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A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

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A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini Staged in pre-Taliban Afghanistan, A Thousand Splendid Suns is the story of two women and the tales of their intertwined lives. It shows how few rights they had before the Taliban came in to power and how they were stripped from them under Taliban control. Hosseini shows many examples of how these women were abused and seen as 2nd class citizens. I decided to read this book for the required assignment due to many different reasons. One of reasons I selected this book are the current conflicts going on right now in that area of the world. Another reason was that I wanted to learn a little more about that culture. I also got a positive review about the book from my cousin who read the book in his free time and loaned me the book to read. The main reason I read the book was to see how women in Afghanistan are treated before and during the Taliban control. I knew from what I had previously learned in your class on how greatly discriminated Muslim women are treated. I also knew how strict the Muslim religion is, but I wanted to read about it, even if it was fictional. My cousin had told me about the two women in the novel before but never told me specifics on how the girls were treated. I just had to read for myself to find out. A Thousand Splendid Suns was written by Khaled Hosseini, an American writer and physician who originally came from Afghanistan. This is his second book, he first wrote The Kite Runner which was a U.S. best seller in 2005. Khaled wasn’t originally a writer, at Santa Clara University in California, he majored in biology and went on to University of California, San Diego to earn his M.D.
Hosseini was born in Kabul in 1965. His father worked for the Afghanistan Foreign Ministry. In 1970, His father moved Hosseini and his family to Tehran, Iran so he could work at the Embassy of Afghanistan. Six years later, Hosseini's father moved the family again to France after getting a job in Paris. Khaled and his family did not return to Afghanistan because the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan had violently seized govt. control. Hosseini’s family took this chance to move to the United States. In the 1980’s the family moved to Fremont, California where the Kite Runner partially takes place in.
A Thousand Splendid Suns starts by introducing the young Mariam who lives with her mother, Nana, in a small shack outside of Heart, Afghanistan. Mariam and her mother lived there because they had been out casted by her father, a wealthy cinema owner named Jalil. Nana had worked as a housemaid for him but after she became pregnant. Jalil has multiple legitimate wives and children, but Mariam and Nana were an illegitimate child and wife. Jalil seems like a nice man as he visits Mariam once a week, telling stories and bringing gifts. One week, Mariam asks Jalil to take her to the cinema to see the new movie Pinocchio. Jalil agrees to but never shows up. Trying to get to bottom of Jalil’s absence Mariam goes into Herat herself and sleeps outside Jalil's house. She waits for him, but he won’t see her. Jalil's chauffeur drives Mariam back home. When she arrives home, Mariam finds that her mother has hung herself
After Nana's funeral, Mariam moves in with Jalil. She begins to no longer feel affection for Jalil as a father. Later, Jalil's wife tells Mariam that she is to be married Rasheed, a shoe shop owner in Kabul. They marry and go to live in Kabul. Just like Jalil, Rasheed is compassionate and brings her gifts. But over time, Rasheed becomes verbally and physically abusive. He grows impatient with Mariam’s inability to give him a child. Jalil tries to visit Mariam in Kabul, but she avoids him.
The book then moves to Laila. She is another girl who is born sometime after the marriage of Mariam and Rasheed and lives in the same neighborhood. Laila has a close relationship with a boy named Tariq. He lost one of his legs from a land mine explosion. Naturally as Tariq and Laila grow up, she falls in love with him.
Laila's two older brothers, Ahmad and Noor, leave to fight in the jihad. After they are killed, Laila's mother Fariba is never the same. Conflict later drapes over Kabul and living conditions drastically fall. Although her father Hakim is set on Laila attending school, she is forced to quit because the streets are too dangerous. Laila’s father wants to leave Afghanistan, but her mother will not leave the land for which her sons have died. Tariq's family, however, moves to Pakistan, the move leaves Laila devastated. Tariq and Laila have sex and he asked her to come with him and marry him, but Laila won’t leave her father.
As the violence in the city continues, Laila is nearly hit by a bullet. The family decides to move, but while they pack, a bomb hits Laila's home. She is the only survivor of the explosion. Laila awakens in Rasheed's and Mariam's house, where she was taken care of her as she healed. After a few days, a man comes and brings the terrible news to Laila that Tariq had died in the hospital.
Mariam notices that Rasheed's daily behavior changes; she thinks that Rasheed is trying to court Laila. Mariam confronts Laila and ask her if she would accept Rasheed’s hand in marriage, and Laila quickly answers yes as she is pregnant and wants Rasheed to think that the baby is his. Laila and Rasheed get married, Mariam becomes jealous of Laila and tensions begin to rise.
Rasheed grows ecstatic once Laila announces that she is pregnant. Since males are held high in the Muslim community, Rasheed prays for a boy. Laila has a baby girl, Aziza, and Rasheed feels despises the child and soon neglects the baby and questions whether he is the babies father.
Overlooking the doctor’s orders, Rasheed orders Laila to have sex with him. Rasheed begins to blame Mariam and tries to beat Mariam. Laila defends Mariam from Rasheed’s strikes, this action causes all tension between Mariam and Laila to disappear and they start a friendship.
At this point of the book, the Taliban comes into power. The Taliban quickly place strict laws which discriminate the women of Afghanistan. For example, women may no longer travel without male escort, and in general just about all their freedoms are stripped away.
Although the new laws restrict women to travel alone, Laila plans to run away, she had been stealing money from Rasheed to fund her escape. She invites Mariam to run away with them. They find a male who is willing to act as their relative to be able to buy tickets to Pakistan. He turns them in to the authorities and they are taken to a police station, and are later returned home. Infuriated, Rasheed locks the women in separate rooms with no access to food or water for a day and threatens to kill them if they try to escape again.
Laila becomes pregnant again and gives birth to a boy, Zalmai. Rasheed adores and spoils Zalmai, and Zalmai worships Rasheed. Rasheed's shop burns down, and the family goes further into debt. Rasheed searches for work elsewhere but has trouble. The family comes close to starvation. Mariam tries to reach Jalil for help, but she finds that he is dead.
Aziza is put into an orphanage so that she can be fed. Rasheed escorts Mariam, Laila, and Zalmai to visit Aziza, but their visits become less and less frequent. Eventually Rasheed refuses to go at all, so Laila risks the walk alone, often suffering beatings by the Taliban. Rasheed finds a job at a hotel and can sustain the family again.
One day after visiting Aziza at the orphanage, Laila sees Tariq standing at the front door of Rasheed's house. Laila is ecstatic. She weeps and hugs Tariq. Tariq and Laila visit together over the next few days, and Tariq describes his past. He went through a refugee camp, both of his parents died, and he spent time in prison. He became a hotel janitor. Laila tells Tariq about Aziza and her marriage to Rasheed, and Tariq does not blame her for marrying.
Zalmai is unhappy about the visits. He tells Rasheed that Laila has allowed Tariq to see her face, and Rasheed becomes enraged. Rasheed beats Laila and tries to suffocate her. He comes to succeeding, but Mariam hits him twice with a shovel, killing him.
After Rasheed's death, Laila is determined to leave Kabul. She asks Mariam to come with her and Tariq to Pakistan, but Mariam refuses. If Mariam were to leave, the Taliban would search for both of them to find the murderer, but Mariam cannot let the children live in such danger. She also could not look at Zalmai every day knowing she had killed his father. Laila and Zalmai pick up Aziza and leave town. They never see Mariam again.
Mariam eventually is caught and put into a prison run by the Taliban. She tries to explain that she was defending herself when she killed Rasheed, but the judge sentences Mariam to death. She is publicly executed.
Laila and Tariq marry and start a new life in Pakistan. They work for the same hotel at which Tariq worked before, and they live in a shack behind the hotel. Laila reveals to Aziza that Tariq is her father, and they bond instantly. Zalmai is at first adverse to Tariq, but he warms up.
After the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001 and the onset of President George Bush's “War on Terror,” which has toppled the Taliban, Laila hears that conditions in Kabul are improving. She wishes to return and contribute. Tariq agrees.
Laila stops in Herat first and visits Mullah Faizullah's son and the kolba. Mullah Faizullah's son gives Laila a box that Jalil left for Mariam. The box contains a letter apologizing and providing an update for Mariam. The box also contains cash in American dollars and a copy of Pinocchio on video.
Laila, Tariq, Aziza, and Zalmai move into a townhouse in Kabul. Laila teaches at the orphanage. Tariq works for an NGO (non-governmental organization) that fits land mine victims with prosthetic limbs. Laila always feels Mariam close to her heart. As the novel ends, Laila is pregnant with her third child—if it is a girl, she will be named Mariam.…...

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