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An- In Depth Summary of  ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’

The book “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini is set in Afghanistan in the period Soviet Union war between the years 1960s to 1990s. The story is however a dual narrative of the talks of two girls Mariam and Laila. It’s a story of uneducated women who have to endure hardships in their marriages and in their lives in general the women passes through domestic violence in a war torn country. Laila enjoys a relatively stable home life works hard at school and spend most of her afternoon daydreaming about her long life friend called Tariq. Mariam however an illegitimate daughter of Jalil a wealthy businessman, faces several hardship and rejection since she was born. Her mother nana describes her as a Harami which means unwanted thing.

Mariam is a nine years old girl who lives with her bitter mother called Nana. She is an illegitimate daughter of Jalil who is a wealthy businessman who owns a cinema and several lands in various places, Jalil has got three wives and nine legitimate children who lives with him in his big house, nana who is Mariam’s mother was once a housekeeper at Jalil house where she got pregnant by Jalil and was thrown out by Jalil’s in law together with his wives’ Nana is afterwards disowned by her own father who lives in a village of Gol Dana. Jilil pays the family a once in a week visit,  a visit that makes Mariam a little disturbed but happy and a feeling of being loved the feeling that her mother nana doesn’t since she calls a Harami which means unwanted thing, however Mar doesn’t feel like that around her father because the father doesn’t call her that. Mariam faces difficulties and rejection, her mother get so furious after she broke the last of nanas inheritance from her late mother and repeatedly calls her a Harami.

Nana tells Mariam stories including the story of her birth how she struggled alone while giving birth to her. She says that Mariam made her experience a lot of pain where Mariam says sorry for her own birth. Nana is bitter with life she wishes that her father would have been courageous enough to stab her to death and her life would come to an end, which would make it easier for them with Mariam. Nana told Mariam of how her own father never loved her, how he was never proud of her, of how he never cared when nana was giving birth to her the stories never matched the ones that her father Jalil told her. Nana told Mariam of how she was almost married to her suitor, when she was fifteen years old when she got a suitor, a young parakeet seller, when it was only a week to their wedding a jinn entered Nana’s body living her shaking, rolling her eyes and stretching her body and she became rigid, when the family of the suitor heard of it the cancelled the wedding that was planned and afterwards no more suitors came looking for her.

Jalils eldest son always brought food to nanas place where nana insulted them spitefully Marami always felt pity for them she couldn’t show any piece of mercy to them in order to please Nana at times she joined hands with her mother in insulting them which left her feeling guilty because of it, whenever they went she could not wave back when they waved her a goodbye. Whenever Jalil visited nana was so polite and humbled her hair always washed, it was almost Mariam’s fifteenth birthday and Jalil came as usual on a Thursday  and asked her the gift that she wanted as a birthday gift in return Mariam says that she wanted to be taken to cinema but her mother declines that, her father declines too.

On his usual Thursday visit Mariam escorted her father up to the stream where she pleaded her to take her to the cinema together with her brothers and sisters Jalil declines and promises to do it the following day. On the following day Mariam prepares and dressed up waiting for her father to come pick her up she felt bad after realizing the father didn’t show up but she gives herself hope that maybe her father got caught up in a business meeting, Mariam’s mother told her not to go fearing that she would never come back again she  feared of how they would treat her, she tells her if she is gone Mariam is gone too, she said if Mariam goes she would die  however  that doesn’t prevent Mariam from going to look for her father ,she crossed the stream and left she asked a man around where Jalil’s home was the man took her until they saw his car emerging she asked to enter the house but the driver forbade her claiming that Jalil was on a business trip and it wasn’t predictable of the  time he was coming back but Mariam insisted on waiting up for him outside, she slept in the street waiting for her father who didn’t come, in the morning Mariam is forced by the driver to go back to her home the driver claimed that Jalil had said so.

On return to her house the worst had happened since her mother had committed suicide, she cried bitterly and blamed herself for living her remembering what she had told her that if she goes Nana would die. She cries bitterly but there nothing to be done. Nana was buried and Jalil is forced to take Mariam to his house with him. His wives sympathize with her in her hard situation. Mariam lies in her room without talking and for some time, she doesn’t eat. After her mother’s death Mariam discovers the empty love from her father when she is forced to marry  a man much old than her ,when she was only fifteen years old of age, Mariam tries to decline  it when Jalil wives told her in front of her father, where he remained silent  with no utterance of a word, but he is left with no choice since it was not about her choice but the interest of the suitor, a marriage is done  and Mariam is married  to a shoe maker called Rasheed, who is a kind but rather dissatisfied, Mariam’s life ceased to be bitter again until she had a miscarriage, afterwards more miscarriages follows which makes Rasheed abusive and furious however Rasheed had had a bitter past  just like Mariam but that did not justify him for his actions.

Mariam lives in fear of her husband for four years in marriage she is being buttered by his husband due to petty issues that he finds excuse of beating her up. He complains about Mariam’s cooking and he sees her as a burden and uneducated when Mariam asks her what a communist is he respond rather harshly she calls her uneducated, after her first miscarriage Mariam pleads Rasheed to perform a descent burial for their dead son but instead Rasheed tells her to do it herself where Mariam does it and does a prayer to Allah, in total she had seven miscarriages, however her first miscarriage Mariam blames Rasheed but at the same time she blames herself for eating unhealthy and bad positions while sleeping.

The second character in the novel the writer talks of a girl who lives across Kabul she is called Laila, who had a childhood male friend called Tariq who had lost a leg when he was still young, when the war worsened Tariq and his family went away to Pakistan leaving Laila behind, on their last meeting they decided to contemplate their friendship. Laila’s family decides to live too when the war worsened  but Laila’s parent were killed by a stray rocket Laila found herself in the hands of Rasheed and Mariam who took care of her ,afterwards a man breaks news to Laila that Tariq was dead .Rasheed took the advantage of the situation and asked her to marry him, Laila agreed to do it after knowing she was carrying Tariq baby and tricked him that the pregnancy was his. However the two wives didn’t get along but afterwards Laila’s gets along with Mariam and tells her of her plan of wanting to escape after she had saved enough money, Mariam agrees to go with Laila together with her daughter Aziza.

Laila eventually gave birth to a baby boy whom Rasheed adored so much, Laila and Mariam completed their plan and escaped but got arrested at the border, and they are forced to go back with Rasheed where he beats them ruthlessly for that.  Rasheed shoemaking shop burnt into ashes and the family became broke, Rasheed forces Laila to take her daughter Aziza to a nearby orphanage where she paid her a visit, one day on her return home she found a guest it was Tariq, she came to know that Rasheed had paid the man who told her the lie so that she could agree to marry him, Tariq came to know about Aziza where he promised to visit her the following day. llater on Rasheed discovers about  Tariq and he beats Laila for it but Mariam kills him trying to protect Laila. Mariam is arrested where she is executed by the Taliban, afterwards Laila and children went to Tariq’s home where they lived happily.  Afterwards Laila decides to go back to Kabul whereby she passed through Mariam’s childhood home in Herrat where she was given a box that had a letter and Mariam’s inheritance from her father, she uses the money to renovate the orphanage in Kabul, and she eventually becomes expectant of another child.

The writer in the novel shows the theme of oppression where women in the society pass through domestic violence because of being uneducated. Women like Nana, Mariam, Laila are forced into things they never wanted Mariam is forced into marriage, nana is thrown away by his boss because of being pregnant which led to her being disowned by her own father, the women decision is not considered .The rich oppresses the poor where Jalil is forced to throw Nana because she was a mere housekeeper and he never wanted the shame of an illegitimate child.

Work Cited

Hosseini, Khaled. A Thousand Splendid Suns. 1st ed. Auckland, N.Z.: Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind, 2010. Print.

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