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Difference between revisions of "A Thousand Splendid Suns"

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Mariam
+
== Characters ==
Mariam grows up in a small shack outside of the city of Herat. She was brought up to know her place in society as a 'harami,' or bastard child. She is a strong girl who questions authority and dreams of bigger things for herself - far beyond what she finds within the walls of her small shack. Though she is raised by Nana, her mother, she is very fond of her estranged father, Jalil. After falling into deep despair following her mother's death, Mariam is abandoned by Jalil, who marries her off to Rasheed, despite her attempts to remain single. Her childless marriage to Rasheed eventually forces her into a life of submission and misery until close to the end of her life, when Laila provides her with some hope. At the end of the novel, Mariam rises up in revenge and strikes Rasheed dead. She ultimately is tried and executed by the Taliban for her actions.
+
Jalil
+
Jalil is Mariam's father, a rich movie theater owner who lives in Herat. To Mariam, Jalil is an amazing father - and a paragon of virtue - but to Mariam's mother he has neglected his obligations to his family. Jalil has two legitimate wives and ten other children in addition to Mariam. When Nana dies, Mariam is sent to Jalil's house, but his other wives refuse to keep her in the house. Jalil then decides to cast Mariam off, giving her up to marry Rasheed. Later on, Jalil regrets his harsh treatment of Mariam, and attempts to contact her to apologize.
+
Nana
+
Nana is Mariam's mother and Jalil's wife. Nana lived as Jalil's housemaid until she became pregnant with Jalil's baby, Mariam. Jalil cast Nana out of his household and built her the shack in which she and Mariam live. Though throughout the novel there are references to Nana's life as an individual prior to her connection to Jalil, Nana's life revolves around her role as Mariam's mother. Nana clings to Mariam as her only strong familial connection, and when Mariam begins to attempt to deepen her relationship with Jalil, Nana kills herself.
+
Muhsin and Ramin
+
Muhsin and Ramin are two of Jalil's sons from his legitimate wives. They live with Jalil in Herat, and they bring rations to Nana and Mariam. Mariam and Nana throw rocks at the boys when they come to the kolba, but Mariam does want to learn more about them.
+
Bibi Jo
+
Nana's friend, Bibi Jo, visits their small shack to ritually bring her complaints and gossip. Bibi Jo's husband was a friend of Nana's father. Bibi Jo often reveals information about Jalil that Nana would not be able to obtain from other sources.
+
Mullah Faizullah
+
Mullah Faizullah is Mariam's tutor, who teaches her more than just lines from the Koran and how to read. Over time, Mullah Faizullah becomes a source of strength and comfort for Mariam. Often Mariam confides in Mullah Faizullah, as he respects her not only as a student, but he also recognizes her potential for greatness. After Nana's death, Mariam begs to be allowed to live with Mullah Faizullah, but Jalil refuses.
+
Afsoon
+
Afsoon is one of Jalil's wives and the mother of Nilofaur. Soon after Mariam's arrival to Jalil's home, Afsoon and the other wives decide that Mariam can not stay, as she is illegitimate. The night after Mariam was told of her forced marriage to Rasheed, Afsoon locked Mariam's door so that she could not run away.
+
Nilofaur
+
Nilofaur is Jalil's and Afsoon's eight year-old daughter. She meets Mariam when Mariam is staying at Jalil's house following Nana's death. Young Nilofaur is very free with her words, and she confesses to Mariam that her mother said that Mariam was not really her sister. Yet, with her caring nature, Nilofaur assures Mariam that she does not mind if Mariam is her sister.
+
Rasheed
+
Rasheed is Jalil's friend and Mariam's husband. He is a huge man who owns a shoe repair shop, and he is significantly older than Mariam. Rasheed has a troubled past, as his first wife and son have both died. Rasheed is very stern, has a hot temper, and has high hopes for having children, specifically boys. He has very particular hypocrisies for his observance for Islam. For instance, he requires the women in his household to wear burqas when appearing in public, but he does not fast on Ramadan. Rasheed ultimately becomes abusive to his wives and daughter, to the point of near murder.
+
Fariba
+
Fariba is a woman who lives in Kabul and tries to befriend Mariam. Her husband is Hakim, and she has three children, Ahmad, Noor, and Laila. After Ahmad and Noor leave to fight in the jihad, Fariba stays in her bed grieving. She wishes to stay in Afghanistan in order to see the freedom of the land that her sons died for, but she is forced to move when Laila is almost killed on the streets of Kabul. However, before they can move to Pakistan, she is killed when a bomb hits her home.
+
Hakim
+
Hakim is Fariba's husband and Laila's father, an intellectual who loves books and study. While valuing a woman's education is not the cultural norm in Kabul, Hakim fosters Laila's potential. He challenges her to think in new ways and work hard. Hakim loves discovery and history. Like his wife, he has a strong love for Afghanistan, but he also senses the urgency in moving for Laila's sake. However, he is loyal to his wife, and respects her wishes, almost to the point of submission. He ultimately dies in the bomb blast along with his wife.
+
Laila
+
Laila is the daughter of Hakim and Fariba, raised to appreciate education and to live up to her full potential. Her father tells her she will change Afghanistan, and her friends tell her she will be on the front page of the newspaper. Laila is in love with Tariq, but she eventually becomes Rasheed's second wife.
+
Hasina
+
Hasina is one of Laila's close friends. She, Giti, and Laila all go to school together and play in the streets of Kabul. Hasina gets married and moves away from Afghanistan.
+
Giti
+
Giti, like Hasina, is one of Laila's friends. During wartime, she got struck with a bomb on the streets of Kabul. She was killed in a most gruesome way, and the death devastated not only her family, but Laila, and the community as well.
+
Ahmad and Noor
+
Ahmad and Noor are Laila's brothers, who fight in the jihad against the Soviets. They are loyal to their cause, and ultimately die for it. Laila was too young when they left for the jihad to really recall their personalities. Fariba mourns their death through remaining bed-ridden.
+
Tariq
+
Tariq is Laila's next door neighbor, a few years older than Laila. Tariq lost a leg during a war, and many of the people in the neighborhood refer to him as the cripple. Yet, Tariq has a strong heart, and he stands up for Laila when she gets picked on. Tariq and Laila fall in love and conceive a child, but then Tariq's family moves to Pakistan to avoid further violence in Kabul. Though Laila is told Tariq has died, he returns to Kabul years after Laila has married Rasheed, and after Rasheed's death, the two of them and their children move to Pakistan. Tariq and Laila are eventually married.
+
Khadim
+
Khadim is a child who lives near Laila and harasses her. The most heinous of his actions involved him squirting her with a squirt gun filled with urine. When Tariq is around to defend Laila, he beats Khadim up. Ultimately, Khadim leaves Laila alone.
+
Aziza
+
Aziza is Laila's and Tariq's daughter, born and raised in Rasheed's household. Though Rasheed has much disdain for Aziza, she remains a happy child with a great affinity for Mariam. During hard economic times, Rasheed decides to put Aziza into an orphanage in order to save money. In the orphanage, Aziza begins to develop a slight stammer, which subsides once she moves with Laila and Tariq to Pakistan.
+
Zalmai
+
Zalmai is Laila's and Rasheed's son, whom Rasheed spoils. Zalmai truly worships his father and believes he can do no wrong. Zalmai ultimately tells Rasheed about Laila's interaction with Tariq, causing Rasheed to beat Laila to near death. Following Rasheed's death, Zalmai is depressed and confused, and he refused to accept Tariq. Yet, after living in Pakistan and returning to Afghanistan, Zalmai begins to accept Tariq as a father figure.
+
Zaman
+
Zaman is the kind director of the orphanage where Aziza stays during hard times in Kabul. He is an educated man who believes in the education of the children who live in the orphanage. When Laila and Tariq move back to Kabul, they work closely with Zaman to improve the quality of the orphanage.
+
Salim
+
Salim is an elderly man whom Tariq meets while in a Pakistani prison. Salim connects Tariq with Sayeed, who owns a hotel. Sayeed ultimately hires Tariq and allows him to start his life over after his prison sentence.
+
Sayeed
+
Sayeed is Salim's brother, who owns a hotel and employs Tariq, ultimately allowing Tariq to get back on his feet following his prison sentence, and to adjust back into serving as a part of the real world. Sayeed treats Tariq well, pays him, houses him, and even fits him with a new leg. Eventually Laila and Tariq move to Sayeed's hotel to work there together, with the children in tow.
+
Hamza
+
Hamza is Mullah Faizullah's son, with whom Laila connects near the end of the novel. Hamza welcomes Laila, as she visits Herat, and he gives her a box that Jalil left for Mariam through Mullah Faizullah. Hamza also shows Laila around Herat, and brings her to the kolba.
+
  
Nilofaur
+
'''Mariam''', an ethnic Tajik, born in 1959, is a 15-year-old girl when the book begins. The story centers around her and the events of her life as they intertwine with Laila's.
Nilofaur is Jalil's and Afsoon's eight year-old daughter. She meets Mariam when Mariam is staying at Jalil's house following Nana's death. Young Nilofaur is very free with her words, and she confesses to Mariam that her mother said that Mariam was not really her sister. Yet, with her caring nature, Nilofaur assures Mariam that she does not mind if Mariam is her sister.
+
 
Rasheed
+
'''Nana''' is Mariam's mother, who used to be a servant in Jalil's house and had an affair with him. He built her a kolba (small hut) to live in and raise Mariam.  
Rasheed is Jalil's friend and Mariam's husband. He is a huge man who owns a shoe repair shop, and he is significantly older than Mariam. Rasheed has a troubled past, as his first wife and son have both died. Rasheed is very stern, has a hot temper, and has high hopes for having children, specifically boys. He has very particular hypocrisies for his observance for Islam. For instance, he requires the women in his household to wear burqas when appearing in public, but he does not fast on Ramadan. Rasheed ultimately becomes abusive to his wives and daughter, to the point of near murder.
+
 
Fariba
+
'''Mullah Faizullah''' is Mariam's elderly Koran teacher and friend.
Fariba is a woman who lives in Kabul and tries to befriend Mariam. Her husband is Hakim, and she has three children, Ahmad, Noor, and Laila. After Ahmad and Noor leave to fight in the jihad, Fariba stays in her bed grieving. She wishes to stay in Afghanistan in order to see the freedom of the land that her sons died for, but she is forced to move when Laila is almost killed on the streets of Kabul. However, before they can move to Pakistan, she is killed when a bomb hits her home.
+
 
Hakim
+
'''Jalil''' is Mariam's father, a wealthy man who had three wives before he had an affair with Nana. Marries Mariam to Rasheed, but later regrets sending her away.  
Hakim is Fariba's husband and Laila's father, an intellectual who loves books and study. While valuing a woman's education is not the cultural norm in Kabul, Hakim fosters Laila's potential. He challenges her to think in new ways and work hard. Hakim loves discovery and history. Like his wife, he has a strong love for Afghanistan, but he also senses the urgency in moving for Laila's sake. However, he is loyal to his wife, and respects her wishes, almost to the point of submission. He ultimately dies in the bomb blast along with his wife.
+
 
Laila
+
'''Laila''', an ethnic Tajik, born in 1978, is a young, beautiful, educated girl coming from a lower class family when first introduced. Her life becomes tied to Mariam's when she is forced into marrying Rasheed, Mariam's husband.  
Laila is the daughter of Hakim and Fariba, raised to appreciate education and to live up to her full potential. Her father tells her she will change Afghanistan, and her friends tell her she will be on the front page of the newspaper. Laila is in love with Tariq, but she eventually becomes Rasheed's second wife.
+
 
Hasina
+
'''Hakim''' is Laila's father. He is a well-educated and progressive school teacher. He is killed in a rocket explosion along with his wife, Fariba.
Hasina is one of Laila's close friends. She, Giti, and Laila all go to school together and play in the streets of Kabul. Hasina gets married and moves away from Afghanistan.
+
 
Giti
+
'''Fariba''' is Laila's mother. In part one, during her brief meeting with Mariam , she appears cheerful, but her happy nature is brutally disrupted by her two sons, Ahmed and Noor, who leave home to go to war and are later killed. She spends nearly all her time in bed mourning her sons until the Mujahideen win. She is Killed in a rocket explosion along with Hakim.
Giti, like Hasina, is one of Laila's friends. During wartime, she got struck with a bomb on the streets of Kabul. She was killed in a most gruesome way, and the death devastated not only her family, but Laila, and the community as well.
+
 
Ahmad and Noor
+
'''Rasheed''' an ethnic Pashtun, is the villain of the story. Rasheed, a shoemaker, marries Mariam through an arrangement with her father and later marries Laila by deceiving her.  
Ahmad and Noor are Laila's brothers, who fight in the jihad against the Soviets. They are loyal to their cause, and ultimately die for it. Laila was too young when they left for the jihad to really recall their personalities. Fariba mourns their death through remaining bed-ridden.
+
 
Tariq
+
'''Tariq''' is a boy who grew up in Kabul with Laila. They were best friends and eventually lovers.  
Tariq is Laila's next door neighbor, a few years older than Laila. Tariq lost a leg during a war, and many of the people in the neighborhood refer to him as the cripple. Yet, Tariq has a strong heart, and he stands up for Laila when she gets picked on. Tariq and Laila fall in love and conceive a child, but then Tariq's family moves to Pakistan to avoid further violence in Kabul. Though Laila is told Tariq has died, he returns to Kabul years after Laila has married Rasheed, and after Rasheed's death, the two of them and their children move to Pakistan. Tariq and Laila are eventually married.
+
 
Khadim
+
 
Khadim is a child who lives near Laila and harasses her. The most heinous of his actions involved him squirting her with a squirt gun filled with urine. When Tariq is around to defend Laila, he beats Khadim up. Ultimately, Khadim leaves Laila alone.
+
'''Aziza''' is the daughter of Laila and Tariq, conceived when Laila was 14 and causing her to marry Rasheed in very early pregnancy after Tariq and his family decide to leave Kabul.  
Aziza
+
 
Aziza is Laila's and Tariq's daughter, born and raised in Rasheed's household. Though Rasheed has much disdain for Aziza, she remains a happy child with a great affinity for Mariam. During hard economic times, Rasheed decides to put Aziza into an orphanage in order to save money. In the orphanage, Aziza begins to develop a slight stammer, which subsides once she moves with Laila and Tariq to Pakistan.
+
'''Zalmai''' is Laila and Rasheed's son.
Zalmai
+
 
Zalmai is Laila's and Rasheed's son, whom Rasheed spoils. Zalmai truly worships his father and believes he can do no wrong. Zalmai ultimately tells Rasheed about Laila's interaction with Tariq, causing Rasheed to beat Laila to near death. Following Rasheed's death, Zalmai is depressed and confused, and he refused to accept Tariq. Yet, after living in Pakistan and returning to Afghanistan, Zalmai begins to accept Tariq as a father figure.
+
== Book Summary ==
Zaman
+
 
Zaman is the kind director of the orphanage where Aziza stays during hard times in Kabul. He is an educated man who believes in the education of the children who live in the orphanage. When Laila and Tariq move back to Kabul, they work closely with Zaman to improve the quality of the orphanage.
+
The novel opens with the introduction of Mariam, an Afghan girl growing up in a small village on the outskirts of Herat. She lives with her mother, Nana, an embittered woman who is frequently resentful towards her daughter whom she bore out of wedlock. Mariam busies herself with lessons in reading and writing from Mullah Faizullah, an elderly kind-hearted cleric, and weekly visits from her wealthy father, Jalil. Mariam has heard of her father's other wives and children, who live with him at his lavish home in Herat, but has never visited them due to the stigma of her being an illegitimate child.
Salim
+
 
Salim is an elderly man whom Tariq meets while in a Pakistani prison. Salim connects Tariq with Sayeed, who owns a hotel. Sayeed ultimately hires Tariq and allows him to start his life over after his prison sentence.
+
On her fifteenth birthday in 1974, Mariam wants her father to take her to see Pinocchio at the movie theatre that he owns. When Jalil fails to show up, Mariam decides to travel to Herat for the first time in her life and go to her father's house in person. Jalil refuses to see her, and she ends up sleeping outdoors on the porch.
Sayeed
+
 
Sayeed is Salim's brother, who owns a hotel and employs Tariq, ultimately allowing Tariq to get back on his feet following his prison sentence, and to adjust back into serving as a part of the real world. Sayeed treats Tariq well, pays him, houses him, and even fits him with a new leg. Eventually Laila and Tariq move to Sayeed's hotel to work there together, with the children in tow.
+
In the morning, Mariam returns home to find that her mother has hanged herself out of fear that her daughter has deserted her.
Hamza
+
 
Hamza is Mullah Faizullah's son, with whom Laila connects near the end of the novel. Hamza welcomes Laila, as she visits Herat, and he gives her a box that Jalil left for Mariam through Mullah Faizullah. Hamza also shows Laila around Herat, and brings her to the kolba
+
Mariam is taken to live in her father's house, where she feels isolated and spends most of her time alone in her room. Jalil and his wives quickly arrange for her to be married to an older widower named Rasheed, who is a middle-class shoemaker in Kabul.
 +
 
 +
In Kabul, Mariam begins adjusting to her new life as the wife of a man she barely knows. Mariam soon becomes pregnant, and Rasheed, having lost his own son in a drowning accident years earlier, hopes for a boy. When Mariam suffers a miscarriage, her marriage takes a turn for the worse; Rasheed is no longer cordial to her, but verbally and physically abuses her.
 +
 
 +
Down the street lives Laila, the beautiful, bright young daughter of ethnic Tajik parents - a progressive-minded high school teacher and a mother who mourns the loss of her two sons, who were mujahideen fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Laila has a subtle romance with Tariq, a boy from the neighborhood who lost a leg as a small child to a land mine explosion.
 +
 
 +
War comes to Afghanistan, and Kabul is bombarded by rocket attacks. Tariq's family decides to leave the city. The emotional farewell between Laila and Tariq culminates in a clandestine tryst on the living room sofa.
 +
 
 +
Laila's family also decides to leave Kabul, but as they are packing, a rocket destroys the house and kills her parents. Laila is taken in by Rasheed and Mariam.
 +
 
 +
After recovering from her injuries, including a slight deafness in one ear, Laila discovers she is pregnant with Tariq's child. To avoid the stigma of being an unwed mother, Laila arranges to marry Rasheed, who is only too eager to have a young and attractive second wife, and immediately consummates the marriage in hopes that she can pass the child off as his. A man stops by the house to tell Laila that he met Tariq at a hospital, and that Tariq was now dead.
 +
 
 +
Laila gives birth to Aziza, a daughter. Rasheed is unhappy and suspicious, and he becomes more abusive.
 +
 
 +
After an initially rancorous relationship, Mariam and Laila eventually become confidantes. They plan to run away from Rasheed and leave Kabul for Peshawar, Pakistan, but they are betrayed at the bus station by a man they thought they could trust, arrested and returned to Rasheed. Rasheed beats the two women and deprives them of water for several days, almost killing Aziza.
 +
 
 +
A few years later, Laila gives birth to Zalmai, Rasheed's son. By this time, the Taliban has risen to power in Afghanistan. They have banned television, movies and books other than the Koran, and women are not allowed to work. A drought comes, which eventually leads to widespread hunger and food shortages. When Rasheed's shop burns down, the family is thrust into destitution. There is little food and Rasheed finds himself reduced to working as a porter at a hotel. As their financial situation worsens, Aziza is sent to an orphanage a few kilometers away.
 +
 
 +
Then one day, Tariq appears outside the house, revealing the fact that the man who stopped by the house to tell the news about Tariq's death was a plan made by Rasheed. He and Laila are reunited, and their passions flare anew. When Rasheed returns home from work, young Zalmai tells his father about the visitor. Rasheed starts to savagely beat Laila with his belt, but Mariam comes to Laila's defense by killing Rasheed with a shovel.
 +
 
 +
Laila and Tariq leave for Pakistan with the children. Mariam confesses to killing her husband and is executed.
 +
 
 +
After the fall of the Taliban in 2003, Laila and Tariq decide to return to Afghanistan. They stop in the village near Herat where Mariam was raised, and discover a package that Mariam's father had left behind for her: a videotape of Pinocchio and check for her share of the family inheritance. They return to Kabul and fix up the orphanage.
 +
 
 +
==External Links==
 +
[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Thousand_Splendid_Suns Wikipedia's entry]
 +
 
 +
[http://www.enotes.com/thousand-splendid-suns A Thousand Splendid Suns Summary and Study Guide]
 +
 
 +
[[Category:Summaries]]
 +
[[Category:Non-fiction]]
 +
[[Category:Bestsellers]]

Revision as of 09:15, 20 October 2010

A Thousand Splendid Suns
Error creating thumbnail: File missing
Author Khaled Hosseini
Country USA
Language English
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher Riverhead Books(and Simon & Schuster audio CD)
Released May 22, 2007
Pages 384 pp (first edition, hardcover)
ISBN ISBN 978-1-59448-950-1

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Characters

Mariam, an ethnic Tajik, born in 1959, is a 15-year-old girl when the book begins. The story centers around her and the events of her life as they intertwine with Laila's.

Nana is Mariam's mother, who used to be a servant in Jalil's house and had an affair with him. He built her a kolba (small hut) to live in and raise Mariam.

Mullah Faizullah is Mariam's elderly Koran teacher and friend.

Jalil is Mariam's father, a wealthy man who had three wives before he had an affair with Nana. Marries Mariam to Rasheed, but later regrets sending her away.

Laila, an ethnic Tajik, born in 1978, is a young, beautiful, educated girl coming from a lower class family when first introduced. Her life becomes tied to Mariam's when she is forced into marrying Rasheed, Mariam's husband.

Hakim is Laila's father. He is a well-educated and progressive school teacher. He is killed in a rocket explosion along with his wife, Fariba.

Fariba is Laila's mother. In part one, during her brief meeting with Mariam , she appears cheerful, but her happy nature is brutally disrupted by her two sons, Ahmed and Noor, who leave home to go to war and are later killed. She spends nearly all her time in bed mourning her sons until the Mujahideen win. She is Killed in a rocket explosion along with Hakim.

Rasheed an ethnic Pashtun, is the villain of the story. Rasheed, a shoemaker, marries Mariam through an arrangement with her father and later marries Laila by deceiving her.

Tariq is a boy who grew up in Kabul with Laila. They were best friends and eventually lovers.


Aziza is the daughter of Laila and Tariq, conceived when Laila was 14 and causing her to marry Rasheed in very early pregnancy after Tariq and his family decide to leave Kabul.

Zalmai is Laila and Rasheed's son.

Book Summary

The novel opens with the introduction of Mariam, an Afghan girl growing up in a small village on the outskirts of Herat. She lives with her mother, Nana, an embittered woman who is frequently resentful towards her daughter whom she bore out of wedlock. Mariam busies herself with lessons in reading and writing from Mullah Faizullah, an elderly kind-hearted cleric, and weekly visits from her wealthy father, Jalil. Mariam has heard of her father's other wives and children, who live with him at his lavish home in Herat, but has never visited them due to the stigma of her being an illegitimate child.

On her fifteenth birthday in 1974, Mariam wants her father to take her to see Pinocchio at the movie theatre that he owns. When Jalil fails to show up, Mariam decides to travel to Herat for the first time in her life and go to her father's house in person. Jalil refuses to see her, and she ends up sleeping outdoors on the porch.

In the morning, Mariam returns home to find that her mother has hanged herself out of fear that her daughter has deserted her.

Mariam is taken to live in her father's house, where she feels isolated and spends most of her time alone in her room. Jalil and his wives quickly arrange for her to be married to an older widower named Rasheed, who is a middle-class shoemaker in Kabul.

In Kabul, Mariam begins adjusting to her new life as the wife of a man she barely knows. Mariam soon becomes pregnant, and Rasheed, having lost his own son in a drowning accident years earlier, hopes for a boy. When Mariam suffers a miscarriage, her marriage takes a turn for the worse; Rasheed is no longer cordial to her, but verbally and physically abuses her.

Down the street lives Laila, the beautiful, bright young daughter of ethnic Tajik parents - a progressive-minded high school teacher and a mother who mourns the loss of her two sons, who were mujahideen fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Laila has a subtle romance with Tariq, a boy from the neighborhood who lost a leg as a small child to a land mine explosion.

War comes to Afghanistan, and Kabul is bombarded by rocket attacks. Tariq's family decides to leave the city. The emotional farewell between Laila and Tariq culminates in a clandestine tryst on the living room sofa.

Laila's family also decides to leave Kabul, but as they are packing, a rocket destroys the house and kills her parents. Laila is taken in by Rasheed and Mariam.

After recovering from her injuries, including a slight deafness in one ear, Laila discovers she is pregnant with Tariq's child. To avoid the stigma of being an unwed mother, Laila arranges to marry Rasheed, who is only too eager to have a young and attractive second wife, and immediately consummates the marriage in hopes that she can pass the child off as his. A man stops by the house to tell Laila that he met Tariq at a hospital, and that Tariq was now dead.

Laila gives birth to Aziza, a daughter. Rasheed is unhappy and suspicious, and he becomes more abusive.

After an initially rancorous relationship, Mariam and Laila eventually become confidantes. They plan to run away from Rasheed and leave Kabul for Peshawar, Pakistan, but they are betrayed at the bus station by a man they thought they could trust, arrested and returned to Rasheed. Rasheed beats the two women and deprives them of water for several days, almost killing Aziza.

A few years later, Laila gives birth to Zalmai, Rasheed's son. By this time, the Taliban has risen to power in Afghanistan. They have banned television, movies and books other than the Koran, and women are not allowed to work. A drought comes, which eventually leads to widespread hunger and food shortages. When Rasheed's shop burns down, the family is thrust into destitution. There is little food and Rasheed finds himself reduced to working as a porter at a hotel. As their financial situation worsens, Aziza is sent to an orphanage a few kilometers away.

Then one day, Tariq appears outside the house, revealing the fact that the man who stopped by the house to tell the news about Tariq's death was a plan made by Rasheed. He and Laila are reunited, and their passions flare anew. When Rasheed returns home from work, young Zalmai tells his father about the visitor. Rasheed starts to savagely beat Laila with his belt, but Mariam comes to Laila's defense by killing Rasheed with a shovel.

Laila and Tariq leave for Pakistan with the children. Mariam confesses to killing her husband and is executed.

After the fall of the Taliban in 2003, Laila and Tariq decide to return to Afghanistan. They stop in the village near Herat where Mariam was raised, and discover a package that Mariam's father had left behind for her: a videotape of Pinocchio and check for her share of the family inheritance. They return to Kabul and fix up the orphanage.

External Links

Wikipedia's entry

A Thousand Splendid Suns Summary and Study Guide