A Thousand Splendid Suns

Describe the crises surrounding Laila's second pregnancy with Zalmai. How does her pregnancy show the deterioration of conditions under the Taliban? Why does she not go through with aborting the baby, in spite of her hatred for Rasheed?

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When Leila realizes she's pregnant, she prepares to abort her unborn child, using a bicycle spoke. She does not think she will have the capability to love Rasheed’s child as she does Tariq’s. However, while sitting on the bathroom floor, she could not go through with the abortion. She realizes that her battle with Rasheed does not involve the baby, and that killing the baby would be another murder of an innocent, when so much killing has been going on around her.

Laila’s inner turmoil about whether or not to abort her unborn child provides insight into the multiple layers of her character, and how her character has changed since she has become hardened by Rasheed. Prior to Rasheed’s harsh treatment of her, Laila could not have conceived of abortion for she was immensely protective of life and her own maternal ambitions. However, she has become so hateful and angry over the severe abuse from Rasheed that she battles herself over whether or not she could ever properly raise a child fathered by him. Ultimately, the mothering, caring side of Laila overwhelms the hateful side, and the baby is saved.