A Thousand splendid suns.
Character analysis by Ajaz Ahmed Bhatt (author)
Khaled Hosseini is an Afghan-American novelist, physician, activist, humanitarian and UNHCR goodwill ambassador. After graduating from college, he worked as a doctor in California, a predicament that he likened to “an arranged marriage. He has published three novels, most notably his 2003 debut The Kite Runner, all of which are at least partially set in Afghanistan and feature an Afghan as the protagonist. Following the success of The Kite Runner he retired from medicine to write full-time. All three of his novels became bestsellers: The Kite Runner (2003) spent 101 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list, four of them at number one. A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007) was a Times Best Seller for 103 weeks, 15 at number one. And the Mountains Echoed (2013) debuted near the top of the Times list and remained on it for 33 weeks until January 2014.
Mariam, is one of two female protagonists, is a quiet, thoughtful child at the start of the book The thousand splendid suns. Born out of wedlock to a rich and married businessman called Jalil And his former housekeeper named Nana (the mother of Mariam). Mariam is angry about her mother’s strict norms and fact that she only sees her father once a week. And continuously keeping an eye on her actions.
Let us peek into Mariam’s character to a depth to understand what makes her different than other mythical heroines of fiction.
Her illegitimate Beginning:
Her misfortune started the day she was conceived by Nana. Mariam is described as an outcast and the reason of her mother’s displeasure, disappointment, discontent and shame. We came to know through an annoyance and frustration by Nana, when she broke a precious heirloom. “This is my reward for everything I’ve endured. An heirloom-breaking, clumsy little Harami ” said Nana. But it went through ears of Mariam as she didn’t knew what this word “Harami” actually meant. Being a child she cannot defy the chauvinism, and since forever consider her crime to be born. Later on Mariam came to know that a harami was an unwanted thing a bastard and she, was an illegitimate person who would never have legitimate claim to the things other people had, things such as love, family, home, acceptance.
Mariam was very innocent she considered school going as her freedom , to learn and to play. Which didn’t lasted longer when her embittered mother tries to squash: “What’s the sense schooling girl like you? It’s like shining the spittoon. And you’ll learn nothing of value in those schools” . On the other hand Jalil had no compassion on her due to his social image and name. Which also shows marriage is not associated with true love, but rather with feasibility. Marriage is only the compulsion and convention in patriarchy. After death of her mother Mariam was forced by Jalil and her stepmother to marry Rasheed, a man who is three times of her age. Her approval is just a formality because she didn’t wanted to hurt her father and his massive image. Mariam’s hopes of a better life got even worse when rasheed continuously tried to dominate her. Mariam lives in terror of Rashid’s varying moods and his impulsive disposition that often ends in contempt, ridicule, violence, and beating. His viciousness is obvious from his violent behavior towards Mariam when he compels her to chew solid pebbles as a retribution for not cooking according to his taste: “He shoved two fingers into her mouth and pried it open, then forced the cold, hard pebbles into it, urged her to chew it”
But it took her only four years to realise the boundaries of her suffering and terror imposed by patrarchial society. Their bitter and I’ll relationship made her to live in misery. Rasheed demoralizes and humiliates her by calling her bad names, abuses her, and even beats her physically. Mariam’s life is an example of the situation of other women in around the world who are leading life in constant fear of their husbands. He always complains, “Now you know what you’ve given me in this marriage. Bad food, and nothing else”. Mariam’s inner conflict starts the day Rasheed decides to marry Laila and dishonor Mariam. He forbids her to show any kind of resistance in this matter. He reminds her in insulting manner that, “It’s a common thing… your own father had three wives. Besides, what I am doing now most men I knew would have done long ago”. Polygyny is talked so common like it is a begotten thing. She regrets the sacrifices she made for the vicious and ungrateful person
But Mariam was lady of strong mind and heart. She didn’t wanted any women to suffer like she did. Mariam creates a strong bond of affection with Laila and her daughter kwho was not actually Rasheed’s child. And renovates herself into a prototype gallant mother and not even hesitates to kill her tyrant husband by stabbing her straight into his head when he was trying to dominate over Laila the second bride. She refuses to bear the burden of false indictments without any resistance. She realizes that mere subjugation and subservience without any protest, defense and resistance strengthen the tyrants to defeat humanity. It is this selfless love, satisfaction and delight which creates self confidence in Mariam and forces her to resist and defy openly against the oppression and victimization she is subjected to in the male chauvinist society. Ultimately she was killed by Patrarchial demons of the modern society who care a demon over four innocent life for the mear fact that he was a man. “Through her spirited actions thereafter, Mariam proves that: A woman is a being. She is not an appendage of man. A woman is not the other. She is not an addition to man. She is an autonomous being, capable of, through trial and error, finding her own way to salvation”.