Mariam in “A Thousand Splendid Suns”

This novel, “A thousand splendid suns,” is taken place in Afghanistan and follows the life of a girl, Mariam who is a little girl at the beginning. Mariam lives with her mother, Nana on the outskirts of Herat, in a small village named Gul Daman. Mariam’s mother refers to her as a “harami” (bastard) and made her feel as if she wasn’t wanted from the beginning of her life. Mariam thought that she as a person would never have a “legitimate claim to the things other people had, things such as love, family, home, and acceptance.” Mariam’s mother was a housekeeper for her father, Jalil, a rich businessman who at the time already had children and three wives. Mariam’s father kicked Nana out of his house when she became pregnant and built her the kolba they live in, along with the help of his sons.

Jalil came to visit and spend time with Mariam every Thursday. Mariam looked forward to these visits every week, she loved her father and looked up to him. Although Nana never said anything to reflect how she felt about Jalil while he was there, she never failed to show the built up resentment she had towards him when he would leave. Mariam had a tutor, Mullah Faizullah who she was very close with, nobody understood her like him. He encourages Mariam to learn and tries to talk to Nana for her about going to school. For Mariam’s birthday, she asked her father to take her to his cinema to see the movie Pinocchio, but he never showed to pick her up. After letting some time past, Mariam decided to walk into town to look for Jalil only to find his house and sit outside all night because he refused to let her in.

The next morning, one of Jalil’s drivers took Mariam home and found her mother’s body hanging from a tree. Mariam had no other choice but to stay with her father now, but not for long. Jalil’s wives couldn’t stand having his bastard child around so they arranged a marriage for her, to a man named Rasheed, a shoemaker who lives in Kabul. Shortly after moving in with him, Mariam became pregnant and felt a happiness she had never felt. “When Mariam thought of this baby, her heart swelled inside of her. It swelled and swelled until all the loss, all the grief, all the loneliness and self-abasement of her life washed away.” Rasheed and Mariam visited a bathhouse and Mariam had a miscarriage.

In the next 4 years, Mariam experienced six more miscarriages. At this point, Mariam could do no right to please her husband, he was beating on her and she lived in complete fear of him. She felt that she had failed him seven times. At the end of Part 1, Mariam made her husband dinner and he believed the rice was too hard so he made her chew pebbles until he left, leaving her to spit out blood and broken teeth.

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