Women And Resilience In Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns

2843 words - 11 pages

Afghan-born American novelist and physician Khaled Hosseini’s second bestselling novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, written in 2007, is set in “war-ravaged landscape of Afghanistan”, and it focuses on the tumultuous lives and relationship of Mariam and Laila. In contrast to Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, which is a story of “father-son relationship”, this novels is regarded as “mother-daughter story” by the author himself. The novel relates the story of Mariam and Laila in four parts. The first part focuses on Mariam, while the second and fourth part on Laila, and the relationship between the two women in the third part. At the background the novel also recounts Afghanistan’s troubled history of last several decades, through the eyes of a segment of the Afghan population that probably suffered and lost the most during that period, that are its women. Through this pitiable story of two women married to a man Rasheed, who oppress them physically as well as psychologically, the author tries to represent the situation of Afghan women, who are not only affected by the war but are also being oppressed by their domestic rulers, that are their husbands. The present paper attempts to examine the afghan women, oppressed under the rule of patriarchy, whether at the domestic level by their husbands or at social order under Taliban rule, and their resilience and tenacity to survive, which is clearly identified throughout this novel with a glimpse of hope at the end, as the rains return, the cinemas open, the children play and the orphanages are rebuilt.

Khaled Hosseini brings in this novel the subject of women suppression in Afghanistan along with the various other restrictions of education and familial subjugation. He has created the man-dominated patriarchal Muslim world of Afghanistan where women are deprived of equality and freedom, and where “women are still very much women,” to use Simone de Beauvoir’s words (de Beauvoir [Introduction] 3). They are treated as they are slaves of their men who rule them, order them and own them, and they are warned, “ be women, stay women, become women,” with a religious ideological tool that “a woman’s face is her husband’s business only,” (Hosseini 48). This acts as a cynical bludgeon in the cruel hands of husbands. The issue of Afghan women’s rights is the deep-seated concern of the novel that relates it to feminist aspect, and just after the September 11, 2001 attack, it became a major concern of Afghan literature as a whole. The novel traces more than three decades of chaotic history of Afghanistan. Within this larger historical context, Khaled Hosseini has analysed the egregious situation of women in Afghanistan, both before and after the Taliban rule. The various forms of suppression in the patriarchal authoritarianism of Afghanistan show how women excruciatingly dependent on their fathers, husbands and, especially, on their sons, because bearing male children are considered the one and only path to social...

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