Mariam and Laila have had very different upbringings that have resulted in a difference in their levels of self-confidence. Mariam has been taught to view herself as a victim. Does Laila consider herself to be a victim too? What does Mariam learn about victimhood?
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Hakim provides a completely different view of education for women compared with Nana. As a parent, Hakim hopes for a bright future for Laila, and he has faith that his daughter will be successful in the future. This is a stark contrast to Nana's advice to Mariam that school would be wasted on her. By providing insight into both Mariam and Laila's childhoods, Hosseini develops characterization for both women. Such distinct contrasts can be seen between their upbringings that the reader can begin to more thoroughly understand the characters of the two women as adults. Indeed, in specific scenes that parallel each other, such as Hakim educating Laila versus Nana's emphasis on endurance, the reader gets the chance to understand the key differences between Laila and Mariam.
The women in A Thousand Splendid Suns have very different educational experiences. Mariam is tutored by Mullah Faizullah in the Koran, and she learns how to read and write. Yet, when she asks her mother about going to school, Nana insists that the only lesson that Mariam needs to learn is to "endure." Laila, in contrast, has a father who emphasizes the importance of her education. Hakim diligently works with Laila on her homework and provides her with extra work in order to expand her education. He emphasizes that Laila's education is as important as that of any boy. After the streets of Kabul become too dangerous, he insists on tutoring Laila himself. He comments about the importance of women attending universities.
Aziza is educated by both Laila and Mariam, who contribute what they know in order to educate her. Mariam teaches the Koran, and Laila eventually volunteers to teach at her school. The end of the book feels hopeful in terms of the education of women in that Zalmai (a boy) and Aziza (a girl) head off to school together.