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.
One of the struggles students have with reading literature, especially in high school, is close reading. Students often read for details of plot, or to answer simplified study guide questions, but few students take the time to focus on reading for depth, especially with themes or important questions. The Envelope Assignment is a great close reading strategy for helping students stay focused on one or more themes throughout their reading. When paired with Storyboard That, it makes sharing their information more interesting and fun, even though they’re still doing a lot of work!
A Thousand Splendid Suns lesson plans | Close Reading activities
Example #1: pg. 27
Example #2: pg. 49
Example #3: pg. 70
Nana tells Mariam that she doesn’t matter to Jalil. She will never be wanted in his house because she is a harami, an embarrassment to his honor and pride.
Example #4: pg. 94
Jalil allows Mariam to be married off to Rasheed at the request of his three wives. His honor will be preserved as long as the reminder of his affair is sent far away.
Example #5: pg. 214
Rasheed gives Mariam a burqa after telling her that he thought women who walked around uncovered were shameful. He thought the men who allowed it spoiled their own honor and pride. A woman’s face is her husband’s business only.
Example #6: pg. 219
Mariam cannot carry a baby, and that is the ultimate dishonor a woman can do to her husband.
Rasheed insists that he marry Laila, to legitimize the fact that she is an unmarried girl staying with him. It looks dishonorable. Mariam tries to argue, because she sees allowing the girl into their marriage as a sign of disrespect to her.
Laila agrees to marry Rasheed because it was dishonorable and dangerous to be an unmarried pregnant woman. She will pretend the baby is Rasheed’s to protect his honor and pride.