Imagine growing up in a world devoid of innocence, spending your young life navigating the complex repressive forces that have trapped you in poverty, fear and confusion. Now ratchet that sensation of despairing entrapment up 10 notches and you have taken your first step into the world of A Thousand Splendid Suns. The moral message from this book shows “We should be grateful for what we have, by never taking the people that bring happiness and fulfilment in our lives for granted.
A thousand splendid suns is a satisfying story written by Khaled Hosseni, it gives a little more insight and more personal sense of what has happened in Afghanistan in the last thirty years and this is exactly the effect his novel has had on me. The story follows Mariam and Laila, two young women struggling to survive in Afghanistan as they negotiate the mine-littered road of sexual hierarchy, nonstop war and overwhelming guilt.
Constantly intersecting the characters’ in third person and personal narratives, showing the hardships of their marriage to the same man, Rasheed, your typical cruel husband who beats and reduces the freedom of his wives. As Hosseni is writing about a culture where women are denied education, the right to work, the right to move freely, accesses to adequate healthcare, the situations these characters are placed it highlights the injustice faced by Islamic women.
The patriarchal nature of the Islamic culture is obvious in the higher value clearly given to men in Laila’s family. Laila’s mother is all consumed with love for her sons, but cannot give the same attention to her daughter. This is illustrated through the truncated sentences when mammy grieves over her son Noor “it was something to see, And Noor. Oh Noor. My poor Noor. ” The audience is reading from a third person’s perspective which is shown through the repetition “they” which creates distance with the audience and empathises with Laila.
Hosseni’s intended purpose was to show “a story that transports, characters who engage, and a sense of illumination, of having been transformed somehow by the experiences of the characters and to walk away with a sense of empathy for Afghans”. Throughout Mariam life she’s constantly betrayed by the men in her society, however when Laila joins the family she forms a close friendship which leads to Mariam sacrificing herself to save Laila “Mariam is in Laila’s own heart, where she shines with the bursting radiance of a thousand splendid suns”.
The story title “a thousand splendid suns” is symbolic of Mariam, which captures her morals of looking out for her family. Despite the times she had been betrayed by her father yet she still loves Laila even though they aren’t related, which shows how Mariam drew strength from her friendship with Laila. Hosseni deliberately created two strong central characters to allow the audience to empathise and make personal responses. Hosseni quoted “I realized that telling the story of these two women without telling, in part, the story of Afghanistan from the 1970s to the post-9/11 era simply was not possible.
The intimate and personal was intertwined inextricably with the broad and historical. And so the turmoil in Afghanistan and the country’s tortured recent past slowly became more than mere backdrop. ” Looking from a 16 year olds perspective from the 21st century, it has made me realize how lucky I am to be surrounded by the people I love, with encouraging parents and friends. Whilst reading this book it has made me aware with what I have, and not taking the simplest of things for granted.