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”A Thousand Splendid Suns Analysis” by Khaled Hosseini

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The novel A Thousand Splendid Suns, written by Khaled Hosseini, shows how war can change people, and how it brings out the worst in them. Characters in this novel have their personalities and their views of life changed by the war that tears through their country. As the war changes the characters, they come into conflict with each other, with themselves, and with society. The settling also plays a big part in the theme, as it sets the scene and allows all these changes to occur. The author of A Thousand Splendid Suns develops this theme through the use of characterization, conflict, and setting.

Characterization in the novel shows how the characters change throughout the book because of the war. One character that proves this point is Rasheed; he’s not a terrible guy at the beginning of the book, and when the war comes to Kabul, he slowly gets worse and worse. At the start of the novel, as the author writes, he’s shows that Rasheed isn’t perfect, but he tries to be a good husband. “Rasheed, who took up the window and middle seat, put his thick hand on hers,” (Hosseini 56) wrote the author about the bus ride Mariam was taking to her new home with her husband. This quote reveals that while Rasheed isn’t the greatest man, he still wants Mariam to be happy. But as the book starts nearing the middle, and the rulers of Afghanistan start to shift, Rasheed’s personality begins to take a turn of the worst. He gets more violent, irritable, and overall nasty. “His powerful hands clasped her jaw. He shoved two fingers into her mouth and pried it open, then forced the cold, hard pebbles into it. Mariam struggled against him, mumbling, but he kept pushing the pebbles in, his lips curled into a sneer.

“Now chew,” he said,” (Hosseini 104) describes the author about Rasheed losing his temper with Mariam, and resorting to violence to teach her a lesson. Rasheed is beginning to get more and more irritable, and it gets to the point where he forces Mariam to chew rocks as punishment for undercooking his rice. The stress from the war and the government has got him on edge. At the end of the book, Rasheed has become a totally different person. He punishes his wives by threats and beating, and he has an extremely short temper; nothing can please him. “And then he was on Laila, pummeling her chest, her head, her belly with his fists, tearing at her hair, throwing her to the wall,” (Hosseini 305) depicts the author as Rasheed beats Laila for talking back. The bombing, the loss of his shop, and the resulting unemployment have driven him to extremes. Rasheed is no longer the man he used to be. The drastic change in Rasheed’s personality is a perfect example of how war brings out the worst in people.

Conflict in the novel shows how the characters are forced to interact with one another, along with having to look into themselves, because of the war. When Laila’s house is bombed and her parents are killed, she is taken in by Mariam and Rasheed to be healed from the blast. “Well, I wouldn’t have. I wouldn’t have fed you if I’d known you were going to turn around and steal my husband,” (Hosseini 226) Mariam says to Laila when the younger girl plans to agree to Rasheed’s marriage proposal. Mariam, being Rasheed’s first wife, feels as if Laila, being younger and prettier, is trying to steal what is rightfully hers. Another conflict that resulted from the war is the clash between Rasheed and Tariq, Laila’s childhood sweetheart. When the war forces Tariq to move out of Kabul, Rasheed makes Laila believe that he died, so that Laila wouldn’t try to run away from him. But when Tariq returned, as if from the dead, and Rasheed learned of their secret meeting . . . he went crazy. “And, with that, Mariam brought down the shovel.

This time, she gave it everything she had,” (Hosseini 349) wrote the author, explaining how Mariam killed Rasheed. After learning about Tariq’s return, Rasheed tries to kill Laila, and so Mariam kills Rasheed to protect Laila and her family. One more conflict is the struggle of the citizens with society. When the Taliban come during the war, they take away all of the woman’s rights that Kabul had before the war. “Laila was glad, when the Taliban went to work, that Babi wasn’t around to witness it. It would have crippled him,” (Hosseini 280) tells the author, talking about Laila’s feelings towards the Taliban. The conflict between Mariam, Laila, and society causes the two women to do things they never would have thought of before the war. The different types of conflict in this novel show just how much war can change people.

The setting of the novel plays a big part in the theme, as it sets the mood and gives the characters scenarios to interact with. The Kabul women are used to dressing, speaking, and going where they like; but because the setting is in Afghanistan, that all gets changed once the war hits. “Here in Kabul, women taught at the university, ran schools, held office in government,” (Hosseini 135) wrote the author about the current rights that women had in Afghanistan. This is a problem, because when the Taliban came and took away the women’s freedom, there was unrest all across Kabul. When the war reached Kabul, rockets began to hit the city, and people were shocked at the onslaught. “Kabul’s day of reckoning had come at last. And when the rockets began to rain down on Kabul, people ran for cover,” (Hosseini 172) described the author, about when war finally hit Kabul and the bombing started. The rockets that hit Kabul killed hundreds, bringing pain, sorrow, and anger. Many people were filled with hate at this time, but they could got fight back.

After the rockets began to drop, the soldiers came and began to fire at the city. People were forced to hide in their houses, as the streets were no longer safe. “Then the rugs were folded, the guns loaded, and the mountains fired on Kabul, and Kabul fired back at the mountains, and Laila and the rest of the city watched . . . ,” (Hosseini 174) writes the author as war rages through Kabul. Since the setting is in Afghanistan, the war causes a major problem to the people. The setting of the book is everything; without the war in the city, none of these things would be happening. Events would be drastically altered if the setting had not taken place in Afghanistan. The setting is what changes the people, and the war setting brings out the worst in them.

The author of A Thousand Splendid Suns develops this theme through the use of characterization, conflict, and setting. The war in the novel brings out the worst in the characters, and changes their outlook on life. The war also brings characters into conflicts with each other, with society, and with themselves. Without the setting, though, none of these events would have taken place; setting plays a key role in the change and development of characters. War can change people and bring out the worst in them, as the theme of the book clearly states.

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