Khaled Hosseini recaptures the beauty of Afghanistan, and in particular the city of Kabul, in his novel A Thousand Splendid Suns. He follows the journey of two young women who are forced into oppressed lives, yet he highlights their strength and resilience throughout their ordeals: a reminder of the spirit of the women of Afghanistan, in spite of those who try to strip them of their dignity. Through Mariam and Laila’s stories, Hosseini illuminates important themes such as the rights of women, hope, the importance of sacrifice, and the importance of family.
A Thousand Splendid Suns Plot Diagram / A Thousand Splendid Suns Summary activity
Now you know what you've given me in this marriage. Bad food, and nothing else.
Mariam is a harami, a bastard from her mother Nana’s affair with wealthy businessman Jalil. On her 15th birthday, he refuses to take her to to one of his cinemas. She waits outside of his house all night, while he hides inside. Upon her return, she finds that Nana has hung herself. Jalil’s wives marry Mariam off to a shoemaker named Rasheed, and he takes her to 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.
Laila lives near Rasheed and Mariam. Laila’s brothers fight with the Mujahedin. Her father believes it important that Laila receives an education. After her brothers are killed and her friend Tariq’s family flee, her parents are killed in a bombing. Rasheed rescues Laila from the rubble. Laila is pregnant with Tariq’s child and agrees to marry Rasheed for safety.
Mariam and Laila’s relationship is strained. Mariam is jealous of Rasheed’s affections for Laila. She is also jealous of Laila’s daughter Aziza. They soon become friends and plot to flee together. They are caught and Rasheed beats them. After Laila gives birth to Rasheed’s son Zalmai, she discovers that Tariq is still alive. Mariam kills Rasheed 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.
After the fall of the Taliban, Laila feels pulled to return to Kabul, but stops in Herat first. She meets Mullah Faizullah’s son, 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. She is pregnant again. If it’s a girl, she will name the baby Mariam.