Q. Write down the characters and summary of A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
A Thousand Splendid Suns Major Characters
Mariam has an abusive and miserable existence as an illegitimate kid. She is initially innocent and yearns for her father’s affection, but she becomes strong due to facing the harsh truths of life. Her deep friendship with Laila deepens their relationship, and her final sacrifice exemplifies her courage and love.
A charming and knowledgeable young lady, Laila is first motivated by ambition and optimism. She exhibits tremendous tenacity and bravery in dealing with personal sorrow and an arranged marriage. Her ability to survive depends heavily on her love for her children and her connection with Mariam.
Laila’s and Mariam’s violent husband, Rasheed. His persona symbolizes the patriarchal tyranny that pervades society, as he takes advantage of and mistreats the ladies to exert total control over their lives.
Loyalty and kindness define Tariq, Laila’s childhood friend, and genuine love. He loses a limb but never his enthusiasm or his love for Laila. The novel’s turning point occurs when he returns to Laila’s life.
Jalil is Mariam’s father, and he is a complicated man. He shows Mariam compassion but eventually betrays her, reflecting society’s standards prioritizing reputation above interpersonal connections. His unwillingness to defend Mariam serves as a metaphor for the limitations placed on individuals by society.
Aziza and Zalmai
Laila’s kids, Aziza and Zalmai, stand for youth and innocence. While Zalmai, Rasheed’s kid, serves as a reminder of the injustice and brutality in their life, Aziza, Tariq’s daughter, is wise beyond her years.
A Thousand Splendid Suns Summary
Early Years of Mariam
A Thousand Splendid Suns” is a novel by Khaled Hosseini, set against the backdrop of the last thirty years of Afghanistan’s turbulent history.
The novel begins with Mariam’s early years in Herat. She is the illegitimate child of Jalil, a successful businessman, and a maid. Her mother, Nana, regularly reminds her of her “harami” status, and Jalil only pays her a weekly visit. Mariam, despite this, looks up to her father and fantasizes about the larger world he lives in.
On her 15th birthday, Mariam goes to Jalil’s mansion to feel the grandeur and warmth she believes are waiting for her. This decision is the culmination of Mariam’s desire for her father’s love. He severely undermines her idealized view of her father by refusing to see her.
The chilly night she spent outside her father’s house is a metaphor for her separation from his legitimate existence. When she returns home, she discovers that her mother died by suicide, leaving her a fatherless child. Because of her bad childhood, she will likely face problems as an adult.
Rasheed and Mariam’s Wedding
Mariam marries Rasheed, an older shoemaker in Kabul, as soon as her mother dies. He is first sympathetic and seems to comprehend her predicament, but his actions soon alter. Rasheed turns aggressive and domineering, especially after Mariam has several miscarriages.
He becomes increasingly abusive because he has old-fashioned ideas about what males and females should do. He is also angry that she couldn’t have a son. Mariam’s life in Kabul is very different from what it was before. She is alone and isolated in a difficult marriage with little love or support.
She wakes from her dreams to a bleak world where she must endure Rasheed’s rage and disappointment. Because she is unable to carry out her motherly duties in accordance with society’s expectations, she feels even more alone.
The focus then turns to Laila, a young Afghan girl. Her family is well-educated and modern. Laila’s father, a teacher, stimulates her enthusiasm for studying and supports her intellectual development. Laila frequently feels abandoned by her mother, who is busy with her boys.
A young man named Tariq, who suffered physical harm from a land mine, is friends with Laila. Tariq is resolute and assured despite his disabilities.
Their friendship develops into sincere love that is based on respect and understanding for one another. Tariq’s assistance provides Laila with a sense of security and company that helps to make up for her mother’s emotional absence.
Laila and Tariq’s Relationship
As they face the difficulties of adolescence and the complicated political climate of Afghanistan, Laila and Tariq’s bond deepens. They have a sweet, innocent love that grows more passionate and powerful. They establish a bond beyond their teenage innocence as they share hopes, phobias, and aspirations.
Tariq develops into Laila’s confidant, an inspiration, and a source of strength. In the face of social and familial pressures, their relationship grows stronger and becomes a haven in an unstable and violent world.
Their romance develops naturally, portraying the innocence and intricacy of adolescent love. There is also an apprehension that the outside world may soon interfere with their pleasure.
The Effects of War
Kabul and its inhabitants have undergone a tremendous transformation due to the Soviet invasion and ensuing fighting. Laila is saddened when Tariq’s family plans to relocate from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Before leaving, Tariq marries Laila in a meaningful and heartbreakingly tender moment of union.
Laila’s family also had preparations to flee, but when a rocket attack killed her parents, she was left orphaned and injured. She has suffered great loss regarding her ties to her family and Tariq. It seems to her that Tariq has lost for good.
Chapters 20 to 22
Laila and Rasheed’s Wedding
Rasheed locates Laila after the catastrophe and welcomes her into his house. After bringing her back to health, he makes a marriage proposal, presenting it as a realistic option for both. When Laila learns she is expecting Tariq’s child, she decides to marry Rasheed since she knows she has few other options.
Mariam has conflict due to Laila moving in with Rasheed because she harbors complicated feelings of curiosity, hatred, and jealousy for the younger lady. Rasheed adores Laila, which causes a bigger separation between him and Mariam.
Rasheed, Laila, and Mariam
Despite his preference for a son, Rasheed welcomes Aziza, Laila’s daughter. However, when he notices how little Aziza looks like him, he doubts her parentage. Rasheed’s increasingly authoritarian and harsh behavior towards Laila and Mariam reflects his unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
Despite their initial disagreements, Mariam and Laila gradually understand one another. Mariam’s protective walls start to go down as a result of Laila’s compassion, wisdom, and strength, as well as her love for Aziza.
The two women connect over their shared experiences of Rasheed’s brutality and the limitations imposed on them as women by society.
From being co-wives to allies and sisters in their fight against Rasheed’s oppression, their relationship develops into a close and enduring friendship.
With the establishment of the Taliban, Kabul’s daily life and women’s rights are now subject to an even more oppressive rule. Rasheed’s maltreatment escalates due to the more stringent laws and brazen patriarchal ideas of the Taliban.
Mariam and Laila’s bond strengthens due to their shared struggles and covert knowledge about Aziza’s biological parents. Rasheed has a developing dislike for Aziza, but she yet becomes a source of love and hope for both women.
Zalmai, Rasheed’s kid, is born to Laila and grows up to be a beloved son. Rasheed’s favoritism further exacerbates Mariam and Laila’s sorrow as it divides the siblings and adds to household tensions, which are already high.
A Hopeful Reunion and Hardships
The family is struggling financially as the war and drought persist. Aziza is painfully separated from her family and placed in an orphanage due to Rasheed’s mounting debt. It highlights the family’s difficult situation.
Tariq unexpectedly makes a comeback and reveals that he is not dead as Laila had been led to think. Despite the years of absence and the reality of Laila’s marriage to Rasheed, his reunion with Laila is both happy and challenging.
Tariq accepts Aziza as his own and maintains his everlasting love for Laila. Their relationship revives. It gives hope for what can be if they can get away from Rasheed’s influence.
Tragedy and Escape
When Zalmai tells Rasheed about Laila, Mariam, and Tariq’s plans to flee, their attempt is unsuccessful. Rasheed becomes outraged and attacks Laila, setting off a deadly struggle in which Mariam kills Rasheed with a shovel to protect Laila.
In addition to asserting her autonomy, Mariam sacrifices for the lady she has grown to love as a sister. Even though she will probably be punished for her acts, she insists that Laila, Tariq, and the kids leave without her.
In the following chapters, Mariam’s fate plays out as anticipated; she is apprehended and executed without delay. Knowing that her actions gave Laila and the kids freedom and happiness, she had serenity and acceptance in her final thoughts.
Flight to Pakistan
Kabul is left in the wake of conflict and oppression as Laila, Tariq, Aziza, and Zalmai depart for Pakistan. They have a shot at a new life, but the road is difficult and full of reminders of Mariam’s sacrifice. They cross the border while bearing their sorrow and hope. They anticipate a new future.
The family starts building a new house in Murree, Pakistan. Tariq secures a job, and Laila learns she is expecting their third child. Although the happiness of their current situation contrasts with the past, thoughts of Mariam and Afghanistan continue to plague them.
They develop relationships with other Afghan refugees, and the pieces of their lives gradually come together.
Head Back to Kabul
Laila and Tariq decide to return to Kabul once the Taliban are overthrown. The city has seen significant transformation, bearing battle wounds while displaying signs of healing.
Laila travels to the locations associated with her history. She traveled to several places. She has a stronger sense of belonging to her community and wants to help with its reconstruction.
Laila’s visit to Mariam’s birthplace in Herat is among this chapter’s most poignant scenes. She wants to know more about the woman who gave up her life for her and had become her family.
Laila pays tribute to Mariam’s memories while considering her sage advice, courage, and the significant influence she had on her life.
A Fresh Start
Laila discloses that she is expecting a second child in the final chapter, and if it is a girl, she plans to give the kid Mariam’s name.
The family’s life in Kabul is full of love, effort, and hope for a better future. There are still scars from the past, but there is also a strong sense of fortitude, recovery, and optimism.