The novel “Thousand Splendid Suns” is one of Khalid Hosseini’s masterpieces, and comprises of a lot of different social and historical aspects that evolve around a country known as Afghanistan. The novel covers various themes such as marriage vs. love, ties to Afghanistan, shame, education of women, female bond, oppression, and hope.
Women of Afghanistan
One of the topics that “A Thousand Splendid Suns” puts a light on is the nature of women. Laila and Mariam, the two characters of the novel, live through an abrasive period fighting for their rights in Afghanistan. They’re dominated by the government, treated as their husband’s possession, and prohibited from taking part in societal activities. Through their potentiality and resilience, the two women can surmount these hindrances. Situations might not always be pretty, but that’s the signification. The women in the book aren’t like the queens or princesses waiting for their prince to help them get out of their problems. Instead, they’re unbelievably tough women trying to take control of their own lives.
Women’s right to education
Earlier than the ascent of the Taliban, Afghani women were progressing on the way of equality as they wanted their basic need of education and employment. The city of Kabul was considered to be the epicenter of women’s progression in Afghanistan before the Civil War and Taliban’s reign. However, in 1996 when the Taliban came to power they established a scheme of gender social policy which set women in a condition of continual house arrest unless a male relative accompanies them. Women’s development in education and occupation was intervened by the coarse laws made obligatory by the Taliban.
The women in ”A Thousand Splendid Suns” depict contrasting educational experiences. Mullah Faizullah (Hosseini, 11) teaches Mariam the teachings of Koran and makes her learn reading and writing. But whenever she shows the desire of going to school to her mother, Nana implores that the one instruction that Mariam should remember is to “endure.” (Hosseini, 6). Comparatively, Laila’s father considers education important. Hakim tirelessly works with Laila and helps her with her homework and provides an extra work with a goal to educate her more. He insists on tutoring Laila himself when the city’s air becomes dangerous. He remarks about the value of women studying in universities (Hosseini, 84).
Laila and Mariam teach Aziza whatever knowledge they have to educate her. Mariam teaches the Koran like she was taught, and Laila eventually teaches as an unpaid worker at her school. The book ends with a hopeful vision regarding the education of women such that Aziza and Zalmai go to school together.
Taliban not only limited the progression of women, but they also implemented strict laws such as windows of a house where women reside must be painted black so that they are not seen by the public. Women did not have the permission to depart from their houses without wearing a burqa, which covered their bodies completely.
Women’s basic right of living freely
Moreover, women were not given the rights to take the decisions for their own life. Girls under the age of 16 were highly encouraged by the Taliban to get married. They assigned a violent religious police force, who had the authority to beat women who profaned the Taliban code and had an eye on the actions of women. The actions which guaranteed a beating included a woman wearing shoes that made noise when walking, showing her ankles, laughing loudly, and also wearing the wrong type of burqa (Hosseini, 46). Women not only sustained aggression from the Taliban forces, but their biological relations were also the cause of oppression.
One of the most important decisions which completely changes your life is when and whom to get married. A clear-cut difference is noted passim the novel between true affection and forced marriages. In the story, all the marriages are forced therefore they are not possible to be influenced by love. The notion of marriage, for Nana, was destroyed by a “jinn.” (Hosseini, 3) Mariam finds a bit of hope in her marriage (Hosseini, 33) which she thought will lead to satisfaction and possibly to loving emotions, but it turned into a mere depression. Laila succeeds in escaping the forced bond placed on her by Rasheed (Hosseini, 130) as she already loves Tariq (Hosseini, 79).
The comparison between true love and forced marriage are evident once Laila and Tariq, in the end, gets to marry one another and live as a family. Daily life experience in a forced marriage involves hatred and futile expectations for better days to come. With her true love Tariq, on the other hand, daily life routines leave Laila satisfied and consummated.
Disregarding the attempts of husbands and the government to reduce strength and power, women have strong bonds. These bonds differ in existence. For example, Mariam and Laila form an extraordinary powerful familial bond while Giti, Hasina, and Laila have a girlish friendship bond (Hosseini, 70). Thus there lies an implication in the story that women possess a strong power to find capableness and support in one another. If Mariam had not obtained self-assurance and love from Laila, she would never have the power to fight Rasheed.
The fall of the Taliban brought a ray of hope in the lives of many Afghanis that the state of affairs would modify for women. However, violent acts toward women have carried on in Afghanistan even after the end of Taliban’s reign. Those that try to protect and support the women who have fallen victim to violence in the country have found many difficulties themselves.
Oppressiveness and Hope
The characters in the book try to sustain hope while handling the bitter realities of political and private subjugation. Passim the story, characters express their hopes at many points. For example, Mariam’s ray of hope shines when she asks Mullah Faizullah if she may attend school (Hosseini, 12). In Tariq lies Laila’s hope and attempted escapism from Rasheed. Most characters go into such circumstance with high levels of hope for the coming days, but once realism strikes, a character’s hope is broken down.
Not only do these rays of hope creates an emotional attachment to the characters and stipulate suspense in the reader, but this story seems to contemplate the cycles of hope and broken dreams that Afghan women undergo.
Ties to Afghanistan
In the story, the expression of feelings of connectedness by the characters to the geographical area that is Afghanistan is highlighted. Hakim quotes poetry. Fariba, whose sons got martyred, does not want to go anywhere far from this land for which her sons gave their lives. Disregarding the increase of war and threat in Afghanistan, many characters decline to leave due to their linkage to their country as their homeland. Others come back to their beloved country after the condition of war has settled (Hosseini, 112). Laila has a desire to return to Kabul and play her role in the restoration of the country. Tariq also has an urge to return home, driven highly by Laila’s desire (Hosseini, 114). The characters also have an inner hope that the violence will settle and that hope gives an insight of a more peaceful future besides the fright that comes with going away from a known land.
The individual tales of hope, furthermore, are reflected in the political expectancy of the Afghan citizens. People express their strong belief that finally freedom will be observed in Afghanistan with every new ruler. After the realities of each new authority leave the nation bound, Afghanistan’s hope again turns to desperation.
Hosseini, Khaled. A thousand splendid suns. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2009.