Mariam bring Laila to their house and nourish her for days because she is an orphan now. Laila is fourteen, and Rasheed says the only way he will keep Laila is if he marries her. Mariam is not happy about this but she has no say because Rasheed has great control over her. Laila and Rashid get married and Laila still thinks about Tariq all the time but does not know where he is and what he is up to, but before the move Laila had met Tariq and they had made love there. This caused Laila to become pregnant, but she did not want Rasheed to know so he can support her and the baby. Rasheed got mad at Laila because she gave birth to a girl which Rasheed had not wanted. After this Rasheed loses the great love he had for Laila and many arguements arose. Laila gets pregnant again from Rasheed and gives birth to a boy. Rasheed treats the woman horrible, so the women try escaping unsucessfully. After a while Tariq returns from Pakistan, and they reunite. The woman kill Rasheed one day because of all the agony they recieved. After this, Mariam, old and weak, goes to jail and Laila, the kids, and Tariq live happily throughout their life.

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Significance Of Friendship in a Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light” (Helen Keller). It is true what they say about friendship and how important it is in one’s life during depressing times. In the novel A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, the main characters in these novels explore the path of friendship and learn how important it can be for one and other. In The Kite Runner, Amir, the main individual learns that his mistakes in the past have caused him pain for over 20 years and that if he had been a good friend he would have not lost his childhood friend and furthermore, gained respect from his father more than ever. The women Mariam, in A Thousand Splendid Suns, goes through many abuses from her husband but with the help of a friend, she eliminates her miseries from the past and present and creates a better future for her. In both the novels, Khaled Hosseini uses loyalty, sacrifice, and honor to portray the struggle that one puts in to maintain a friendship. Even though A Thousand Splendid Suns places a greater focus on two-way communication in a friendship, in comparison, to how The Kite Runner focuses more on one-way communication, both novels explore the love relationship between two main characters.

For a friendship to remain indestructible and genuine both members have to be loyal and sincere to each other, otherwise the friendship becomes full of lies and will start to decompose. To become friends and make a friendship; there must be a connection between the two that joins them together to form a friendship bond. In A Thousand Splendid Suns, Aziza, Laila’s daughter was the bridge that connected Laila and Mariam together and forged their friendship. Before Laila and Mariam were friends, they were enemies. When Mariam was walking by the kitchen during the night she saw Aziza crying, picked her up, and put her back to sleep again. The next day Mariam and Laila are having a cup of tea outside when they heard Aziza wake up and “A look passed between Laila and Mariam. An unguarded, knowing look. And in this fleeting, wordless exchange with Mariam, Laila knew that they were not enemies any longer” (Hosseini 224). Since Mariam never had a baby of her own and did not get to experience a motherhood, she was fond of Aziza and Laila appreciated that Mariam was helping take care of Aziza. This, taking care of Aziza bonded Mariam and Laila together. Mariam has become a new individual after this because from being a unwanted women in the house that got abused, to a happy women who has company. This is the start of a true friendship for both characters and it is the turning point for Laila and Mariam’s misery. After the friendship rocket took off “Mariam had started teaching Aziza verses from the Koran… ‘It’s all I have to give her, this knowledge, and these prayers. They’re the only true possessions I’ve ever had’” (Hosseini 265). Mariam takes responsibility, teaches Aziza because Laila is too exhausted to teach sometimes, and is always tired from staying up night because of Aziza. Mariam is a true friend who thinks about others, even as a child she would think about others too. Even if Laila does not ask of help, Mariam still lends a hand in daily chores and cooking. Laila trusts Mariam more than anyone and knows that when she is busy cooking food or doing laundry, Mariam is taking good care of Aziza. A friendship should always be full of trust; it is what keeps it genuine.

Unlike Mariam, Amir, in The Kite Runner, does not care about others and does not help anyone besides himself whereas like Mariam, Hassan is always is willing to help especially Amir. Amir and Hassan are the best of friends from birth but an unforgettable mistake shatters the friendship. Amir and Hassan are the sultans of Kabul, they would go to their pomegranate tree every now and then and sit there and read books. One day while sitting under the pomegranate tree Amir asked Hassan if he would eat dirt if he told him too, to toy with him and test his loyalty. Hassan replied and told him: “‘If you asked, I would’ … looking right at me. I dropped my eyes. To this day, I find it hard to gaze directly at people like Hassan, people who mean every word they say” (Hosseini, 27). Amir drops his head because he would not eat dirt if he was told too by Hassan but if someone else that was more powerful than he was, like Assef told him too, then he might eat the dirt. Hassan was willing to do anything for Amir but Amir was not and this is the solely reason why their friendship broke into pieces. Hassan is doing what a true friend would but Amir on the other hand was doing nothing to keep the relation going. Maybe Hassan does what Amir says because he is his servant, and because he is weak against Amir, a Pashtun, where Hassan a Hazara. During kite fighting tournaments, Amir and Hassan were always partners and during the winter of the kite tournament Amir had won to impress Baba. Hassan who was an excellent kite runner went to run the kite for Amir and as he ran for the kite, he screamed out to Amir, “For you, a thousand times over!” (Hosseini 67). Hassan is expressing his loyalty and devotion towards Amir but Amir never repays back his loyalty because if it were Amir he would not do this a thousand times over. Amir later repeats this phrase to Sohrab, Hassan’s son when he goes and runs down a kite for him to show is gratitude. Amir does this to make up for what he had done to Hassan and for how poorly he had treated Hassan as a friend. Hassan shows a great amount of respect towards Amir when he says these words, he shows the readers the type of relation he had with Amir. If you show respect to someone first, than he or she will return the respect back but sometimes that respect my take some time to arrive back at you.

From this, one can tell that even though Mariam and Laila had a rough start to their friendship they have a stronger bond between them than the bond between Amir and Hassan who have been friends from birth. Mariam and Hassan are both similar characters, they both emphasize their loyalty towards their friend. However, when Mariam gives respect to Laila she returns it back whenever she gets the opportunity but on the other hand, Amir does not do that towards Hassan. Amir only loves receiving loyalty not giving it. Laila and Mariam are always there for each other, to take care of each other in harsh times but Amir is not there for Hassan during his bad times, Hassan is always doing things for Amir. Hassan may try how much he wants to keep the knot on the friendship tight but it will come loose one day or the other because Hassan is the only one putting effort into the relation. Mariam and Laila have become friends and are keeping their knot tight because Mariam and Laila are working together because they have a purpose for keeping their friendship and that is to keep themselves both safe from harm.

Sometimes sacrifice can strengthen the bond in a friendship, while other times it can only hurt you. In The Kite Runner, the first sacrifice that Hassan made was to save himself and Amir from Assef and it was worth it but if Amir had shown courage and helped then it would have been revolutionary. Furthermore, if Amir had helped, than his father would have been proud. Amir was thriving for this father-son affection, but he did not think of this because he was a coward to stand up for himself. Amir and Hassan are walking home from the movies when Assef and his boys stop them, after many pleading to let them go Hassan takes out his slingshot and tells Assef that, “You are right Agha. But perhaps you didn’t notice that I’m the one holding the slingshot” (Hosseini 42). Assef had surrounded Amir and Hassan but Hassan sacrifices himself, pulls out his slingshot, and points it at Assef’s eye. Hassan knowing that he only has one shot and if he did make it, it would not inflict much damage and if it did, they were still surrounded by Assef’s boys. However, the odds were in there favor and Hassan and Amir walked away from Assef without getting beat up. Hassan always does for others with little concern for himself. His childhood decisions show this clearly. The second and biggest, plot changing sacrifice that Hassan makes for Amir is when he goes and runs the losers kite for Amir, but that kite was Assef’s and he wanted to trade Hassan for his freedom to return back home, but Hassan choose the kite because “Amir agha won the tournament and I ran this kite for him. I ran it fairly. This is his kite” (Hosseini 72). Hassan agreed to be raped by Assef just so that Amir can have the kite, so Amir can show his victory to Baba. However, Amir could have stopped Hassan’s sacrifice and been a good friend to help Hassan get out the sticky situation with Assef but he did not. The worst part was that Amir stood standing there watching while Hassan was suffering. Amir was selfish and wanted the kite just so he can please his dad but he would have pleased his dad even if he had rescued Hassan and shown bravery. His dad is a brave man himself and he honors brave people. Hassan may have sacrificed himself but Amir did nothing to help Hassan heal from that attack by Assef and never talked to him afterwards because Amir was so full of guilt that he was having a war with himself. From this point the friendship between Amir and Hassan broke.

The sacrifices that Laila and Mariam make are for the benefit of the other not themselves. Laila shows the first sign of sacrifice to protect Mariam from Rasheed’s beatings. Laila interferes and tries to stop Rasheed from whipping Mariam with a belt for no reason, “Rasheed raised the belt again and this time came at Mariam. Then an astonishing thing happened: The girl lunged at him. She grabbed his arm with both hands and tried to drag him down” (Hosseini 216). Laila stood up to Rasheed for the first time and Mariam was astonished by this because no one has ever stood up for her and she herself has not stood up to Rasheed. Since Laila was raised in a household with respect for each other and to stand up for what is right, she could not let Mariam be punished for what she has not done. Laila shows the first sign of starting a friendship with Mariam and later when Mariam thanks Laila for standing up for her by giving her daughter some clothes that she knitted, they become friends. Mariam makes the biggest sacrifice and that is take the punishment for killing Rasheed, their husband by hitting him with a shovel on the temples to save Laila from being chocked by Rasheed. After Rasheed was dead, Laila insisted that she, Mariam, and the kids escape the country and flea to Pakistan but Mariam refused and said, “For me it ends here. There’s nothing more I want. Everything I’d ever wished for as a little girl you’ve already given me. You and your children have made me so very happy. It’s all right, Laila jo. This is all right. Don’t be sad” (Hosseini 319). Laila insists that it is not fair for Mariam to stay and face punishment for Rasheed’s death, but Mariam tells her it is. She says she has killed their husband and deprived Zalmai, Laila’s son of a father. She will never escape Zalmai’s grief. This is Mariam’s justification for killing Rasheed and staying behind and accepting the punishment. Mariam could have easily gone along with Laila but if she went than her guilt will get to her. Mariam shows bravery and makes her ending has happy as it could be by thinking of the good times that she had spent with Lila and Aziza because she knows that prison is not going to be pleasant. She wants Laila to have a better life than she did because Laila is still young and can have a bright future.

Sacrifices have been made in both novels and have affected the plot but it is clear that the sacrifices made in A Thousand Splendid Suns had more positive reactions towards the characters than the sacrifices made in The Kite Runner. Laila made a sacrifice to save Mariam and vice versa to save each other. While Hassan made all the sacrifices and it did not help himself nor did it help Amir because the sacrifice that he made only made Amir feel guilty. Furthermore, Amir has not been the character that most readers expected but in his journey to be good again he does make a sacrifice to return back to Kabul and face Assef for Sohrab, Hassan’s son. In both the novels Hosseini has integrated, such sacrifices that one character is forced to take to save another character to show the meaning of friendship. One can say that Mariam and Laila have made sacrifices that were worth making whereas Hassan and Amir made sacrifices that were not worth it for each other. One can also say that Hassan has struggled the most out of all four sacrifices made. Make sacrifices for those who would do the same for you, not for the ones that just use you as a benefit or a bodyguard.

Honoring one and other is important in a friendship because if there is no honor than the friendship can change into and enmity. Laila and her parents are getting ready to move out the country before they are killed in the war that is happening in Kabul. While packing Laila remembers two lines from a poem by Saib-e-Tabrizi, which stated, “One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, or the thousand splendid sins that hide behind her walls” (Hosseini 172). These words do not only make the title of the novel but also reappear later towards the end of the story. These two lines have a deep meaning and they talk about the lives of women in Afghanistan. Women are restricted in Afghanistan but they keep their hopes high and honor every women in Afghan because they all know that their lives are similar to one and other. Women in Afghanistan have been restricted for centuries by the men in their lives. However, beneath all the confinement, women continue to see the splendid and beauty in their lives through the little daily joys that they can find. After Laila and Tariq return back to Kabul with their kids, Laila is going to have another baby and Laila has asked the family to think of a name. Laila tells the rules for the game to the family that, “The game involves only male names. Because, it it’s a girl, Laila has already named her” (Hosseini 367). Laila only wants male names because if it is a girl than she will name her Mariam, after her friend Mariam who sacrificed her freedom for Laila’s freedom. This is the last sentence of the novel and it shows that Laila is honoring a woman who has come to mean so much to her. No matter where Lila is Mariam will always be there with her.

In the Kite Runner, Hassan is always honoring Amir but Amir starts to honor Hassan when he goes back to save Soharab. Ali would often remind Amir and Hassan “There was brotherhood between people who had fed from the same breast, a kinship that not even time could not break” (Hosseini 11) so they would always remember to honor themselves and maintain their friendship. Amir unfortunately breaks this friendship to get Baba’s fatherly affection but makes up for it when he goes on his quest to be good again. To be fed from the same breast would mean that Hassan and Amir were brothers. Unfortunaly Amir and Hassan do not know this, when Amir return to meet Rahim Khan he is told by him that they were brothers. Therefore, the honor for one and other was always there but not expressed, the only difference was the Hassan was like Baba who showed it without fear and hesitation whereas Amir was the opposite of Baba who did not show honor, bravery and loyalty. Amir after 20 years is not able to live a happy life because of his past, so he heads back to Kabul on request of Rahim Khan who tells him that he can be good again, upon arrival Amir is told what to do to become good again. He must search and rescue Sohrab from a Talib official who turns out to be none other than Assef. After fixing a meeting with Assef and discussing that he must take Sohrab with him, Assef makes a deal that if he comes out victorious in the fight between them than he can walk out with Sohrab. However, if he loses than he and Sohrab stay and become slaves. Amir who was not a fighter, sacrifices himself and takes all the beatings from Assef and gets severely beaten, “My body was broken – just how badly I wouldn’t find out until later” (Hosseini 289). Amir is showing regret towards Hassan through Sohrab who is very similar to Hassan in many ways and one is that they both are excellent sling shot users. Amir is honoring what Hassan did for him by doing the same for Sohrab, saving each other lives. After fighting Assef, Amir feels at peace because he has gotten what he deserved for so many years and has achieved redemption. This is the start to a happy life for Amir; he is granted a new life full of no regrets after saving Sohrab and adopting him as a son.

Amir and Hassan honor each other and their friendship so do Mariam and Laila. This sets them par however, Amir and Hassan did not have a smooth flow of honor in their friendship. Whereas, Mariam and Laila had a smooth flow of all the indigents needed in a friendship. Hassan had a different way of honoring Amir and so did Amir but they both did honor one and other. Mariam honored Laila for standing up for her and Laila honored Mariam for saving her life. All characters had different reasons to honor each other but the point is that there was a two-way connection in the friendship than a one-way connection. Amir and Mariam gave their body up in honor of their friend. Amir took the broken bones and Mariam took the death, they both did it for someone they loved and honored.

Both of Khalid Hosseini’s novels The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns shed light on the significance of friendship and the struggles in maintaining it with one – way communications. By comparing the four protagonist, it is evident that the process in which a friendship is made and sustained becomes struggling and the people in the relation face a hardship in keeping it together if there is only one person involved in sustaining it. While Amir and Hassan face problems in their friendship, it is possible to imagine a poor child risking his life for the so-called friend that owns him and in return not even getting a thanks or any sympathy. When it comes to life challenges, Amir, Hassan, Mariam, and Laila demonstrate that the difficulty of the challenge does not matters; it is the person accompanying you in facing the challenge that matters because that person beside you will be your best friend, a friend that will be there for you every time a challenge arises. A friend that is there to support you in every battle against the odds. “It is only the great hearted who can be true friends. The mean and cowardly, Can never know what true friendship means” (Charles Kingsley).

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Khaled Hosseini’s Description Of Islamic Women’s Responsibilities As Depicted in His Book, a Thousand Splendid Suns

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

An extensive and divisive issue that has plagued humanity since its genesis are the rights and rolls of women in society. This conflict permeates culture, politics, and societal norms; however, this conflict is most present in religion. Religious texts often give specific instructions regarding how women are to function in society; some may be liberal, however most are extremely conservative. A Thousand Splendid Suns, a novel by Khaled Hosseini, seeks to address the issues of the treatment of women within the Islamic faith. Islam has by far the most conservative view of the roll of women in society, and A Thousand Splendid Suns seeks to personify these issues of women finding their own identity within the confines of the Islamic faith and an Islamic society that identifies women by the men in their lives, not the women themselves.

InA Thousand Splendid Suns, as well as in historic Afghanistan, the rolls that women play in society are based upon whatever political power is in charge and, to that extent, how Islamic that power is. We saw this political power change several times throughout the course of novel, as the Afghan region was incredibly unstable. During the pre-Soviet Era in Afghanistan, women enjoyed relaxed restrictions and relatively liberal social customs that were still based in Islam, however they were not strictly enforced. Women could travel without a male companion, and only head coverings were considered necessary.It should be noted, however, that women still did not work outside of the home, and seldom were educated.

The two female main characters of A Thousand Splendid Suns, Mariam and Laila, still experience hardships during this Era, particularly Mariam. Mariam often found herself fighting for recognition, as her status as a woman made her totally unremarkable to her father Jalil and even her mother Nana; Nana had often said that the strongest trait for a woman to have is “endurance,” because all a woman will be able to do in her life is endure. Even worse for Mariam, she was a bastard child born out of wedlock to Nana (Jalil was Nana’s employer); as Nana was a house maid of low social status, the two were exiled to a remote rural house where they could be “hidden.” Here Mariam struggled to find her identity because she was extremely distanced from her father, and he would have been her source of identity. Laila experienced the same struggle for recognition as Mariam because her mother Fariba totally ignored her and instead focused on her two sons, her traditional source of sustenance in her future. These two women could not establish their own personal identity in the face of a society that wanted to define these women by the men around them, not the women themselves.Despite these substantial setbacks, Mariam and Lailastill enjoyed more rights than what fundamentalist Islam would grant them, as evidenced in their abilities to freely move about and enjoy relationships with others.

These Islamic customs were all but removed during the Soviet Era, as the Soviets were Marxists, and Marxism explicitly rejects any sort of religion and advocates for gender equality. Women were now able to get jobs outside of the home, and could pursue educational opportunities as well. In fact, Laila’s father Hakim encourages her to pursue an education before marrying. This would have have been difficult to accomplish during the Pre-Soviet Era, and now women were finally gaining some sort of respect within society. This respect was further evidenced by Laila’s “untraditional” relationship with Tariq, which developed without the restraints of traditional society; the two fell in love, and ended up having sex outside of wedlock (which caused Laila to become pregnant).This helped to dramatically improve the resilience and the confidence of the two female main characters in A Thousand Splendid Suns; they may not have been empowered, but they did have a start towards resisting against the expectations of society and finding a sense of identity by exploring new frontiers of relationships and societal roles.

Unfortunately, the Soviets being driven out of Afghanistan triggered a massive downgrade of women’s rights, as power had been given to the extreme fundamentalist Islamic group known as the Taliban. The Taliban immediately began strictly enforcing Shar’ia law, which dictates that women cannot go anywhere without a male escort, women must wear burquas outside, and educations/jobs outside of the home are no longer permissible. For Laila, the beginning of this era was marked by the death of her family during a Soviet/Taliban skirmish, where her house was shelled. The only way for Laila to survive in this new society was to get married to Rasheed, both her neighbor and the husband of Mariam. This is both because Laila needs a sustainable income (women aren’t allowed jobs) and a male protector for her while she gives birth to Tariq’s child (whom she has been pregnant with for some time). Clearly a society’s portrayal of women is weak and useless if they are considered as such without a husband. Once again, we see a society that defines women by the men in their lives, and there is little ability for these women to gain the recognition other than giving birth to male children.

These conservative ideals align with the Islamic faith’s teaching, which dictates that women are essentially only useful for breeding and maintaining the household for the men; women are considered objects which are to be owned and collected. On the contrary, men are considered the ultimate gift from Allah by their parents, and many women, like Laila’s mother Fariba, live to have sons, not daughters. One should also consider Rasheed and Mariam’s relationship; the two get along until she can’t produce a child (notably a male) for him, which he considers to be an insult. All this amounts to a society that treats incredibly strong women like dirt and men who are dirt bags like kings. This society is the contemporary Afghani society that exists today, and it is still controlled by fundamental Islamic leadership. While the government may sometimes have control enforcing their laws, independent groups and societal norms help to ensure that no women violate the laws of Islam.

The Afghani region has seen a significant amount of instability during the historical period within A Thousand Splendid Suns, which has led to the instability of women’s rights, as well as conflicts of interest between women and society. In the end it seems that the connection between how Islamic a government is can determine how strict laws and regulations are for women within a given region. The strictness of these laws also helps to establish the importance of women in society and whether they will be defined by their own contributions, or by the contributions of their sons and husbands.

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A Review Of The Experience Of Mariam And Laila in Khaled Hosseini’s Book, a Thousand Splendid Suns

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

Violence crushes hope of fairytale ending

From a very young age, children are filled with stories. Their mothers will hush them to sleep with promises of a prince charming and a happily ever after. But how much of their tales are actually true? What if there really were carpets that could fly and fairy godmothers to grant our wishes? In Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns, the two main characters, Mariam and Laila, are fed such stories as young girls. They are drugged with the lie that the world is simple. That they can be anything they want to be. That they will live and be happy. But the world doesn’t stand still. It doesn’t stop and wait for anyone to catch up. It twists and turns and gets confusing. It is not simple. The violence that Hosseini weaved into the book makes the reader see that women are treated harshly, it is hard to accomplish goals, and that life isn’t easy.

Often times in life, we do not realize that something is wrong until the water clears and we see the world for what it really is. In Mariam’s case, she saw the true way that women are treated in Afghanistan. Mariam, from an early age, is poisoned by the image that Jalil portrays. He is a succesful man, with three wives and nine children. But however busy he may be, he still finds time for her every Thursday. And because of this, she looks up to him. She believes that he is a dependable man because he doesn’t leave her alone and he sticks to his promises. For the first fifteen years of her life, she lives in the kolba, and has no idea what the outside world truly holds. Jalil is the only gateway to this unknown universe. Jalil who brings her presents. Jalil who “showed her how to draw an elephant in one stroke without ever lifting the pen off the paper” (Hosseini 22). Jalil who she holds her breath to spend another day with. Her mother, Nana, tries to explain to Mariam that her father isn’t what he seems. That men are all the same. That they treat women wrong. She tells Mariam to “learn this now and learn it well… like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always” (Hosseini 7). Nana has no hope for Mariam’s future, because her own life was filled with pain and suffering. In the novel, Nana symbolizes the truth. She has seen the world, and knows the evil that it holds. Jalil, however, is a wonderful lie. He is Mariam’s window to the world– one that she wants to see. And through this, Hosseini sets up for the violence that takes over the chapters. When Mariam is casted out of her father’s life, she soon realizes “what it means to be a woman in this world” (Hosseini 7). She is forced to marry Rasheed, who she tries so hard to please. She knows her role as a wife, and she sticks to it. She makes dinner, cleans, and carries Rasheed’s child. After many miscarriages, though, she watched as her husband transforms into a vulgar, dirty, and abusive man. At the same time, she watches her life and any chance at happiness flutter away. With her marriage to Rasheed, she was also forced with the harsh realization that Jalil had filled her with lies. That the world was cruel. That, just as Nana claimed, men demean women. That she will have to suffer through Rasheed’s outbursts. The first of these outlashes, when he forced pebbles in Mariam’s teeth, symbolizes the world’s cruelty (Hosseini 104). With this first scene of violence, Hosseini wants the reader to see that even if we fill our lives with happy stories, that is not what the world is. He wants to shed light on the women that get treated brutally every day. The young Mariam was sedated with the image of her beloved father. Believing that every man was noble and kind just as he was. However, when Rasheed’s “upper lip curled in a sneer” as he watched her chew on hard pebbles, she realized what Nana told her was true.

Children are often told that they can be whatever they want to be, but they are almost never told how hard it is to achieve their goals or live up to certain expectations. Laila falls victim to this. She is told that she can be anything she wants. That she will stay in school. That she won’t marry at a young age. Everyone places her high up. They tell her that she will be on the front cover of the newspaper or that she will be successful. But no one told her that her brothers would never come back from the war. No one told her that her best friend would be hit by a stray rocket. No one told her that she would witness a “bloody chunk of [her father]” land next to her as a bomb struck her house and blew him and her mother to pieces (Hosseini 194). And no one told her that she would be forced into an abusive marriage to cover up her growing baby bump. With the violence in this section of the novel, the reader sees that Laila, like Mariam, was forced to give up her life. Everything suddenly caved in, and in a blink of an eye, she was no longer a child. She was thrust into a world of suffering. She knew that no one could know of the harami growing in her, so she was left with no other choice but to marry Rasheed. All at once, it seemed, she was a different person. She knew that everything she was told growing up was a lie. She knew that life comes with a price. Terrible events and tragedy rule the lives of so many. Hosseini, through Laila’s life, tells us that nothing is gained without pain or some amount of suffering. People told Laila that she was going to succeed, but they failed to mention that the war would bring about hardship. Hosseini wanted to teach the reader that setting goals is not the problem, it is the obstacles in between that hurt the chance at reaching them.

The violence depicted in the final sections of the book make the reader see that life isn’t easy. People suffer through hard times, and nothing is ever okay for very long. Laila and Mariam are an example of this. When Laila is taken in and marries Rasheed, Mariam despises her. However, once the first child is born, and Rasheed no longer sees Laila as a queen, the two wives are rooted in a new relationship. Mariam says that “two new flowers had unexpectedly sprouted in her life” (Hosseini 256). She, after hurting so much, got a chance to live again, through Laila. Mariam had lived for so long without a single spark of happiness. However, once she got this, it was soon taken away because of Rasheed’s reign of terror. This shows because when he was close to murdering Laila, “Mariam raised the shovel high… [and] turned it so the sharp edge was vertical, and, when she did, it occurred to her that this was the first time that she was deciding the course of her own life” (Hosseini 349). She was now giving up her life because she loved Laila. It was the first time that she made a choice for her. For Laila. For the life of a family. For peace. And when she let the shovel drop, she ultimately gave her life. Before she sacrificed her life, she came at peace with herself– with her life. Even though she was born unwanted, as a harami, “she was leaving the world as a woman who had loved and been loved back” (Hosseini 370). With Mariam’s final thoughts, the reader can really see that life comes with ups and downs. It is not simply good. And it is not simply bad. People are a mix of good and evil, and so is life. Laila learned this too, because even though she finally got her storybook ending, with her own prince charming, she had to lose so much to end up in a good place. It was not a simple “happily ever after” like in the fairytales. She had to give up her friends, her siblings, her parents and most of all, Mariam. That was the cost to a story with happy ending. When asked if she is okay at the end, she replies by saying she is very much alright (Hosseini 414). Because in the long run, she was. She was alright. Because Mariam gave Laila her life back.

When a child is told stories of a damsel in distress and a prince charming that comes to the rescue, she will compare her life to the beauty and passion in these stories. When hardship comes along, she will wonder why life couldn’t just be like the fairytales. When violence strikes, there will be no masked savior. No superhero or knight in shining armor. She will be left alone. In A Thousand Splendid Suns, Mariam and Laila band together because they know that the stories that they were told as children weren’t their reality. They had to suffer under Rasheed’s strong hand. Through their lives, Khaled Hosseini told a story that wasn’t just a story. He told of the harshness of the world. He told the truth.

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The power and struggle of women in A thousand splendid suns

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

There are certain aspects of the human experience that every one of us can identify with on a certain level. This is what allows us to connect with one another and to develop empathetic and compassionate outlooks. That being said, there are certain common experiences among many of us as well that tend to differ person to person because of our varying outlooks. In A Thousand Splendid Suns, women in the novel share the experience of oppression living in an intensely masochistic Afghan culture. They are repeatedly subjected to violence, both on a physical and also a mental level as they live to cope with the shame that their identities cast upon their person. All of that being said, this is not what the novel is about at its core. It seems that the central focus is instead about the positive resilience of the human spirit. If it were exclusively about the necessity of endurance that women face, it would be a terribly tragic story, but not nearly as spiritually impactful. Hosseini’s use of symbolism and his dynamic diction lent to an overarching theme that was devised to resonate with all readers.

Many of the experiences faced by women in this story are ones that are inconceivably destructive on a number of levels—morally, emotionally, and physically. Mariam and Laila, the two main protagonists, suffer under the custody of a patriarchal superiority using radical rules and legitimizing the abuse of women. The Burqa throughout the novel becomes a sign of oppression and male domination, created under the facade of humility, but truly a means of eliminating the woman as a human being. It limits the woman to a source of seduction and shame, which is only exacerbated by the restrictions imposed on other aspects of their lives. The Taliban is cited announcing over the loudspeaker: “Attention women: you will stay inside your homes at all times… If you go outside, you must be accompanied by a mahram, a male relative. If you are caught alone on the street, you will be beaten and sent home” (144), displaying the perceived complete incompetence that came alone with being a woman. This was not merely a case of inequality; women were treated as if they were pets in need of being leashed.

With all of this being said, women in the novel are constantly identified exclusively by their duties as wives and mothers. They are a mere object of production and they acknowledge that very well. Giti and Hasina, Laila’s friends tell her, “By the time we’re twenty, Giti and I we’ll have pushed out four, five kids each. But you, Laila, you’ll make us two dummies proud. You’re going to be somebody” (92). When Mariam is first pregnant, Rashid is overjoyed by the fact that he is going to have a child- a boy. He rejects the idea that he might have a girl as a child. When Mariam encounters several miscarriages, Rashid no longer drew interest in her. She could not give him a son and so, she was treated as a mere servant. Mariam’s small value as a woman and as a person ceased to exist as she was unable of conceiving.

Certainly, the fact that women are forced to endure is true. That is one of the central aspects of the novel, without doubt. What the novel is truly about, however, is the way that women continue to endure with such a strength and resilience, beyond all of the atrocities and suffering that they have been subjected to. Perhaps the most beautiful aspect of the novel is the notion that the two women are able to find strength and love in one another through their struggles. This is hardly enduring, but in fact living a fulfilled and meaningful life, as Miriam states in her last moments as an “abundant peace that washed over her… she was leaving the world as a woman who had loved and been loved back… This was a legitimate end to a life of illegitimate belongings” (195). Because of the vitality and hope that the women provide one another, the novel suggests that women have a strong ability to find strength and support in one another. Mariam never would have gained the strength to fight Rasheed if she had not gained such confidence and love from Laila that allowed her to find meaning in this sacrifice. It is only love that can move people to act in these unexpected ways and to move them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with startling heroism. Even Laila’s pregnancy with Aziza allows her to remain positive after she learns about Tariq’s death. Childbirth is painful, and the pain that mothers feel during the various birthing scenes reminds us of the hopeful sacrifices that mothers in Afghanistan make in order to bring new life into the world.

The strength that women find in one another and in the love that they salvage in the darkness allows them not only to overcome their challenges, but also to find peace and flourishing spiritually. Beyond all of their struggles, women are still compared to “the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls” (105), which sheds light on their ability to shine and provide warmth even when they are hidden within the darkness of their homes. The fact that the author chose this as the title really emphasizes the idea that the inner spirits of the women have not in fact been dulled quite as much as it might have seemed to the outside world, because of the warmth that they are able to find within themselves and others. This goes quite beyond the endurance that women are subjected to as they are consistently having to push against these walls. Much of the strength they find is hidden to even the most privileged women of today’s world. Perhaps that is what makes it so incredibly powerful and resonant beyond the borders of Afghanistan, and even beyond the recognition of what it really means to have to fight.

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The developmenty of character Laila

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

When Laila is introduced at the beginning of part two, the reader recognises that she represents the new, modern ideals that stem from the communist revolution in 1979. From being called ‘Revolutionary girl’ by her teacher, due to her being born on the same day as the revolution, as well as having physical attributes such as her ‘green eyes’ and ‘blonde curls’, it is instantly clear that the author is portraying Laila as someone who is unique or special in terms of the context. This extends to both her educational achievement as well as her families socially progressive views on woman’s rights. However, the instability surrounding Afghanistan’s politics is shown to immerse her uniqueness and force her to grow up faster than she is expected to. Over the course of the novel, the surrounding conflict forces her to develop certain ideas, which are showcased through her moments of skepticism towards authority and her headstrong personality. The ways in which she grows up to adopt these attitudes all originate from her uniqueness; her families’ values, her academic performance and the close relationships she has with other characters.

The death of Ahmed and Noor happens near the beginning of Laila’s story and is the first death in her family. Their absence in the novel, but the continuous discussion of them in Laila’s household introduces the reader to the strong connection Afghan families have to their country. The death of both these characters symbolizes the idea of sacrificing yourself for something you believe in. The families’ misery and grief that plagues them after the boy’s death recounts how the effects of death spread far beyond just the character that dies. This idea is introduced continually throughout Laila’s life as the people around her begin to die. Laila’s reaction to her brothers’ death can therefore foreshadow how she reacts to people that die. For Laila, it is hard to ‘summon sorrow’ for her brothers as, for her, they are like ‘characters in a fable.’ Although one may interpret Laila’s attitudes towards their deaths as one of disrespect, it is perhaps more of regretful indifference. By using the metaphor of a ‘fable’, Hosseini is both reminding the reader about Laila’s young age, through the childlike connotations associated with a fable, as well as, emphasizing how Laila can’t mourn people she never knew. The author juxtaposes these ideas of childhood and innocence with ones of death and experience to perhaps show how Laila is in a transitioning period from a child to an adult. Ahmed and Noor’s death symbolizes the infiltration of Afghan politics into the personal lives of the characters, suggesting that Laila is being forced to grow up due to the death and conflict caused by the context. The macro-level political change along with the micro-level character interaction, shows how the death of political figureheads, this being Ahmed and Noor, forces characters to mature much more quickly.

Other familial relationships are also shown to have an effect on the rate at which Laila grows up, specifically, the relationship she has with her mother. Fariba is introduced as a young and vibrant woman from Mariam’s perspective in part one, who loves her husband and kids and generally has a positive outlook on life. However, after her sons go to fight for the Mujahedeen, she becomes withdrawn and grieves over them. Her depression over her sons’ fates blinds her to what is happening to her daughter, who is still living with her. This leaves Laila feeling unwanted and uncared for, resulting in her realizing that her ‘footprints would forever wash away beneath the waves of sorrow that swelled and crashed’. This metaphor, used to display the idea of varying emotions, links to wider themes of motherhood that continue throughout the novel. Hosseini displays the difficulties that mothers have to face in order to raise a child, especially within this context. Although one may assume that Fariba is an inadequate parent due to the treatment of Laila, it could be argued that the grief she feels in regards to her sons’ death is evidence of the love she has for her children. Similarly to Nana, by not being present or aware of Laila for a large portion of her life, it could be argued that she taught Laila about the importance of endurance and resilience. By not being present around the house, Laila is forced to undertake the tasks and emotional relationships, which mothers are usually burdened with, at a young age. It also means that Laila recognizes the importance of childcare, which presents itself later in the novel when she has children of her own. Therefore, one may claim that the relationship Laila has with her mother gives Laila independence along with an idea about the difficulties of motherhood, when she is still a young girl.

The very reason that Laila is a woman in a society where women are restricted by men and law, is in and of itself, an explanation for why she has to grow up so quickly. The rights of women, in regard to education, are limited by men in the patriarchal context. Laila, however, is unique and her academic ability is what gives the reader hope in her character. Her father, Babi’s, emphasis on Laila having an education provides the base of her personality. By being educated, Laila is empowering herself and increasing the opportunities that she can access later in life. Babi’s belief in education is so extreme that he lectures to Laila “A society has no chance at success if its woman are uneducated, Laila. No chance.” Education and academics are seen as hope for women in Afghanistan as it gives them a platform to defend themselves. This is evident when Laila questions Rasheed about his contradictory political views, after they are married. It is also an explanation as to why Laila teaches at an orphanage by the end of the novel. Laila embodies the hope in society towards female education and allows her to be wiser than the people around her. This wisdom that she gains through education, both gives her voice experience as well as justifies the difficult decisions a young girl has to make.

Laila grows up in multiple ways that usually relate back to the characters that surround her and the context in which she is placed. Through the death of characters like Ahmed and Noor, Laila learns how to overcome the grief caused by death, giving her the resilience she needs in order to deal with the common tragedies that occur in Afghanistan. Fariba’s absence in Laila’s childhood further prepares her for the independence she will have to face once her parents have died. It also is what allows her to provide as a mother for her children near the end of the novel. Finally, the education that Laila receives both motivates her as a woman in a patriarchal society, where many women are uneducated, and gives her a platform to argue and make decisions. In part two, the different tragedies that Laila faces gives her the independence, endurance and wisdom she needs to survive and allows the reader to compare how Laila’s character has developed over the novel.

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Khaled Hosseini’s Depiction of the Confusion towards the Rights of Women as Illustrated in His Book, A Thousand Splendid Suns

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

“No”. That one word is often the freedom that Afghan women have had since 1978. Before reading this book in a country where a women almost became president, I knew women’s rights were an issue in other countries. However, I never really understood it like I do now after reading A Thousand Splendid Suns. The author, Khaled Hosseini, having been born in Kabul, Afghanistan and lives in California; Most definitely saw this misunderstanding and wrote A Thousand Splendid Suns to give us a glimpse at a women’s life in a third world country. Having earned his M.D. and a PhD in physics, you can rest assured that Hosseini is a very bright man. Rightfully so, Khaled Hosseini also offers a special perspective as being native to Afghanistan and most importantly, he is a Goodwill Envoy of refugees for the United Nations . He has also started The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a nonprofit organization to help people in Afghanistan. Khaled Hosseini has high family values, “It’s my father I can’t leave,” Laila said. “I’m all he has left. His heart couldn’t take it either.” Tariq knew this. He knew she could not wipe away the obligations of her life any more than he could his. (2.25.50-51)” exemplifies the importance of family and that is all they have in Afghanistan, each other.

Our novel opens up in with our protagonist lacking a proper family, being born as an illegitimate child or harami; which in english translates to “bastard”. “Mariam, was an illegitimate person who would never have legitimate claim to the things other people had, things such as love, family, home, acceptance. (1.1.6)”, needless to say, Mariam had a rough child life. We fast forward into the future, where Mariam is married to a vulgar and crass man named Rasheed. The Soviet coup has taken place, and Afghanistan is now a place of turmoil. Our second protagonist, Laila, breaks onto the stage as a small school-girl from Kabul. She lives an ordinary life up until her parents death, which was caused by a stray missile from local warlords fighting. Rasheed finds Laila stranded, and takes her in as his second wife. He is not a well-hearted man, and can be considered evil at times. Laila and Mariam eventually kill him, when he had an outburst and was going to choke Laila to death. Being in a Taliban state, this would mean execution for both of them; however, Mariam becomes our “team player” and turns herself in for Laila to be able to flee Afghanistan. While Mariam may be gone from her earthly presence, “Mariam is in Laila’s own heart, where she shines with the bursting radiance of a thousand suns. (4.51.37)”.

After having a wet eye from reading this, I would rate this book among some of my favorites. I would highly suggest reading this book if you are a critic of feminism, as it shines light on the reason for feminism to exist and why it is needed in some parts of the world far greater than others. I would also suggest reading this book, if you want to be angry, sad, happy, and scared all in one book. Overall, Khaled Hosseini created a masterpiece that everyone who lives in a sheltered environment should read.

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Comparative Analysis of the Main Characters’ Personalities in the Color Purple and a Thousand Splendid Suns

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

In both The Color Purple and A Thousand Splendid Suns it is evident that the thoughts, actions and personal growth of Celie and Mariam, protagonist of the novels are influenced by those who they surround themselves with, in addition to further factors such as the setting of each novel and major events that take place leading to their personal contentment and happiness.

A Thousand Splendid Suns set in Afghanistan from the early 1960s to the early 2000s which examines the limited role of women in an Afghan society and the hardships they face seen through the protagonist of Mariam. She holds a great amount of shame for being an illegitimate child causing her to be unable to stand up for herself and this contributes to her tolerance of being married to her controlling and dominate husband. With women of this time in Afghanistan having minimal right and dis-obeying their husband’s orders most likely leading to abuse, a prominent symbol in the beginning of this novel that emphases the patriarchy of this book, for Mariam especially, is the burqa which she obeys Rasheed’s order to wear it despite that she heavily dislikes it. To Mariam, Rasheed’s will feel as “imposing and immovable as the Safid-koh mountains looming over Gul Daman”. These internal thoughts of Mariam highlight the evident domination of men over women in Afghanistan during this time with no escape. In the comparison of Rasheed’s “will” to “mountains” it shows that Mariam feels it would be useless to even attempt to fight back as not even a slight change will occur due to her sex in a male controlled country. In addition the idea of the mountains “looming over” the village where Mariam had grown up shows how the culture that the Afghan man possess of this setting is just like the mountains, it will always be there. “The suffocating way the pleated cloth kept pressing against her mouth” shows how an actual object is personified and physically silences the women where as in The Color Purple it is rather male blackmail and abuse that dominates and controls women seen through the relationship of Celia and Mr ____.

The novel The Color Purple is also set in a discriminating environment of the early 90s in America rife with minimal women’s rights and patriarchal control. Celie, the protagonist and narrator of The Color Purple, is a poor, uneducated, fourteen-year-old black girl living in Georgia. As a young girl, Celie is constantly subjected to abuse and told “she ain’t fresh”. She decides therefore that she can best ensure her survival by making herself silent and somewhat invisible by doing as she is instructed by the ‘superior’ men around her and tolerating their abuse. Celie has been silenced for so long that she has gotten used to having no voice with her natural reaction to say nothing. Like Mariam, Celie often expresses her displeasure, fury or rebellion in all of these situations within her own mind; however both Mariam and Celie only gain confidence to speak out and actively rebel when they cannot take the pressure any longer due to the influence of those around them respectively and other major events. In the beginning of the novel, Celie does not speak out against her abuse no matter how severe; she first has to gain the self-confidence, through her development in the novel to eventually take a stand. She rather turns to the idea of writing letters to God which are her only outlet of emotions. However, this being her only way of self-expression is stilled controlled by men with Celie acknowledging that “the God [she] been praying and writing to is a man”. Her feeling of worthlessness just like Mariam both being a victims of abuse and control is evident with the fact that she does not even sign her letters to God due to her lack of self-worth. Normally, most people take pride in signing their names but this is not seen with Celie. But despite this setting of overpowering dominance that hinders her development, Celie just like Mariam shows great character growth throughout the novel due to a combination of major events that occur and the heavy influence of people that enter their lives.

Although the abuse that Celie faces throughout her life both from her step-father with him continuously raping her and demanding she “better shut up and get used to it” to the abuse of her new husband in which he feels he has the right to abuse her stating “cause she my wife”, she is exposed to various violent events where she does not fight back because “what good it do?. However, there is one major event that brings about change in Celie: Nettie’s long-lost letters, which Celie discovers with Shug’s help hidden in Mr. ______’s trunk. These letters strengthen Celie’s sense of self by informing her of her personal history and of the fate of her children she thought she had lost forever. This enables Celie to feel a sense of belonging in life and she stops thinking of herself as a mistake and not worthy, “I’m pore, I’m black, I may be ugly and can’t cook, a voice say to everything listening. But I’m here.” As the progression of her letters show, Celie gradually gains the ability to combine her thoughts and feelings into a voice that is fully her own, “The more I wonder, the more I love.”(Walker. P256). This shows major development from the shy and nervous child we met who refused to have her own opinion. Celie’s process of finding her own voice has a climax with her enraged explosion at Mr. ______, in which she curses him for his years of abuse and abasement. Mr. ______ responds in his insulting manner, but this does not affect Celie since she now possesses the sense of self-worth she previously lacked. This is similar to the events that occur with Mariam as she finally has the realization of her self-worth when she stands up to Rasheed and ultimately kills him to protect those she loves. Like in Mariam’s case this shows growth in their confidence and thus character development.

Throughout Mariam’s life, there are multiple events that take place which cause her to be the timid, shy and nervous character that we see and affect her character growth. Throughout the novel, we see the prominent dark cloud hanging over Mariam being the shame that she holds of being a harami, “an unwanted thing… an illegitimate person who would never have legitimate claim to the things other people had, things such as love, family, home, acceptance”, in addition to the greater guilt she feels of being a contributing factor to her mother’s suicide. These feelings of no self-worth or confidence are brought into her unloving, forced marriage where Mariam struggles to bear a child with Rasheed leading to seven miscarriages and a feeling where she is “a burden to him”. This key event leads to her dis-growth as a character and causes the irruption of the abuse by Rasheed where Mariam becomes an object of her his frustration forcing her to chew pebbles and explains how useless she is in giving him just “bad food and nothing else” in their marriage. This lack of love and belonging is a constant theme throughout Mariam’s life and a trigger for the want to change, but hope is brought into her life which is seen through the arrival of Laila where they are able to form a sister-like bond and soon after the arrival of Aziza which she questions Aziza’s love asking her “Why have you pinned your heart to an old, ugly hag like me?” (pg ?). It is evident that Mariam has finally found love and a sense of belonging. Ultimately, the climax of Mariam’s growth as a character is seen in her ultimate sacrifice, giving up her own life so that those she loves can be free after killing Rasheed.

This turning point of killing Rasheed is an accumulation the pain that Rasheed has caused her, as well as the overwhelming love she feels with Laila. At first, Mariam is motivated by anger and a hunger for justice. Throughout her marriage, Mariam has accepted what destiny and fate has brought her, asking nothing of Rasheed and doing what is expected of a wife never fighting back but there is a point in the battle with Rasheed, where she realizes “what a fool she had been”. By now, when the person she loves most is threatened, Mariam sees her worth and believes that she’s never deserved the sheer violence she has endured. The powerful motivation of saving Laila’s endangered life is where the true growth is evident in Mariam as she “could not, would not, allow that to happen” (pg340) and for her to lose the person she loved the most. Without the experiences and events that occurred leading up to this moment, Mariam wouldn’t have had the confidence and will to finally stand up for herself.

Celie, like Mariam is at this time reaching the peak in her development. Once leaving Mr___’s home Celie suddenly is free as she moves into her own house with Shug Avery allowing this home to be a space where Celie now finally has an opportunity to grow in independence, self- confidence and true happiness. Celie takes the act of sewing, and turns it into an outlet to express her inner creativity and she eventually turns it into a successful business .This shows major progression of her growth within herself. When Nettie, Olivia, and Adam return to Georgia from Africa, Celie’s circle of friends and family is finally reunited. Though Celie has endured many years of hardship, she says, “Don’t think us feel old at all. . . . Matter of fact, I think this is the youngest us ever felt.” This happiness indicates that she has developed from the timid, miserable protagonist introduced to us at the start of the novel. The peak of Celie’s development is marked by her words, “Took me long enough to notice you such good company, he say. And he laugh. / He ain’t Shug, but he begins to be somebody I can talk to.”(pg 241) this shows that she has more self-esteem, forgiveness and confidence as she even uses these words to forgive Mr____ after all the pain and abuse she has endured from him.

Ultimately, character growth of the two protagonists to a large extent is responsible due to the strong women that influence and encourage them to stand up and have self-confidence. For much of the novel, Celie is completely submissive and yielding to the constant abuse she faces. She encounters other women who are much stronger than Celie such as Sofia who tells Celie that she should stand up for herself and fight, but Celie feels that it’s better to survive than to fight and risk not surviving. When Mr_____ abuses her she simply says, “Well, sometime Mr —— git on me pretty hard. I have to talk to Old Maker. But he is my husband. I shrug my shoulders. This life soon be over, I say. Heaven last all ways.”(pg 40). However, there are certain triggers and influencers that lead Celie to stand up. A trigger being that Celie proves herself to be willing to fight for the people she loves seen with her rather being the victim of Pa’s abuse so that he leaves Nettie alone. In a smaller way, Celie also fights for Shug seen when Mr.__’s father comes and criticizes Shug, Celie silently rebels by spitting in the man’s water. It is evident that Celie has an inner desire to stand up for herself and protect her loved ones but ultimately she needs the push that comes in the form of Shug Avery to gain the confidence to.

Shug Avery in the novel The Color Purple acts as a similar figure of Laila. When her husband, Mr. ______, abuses her, she reacts in a similarly passive manner until Shug Avery moves into the house with them. Celie latches on to Shug Avery, who she admires as a beautiful, empowered woman role model that encourages her development and whom Celie compares to her mother throughout the novel. Unlike Celie’s natural mother, she refuses to allow herself to be dominated by anyone. Celie has the opportunity to befriend a confident woman who does not stand down when mistreated but rather confronts her oppressor. She shows Celie how to fight back, “You got to fight them, Celie, she says. I can’t do it for you.”(pg 29) and gives her confidence to begin to question why she is here and that she belongs this is indicated by the comment, “It didn’t take long to realize I didn’t hardly know nothing. And that if you ast yourself why you black or a man or a woman or a bush it don’t mean nothing if you don’t ast why you here, period” (pg 256), this shows Celie is allowing herself the freedom to question life and allows herself the right to have her own voice, thoughts and opinions which shows her personal development. This shows major growth in Celie’s character on numerous levels which won’t have been possible without Shug Avery pushing Celie to fight back to her oppressors and be a strong woman she was born to be.

Similarly, Laila acts as the influencer on Mariam slowly weaving in inner strength to fight back to Rasheed. It starts off with Laila building Mariam’s confidence and feeling of self-respect and worth¬ –that has been ripped away by Rasheed – as seen through her daughter Aziza. With forming a special bond with Mariam she is able to gain the idea that she is worth love and to be loved by someone else as she “had never before been wanted like this. Love had never been declared to her so guilelessly, so unreserved.” Laila’s children fill the void that is embedded in Mariam due to the years of violence and abuse she has faced as she works her way to find her happiness and contentment once again in stating to Laila that “you and your children have made me so happy”. Though, this abundance of love is seen through the face of Aziza it is ultimately Laila being the driving force ensuring that Mariam feels worthy of life and love. In addition, Laila instills bravery into Mariam showing her that she is able to stand up for herself against her oppressors and do what is right. This character growth and gaining of bravery is seen with Laila plaining to run away with Aziza and Mariam considering “kinder years were still waiting” and she should go with. Initially when Laila arrived this bravery of Mariam’s was not visible with her being submissive and accepting her fact as a bitten wife but now with Laila influencing her, she is able to growth beyond what she expected ultimately leading to the climax of her growth and bravery in killing her biggest abuser being Rasheed out of an act of bravery and love. Ultimately, Mariam never would have gained the confidence within herself if she hadn’t gained love and strength from Laila.

Thus, both Celie and Mariam in The Color Purple and A Thousand Splendid Suns showcased their character growth and gaining of independence due to a combination of those they surrounded themselves with, in addition to other crucial elements such as the settings and major events that took place ultimately leading to them gaining happiness and considerably flourishing as protagonists.

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Laila’s Character Development

June 10, 2019 by Essay Writer

When Laila is introduced at the beginning of part two, the reader recognises that she represents the new, modern ideals that stem from the communist revolution in 1979. From being called ‘Revolutionary girl’ by her teacher, due to her being born on the same day as the revolution, as well as having physical attributes such as her ‘green eyes’ and ‘blonde curls’, it is instantly clear that the author is portraying Laila as someone who is unique or special in terms of the context. This extends to both her educational achievement as well as her families socially progressive views on woman’s rights. However, the instability surrounding Afghanistan’s politics is shown to immerse her uniqueness and force her to grow up faster than she is expected to. Over the course of the novel, the surrounding conflict forces her to develop certain ideas, which are showcased through her moments of skepticism towards authority and her headstrong personality. The ways in which she grows up to adopt these attitudes all originate from her uniqueness; her families’ values, her academic performance and the close relationships she has with other characters.

The death of Ahmed and Noor happens near the beginning of Laila’s story and is the first death in her family. Their absence in the novel, but the continuous discussion of them in Laila’s household introduces the reader to the strong connection Afghan families have to their country. The death of both these characters symbolizes the idea of sacrificing yourself for something you believe in. The families’ misery and grief that plagues them after the boy’s death recounts how the effects of death spread far beyond just the character that dies. This idea is introduced continually throughout Laila’s life as the people around her begin to die. Laila’s reaction to her brothers’ death can therefore foreshadow how she reacts to people that die. For Laila, it is hard to ‘summon sorrow’ for her brothers as, for her, they are like ‘characters in a fable.’ Although one may interpret Laila’s attitudes towards their deaths as one of disrespect, it is perhaps more of regretful indifference. By using the metaphor of a ‘fable’, Hosseini is both reminding the reader about Laila’s young age, through the childlike connotations associated with a fable, as well as, emphasizing how Laila can’t mourn people she never knew. The author juxtaposes these ideas of childhood and innocence with ones of death and experience to perhaps show how Laila is in a transitioning period from a child to an adult. Ahmed and Noor’s death symbolizes the infiltration of Afghan politics into the personal lives of the characters, suggesting that Laila is being forced to grow up due to the death and conflict caused by the context. The macro-level political change along with the micro-level character interaction, shows how the death of political figureheads, this being Ahmed and Noor, forces characters to mature much more quickly.

Other familial relationships are also shown to have an effect on the rate at which Laila grows up, specifically, the relationship she has with her mother. Fariba is introduced as a young and vibrant woman from Mariam’s perspective in part one, who loves her husband and kids and generally has a positive outlook on life. However, after her sons go to fight for the Mujahedeen, she becomes withdrawn and grieves over them. Her depression over her sons’ fates blinds her to what is happening to her daughter, who is still living with her. This leaves Laila feeling unwanted and uncared for, resulting in her realizing that her ‘footprints would forever wash away beneath the waves of sorrow that swelled and crashed’. This metaphor, used to display the idea of varying emotions, links to wider themes of motherhood that continue throughout the novel. Hosseini displays the difficulties that mothers have to face in order to raise a child, especially within this context. Although one may assume that Fariba is an inadequate parent due to the treatment of Laila, it could be argued that the grief she feels in regards to her sons’ death is evidence of the love she has for her children. Similarly to Nana, by not being present or aware of Laila for a large portion of her life, it could be argued that she taught Laila about the importance of endurance and resilience. By not being present around the house, Laila is forced to undertake the tasks and emotional relationships, which mothers are usually burdened with, at a young age. It also means that Laila recognizes the importance of childcare, which presents itself later in the novel when she has children of her own. Therefore, one may claim that the relationship Laila has with her mother gives Laila independence along with an idea about the difficulties of motherhood, when she is still a young girl.

The very reason that Laila is a woman in a society where women are restricted by men and law, is in and of itself, an explanation for why she has to grow up so quickly. The rights of women, in regard to education, are limited by men in the patriarchal context. Laila, however, is unique and her academic ability is what gives the reader hope in her character. Her father, Babi’s, emphasis on Laila having an education provides the base of her personality. By being educated, Laila is empowering herself and increasing the opportunities that she can access later in life. Babi’s belief in education is so extreme that he lectures to Laila “A society has no chance at success if its woman are uneducated, Laila. No chance.” Education and academics are seen as hope for women in Afghanistan as it gives them a platform to defend themselves. This is evident when Laila questions Rasheed about his contradictory political views, after they are married. It is also an explanation as to why Laila teaches at an orphanage by the end of the novel. Laila embodies the hope in society towards female education and allows her to be wiser than the people around her. This wisdom that she gains through education, both gives her voice experience as well as justifies the difficult decisions a young girl has to make.

Laila grows up in multiple ways that usually relate back to the characters that surround her and the context in which she is placed. Through the death of characters like Ahmed and Noor, Laila learns how to overcome the grief caused by death, giving her the resilience she needs in order to deal with the common tragedies that occur in Afghanistan. Fariba’s absence in Laila’s childhood further prepares her for the independence she will have to face once her parents have died. It also is what allows her to provide as a mother for her children near the end of the novel. Finally, the education that Laila receives both motivates her as a woman in a patriarchal society, where many women are uneducated, and gives her a platform to argue and make decisions. In part two, the different tragedies that Laila faces gives her the independence, endurance and wisdom she needs to survive and allows the reader to compare how Laila’s character has developed over the novel.

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