Study Guide: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini - BookNotes|
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Mariam eventually puts back everything where she found it. Later, she
regrets that she had sneaked around in Rasheed’s room. She wonders what
thing of substance she has learned about him really. Actually, as she
finishes her work, she feels sorrow for Rasheed. He, too, had had a hard
life marked by loss and sad turns of fate. Also, it pains her to think
of Rasheed, panic-stricken and helpless, pleading with the lake to spit
back his son. For the first time, she feels a kinship with her husband.
She tells herself that they will make good companions after all.
This chapter is all about Mariam continuing to experience new things
and new feelings. The holidays show her what it’s like to be part of a
community as well as a family. Her sneaking into Rasheed’s room and looking
at his hidden things makes her feel as if she and this strange man who
is now her husband may have more in common that she thought. This is comforting
to her. However, there is also a vague, unsettling feeling after she sees
his first family in the photograph, which gives her pause for a moment.
This chapter begins with a bus ride home from the doctor’s office. Mariam is pregnant! All Rasheed can think of is that the baby will be a boy, and he even has a name for him - Zalmai. He tells her he’s sure it’s a boy, but if it happens to be a girl, Mariam can name her. The morning after the doctor visit, Mariam awakens to the sound of hammering and sawing. She finds Rasheed in the tool shed making a crib for the baby. It was going to be a surprise, but now Mariam has found out. Rasheed is not angry about the surprise, and, in fact, he shows her a suede winter coat for a boy that he had bought the baby as well. This weighs on Mariam, that he hitches his hopes on the baby being a boy, and how he worries about all the things in the house that might harm the child.
The next day, Rasheed says he is inviting several friends over to dinner to celebrate the news of the baby. Of course, Mariam is expected to stay in her room. While she hears them laughing and singing, she marvels how she has come so many miles to this city where she now has a home of her own, a husband of her own, and one final cherished gift - motherhood. “How glorious to know that her love for it already dwarfed anything she had ever felt as a human being, to know that there was no need any longer for pebble games.” She feels all the loss and self-abasement of her life wash away and believes that this why God has brought her here all the way across the country. She asks God not to let all this good fortune to slip away from her.
Rasheed has the idea to go to the hamam. She has never been to a bathhouse, but he convinces that there is no greater feeling than stepping out of the hot baths into the cold air. So she goes as he asks. In the baths, the other women are just shapes moving around in the steam, so Mariam sits in a far corner working on her heels with the pumice stone. Then, suddenly, there is blood and she is screaming. It is Fariba her neighbor who comes to her, followed by all the other women who cluck their tongues at the sight. All Mariam can say is, “It’s normal, isn’t it? Isn’t it normal?”
Then comes another bus ride through the snow with Rasheed. After they
are home, Rasheed covers her with a quilt as she lies on the couch. He
paces and angrily questions the doctor’s explanation of the miscarriage
as “God’s will.” As for Mariam, she remembers Nana saying once that each
snowflake is a sigh heaved by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world.
That all sighs drift up to the sky, gather into clouds, then break into
tiny pieces that fall silently on the people below. “As a reminder of
how women like us suffer,” she said. How quietly we endure all the falls
This chapter has so many ironic elements - Rasheed’s excitement about the
baby, the celebratory dinner with his friends, and then the miscarriage
- but the most ironic of all is Mariam’s prayer that God will not let
their good fortune slip away, and then, of course, it does.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on A Thousand Splendid Suns".
. 09 May 2017