A Thousand Splendid Suns Summary
Lesson Plan Reference
Grade Level 9-10
Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)
Type of Assignment Individual or Group
Type of Activity: Plot Diagrams and Narrative ArcsCommon Core Standards
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/3] Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/5] Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise
A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a story. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and helps students develop greater understanding of literary structures.
Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a work with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the story in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
Example A Thousand Splendid Suns Plot Diagram
Mariam is a harami, a bastard, the product of her mother Nana’s affair with wealthy businessman Jalil. Mariam loves Jalil, but on her 15th birthday, he refuses to take her to Herat to one of his cinemas. She waits outside of his house all night, and discovers that he is hiding inside. Upon her return, she finds that Nana has hung herself. Jalil’s wives marry Mariam off to a shoemaker named Rasheed, and Rasheed takes Mariam away to live in Kabul.
At first, Mariam is nervous, but content in her marriage to Rasheed. He makes her wear a burqa, but he’s nice to her otherwise. Then, Mariam can’t carry a child. Rasheed begins to physically abuse Mariam and their marriage becomes a nightmare for Mariam.
A girl named Laila lives near Rasheed and Mariam. Laila’s brothers are off fighting with the Mujahideen, and her mother, Mammy, suffers from bouts of depression. Her father is a book-learning man, and places great importance on Laila getting her education. After Laila’s brothers are killed and her best friend Tariq’s family flee, her parents are killed in a bombing of their house. Rasheed rescues Laila from the rubble. Laila is pregnant at 14 with Tariq’s child and agrees to marry Rasheed for safety.
Mariam and Laila’s relationship is strained at first because Mariam is jealous of Rasheed’s affections for Laila. She is also jealous of Laila’s daughter Aziza. However, they soon become friends and plot to flee together. They are caught, brought home, and Rasheed savagely beats them. After Laila gives birth to Rasheed’s son Zalmai, she discovers that Tariq is still alive. Mariam kills Rasheed with a shovel as he strangles Laila.
Laila, Tariq, and Zalmai recover Aziza from the orphanage where Rasheed had sent her, and Mariam turns herself in for Rasheed’s murder. She does this so that Laila, Tariq, and the children can escape from Afghanistan. Mariam is executed in Ghazi Stadium in front of thousands of people.
Tariq works in a hotel in Muree. After the fall of the Taliban, Laila feels pulled to return to Kabul, but she wants to stop in Herat first. She meets Mullah Faizullah’s son Hamza, who takes her to the kolba where Mariam grew up. He gives her a box that Jalil tried to deliver to Mariam years before, with an apology note, a copy of Pinocchio, and Mariam’s inheritance money. Laila uses the money for the orphanage in Kabul, and she is pregnant again. If it’s a girl, she will name the baby Mariam.