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A Thousand Splendid Suns

Khaled hosseini.

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Chapters 1–8

Chapters 1–8, summary: chapter 1.

Mariam’s father, Jalil Khan, is a wealthy businessman with three wives. Mariam’s mother, Nana, is not married to Jalil. When Mariam is five, Nana calls her a harami —bastard—for breaking part of her tea set. This is when Mariam learns of her illegitimate status. Nana was a housekeeper in one of Jalil’s homes when she became pregnant. Jalil quietly arranged for Nana and the baby’s new home. Nana once told Mariam that she wished her own father had killed both Nana and her unborn child.

Summary: Chapter 2

Jalil and two of his sons built a small shack, a kolba , for Nana and the baby. Jalil preferred to take the responsibility on himself rather than hire laborers. Mariam has been given two very different accounts of the day of her birth, in 1959. Nana says she was alone, gave birth to Mariam in their kolba, and that Jalil waited a month before visiting his new child. Jalil claims that he arranged for Nana to give birth in a hospital, and that he picked out Mariam’s name. Mariam adores her father, who visits her for a few hours once a week, and she believes Jalil’s version of the story.

Summary: Chapter 3

Once a month, a few of Jalil’s sons deliver supplies to Nana and Mariam. Nana hurls rocks and insults at the boys. Nana doesn’t like people, especially visitors from the village who bring special things for Mariam. But Mariam enjoys her regular visits with Mullah Faizullah, the village tutor. Mullah Faizullah teaches Mariam how to read and how to pray. When Mariam hears that Jalil’s other daughters are going to school, Mariam tells Mullah Faizullah that she wants to go to school with her father’s other children. Mullah Faizullah asks Nana for permission for Mariam, but Nana refuses. Nana tells Mariam that the only lesson Mariam needs to learn in life is endurance.

Summary: Chapter 4

Mariam always looks forward to her father’s weekly visits. The anticipation keeps her anxious for several days. Nana and Jalil make polite conversation, and then Jalil and Mariam spend time together. Jalil takes Mariam fishing, they sing songs together, and Jalil brings Mariam trinkets and news from the world outside Mariam’s kolba . When Jalil leaves, Mariam imagines being part of his life, living with him, and taking care of him.

Summary: Chapter 5

Jalil comes to visit Mariam weekly, and Nana serves them tea and acts with civility towards him. In 1974, just before Mariam turns fifteen, she tells Jalil that her birthday wish is for Jalil to take Mariam to the cinema to see “Pinocchio.” After Jalil leaves, Nana berates Mariam for being ungrateful, for wanting to leave Nana alone. The day arrives, and Mariam waits for her father. When Jalil does not come, Mariam leaves her home for the first time, in search of her father. The villagers, not at all how Nana described, are pleasant. One villager helps Mariam find Jalil Khan’s home. However, Mariam is turned away. Jalil’s driver tells Mariam that her father isn’t home. Mariam sees her father in the window and refuses to leave. Ultimately Mariam is forced into the car and taken home. After the driver helps Mariam across the stream, he tries to shield Mariam from what she is about to see. Nana has hung herself from a willow tree.

Summary: Chapter 6

After Nana’s burial, Jalil tries to comfort Mariam, but she only wants Mullah Faizullah. Mariam’s tutor speaks to her from the Koran, but nothing can ease the guilt Mariam feels over Nana’s death. Mariam keeps mostly to her new room in Jalil’s house. Mariam’s half-sister, Niloufar, brings a gramophone and plays music. Mullah Faizullah comes for a visit. Mariam tells him she feels responsible for Nana’s death. Mullah Faizullah tells Mariam that Nana had always been an unhappy person, and that her death was not Mariam’s fault. A few days later, Niloufar’s mother summons Mariam downstairs. The family needs to speak with her.

Summary: Chapter 7

Jalil’s wives inform Mariam that she has a suitor. Rasheed, a forty-five-year-old widower, is a respected shoemaker in Kabul. Mariam argues; she is too young, she’d rather live with Mullah Faizullah. Jalil’s wives say that she is the right age to marry, and that Mariam would be a burden on her old tutor and his family. When Mariam pleads with Jalil, he dismisses her. Jalil has already made the arrangements with Rasheed. Mariam is taken back upstairs and locked in her room. 

Summary: Chapter 8

The next day, Mariam and Rasheed are married. Mariam and her new husband prepare to travel to Kabul, and Jalil accompanies them to the bus stop. Jalil tells Mariam how much she will enjoy Kabul, but she stops him. Mariam tells Jalil how desperately she had loved him, but how she now realizes he is ashamed of her. Mariam tells her father not to visit her in Kabul. Mariam never wants to hear from Jalil again. Mariam gets on the bus and does not look back as it pulls away.

Analysis: Chapters 1–8

A Thousand Splendid Suns  introduces the theme of shame in tandem with the introduction of Mariam, one of the novel’s protagonists. Dropping a tea plate is an unforgiveable offence for which Mariam is viciously berated by her mother, Nana. This cruel display reveals Mariam and Nana’s difficult relationship. Nana repeats the slur “ harami ,” meaning a bastard child, showing how deeply her daughter’s illegitimate status affects her. Mariam thus learns from an early age that she is not desired by her mother and that her very existence is shameful.

Jalil treats Mariam with a kindness that is starkly contrasted with the harsh treatment Mariam receives from her mother. Jalil brings Mariam gifts to not only appease her need for his attention, but also to assuage his own guilt over Mariam being a child born out of wedlock. Mariam views Jalil as benevolent because she cannot understand what her father actually thinks of their relationship. Regardless of how Mariam feels about her father, one fact remains: while Jalil may be kind to Mariam, he has no desire to integrate Mariam into his life in the city with his other children and wives, ultimately heightening Mariam’s feelings of shame.

Mariam’s parents find one commonality in how they view and treat Mariam, which will shape how Mariam views herself: both parents refuse to truly integrate her into their lives. Nana, with her strict hand over Mariam’s life, treats her as a subject to control. Because of Mariam’s status as Jalil’s bastard child, he cannot face the shame of bringing her into his home with his legitimate children. The trauma of not having a supportive family forces Mariam to adopt her reputation as a harami as a fundamental part of her identity.

Nana’s influence over Miriam underscores the importance Nana places on enduring and surrendering to their personal fates. Amid their tense and complicated relationship, Nana dutifully teaches Mariam necessary skills like cooking, bread-making, and cleaning, but she resents Mariam’s desire to go to school. In displaying her displeasure, Nana reinforces the gender expectations of their society. Nana uses the word harami as well as many other insults, including what other people perceive Mariam’s reputation to be, to exert control over her daughter. While Mullah Faizullah believes education is beneficial and worthwhile, Nana has resigned herself and her daughter to simply enduring the will of fate.

In Chapter 5, trauma ushers in Mariam’s sudden and dramatic shift into adulthood. Jalil teaches Mariam how to fish and recite poetry, and these activities become a form of childish escapism that Mariam uses to craft an imaginary life in which her father might bring her to his home. However, these childish fantasies crack when Jalil refuses to let Mariam come to the theater to see Pinocchio .  This deeply traumatic first rejection from a man makes Mariam realize her childhood daydreams are not real, and that she is not one of her father’s priorities. Her lack of importance in her father’s life is solidified when Mariam is not allowed to enter Jalil’s house, which she interprets as a refusal to be a part of Jalil’s family.  Nana hanging herself and the subsequent trauma of witnessing her dangling body fully removes Mariam from everything that was familiar to her in childhood.

Just as it was for Mariam’s mother, endurance begins to play a significant role in Mariam’s life. Staying at Jalil’s house is not the fantasy she assumed it would be. At the house, Mariam endures Jalil’s unwelcoming and even hostile wives. They exemplify this behavior by trying to expel her out of the house through an arranged marriage. There is an unbalanced power dynamic between Mariam, Jalil, and his wives: Mariam, who is but a teenager, is being married off to a much older man and Jalil’s wives are shepherding this decision to get her out of their lives. Mariam marries Rasheed inside her father’s home, shattering her childish hopes of it ever being a safe haven. Going forward, Mariam will have to endure a troubled home life with her new husband, while her forced marriage by her father marks the beginning of her suffering at the hands of cruel men.

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a thousand splendid suns summary of each chapter

Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns is set in Afghanistan from the early 1960s to the early 2000s. Mariam, a young girl in the 1960s, grows up outside Herat, a small city in Afghanistan. Mariam has complicated feelings about her parents: She lives with her spiteful and stubborn mother, Nana; while her father Jalil, a successful businessman, visits Mariam — his only illegitimate child — once a week. Mariam resents her limited place in Jalil's life; she wants to live with him, his three wives, and her half-siblings in Herat. She makes her wishes known by asking Jalil to take her to see Pinocchio for her fifteenth birthday. Jalil reluctantly agrees, but then never shows up to take her to the film. Mariam walks to heart and finds Jalil's house, but he doesn't let her in, so she sleeps on the street. The next morning, Jalil's chauffeur drives Mariam home where she finds that her mother has committed suicide.

Mariam is taken to Jalil's home after her mother's funeral. Jalil's wives want nothing to do with Mariam, so they force him to let her marry Rasheed, a widowed shoemaker in Kabul. At first Rasheed treats Mariam decently, but after she suffers miscarriage after miscarriage, he abuses her both physically and verbally. It becomes clear that Rasheed's only use for Mariam is in her ability to replace the son he lost years ago.

Growing up down the street from Rasheed and Mariam is Laila, a young, intelligent girl from a loving family. However, the Afghani war against the Soviets disrupts Laila's childhood and both her older brothers leave to join the war. Laila seeks comfort from her best friend, Tariq, a boy a few years older than her. Just before Laila reaches adolescence, her parents' receive news that both of their sons have been killed. A few years later, war reaches Kabul and bombs fall on the city regularly. By now, Tariq and Laila are teenagers and in love. As Tariq tells Laila that he and his family are fleeing to Pakistan, the couples makes love for the first time, quickly and passionately. A few days later, Laila's parents decide to leave Afghanistan as well, but as they are packing a rocket hits their house, killing Laila's parents and wounding her.

Rasheed and Mariam nurse Laila back to health and after she recovers, a stranger, Abdul Sharif brings her news that Tariq has died. Devastated and realizing she's pregnant with Tariq's child, Laila agrees to marry Rasheed. Mariam is initially hurt and threatened by Laila's presence and refuses to have anything to do with her. However, after Laila gives birth to a daughter, Aziza, the women come to see themselves as allies against Rasheed's abusive, manipulative ways. A few years later, Laila gives birth to a son, Zalmai. Then, one afternoon, after years of abuse and sadness, Laila is shocked to see a man standing at her front door: Tariq.

Tariq and Laila spend the afternoon together while Rasheed is at work. Laila and Mariam realize that Rasheed hired Abdul Sharif to tell Laila about Tariq's untrue demise so she wouldn't run away. When Rasheed finds out that Tariq has come home, he brutally beats Laila. With a shovel, Mariam kills Rasheed. The next day, Mariam turns herself over to the Taliban in an effort to clear the way for Laila to find sanctuary for herself and her children in Pakistan with Tariq.

In Pakistan, Tariq and Laila marry and finally begin the life they dreamed of so many years ago. With time, both of Laila's children warm to Tariq and they enjoy their new life. But in September, 2001, their happiness is overshadowed by news that the United States has attacked Afghanistan. Following the US invasion, conditions in Kabul improve, and Laila insists that her family move back home so they can help rebuild their city. They stop by Herat on their way to Kabul, where Laila visits Mariam's old home and is able to come to terms with her grief over Mariam's execution. Laila and Tariq build a new life in Kabul: Laila becomes a schoolteacher at the orphanage where Aziza once lived. And when Laila becomes pregnant, she decides that if she has a girl, she'll name her Mariam.

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A Thousand Splendid Suns

Khaled hosseini, everything you need for every book you read..

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A Thousand Splendid Suns

By khaled hosseini, a thousand splendid suns summary and analysis of chapters 1-5.

The book opens with young Mariam being verbally chastised for breaking a tea set that belongs to her mother ( Nana ), who calls her a "harami" or bastard child. Mariam, as the narrator, explains that she did not clearly understand what the term meant. Nani explains that upon getting pregnant, Jalil cast out Nana from his household. Nana wishes that her father avenged her, but he did not do so. In order to save face in his household, Jalil insisted that Nana threw herself upon him. In retelling the story, Nana warns Mariam that a man will always blame a woman. After getting pregnant, Nana refused to stay in Herat or to move in with her father, so Jalil and his sons built her the kolba, the shacklike house in which Nana and Mariam live, in a clearing outside of the city.

Nana had told Mariam that she was once close to marriage when she was fifteen years-old. She was to be married to a parakeet seller, but before her wedding a "jinn" (a seizure or spasm of some sort) entered her body and the wedding was called off. Nana retells the events of Mariam's birth as if to suggest that she was on the floor of the kolba for two days, lying in pain waiting for birth. However, Jalil claims that Mariam was born in a hospital while Jalil was away. Both parents claim that they chose Mariam's name. Nana claims that Jalil did not visit baby Mariam until she was one month old, but Jalil says he came to see her as fast as he possibly could. Jalil's sons Muhsin and Ramin bring rations to the kolba so that Mariam and Nana don't have to go out to buy them. Nana throws rocks at the boys and curses, but Mariam feels sorry for them because of Nana's assaults.

Mariam and Nana spend their days feeding and milking animals, making bread and rice. Nana doesn't like visitors or people, but a couple of characters do visit the kolba. Bibi Jo is an older woman who comes to complain and gossip. Mullah Faizullah visits to tutor Mariam. He teaches Mariam the Koran prayers and her how to read. Mariam likes Mullah Faizullah, because he listens to her opinions and ideas.

During one tutoring session, Mariam tells Mullah Faizullah that she wants to go to school, and Mullah Faizullah approaches Nana about the issue. Nana refuses to send Mariam to school, chastises Mullah Faizullah, and tells Mariam that the only skill she needs to learn is how to endure life.

Mariam eagerly awaits Jalil's visits, because she loves the time they spend together. Nana also prepares for the visits, always appearing well groomed though she speaks ill of Jalil behind his back. Upon Jalil's arrival for this particular visit, Nana told Jalil that she had heard from Bibi Jo that one of Jalil's wives was pregnant. Jalil confirms the rumor.

Mariam and Jalil always go fishing and draw pictures when he visits. Jalil teaches her rhymes and brings newspaper clips to teach Mariam about Afghan politics. Jalil explains to Mariam that at this point in politics, Daoud Khan overthrows King Zahir Shah which turns Afghanistan into a republic. Rumors fly about the possible socialist ties of Daoud Khan. Jalil also brings her gifts. Mariam has admiration for Jalil, and she wishes that Jalil could take her in to live with him.

Mariam asks Jalil to take her to the cinema to see the new cartoon film that is premiering. When Mariam approaches Nana about the idea, Nana insists that the trip is a bad idea. However, when alone with Jalil, Mariam tells him that she wants to go to the cinema, and she also wants to meet her brothers and sisters. Jalil offers to send someone else to take her to the movies, but Mariam demands that Jalil to take her, and finally Jalil agrees.

Nana finds Mariam's intention to go to the cinema as a sign of her being ungrateful to her, and she tells Mariam she must stay home. Mariam does not listen to Nana and feels resentment towards her for treating her like a burden.

On the day of the movie, Jalil does not come to pick up Mariam, so Mariam decides to walk to Herat herself. Once there she is amazed by the city, and she catches a ride to Jalil's house. Mariam is told by a doorman that Jalil was away on business indefinitely and that she should go home. Mariam refuses to leave and spends the night outside of Jalil's house.The next day, Mariam tries to run into the garden. She only catches a quick glance of Jalil in the window, before she is forced into the backseat of Jalil's car by his chauffeur. Mariam is taken back to the kolba, betrayed and ashamed. While walking back to the kolba, the chauffeur tries to hide Mariam's eyes, but Mariam is able to see that Nana has hanged herself.

The opening of the novel sets the foundation for the book's more macrocosmic themes. Nana refers to Mariam as a “harami" (bastard or illegitimate child) in order to suggest that Mariam's birth was the consequence of an extra-marital affair. The term "harami" frames her upbringing as one that is illegitimate, a reference that Mariam herself makes in a later chapter. On the opposite side, Jalil appears as the standard for “legitimacy” according to societal views. Yet, once he lets Mariam down and subsequently rejects her presence at his home, his legitimacy as a father is called into question. In addition, Jalil’s relationship to Nana and Mariam displays his shame of this “second family”.

Both Mariam and Nana express hope at various points throughout this section. Nana reflects on her hopeful attitudes toward her upcoming marriage when she was a girl. Mariam expresses her hope for reconciliation with Jalil, finally persuading him to deepen their relationship and take her to the cinema. Yet, both characters find that their hope spirals into despair, a trajectory that repeats throughout the novel. Nana’s wedding is interrupted by a jinn, while Mariam’s meeting with Jalil never comes to pass.

Additionally, Mariam’s insistence to attend school and Nana’s refusal is the beginning of a discussion about education for women that resonates throughout the novel. Mariam learns early on that the attainment of a formal education would not only be impossible for her, but also that such an education would be wasted on her. The larger point, of course, is that a woman's responsibility is her home and her family.

The start of the novel provides insight into Mariam's dual existence as a child. She lives with Nana's harsh realism, imbuing her with a sense of longing for a better life. Jalil provides a new perspective on life, one that is fanciful and denies anything ugly or unpleasant. Mariam is forced to choose between these two opposing forces and ultimately chooses the idyllic view, as most children likely would. Nana's encouragement of Mariam to learn how to endure foreshadows the life that Mariam will lead, one that will require her to endure a childless abusive marriage.

Nana's emphasis on Mariam learning to endure suffering not only suggests how bleak Mariam's future will be, but also the type of lessons that Mariam must have learned as a child in Nana's home. Ultimately, throughout the rest of the novel, Mariam's capacity for endurance is what allows her to survive horrible conditions and depressing personal losses. Additionally, as Mariam grows up, she becomes steady and solid enough to endure her surroundings but rarely proactive enough to change her situation - a pattern of behavior which most likely reflects her upbringing.

Mariam's trip to Herat, which ultimately culminates in Nana's suicide, signals the end of Mariam's childhood, as well as the end of her naivete. Prior to her trip to Herat, she was shielded about Jalil's true regard for Mariam. Once Mariam attempts to reach Jalil, however, she is exposed to the truth about his consideration for her as an outsider to his life. Upon her mother's death, the simplicity of her life in the kolba is completely overturned, and she is thrust into adulthood immediately with her quest for a new home.

The significance of the "jinn", which appears in this first section of the book, is twofold. In religious belief, the jinn is a dark spirit that enters the body of a person. However, in biological terms, the word jinn also refers to a physical seizure or spasm. Throughout the novel, the term reflects this duality, serving as a symbol of pain and death, often imbued with a sense of karmic vengeance for past actions of regretful characters.

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A Thousand Splendid Suns Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for A Thousand Splendid Suns is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

How elitism is shown in last 4 chapters?

Jalil tells Nana about another child he has had, and Nana is bitter about the fact that her daughter is not counted among his children. Jalil sits with Miriam and they sing songs and draw pictures together. He tells her about events in the outside...

. Rasheed digs Laila out of the rubble of the explosion that kills her mother and father and takes her into his home. Does his behavior seem unusual? What are his motives for taking care of Laila?

Rasheed wants another wife. He wants a younger wife that will give him at least one son. Rasheed only cares about himself. He cares little for Mariam or Laila. He is a misogynist who uses women for what he wants.

What is the motive of Jalil’s wives in finding a suitor for Mariam Why does Jalil go along with them in this plan?

Jalil's wives simply want Miriam out of their way. They have children of their own, and Miriam, nor her mother, were ever a part of their lives. Jalil, on the other hand, feels as if he owes Miriam something. Thus, he wants to arrange her marriage...

Study Guide for A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns is Khaled Hosseini's second novel. Like his first novel, The Kite Runner, it is set in Afghanistan. A Thousand Splendid Suns study guide contains a biography of Khaled Hosseini, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

Essays for A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns is the second novel written by Khaled Hosseini. A Thousand Splendid Suns essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

Lesson Plan for A Thousand Splendid Suns

Wikipedia Entries for A Thousand Splendid Suns

a thousand splendid suns summary of each chapter


Chapter 34: laila.


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  1. A Thousand Splendid Suns Chapters 1–8 Summary & Analysis

    Summary: Chapter 1 ... Mariam's father, Jalil Khan, is a wealthy businessman with three wives. Mariam's mother, Nana, is not married to Jalil. When Mariam is five

  2. Summary & Analysis Part 1 Chapter 1

    Chapter 1 familiarizes the reader with Hosseini's style. The narrative, which takes place in Afghanistan, is speckled with Afghani phrases that only sometimes

  3. A Thousand Splendid Suns

    Mariam, a young girl in the 1960s, grows up outside Herat, a small city in Afghanistan. Mariam has complicated feelings about her parents: She lives with her

  4. A Thousand Splendid Suns Part 1

    Chapter 1 · Mariam is a young girl who lives with her mother in the small village of Gul Daman. · Mariam's father, Jalil, visits her for one or two hours each

  5. A Thousand Splendid Suns Chapter Summaries

    ... Splendid Suns Chapter Summary. Find summaries for every chapter, including a A Thousand Splendid Suns Chapter Summary Chart to help you understand the book.

  6. A Thousand Splendid Suns Part I: Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

    Mariam adores Jalil, who never calls her such a name, but instead visits and tells her stories about their city, Herat, and the famous poet Jami who lived there

  7. A Thousand Splendid Suns Summary and Study Guide

    A Thousand Splendid Suns, a 2007 novel by Afghan-born Khaled Hosseini, is the story of Mariam and Laila, two women married to the same man, Rasheed. Born in

  8. A Thousand Splendid Suns Summary and Analysis of Chapters 1-5

    The book opens with young Mariam being verbally chastised for breaking a tea set that belongs to her mother (Nana), who calls her a "harami"

  9. a thousand splendid suns: plot summary / synopsis

    This chapter is so sad, because it is reminiscent of a divorced couple and how they use their children to hurt each other. Nana passes on her bitterness to

  10. a thousand splendid suns: detailed study guide / notes

    However, there is a bright thought in the fact that the two women are now no longer enemies. CHAPTER 35. Summary. From that night on, Mariam and Laila do their