The Space Between Us And A Thousand Splendid Suns

1287 words - 5 pages

In architecture, contrast is used to create a dramatic entrance. The observer moves from a small, dimly lit space to a grand room full of light where they feel the impact of the room because of its contrast with the previous one. Similarly, authors, the architects of a book’s plot, use contrast to emphasize a character’s struggles and triumphs. In both The Space Between Us by Thirty Umrigar and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, the authors use the contrast between two lives to emphasize the power of money, education, and gender within Afghan and Indian society.

The centre of economy and the focus of many lives, the power of money is punctuated by the difference in wealth in Bhima and Sera’s lives in The Space Between Us. The importance of money is stressed in A Thousand Splendid Suns with the contrast between Mariam’s father’s prosperity and her mother’s poverty and the difference in Laila and Mariam’s lives before and after war. Centred on the newly abolished caste system, the distinction between Bhima and Sera’s financial situations underlines the difference money makes in their society. While Bhima is forced to live in a slum, Sera enjoys the luxury of her home and the employment of Bhima. Another luxury Bhima can’t afford is to welcome Maya’s baby. Instead she is forced to watch her granddaughter suffer from the emotional effects of an abortion. While Sera eagerly awaits the birth of her own grandchild she is the one who financially facilitates the abortion of Bhima’s great-grandchild. Furthermore, because of the pre-existing social constraints of the caste system, Bhima is not permitted to sit on the same furniture or use the same dishes as Sera. Similarly, Mariam’s life is also restricted by her mother’s poverty. The only thing Mariam looks forward to are her father’s visits as these provide an escape from her otherwise stagnant existence. With her focus on living in the city and getting away from the kolba, she chooses her father’s rich way of life over the impoverished one she has always known. Going from an almost completely unknown and isolated clearing to Herat where, “Everyone knows where Jalil Khan lives,” (page 29) the difference that a town life can afford Mariam strikes her instantly. When she is finally let into her father’s house the disparities between it and the kolba are noted. Having, “never before touched a car,” (page 30) and feeling the tall walls of Jalil’s house, walking on the “maroon carpet with a repeating blue-and-yellow octagonal pattern” (page 36) seeing “out of the corer of [her] eye the marble bases of statues, the lower halves of vases, the frayed ends of richly colored tapestries hanging from walls” (page 36), ascending the wide stairs and being led into a room where her sisters play “sometimes”, and seeing servants and gardeners rushing around outside the house, is a sharp contrast to the small and dreary hut made of sun-dried bricks plastered with mud and handfuls of straw (page 10). Coming...

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