Critical Analysis Note
for A Thousand Splendid Suns
by Khaled Hosseini
November 31, 2012
The title, A Thousand Splendid Suns, comes from a poem by an Iranian poet Saibi Tabrizi:
Every street of Kabul is enthralling to the eye
Through the bazaars, caravans of Egypt pass
One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs
And the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls In each chapter of the novel, there seems nothing can be related to the title. But think deeply, every events and women characters is trying to show us that what kind of dark life they are going through and what kind of country they are live in. All they need is the strength like suns that can save them from the plight and light up the country. In chapter 33, Laila clings to Rasheed's arm to stop him and agrees to have sex with Rasheed to protect Mariam. Laila and Mariam are no longer enemies. Later in chapter 45, when Rasheed is going to kill Laila. Mariam uses a shovel and swang at Rasheed deadly. At this moment, both Mariam and Laila shows their strength and courage that forever change their fate. These inner strength are like a thousand splendid suns, light up people’s hope and the country.
The title seems little ironic as well. Hosseini leaves us a question to think about after we finish the whole book and come back to look at the title: What kind of country need a thousand splendid suns to light it up? Or it is so dark that no matter how hard people try, it still won’t change.
The two main characters, Mariam and Leila, are two mere average people in Afghanistan, a Midwestern country where the God of peace seldom visits. Mariam, an illegitimate child who lost her childhood on her fifteenth birthday with her mother’s suicide and once loving father’s cold shoulder, was eventually compelled to marry a middle-aged shoemaker, Rasheed, who was extraordinarily 30 years older than her. Henceforth, she began her new life in the shadow of domestic violence in the unrest times. Another hero is Leila, born in the year of Mariam’s marriage to Rasheed. Before she could peacefully bring her childhood to a close, the fierce stole it by taking away both her loving parents and her lover. The same man, Mariam’s husband, saved her and she at last became is third wife and lived with Rasheed and Mariam. Hosseini tells us the miserable and poor life story of the two giant women. It is a story about family, friendship, faith and Self-redemption, about an inexcusable age, an impossible friendship and an indestructible love. For a time there is only endless despair in their life, but hope always comes at last, though never too much. Life is full of misery and bitterness for them, yet we can see from every chapter of the book the sunshine of hope. In fact, the whole story is a miniature of the whole Afghanistan society. It was not until the year 2004 that Afghanistan held its first presidential election, which has finally put an end to the conflicts and sufferings brought by Taliban and Al Qaeda. Today, people in Afghanistan still live a very poor life; an eternal peaceful life seems an eternity. Look back at Mariam and Leila. Mariam was an illegitimate child who lived with her abandoned mother, sometimes insane. Life was barely good for her until her fifteenth birthday, which should have been a rather pretty day yet was ruined with her mother’s suicide and her unfamiliar father’s becoming indifference. As for Leila, fate was also against her, taking her parents and her loved one. It was destiny that at last arranged the two to serve the same man. Under the same roof, they swear, they fight, the struggle for Rasheed’s affection; then they got to know each other, they laugh against misery, they share; until eventually one sacrificed for the other. It is a natural path of two women’s psychological change. Grown up in the same social context, sharing...