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A Thousand Splendid Suns. An Analysis of Chapters 1-5. THEMES IN CHAPTERS 1-5. The Plight of Women : “Learn this now and learn it well, my daughter: Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You remember that, Mariam ” ( Hosseini 7)

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a thousand splendid suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns

An Analysis of Chapters 1-5

themes in chapters 1 5
  • The Plight of Women: “Learn this now and learn it well, my daughter: Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You remember that, Mariam” (Hosseini 7)
  • Women and Education: “What’s the sense schooling a girl like you? Its like shining a spittoon. And you’ll learn nothing of value in those schools. There is only one, only one skill a woman like you and me needs in life, and they don’t teach it in school” (Hosseini 18)
  • Endurance and Inner Strength: “It’s our lot in life, Mariam. Women like us. We endure. Its all we have. Do you understand” (Hosseini 19)
  • Illusion vs. Reality (and Human Capacity for Evil): “He let her sleep on the street. On the street.” (Hosseini 35)
  • Kolba in the midst of weeping willows (constant suffering): “…there was a circular grove of weeping willow trees. In the center, in the shade of the willows, was the clearing” (9)
  • Pebbles (hope for a family, to belong): “The pebbles spilled from her pocket” (35)
character development mariam
Character Development: Mariam
  • A dutiful and respectful daughter
  • Respects her mom and listens to her bitter comments
  • Enjoys hearing stories
  • Appreciates education
  • Always sees her mother in a negative light and presents Jalil and his sons in a more positive light
  • Longs for a family
  • Is in constant search for happiness which she only finds in Jalil and Mullah Faizullah
  • Gullible /naïve
character development nana
Character Development: Nana
  • Bitter and angry
  • Loves Mariam but is incapable of showing it
  • Pessimistic
  • Verbally aggressive and abusive
  • Selfish, incapable of sympathizing and empathizing
  • Superficial
  • Controlling and conniving
  • Dislikes company, enjoys solitude
character development jalil
Character Development: Jalil
  • Bound by duty
  • Thinks he can protect Mariam from harm but fails
  • Uses wealth to seek redemption
  • Cowardly
  • A victim to the status quo
chapters 1 5 from the marxist perspective
Chapters 1-5 from the Marxist Perspective
  • Jalil: elite Bourgeoisie class
  • ability to mold his environment (and the people within that environment) to his liking (power that comes with being upper class)
  • Role of money and wealth in seeking redemption
  • Single women part of working class and living in poverty
  • Jalil controls both Mariam’s and Nana’s futures/fates (they are at his mercy)
  • “She liked that no matter the weather he always wore a suit on his visits –dark brown, his favorite color, with the white triangle of a handkerchief in the breast pocket-and cufflinks too, and a tie, usually red, which he left loosened” (21)
chapters 1 5 psychoanalytic perspective
Chapters 1-5: Psychoanalytic Perspective
  • Oedipus Complex: Jalil and Mariam
  • Only male figure in her life
  • The relationship between father and daughter is romanticized
  • “But there was no one, no one, that Mariam longed to see more than Jalil” (20)
  • “Mariam would leap to her feet when she spotted him hopping stones across the stream, all smiles and hearty waves” (21)
  • “Later, after Jalil went home, Mariam and Nana had a small fight about this. Mariam said she had tricked him” (22)
afghan politics early 1970s
Afghan Politics: Early 1970s
  • 1973: King Zahir Shah is overthrown by bloodless coup led by Daoud Khan
  • Afghanistan is no longer a monarchy; it becomes a republic : “The Republic of Afghanistan” (www.afghan-web.com)
  • No overlap of political and personal spheres
discussion questions
Discussion Questions
  • 1. Nana is a complex character. Do you think Nana’s comments on the dangers of mainstream society is an attempt to protect her only child or is it a selfish way of keeping Mariam within her handhold?
  • 2. A. Would you allow your child to do something which you already know will NOT help them in any way?
  • B. Do you think Nana made the correct decision by robbing Mariam of an education?
  • 3. What was your opinion about Jalil when we are first introduced to him. How does your perspective of him change following the incident that occurred on Mariam’s fifteenth birthday?