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

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Some examples of symbols include:

1. Jalil could afford to have others build this hut, but he and his sons did all the work. Nana says that it is his idea of penance, and she calls the hut a rat hole.

2. Sometimes Mariam gets up and goes into the kitchen where she looks through the ill-fitting drawers at the mismatched spoons and knives and chipped wooden spatulas. They are the would-be instruments of her daily life, all of it reminding her of the daily havoc that had struck her, making her feel uprooted, displaced, like an intruder in someone else’s life.

3. The burqa is a comfort. Mariam is only an observer inside of it, and since no one can see her, she no longer worries that people know, at a single glance, all the shameful secrets of her past.

4. Mariam asks if they can have a proper burial for the baby to make her feel better. The burial represents a chance for her to honor a life that never was.

5. The baby had just kicked for the first time. This symbolizes Laila’s ability to go on after her parents are killed.

6. It is only the second time Laila has been out of the house counting the day before when she had pawned her wedding ring to have money for bus fare. She sees the consequences of the war which frighten her. She reaches across the seat of the taxi to grasp the softness of her daughter’s arm. The soft arm of the little girl symbolizes what’s good and beautiful in contrast to the war outside.

7. Rasheed and Mariam take Laila to the hospital to give birth, only to discover that it no longer treats women. There is only one hospital in the entire city which does treat women - Rabia Balkhi which has no clean water, no oxygen, no medications, and no electricity. This hospital symbolizes the low level upon which women have to exist.

8. The doll Mariam made for Aziza was never far from where she worked. It represented the woman, now dead, who meant so much to her.

9. Then, Laila has dreams of her own, where she is back in the house in Kabul, walking the halls and climbing the stairs alone. Sometimes she catches a woman’s low-pitched humming of an old Herati song. But when she walks toward the sound, there is no one there. These dreams leave her shaken, devastating every time. The dream symbolizes the deep loss she feels t Mariam’s death.

10. Tariq begins to rock Zalmai back and forth until the little boy who has been holding onto Tariq, his hands a knot at Tariq’s neck, finally falls back asleep. His little hands around Tariq’s neck symbolize that he has come to love and trust this man as his father.

11. Hamza gives Laila a box that Jalil Khan had delivered to Mullah Faizullah asking that he give it to Mariam when she returned. It symbolizes the love he had always felt for his daughter, but learned to express too late.

12. Walt Disney’s Pinocchio symbolizes Jalil’s acknowledgment at last of Mariam as his daughter, because it was the film she wanted him to see with her along with his other children.

13. The drought has ended in Afghanistan. It snowed tremendously the winter before and now it has been raining for days. The Kabul River is flowing once again and Titanic City is washed away. This symbolizes the city’s return from the evil of war.

14. Saying the prayers is Aziza’s way of clinging to Mariam who had taught them to her. It is a way to keep time from snatching away Mariam from the garden of her memories, like a weed pulled out by its root. Here again Mariam is a weed, but a welcome one.

15. There are four lines of poetry Zaman has painted at the orphanage as an answer to those who grumble and complain about the lack of funds and the slow bureaucracy:
Joseph shall return to Canaan, grieve not.
Hovels shall return to rose gardens, grieve not.
If a flood should arrive, to drown all that’s alive,
Noah is your guide in the typhoon’s eye, grieve not.

This poem symbolizes that with God all things are possible.

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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on A Thousand Splendid Suns". . 09 May 2017