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Study Guide: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini - BookNotes

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A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS: LITERARY ELEMENTS ANALYSIS

QUOTATIONS - IMPORTANT QUOTES AND ANALYSIS

The following quotations are important at various points in the story: (Riverhead Books, The Berkley Publishing Group, New York, New York, 2007):

1.) “Nor was she old enough to appreciate the injustice, to see that it is the creators of the harami who are culpable, not the harami, whose only sin is being born.”
(pg. 4; This emphasizes how from the very beginning, Mariam was not wanted by either her mother or father.)

2.) “Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman.”
(pg. 7; This saying from Nana, instilled very early in Mariam, comes true over and over throughout the novel.)

3.) “There is only one, only one skill a woman like you and me needs in life, and they don’t teach it in school . . . Only one skill. And it’s this: tahamul. Endure . . . It’s our lot in life, Mariam. Women like us. We endure. It’s all we have. Do you understand? Besides, they’ll laugh at you in school. They will. They’ll call you harami. They’ll say the most terrible things about you. I won’t have it. . . There is nothing out there for her. Nothing but rejection and heartache. I know, akhund sahib. I know.”
(pp. 17-18; Here is the truth of life for women that Nana foreshadows early in the novel.)

4.) All Mariam can hear are Nana’s last words, “I’ll die if you go. I’ll just die.”
(pg. 36; This is significant, because Nana later commits suicide.)

5.) She keeps hearing Jalil’s wives say, “You may not get another opportunity this good.” And neither would they. They had been disgraced by her birth, and this is their chance to erase, once and for all, the last trace of their husband’s scandalous mistake. She is being sent away, because she is the walking, breathing embodiment of their shame.
(pg. 45; It takes Mariam awhile but she finally realizes that she really doesn’t belong in her father’s house.)

6.) “I used to worship you . . . On Thursdays, I sat for hours waiting for you . . . I thought about you all the time . . . I didn’t know you were ashamed of me.”
(pg. 50; These are Mariam’s last words to her father.)

7.) “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.”
(pg. 80; This is Mariam’s thought about her first unborn child who will assure her finally of a family.)

8.) Soon, Rasheed returns with a handful of pebbles and forces Mariam’s mouth open and stuffs them in. He then orders her to chew the pebbles. In her fear, she does as he asks, breaking the molars in the back of her mouth. He tells her, “Now you know what your rice tastes like. Now you know what you’ve given me in this marriage. Bad food, and nothing else.”
(pg. 94; This shows that Mariam’s inability to give Rasheed a son will continue to make him more and more bitter towards her.)

9.) “That’s your business, isn’t it, cousin? To make nothing your business. Even your own sons going to war. How I pleaded with you. But you buried your nose in those cursed books and let our sons go like they were a pair of haramis.”
(pg. 100; These are the bitter words Laila’s mother hurls at her father.)

10.) Babi tells Lalila that education of women is important, because, “society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated, Laila. No chance.”
(pg. 103; These words will come back to remind Laila that to honor her father, she must return to Afghanistan.)

11.) “Now and then, sitting next to Mammy, seeing the drooping, woebegone looks around the room, the magnitude of the disaster that has struck her family registers with Laila. The possibilities denied. The hopes dashed . . . it is hard to feel, really feel, Mammy’s loss . . . Ahmad and Noor had always felt like lore to her. Like characters in a fable. Like kings in a history book . . . It is Tariq who is real, flesh and blood . . . in Laila’s heart, her true brother is alive and well.”
(pg. 126; This reinforces how much Laila lloves Tariq.)

12.) “Laila wishes Mammy would notice that she, Laila, hadn’t become shaheed, that she is alive, here, in bed with her, that she has hopes and a future. But Laila knows that her future is no match for her brothers’ past. They have overshadowed her in life. They will obliterate her in death.”
(pg. 128; This reinforces Laila’s loneliness when she tries to comfort her mother.)

13.) “Maybe it is senseless to want to be near a person so badly in a country where bullets had shredded her own brothers to pieces. But all Laila has to do is picture Tariq going at Khadim with his leg and then nothing in the world seems more sensible to her.”
(pg. 137; This is another reinforcement for the deep love Laila feels for Tariq.)

14.) All day two lines of a poem by Saib-e-Tabrizi, about the city have been bouncing around in Babi’s head, “One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, / Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”
(pg. 172; This is a significant quote, because the author found his title from it.)

15.) Laila remembers the day that the news had come to their home about Ahmad and Noor and how Mammy had come undone. It had scared her, but she had felt no sorrow. Now she wonders if this is her punishment for being aloof to her own mother’s suffering. She cannot react like Mammy did. Instead, “. . .she lets her mind fly on. She lets it fly on until it finds the place, the good and safe place, where the barley fields are green, where the water runs clear and the cottonweed seeds dance by the thousands in the air; where Babi is reading a book beneath an again and Tariq is napping with his hands laced across his chest, and where she can dip her feet in the stream and dream good dreams beneath the watchful gaze of gods of ancient, sun-bleached rock.”
(pg. 188; This shows how much stronger Laila was than her mother.)


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