What does Mariam's memory of this suggest about her sense of herself and her mother's relationship?
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The start of the novel provides insight into Mariam's dual existence as a child. She lives with Nana's harsh realism, imbuing her with a sense of longing for a better life. Jalil provides a new perspective on life, one that is fanciful and denies anything ugly or unpleasant. Mariam is forced to choose between these two opposing forces and ultimately chooses the idyllic view, as most children likely would. Nana's encouragement of Mariam to learn how to endure foreshadows the life that Mariam will lead, one that will require her to endure a childless abusive marriage.
Nana's emphasis on Mariam learning to endure suffering not only suggests how bleak Mariam's future will be, but also the type of lessons that Mariam must have learned as a child in Nana's home. Ultimately, throughout the rest of the novel, Mariam's capacity for endurance is what allows her to survive horrible conditions and depressing personal losses. Additionally, as Mariam grows up, she becomes steady and solid enough to endure her surroundings but rarely proactive enough to change her situation - a pattern of behavior which most likely reflects her upbringing.