Study Guide: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini - BookNotes|
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A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS: ONLINE LITERATURE NOTES
The true outrage of the Taliban’s war against women is seen in this
chapter where Laila is forced to endure the unbelievable pain of surgery
without anesthetic. Nana’s comments about how men always find a way to
hurt women continues in this scenario.
It is Mariam’s idea to dig a hole, but she and Laila have a very difficult time doing it because of the drought. The drought started in 1998 and made life even more of a problem for people surrounded by war. The shallow wells quickly dried up and the there were long lines at the deep wells. The two women waited hours for their turn. There were no spring floods, because there hadn’t been much snow the winter before. As a result, the Kabul River dried up. Poor Mariam is now forty, but looks much older. She has deep pouches under her eyes and she has lost her two front teeth, the result of Rasheed knocking them out when she accidentally dropped Zalmai. Zalmai, the little boy born after Laila’s horrific caesarean, is now two, a plump little boy who looks very much like his father. When Laila had him alone, he is sweet and good-natured and she realizes that all her fears of loving a child of Rasheed’s are unfounded. She loves this little boy as deeply as she does Aziza. Unfortunately, Zalami worships his father and changes in personality whenever Rasheed is around him. He is defiant and easily offended. He holds grudges and persists in being mischievous even when Laila scolds. Rasheed approves of it all. He also buys the child everything he wants and more even though they cannot afford it. Most days, he even takes the child with him to his shop and allows him to play even among materials that could be dangerous to him. His patience with Zalmai is a well that runs deep and never dries. And of course, he resents any attention Zalmai gives to Laila.
One night, Rasheed brings home a television and a VCR. He had bought them on the black market and even though there are no working television stations, he plans to buy his little boy all the videotapes he can find. The TV is all Zalmai’s and he controls what it shows. Upon hearing this, Aziza climbs into Mariam’s lap. They are inseparable now and of late, Mariam has been teaching Aziza all the verses she should know from the Koran. Mariam thinks, “It’s all I have to give her, this knowledge, these prayers. They’re the only true possessions I’ve ever had.” Laila responds to the new TV with trepidation, because the Taliban had banned them. She fears they’ll be caught. She tells Rasheed sarcastically that instead of videotapes he should buy them a new well.
Later, after dinner, Rasheed tells Laila about his new plan: he wants to put Aziza on the street to beg since they are short of money. Laila refuses to allow it and so she slaps her. Something inside of Laila snaps, and she punches him hard enough to make him stagger two steps backward. When he turns and leaves the room, Laila thinks that it was worth it to punch him for all they’ve endured. It is the ultimate act of defiance, but her defiant act is soon beaten down when Rasheed returns, grabs her by the throat and shoves her against the wall all the while shoving the barrel of his gun into her mouth.
The two women are digging the hole because of the raids. The Taliban
is raiding people’s home unexpectedly now on a daily basis for the purpose
of confiscating banned items and punishing the homeowners in a variety
of ways. So the hole becomes the hiding place for the TV and VCR. They
decide they will dig it back up when it becomes safer to own them. That
night Laila dreams that they are in the back digging again; only this
time they are lowering Aziza into the hole instead of the TV. They keep
telling her that it’s only for a little while. And when the first lumps
of dirt hit the plastic they have wrapped around her, Laila can taste
it in her dream.
This chapter reveals life in the house with Rasheed spoiling his new son to
the detriment of the boy and the rest of the family. Times are harder
because of the drought, but Rasheed has no problem buying a banned television
for Zalmai at the same time he wis willing to place Aziza on the streets
as a beggar.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on A Thousand Splendid Suns".
. 09 May 2017