A Thousand Splendid Suns

Bianca Suchdeve

The novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini was split into 2 parts. The narrators changed and told different stories which tie together towards the end. Miriam, one of the protagonists is a young girl born in Afghanistan. Her mother, Nana, had an affair with a rich man while she was the maid at his house. Miriam is his only illegitimate daughter. Nana and Miriam live in a small house outside the city. For Miriam's 15th birthday, she wishes to go see a movie with her father, Jalil. Jalil agrees reluctantly but never shows up to take her. Miriam walks to Jalil's house and waits outside all night for him to come outside, yet he never does. When his chauffer takes her home, she sees her mother Nana hung from a tree. She committed suicide. Feeling more lonely than ever, Miriam is forced to move into Jalil's house with his wives and kids. After living with them for awhile, they decide that Miriam should be married. Without any consent from Miriam, she is married to a man from Kabul named Rasheed. It is soon realized by Miriam that Rasheed's sole purpose for marrying is to have children. After several attempts, it is established that Miriam cannot have children. This leads Miriam to a life of abuse from Rasheed.

In part 2 of the novel, we meet Laila. Laila is a young girl who is growing up down the street from Miriam and Rasheed. Her two older brothers are fighting in the war. She has a close friend named Tariq. One day, a man comes with the news that Laila's brothers have been killed in the war. Now, at the peak of the war, there is constantly bombings and fires in the city of Kabul. Laila and Tariq are now older and in love. In the midst of Laila's parents packing their bags to leave Afghanistan, a bomb hits Laila's house killing her parents. Laila was left injured.

The novel ties together when Miriam and Rasheed take Laila in. They care for her as if she is their own child. This is the fulfillment that Miriam was constantly searching for in life. Soon after Laila's recovery, a man comes to tell Laila that Tariq has died. At this point she realizes she is pregnant and it can only be Tariq's child. Rasheed still wants a child more than anything. After much convincing, she agrees to marry Rasheed. This upsets Miriam greatly.

A huge turning point in the novel is when Tariq shows up to their home. He is in fact alive. They spend the afternoon together and when Rasheed finds this out, he is not happy. He brutally beats Laila. Miriam steps in and kills Rasheed with a shovel. She turns herself in to the police.

Tariq and Laila flee to Pakistan where they are finally married. They have a daughter and son. After the attack on September 11th, Laila finds out that conditions in Kabul are improving. The family moves back to Kabul to help fix their home.

One of the main literary elements in this novel is setting. None of the conflicts that occurred in this book would have happened if it had not taken place in Afghanistan. The culture, encouraging men to have many wives and affairs is the reason Miriam lived the way she did. The culture also has to do with the power that Rasheed held over Miriam. The war and the bombings were the reason Laila's entire family died. The fact that the US invasion made living conditions better was the reason that Laila and Tariq can return home.