Compare and Contrast Essay on Laila and Mariam in 'A Thousand Splendid Suns'

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In the book A Thousand Splendid Suns written by Khaled Hosseini, in part three of the book, the attention turns back to Mariam’s point of view which she and Rasheed take care of Laila. Laila was rescued by Rasheed who found her in the rubble and saved her life. Later on, Rasheed decides to marry Laila because he says if he lets her out, her life could be in danger and Laila says yes to marriage. Mariam and Laila both face individual abuse where they are forced under their husband Rasheed’s rules. Therefore, abuse causes Mariam and Laila to have a lack of freedom because of male dominance.

Mariam, Rasheed’s first wife, has experienced abuse by Rasheed and experiences more abuse when a new character, Laila, is introduced and is now part of the family. During a dinner, Rasheed tells Laila of Mariam’s low status when contrasting the two women’s backgrounds. Rasheed says, “A blessing, really… We are city people, you and I… Have you told her, Mariam, have you told her that you are a harami” (Hosseini 222). The words that come out of Rasheed’s mouth emotionally humiliate Mariam. Every time he says “harami”, it portrays as a reminder to Mariam of her lower cast. When Mariam and Laila were caught trying to run away, Mariam was physically beaten by Rasheed. In Laila’s view, “Downstairs, the beating began… There were no cursing, no screaming,… solid repeatedly striking flesh…hitting a wall with a thud… glass shattering, then the thumping once more” (268). Rasheed physically abused Mariam by beating her which is something unforgivable that Rasheed did and can cause Mariam to develop depression and anxiety. Mariam should not be experiencing any of these as she is young and no woman should not be treated this way but treat them with respect. Therefore, this restricts Mariam’s freedom from doing certain things as she gets punished in return.

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Laila, Rasheed’s second wife, experienced abuse by her husband ever since she moved in with Mariam and Rasheed. Laila was never abused in her childhood her father loved her and also her mother even though she ignored Laila at first. She experiences abuse for the first time in her life when she moves in with Mariam and Rasheed. Laila encounters verbal abuse when Rasheed says, “You try this again and I will find you. I swear on the Prophet’s name that I will find you. And, when I do, there isn’t a court in this godforsaken country that will hold me accountable for what I will do… I’ll make you watch” (272). Laila was verbally abused by her husband after Mariam and Laila tried to run away. Rasheed threatens her which is disheartening to her which shows that even if she does not want to be with Rasheed, she cannot get him away from her life. Laila goes through lots of beatings every day because she wants to see her daughter, Aziza, in an orphanage. The author says, “One day, a young Talib beat Laila with a radio antenna. When he was done, he gave a final whack to the back of her neck” (321). Laila cannot go visit her daughter without a man with her or else they would be abused on the streets which demonstrates the lack of freedom. Therefore, Laila is prohibited from doing certain things, or else she would be abused which shows the lack of freedom she experiences.

Since there is male dominance, it affects Mariam and Laila’s freedom which restricts their ability to do certain activities. Lack of freedom causes people to turn into slaves and they have no rights to make any decisions in their lives. Mariam reads a message written in flyers which is a list of laws that says, “Cosmetics are forbidden. Jewelry is forbidden. You will not wear charming clothes” (278). This new law does not permit women including Mariam and Laila in Afghanistan to look beautiful which makes them feel insecure about themselves if they used to wear makeup before. When there is no freedom, any kind of expression is chosen by someone else. One night Rasheed tells Laila his decision to send Aziza into the streets and Laila says, “I won’t let you turn my daughter into a street beggar” (299). Then Rasheed slaps her which shows that Laila does not have the right to make decisions for her biological daughter because of male dominance. Also, this shows that women’s opinions in Afghanistan including Mariam and Laila cannot be satisfied unless there is a male who is related to them and says “yes” which they experience a lack of freedom.

The YouTube video, “Sosan's Story: Domestic Violence in Afghanistan”, in this video it illustrates that there were six shelters built in 2009 for children and women who have experienced abuse in Afghanistan. This video shows that the law in Afghanistan is still in support of the men. In this video, the woman that was displayed is Sosan and she originally received money which is equivalent to ten thousand US dollars for land that she owned but was taken over by her husband. In addition, she was originally granted custody of her two daughters but she lost guardianship of her son. Her son was forced to go back to his abusive father’s home. Since Sonsan’s father had disowned her and had no family members to live with, she could not use the money to rent a house. Later on, she lost custody of her two daughters and was forced to go back to their father’s home. Sosan’s story is similar to Mariam and Laila in the novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, how they do not have a husband because Mariam has killed him. Since Mariam and Laila do not have a husband, they pretty much have no status in the society of Afghanistan. Since they might think all of their problems are solved, this is when they would face more hardships because women with husbands in Afghanistan can do certain things but now without husbands, they would be restricted more from doing certain things. Furthermore, since Rasheed is dead and also Mariam is dead because she killed her husband, Mariam would have experienced a lack of freedom either with or without her husband including Laila.   

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Compare and Contrast Essay on Laila and Mariam in ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’. (2024, April 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from
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