Journal Entry #5
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
pg. 261- 366

What is the climax of the novel?
The climax occurs after Laila and Miriam run away and are returned to Rasheed. Rasheed had become increasingly more and more abusive towards both of them, but particularly Laila. After Zalmai tells his father about the unfamiliar male visitor his mother received that day, Rasheed begins to beat her. She stands up to him, upset that he had lied to her about Tariq’s death, but Rasheed takes her in a chokehold until her face turns blue. Realizing that Rasheed was going to kill her dearest friend, Miriam runs to get a shovel from the shed, and uses it to hit Rasheed over the head. I think this is the highest point of excitement of the novel, and this moment changes the outcome of the character’s lives. Afterward, Laila is free to marry Tariq, and Miriam is sentenced to death.

Is the novel believable?
Yes, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a realistic novel with believable events. Although most of it is fiction, the novel is built around historic events in Afghanistan. Reading the novel, one will learn about the rise and fall of the communist regimes in Afghanistan, and then that of the Islamic rule. Sadly, the themes involving the oppression of women in Afghan society are also true, especially during the 1990’s when Afghanistan was Islamic. The fact that the novel is set in a real place and uses historic events makes it seem realistic to the reader. The plot was fiction, but historic events were incorporated into the novel, as well as the character’s reactions to them. Miriam and Laila were not real people, but the Mujahideen, the Communist and Islamic rulers were. The novel gives one a realistic glimpse into the life of an Afghan woman during the 1970’s-2000’s. The Soviet rule was also true, as was the conflicts between tribal allegiances. Many people were actually killed by stray rockets as well, as they were in the novel.

Is there a message or main theme emerging in the book? How is it shown?
The main theme of the novel is hope, and it is shown in many ways. One way is the setting, in Afghanistan during the rule of communist regimes and then the Islamic rule, there was little hope amongst the people after all the death. The title also represents the theme, as the title of the novel A Thousand Splendid Suns is from a poem written about Kabul. “One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.” This poem is literally about Kabul and the ancient walls that surround it, but it could also mean that good things you cannot see wait in the future. When Babi took Laila and Tariq to see the ancient walls, he compared Afghanistan to the walls, ‘Battered, but still standing.” Meaning that the walls had been attacked many times, but they still stood, just like Afghanistan had been attacked by the Macedonians, Sassanians, Arabs, Mongols, and now the Soviets, but still hope survived in the hearts of the Afghans. Hope was also expressed by the characters in their actions. Even though Rasheed beat Laila, she still stood up to him, for hope that one day she would win. Even though Laila had been told Tariq was dead, she still loved him and hoped to see him again, and then one day he showed up at her door. The people remaining in Afghanistan all hoped for victory over the communist rule, and eventually they were conquered.

What were the major things that helped to resolve the plot?
Miriam and Laila were both stuck with an abusive husband, and although he provided them with a home and shelter, he also made life almost unbearable. Laila realized that her lover, Tariq, whose death she had been mourning was still alive. Rasheed had lied to her about his death, and Tariq had shown up at their house when Rasheed was at work. Zalmai tells Rasheed of the unfamiliar man who had been in the house, and Rasheed begins to beat Laila to the point where it seems that he will kill her if something isn’t done. Miriam decides their fates by killing Rasheed with a shovel. Miriam helps by saving Laila’s life as well as killing her husband, so she can marry Tariq and start a new life. She takes away Zalmai’s father, the person he loves and admires most. She knows she’ll be sentenced to death, but did it to save her best friend so she can have a better life. The story unravels quickly after this, Miriam is executed and Tariq, along with Laila and her children move to Pakistan. They later return to Kabul to improve the orphanage where Laila once sent Aziza.