A Thousand Splendid Suns

Thesis Paper

Tradition differs in every culture and society. Make certain that one thing does not change though, women are viewed as the caregivers. The role of a woman is to nurture and comfort those she loves. By doing this she becomes a well respected and protected individual of the household. “Women’s natural role is to be a pillar of the family.”- Grace Kelly. We have accepted this gender role as the natural order of our society, and because of this we honor women. It is not like this in every culture. In Khaled Hosseini’s novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, women are observed as property as opposed to a treasure. They are to do as they are told without any question or hesitation. As demonstrated in the novel, Afghan women are punished for voicing their opinions, scolded for making the slightest mistake, and punished for simply being a female. We see this through Hosseini’s text. He gives us factual proof through a fictional surrounding to prove this view of women. We view it first hand through the strong personalities of Mariam and Laila. They both go through their share of troubles, trials, and tribulations throughout the novel. They have the great power of resiliency. They always bounce back. In the culture and ways of Afghanistan, a woman must face physical and emotional stress to survive. In A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini allows us to see that the strength and resiliency that Mariam and Laila gain from their adverse situations they encounter benefits them and helps them to move on. Mariam is an illegitame child. She carries this with her throughout her childhood. She is then forced into a loveless relationship. Mariam cannot bore any children. Laila is forced to put her education on hold, and enter Mariam and Rasheed’s marriage. Laila is forced to give up on the love of her life. Both women face constant torture and sorrow. They both marry out of necessity. Thus through it all, we see a form of psychological resilience not only through Mariam and Laila but all Afghan women. Mariam marries out of necessity. Her mother has died. Her father has given her away. It is her only choice. She is forced into a marriage without love, respect, and kindness. She carries the shame of not being able to bear any children. She cannot give Rasheed the son wish he longs for. She bounces back by meeting Laila. At first, they do not get along. Mariam tries to stay out of Laila’s way. “In the daytime, the girl was no more than a creaking bedspring, a patter of footsteps overhead.” (Hosseini 221) As time goes on though, we see that Mariam and Laila forge a strong bond between them. The government tries to reduce women’s power, and Rasheed tries to limit the ladies’ every move. Through it, the two women grow as a family. If it wasn’t for each other they wouldn’t have made it. Without Laila, Mariam would have never gained the strength to fight Rasheed. Laila gave her love and confidence. Nana never did anything but make Mariam doubt herself. At the end of the novel, Mariam tells Laila that there is nothing more she wants. Laila had given her the gift of her children who made her very happy. “It’s all alright, Laila Jo. This is all right. Don’t be sad.” (Hosseini 358) Mariam is taken to the Taliban-controlled jail while she awaits her death. She finds an admirer. The girl accompanies Mariam, and later tells her Mariam that she is the best friend she has ever had before Mariam leaves. By taking the fall for Rasheed, Mariam allows Laila to move on.


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