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Matt Ferraro

Mrs. Dietrich

Honors English 10

21 December 2016

A Thousand Splendid Suns begins in Herat with young girl, Mariam, and her mother,

Nana. Together they live on the outskirts of Herat in a kolba, or small shack, after Nana had been

impregnated by a wealthy man named Jalil and given birth to Mariam. However, Jalil does not

want to take responsibility for Mariam, causing Nana to feel very bitter and have to care for

Mariam all on her own. Later when Mariam and Nana are talking about Jalils family, it is

revealed that Nana has jinn, or seizures, that scared away her original love and all other suitors.

Mariam also explains how her mother says she was alone in the hut when she gave birth while

Jalil says Nana was at a good hospital and he rushed home from a business trip to see Mariam.

Then, it is revealed that Nana only welcomes three people to their house, the most important of

these being Mullah Faizullah, Mariams Koran teacher who she later tells she wants to go to a

real school. When Mullah Faizullah brings this idea to Nana she quickly shoots it down saying

that all she needs to know is how to deal with lifes hardships. Mariam also greatly enjoys Jalils

visits and it is on one of these visits that he brings her a pendant, that Nana says is cheap, but

Mariam still treasures it. Mariam continues to concentrate on how she always dreams about

living with Jalil and his family in Herat. When Mariams fifteenth birthday approaches, she tells

Nana and Jalil she was to see a movie at Jalils cinema house, which both of them disapprove of,

but with enough begging he agrees to meet her by the creek the next day to take her. She wears

her best dress and when he does not show up after hours of waiting, she ventures into Herat to
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find him. She is shocked by the appearance of Herat. After asking around, she locates Jalils

house and goes there, but she is not welcomed and after enough begging by Jalils chauffer, she

agrees to go back to her house where she finds that Nana has hung herself. After the funeral, Jalil

tries to comfort Mariam at his house and one of her half-sisters, Niloufar, tries to befriend her,

neither of which work. Mullah Faizullah visits her and tries to tell Mariam that it was not her

fault and that Nana was always unhappy, but Mariam still feels guilty. A few days later, one of

Jalils wives, Afsoon, tells Mariam to come downstairs for a conversation. In this meeting

Mariam learns that Jalil has found a suitor for her named Rasheed, showing just how much he

wants rid of her, and that they will be married the next day. Mariam begs for it to be cancelled,

but Jalil will not listen. The wedding ceremony takes place the next day in which Mariam finds

Rasheed very unattractive. When they are driving away on the bus, Jalil pounds on the windows

trying to get Mariams attention, but she ignores him. When they arrive at Rasheeds house he

gives her a tour and gives her a room, which is separate from Rasheeds because he prefers to

sleep alone. After a few days of getting into a routine, Rasheed tells Mariam he expects her to do

wifely duties the next day. The next day she does what she is expected to and learns that the

other wives think their husbands are ungrateful. The women then swarm Mariam asking her

questions when she goes out in public to cook bread and she flees. Rasheed likes his dinner that

night which makes Mariam feel proud and he presents Mariam with a burqa that he says she

must wear in public, which surprises Mariam. After struggling to put the burqa on, Rasheed gives

Mariam a tour of Kabul. That night Rasheed forces himself upon Mariam for the first time which

frightens her, but he tells her it is normal between a husband and wife and that there is nothing to

be afraid of. Ramadan begins a few months after Mariam moves in with Rasheed, but Rasheed

does not really observe it. Rasheed invites some friends over and while they are talking Mariam
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goes through Rasheeds belongings upstairs finding a gun, pornographic magazines and old

pictures of his son who died of drowning. Mariam then gets pregnant and Rasheed is quick to

assume its a boy. They then go to a haman, or bathhouse, where Mariam has a miscarriage. The

doctor has no answers about why it happened so they go home. Over the next few weeks Mariam

tries to cope with the grief and she even buries the jacket Rasheed bought for the child as a

memorial. It is also around this time when Rasheed begins to become angry with Mariam. After

four more years Mariam has gone through six miscarriages making Rasheed very angry. At this

same time there are many political problems going on in the country and the Communist regime

has just taken over. That night Rasheed said Mariam under cooked the rice so he forces her to

chew on pebbles breaking two of her molars.

Part Two begins as nine year old Laila gets ready for school and thinks about how much

she misses her best friend Tariq, an eleven year who lost one of his legs and is currently visiting

his uncle. That night, her parents, Mammy and Babi, are talking about politics and Laila tends to

side with her kinder father than her mother who has been upset over the absence of her sons at

war. Lailas father then takes her to work the next day and they pass a blue Mercedes Benz with

an old man inside and a Herat license plate outside of Mariam and Rasheeds house, it is later

revealed that this man is Jalil trying to visit Mariam. Laila then goes to school where it is stated

that Communist Russia is beginning to lose its grip on Afghanistan. Laila walks home with three

of her friends who talk about how to rid themselves of suitors. The blue Benz is still there and his

attention is distracted when a boy points a water gun at her head. The boy and his friends squirt

her with urine before she runs home, cleans herself up, and talks with her mom before getting

extremely annoyed. Laila begins to worry when Tariq doesnt return on the date he was supposed

to. Later that night she sees them arrive home and the next day she goes to meet them. She stays
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to eat lunch and play game with Tariq before they walk to the zoo in the afternoon. They pass the

boy that squirted Laila and Tariq goes over to him and beats him with his prosthetic leg. That

night when Lailas family is having dinner when a stranger comes to the door to tell Lailas

parents their sons have been killed in war. At the funeral the next day Laila realizes she doesnt

feel anything because she never knew them and Tariq was the only brother she ever knew. This

marks the beginning of Mammys depression and Laila begins visiting her daily. It is during

these visits that Mammy admits she has been a bad mom and she wants to live to see the day the

Soviets are kicked out of Afghanistan. Babi surprises Laila and Tariq with a trip to see the

Buddha sculptures in the Bamiyan Valley. While theyre there, Babi tells Laila he wants to move

to America. Six months later the Soviets sign a peace treaty and begin to leave. Mammy says she

wont celebrate until the Muslim warriors have a victory parade. Two years later, Laila and Tariq

are taking a bus to the movies when they hear people saying the new Afghani ruler, Najibullah, is

just a Soviet puppet. During a wedding scene in the movie, Tariq says he will never get married

which makes Laila disappointed. Three years later, the Mujahideen, or the Afghani defense, have

finally won the war and are having a parade which makes Mammy so happy she wears a blue

dress, the first that was not black in years, and throws a party at which a fight breaks out over

politics. Within the next few days the country becomes divided again and Mammy retreats back

in solidarity. The wars between the different factions of the Mujahideen are beginning to erupt,

Tariq shows Laila that he has a gun to protect her with, and they have their first kiss. The

violence gets so bad that Babi has to pull Laila out of school and teach her himself. The violence

eventually gets so bad that Lailas friend, Giti, is struck with a stray rocket on her way home

from school. A few days later Tariq gives Laila news that he is has to leave. At first she is mad

but they end up making love and Laila gets pregnant. Tariq begs Laila to come with him, but she
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says she cannot because she cannot bring herself to leave her family. Laila feels extremely lonely

without Tariq. A few days later her father breaks the news that they are going to leave Kabul

which makes her overjoyed because she may see Tariq again. Unfortunately in the haste of

packing, Lailas house is struck by a rocket and both of her parents are killed. Laila survives and

the last thing she remembers is being taken in to be cared for by a woman.

Part Three begins with Mariam and Rasheed slowly caring for Laila. After about a month,

a man named Abdul Sharif arrives and insists on speaking with Laila. He tells Laila that he met

Tariq in a hospital in Pakistan and he unfortunately passed away. Laila is devastated. That night

at dinner, Rasheed tries to comfort Laila which Mariam realizes is only a plot to get a second

wife which angers her. That night she tells Laila about his plan and Laila agrees to marry him.

She tries to rush the marriage ceremony the next day because she feels nauseated due to her

pregnancy and doesnt want Rasheed to know. That night, Rasheed and Laila have intercourse

and she pricks herself with a knife after to make Rasheed think he married a virgin. Throughout

the next few days it is shown that Mariam is extremely jealous of Laila and Rasheed informs

Laila of the household rules. Laila breaks the news of her pregnancy to Rasheed and he is

ecstatic. Over the next few days he brings her to his shoe shop and it is stated that the pregnancy

does not change anything with Mariam and Lailas relationship. A few months later Laila has a

baby girl which infuriates Rasheed and he later tries to beat Mariam. The only reason he stops is

because Laila agrees to have intercourse with him. Rasheed continually treats the baby girl,

Aziza with no respect. That night Mariam stumbles into Laila and Aziza sleeping on the floor

downstairs and begins to play with Aziza. This is where Mariam and Lailas relationship begins

to grow. Rasheed begins to grow suspicious that Aziza is actually Tariqs daughter and vows to

severely punish her if he catches her in a lie ever. This worries her because she has secretly been
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stealing his money in order to runaway to Peshawar. A few days later Laila receives baby girls

clothing from Mariam and two begin to converse more. Their relationship begins to grow even

more. Aziza and Mariam are beginning to become best of friends. Violence begins to arise again

and Rasheed is forced to stay home. One day, Mariam tells Laila about her life while she is

braiding her hair and Laila does the same. She then tells her how she plans on running away

which Mariam is thrilled and nervous to do. A few weeks later, the women and Aziza go to the

bus station to run away while Rasheed is at work, but they need a man to vouch for them. They

find a man who they think is trustworthy, but he turns out to not be and when they are returned

home by the police Rasheed severely punishes them by locking them in hot rooms and depriving

them of water for a day before releasing them and vowing to kill them if they ever try something

like that again. Aziza almost dies from this experience. Two years later the Taliban arrive and

everyone is overjoyed at first. The next day there is a celebration in which Rasheed takes the

women to and the bodies of Najibullah and his brother are seen dangling. The people are warned

that this is what will happen to them if they do not follow the strict Taliban laws. When Laila

reads the laws she realizes the Taliban think women are extremely evil. The Taliban go on

destroying ancient Afghan culture over the next few weeks. Later Laila admits that she is again

pregnant, this time it is Rasheeds child, and considers an abortion to get back at Rasheed, but

decides the child is innocent. Laila goes into labor and it is a struggle to find a hospital, but when

they finally do, they learn Laila needs a C-section. She fights the urge to scream when the

procedure begins. A few years later a drought hits Afghanistan. Laila had a boy, named Zalmai,

who is good around Laila but when Rasheed is around he acts like a brat. Zalmai is spoiled by

his father and Aziza begins to be treated even worse by Rasheed. That night Laila stands up for

Aziza but is punished severely by Rasheed. A year later a fire burns down Rasheeds shop
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making life even harder. In order to try and make life better, Mariam decides to try and call Jalil

to help them, but she learns that he has died. Mariam begins to regret her past actions toward

Jalil since he gave her away. When the money gets bad enough, Laila is forced to send Aziza to

an orphanage to be raised. At first Rasheed accompanies her to visit Aziza, but eventually he

stops and Laila is forced to sneak out to see Aziza. A few days later Tariq shows up at the house

shocking Laila and she breaks down in tears of joy. Laila and Tariq talk for a little and Mariam

tries to keep Zalmai busy while they do. This is when Laila realizes that Rasheed must have paid

off Sharif to make up the story about Tariqs death to keep her from leaving. Laila tells Tariq

about everything that has happened to her and Tariq does the same about him. Laila tells Tariq to

come back to visit Aziza with her the next day. That night Zalmai rats out Tariq and Laila.

Rasheed is furious. Rasheed sends Zalmai upstairs out of anger. Rasheed begins to beat Laila and

she would have died had Mariam not intervened and killed him by hitting him with a shovel. The

next day Tariq, Laila, and Zalmai leave to get Aziza before heading to Tariqs home in Pakistan.

Mariam has to stay behind because she knows they will come after her for killing Rasheed and

she does not want to weigh the group down. They leave knowing it is the last time they will ever

see Mariam. Mariam is arrested and thrown in jail. She is brought before a judge who gives her

the death penalty which she understands. She is executed in front of thousands at the weekly

execution ceremony at the stadium by a man with a Kalashnikov.

Part four begins with Laila, Tariq, Aziza, and Zalmai living in Pakistan. Tariq and Aziza

quickly become friends but Zalmai is hesitant. They help Tariq with his job and on his days off

he treats them to a special night out at the mall every Saturday. Laila realizes they are a family.

One day Laila and Tariq walk past the TV to see that 9/11 has just occurred. Tariq thinks that the

U.S. may try to remove the Taliban now. That night Zalmai is sick and Tariq gets out of bed to
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comfort him. This is when their relationship begins to grow. Laila begins to realize that now that

Kabul is beginning to be cleaned up she thinks that she belongs there. They begin their move

when they stop in Herat so that Laila can visit Mullah Faizullahs home where she receives

presents left for Mariam by Jalil. She is deeply upset by this and weeps when Tariq returns and

he comforts her. Two years have passed since they arrived back in Kabul and they begin to fall

into a new routine. Both kids are attending school, Laila and Tariq both have stable jobs, and

Laila is expecting another child. They play the name game for if its a boy, but if its a girl, Laila

already knows she is going to name it Mariam.

Work Cited
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"A Thousand Splendid Suns." A Thousand Splendid Suns: A Thousand Splendid Suns Book

Summary & Study Guide | CliffsNotes. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, n.d. Web. 10 Dec.

2016.

Hosseini, Khaled. A Thousand Splendid Suns. New York: Riverhead, 2007. Print.