A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns Summary and Analysis of Chapters 26-30

Laila feels guilty about having sex with Tariq, but at the same time, she feels that the act was right. She tries to remember every tiny detail about having sex with Tariq. Hakim, meanwhile, announces that the family will leave Kabul for Pakistan. Fariba is only convinced to leave after Laila is almost hit by a bomb. The family packs lightly and sells the rest of their belongings. While packing, the family house is hit with a bomb. Laila is outside the house at the time and survives, but just barely.

Laila wakes up in Mariam and Rasheed's house. Mariam and Rasheed had taken care of Laila, nursed her wounds and given her pills. Rasheed found her amongst the rubble and brought her into the house. Laila's parents had been killed in the blast. Mariam tries to comfort Laila, but can't find the words.

A visitor comes to see Laila, named Abdul Sharif. Sharif brings news of Tariq from Pakistan. Tariq has been in a special unit of the hospital with Sharif and in an accident, lost his other leg and suffered serious injuries. Hearing this, Laila is devastated, but Sharif continues that Tariq spoke of his home and his family, but he mostly spoke of Laila. Tariq had asked Sharif to find Laila and tell her that he was thinking of her. Sharif tells Laila that Tariq died soon after in the hospital, and Laila wonders if Tariq's death is her punishment for not properly mourning Ahmad and Noor.

Rasheed begins speaking again at meals, addressing Laila and telling her lies to attempt to impress her. Ultimately, Mariam figures out that Rasheed is courting Laila for marriage. Mariam objects profusely, but Rasheed does not care about her opinions or feelings. Rasheed threatens to Mariam that he will cast Laila out of his house if he does not ask her to marry him.

Mariam asks Laila for her answer, and Laila says that she will marry Rasheed. Rasheed tries to give Laila a wedding ring and flowers, but Laila says she just wants to get the wedding done with as soon as possible. Rasheed takes this as a sign of her eagerness to marry.

Laila had once thought about leaving Afghanistan before she had heard the news about Tariq's death. Soon after, she realizes that she is pregnant and now cannot leave. Laila considers the unborn child to be a miracle - a memory of Tariq. Marrying Rasheed is Laila's method of providing for her child. If they are married soon enough, Rasheed will be deceived into thinking that the baby is his. Laila and Rasheed marry and consummate their marriage, but Laila has to prick her finger in order to feign the loss of her virginity.


Laila's guilt about having sex with Tariq can most likely be attributed to the severe and prudent sexual norms that surround her. Yet, her happiness about their intimacy shows through her guilt, as she is committed to remembering every detail about the event. Still, her determination to recall every second of the experience may signify that she is unsure if she will ever see Tariq again.

While the focus of this section is still Laila, a key relationship forms between Laila and Mariam. Though Laila had referred to seeing Mariam at Ahmad and Noor's funeral, the interaction with Laila in Mariam's house allows the reader to not only notice how much Mariam has changed and become hardened by Rasheed, but also the differences between the two women. While Mariam is obedient and has been forced into submission, Laila is cunning and secretive in her attempt to save herself and her child.

A stark contrast is drawn between the true love shared by Laila and Tariq, and the social construction of marriage that Laila enters into out of desperation for her unborn child. Rasheed ignores Mariam’s feelings in the whole matter, which further exemplifies that their marriage has no element of respect or partnership. Despite Mariam's objections to the marriage, her softer side is alluded to in this section, as she prefers Rasheed to marry Laila rather than him to cast her out to die.

Laila’s pregnant status provides her hope, even after hearing the devastating news of Tariq’s death. She looks to this child for strength, and she finds a new kind of love that she has never known before. The unborn baby symbolizes Laila's immense love for Tariq. As in the style of the novel, this hope offers another possibility for the reader to take relief from the tremendous suffering occurring within and around the characters.

Laila needs to prick her finger to leave blood on the sheets in order that Rasheed will think that she is a virgin - and that the child she is bearing will be his own. Yet, this act also symbolizes the false nature of her marriage to Rasheed and foreshadows the lies that she will continue to tell him. It is at this point in which Laila begins to suffer the sexual burden of sleeping with Rasheed, and Mariam is conversely given reprieve from her dreaded duty.