quickening her marriage, defying rasheed, ranting against the taliban, now talking to tariq
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I don't see Mariam as passive. She lives the life she has been given, and although the majority may see her as submissive; I see her as resigned. Resignation, for the most part keeps her safe. Attempting to take control in her home or even in public would guarantee more physical abuse, so instead of acting in a way that would draw negative reactions, she chooses to ignore them.
Laila is the exact opposite. She falls in love with Tariq, and he moves away. Her brothers are killed, her mother will not move, and finally, her family is killed during a bombing. She marries a man she does not love because she's pregnant (the baby is Tariq's), but she wants nothing to do with her husband (Rasheed), and he attempts to beat Miriam rather than Laila in retaliation. Laila, pistol that she is, sticks up for Miriam and for the moment both women are safe.
In the end, Miriam is not passive or resigned. She takes a shovel to Rasheed when he attempts to smother Laila; she kills him and disappears.
A Thousand Splendid Suns