This book follows the lives of two Afghani women, Mariam and Laila, as they suffer pain and discrimination received from the Taliban and their husband, Rasheed. The women are forced to clean, cook, wear veils outside of the house, and have to take care of the children on a daily basis. Throughout the book, Mariam and Laila, as well as other characters, learn to endure all these hardships in their lives. To endure is the ability to bear with or tolerate something without fighting back, but the more someone has to endure, the more they change as a character.
Thus forcing one to choose to act out in physical and verbal violence, and making poor decisions in their life. People who are able to endure will go farther in life than those who cannot because they do not fight back. In the story, Mariam must learn to endure when she lives with someone like Rasheed and her father. However, the longer she endures she begins to not tolerate things as easy and begins to fight back and rebel. First, after being married to Rasheed, Jalil begins to try and make Mariam feel better and says he will visit her, but Mariam said “Don’t come. I won’t see you. Don’t you come.
I don’t want to hear from you. Ever. Ever. ”, “It ends here for you and me. Say your good-byes” (Hosseini 55). Based on Mariam’s reaction, she is fed up with her father and is tired of listening to his lies and does not want to see him ever again. By Mariam telling Jalil she never wants to see him again reveals that she is very mad at him for having to endure everything like leaving her to live with Nana in the kolba, her mother’s death, and being abandoned by Jalil himself, and now he is sending her away. Therefore Mariam tells him to not visit her and say good-bye because she hates him for what he is doing.
As a result of Mariam’s anger, she decides to go with Rasheed to Kabul, and leave her hometown. Mariam decides to do this because she is tired of taking sweat from her father, and tolerating all of his lies, and thinks leaving Herat is good for herself. Second, Mariam was in the kitchen looking for the wooden spoon when Laila walked in and Mariam began to call Laila a “whore. A whore and a dozd. A thieving whore, that’s what you are! ” (Hosseini 233). Mariam’s outburst suggests that Mariam hates Laila, and is tired of doing all the work around the house like cleaning and cooking.
She is also tired of seeing Laila doing nothing around the house and seeing Rasheed always be nice to her. Mariam shows she does not like Laila because she keeps calling Laila a whore and a thief. In a country where the woman do all the housework and cooking, and men go to work, Mariam does not like seeing Laila do nothing around the house while she does everything. This perspective causes Mariam to act out and creates higher tension in their home, which ultimately makes both their lives tougher than they already are.
Third, Rasheed was very angry at Laila for hanging out with Tariq, and began to strangle Laila almost to the point of death when Mariam picked up a shovel and “she hit him across the temple. The bow knocked him off Laila…She turned it so the sharp edge was vertical, and, as she did, it occurred to her that this was the first time she was deciding the course of her own life. And, with that, Mariam brought down the shovel. This time, she gave it everything she had” (Hosseini 348-349). Mariam’s action indicates that her anger towards Rasheed increased more and more as she suffered through all the abuse and work he gave her.
By beating Rasheed with a shovel and killing him with it, Mariam reveals that she has finally decided to stand up to Rasheed for Laila and herself. Because Mariam stood up to Rasheed and killed him, now Mariam and Laila have lifted a huge burden off their shoulders and Laila can live with Tariq and her children. Mariam learns that if she wants to be happier in life she has to make her own decisions, like killing Rasheed. If she had not defended Laila, Rasheed could have killed Laila, and Mariam would have continued to live a stressful life.
Throughout the book, Miriam endures on-going violence and abuse and she begins to make poor choices; she also begins to act out violently as means of learning to cope with her surroundings. Her actions drastically changed the course of her life for herself as well as others for worse and for better. Laila also has to endure many hardships in life, like her family’s death, Tariq leaving, and living with Rasheed. All these factors start to break her and she becomes more depressed and starts making bad decisions. First, Laila survived injuries from a nuclear rocket explosion after being saved by Mariam and Rasheed (Hosseini 193-200).
This explosion killed both of her parents forcing Laila to alter her plans for the future. After Laila moves in with Rasheed and Mariam, Rasheed tells Mariam about how he wants to propose to Laila and “Later, in the dark, Mariam told the girl. For a long time, the girl said nothing. He wants an answer by this morning. Mariam said. He can have it now, the girl said. My answer is yes” (Hosseini 216). Laila accepting Rasheed’s proposal suggests she married him because she has nowhere to go because everyone who she loves is gone.
Having to endure all the pain of her parent’s death has caused her to make this decision to marry Rasheed because she is by herself. While it seems like Laila could be better off now that she is by herself, she in fact is not, because women in Afghanistan have little to no rights and she would not be able to support herself. She marries Rasheed because she has no other choice. This decision will very much have an impact in her life. Second, Rasheed was very angry at Mariam because he believed she was teaching Laila to deny him, and started to beat her with belt when “The girl [Laila] lunged at him.
She grabbed his arm with both hands and tried to drag him down, but she could do no more than dangle from it” (Hosseini 241). Laila’s actions reveal that she is tired of dealing with Rasheed’s violence towards Mariam and wants to stand up to Rasheed and stop him. By Laila lunging and pulling on Rasheed’s arm reveals that she cares for Mariam because she risked herself getting beaten by Rasheed, but since she is done tolerating Rasheed’s violence, she decides to act out. Because Laila acts this way she has made Rasheed very mad, and now he is keeping a close eye on her.
If she had not done what she had did, than she would not have Rasheed angry with her and she could continue to lie low and let Rasheed be angry at Mariam. Third, Aziza, Laila’s daughter, was put into an orphanage because they could no longer take care of her, and Rasheed would not take Laila to visit her so she said “I’ll go by myself” and the Taliban often gave Laila “a tongue-lashing or a single kick to the rear, a shove in the back as she was not accompanied by a male. Other times, she met with assortments of wooden clubs, fresh tree branches, short whips, slaps, often fists” (Hosseini 320-321).
Based on what Laila is doing suggests that Laila does not care about the Taliban’s rule, and is angry that she can’t see her daughter because Rasheed put her in the orphanage and he won’t take her visit Aziza, but she goes to see Aziza anyways because she loves her. By Laila going to visit Aziza even though she is getting kicked, and slapped, and beaten shows how much she cares for her daughter, also Laila telling Rasheed she’ll go visit Aziza anyways shows she won’t give in to Rasheed, and she controls her own life.
Because Laila pushes through the beatings, she is able to visit her daughter, but also risks her life. If she would have stayed home, and not have tried to leave the house by herself, she would have saved herself from the beatings of the Taliban. Laila makes some decisions that are very dangerous ones, and ones that really affect her life, but she does them because she is done having to endure things, like her parent’s death, Rasheed’s violence, and Rasheed restricting her from her own daughter.
Rasheed, even though he seems like he does not have to endure anything, he does because he gets tired of his wives disobeying him; he is also tired of his wives not doing what he asks. These things cause him to act out in violence. First, Mariam and Rasheed had not been doing well together especially because Mariam kept miscarrying, but then one day Mariam made him bad rice and he “shoved two fingers into her mouth and pried it open, then forced the cold, hard pebbles into it”, then Rasheed said “Now you know what your rice tastes like.
Now you know what you’ve given me in this marriage. Bad food, and nothing else” (Hosseini 104). Rasheed’s actions suggest that his anger with Mariam will get worse as she keeps feeding him bad food, and miscarrying. By forcing Mariam to chew pebbles shows that he is mad and tired of Mariam not giving him what he wants, causing him to be violent towards her. Rasheed’s actions are not right because it is not Mariam’s fault that she keeps miscarrying, and Rasheed has no reason to act like that.
As a result of Mariam not being able to give him a child, Rasheed continues to act in anger. Second, Mariam was lying on her bed one night when she heard Rasheed shouting. “The girl’s voice, underneath his, was tentative and shrill”, then Rasheed came bursting into Mariam’s room “It’s your doing. I know it is…. Rasheed raised the belt and this time came at Mariam” (Hosseini 240-241). While yelling at Miriam, Rasheed is attempting to make his point, it’s your doing, it’s Mariam’s fault that Laila is acting out and arguing with him.
By Rasheed bursting into Mariam’s room and beating her with a belt proves he thinks Mariam is the reason for Laila’s actions because before Rasheed and Laila were having no problems, but as soon as Mariam and Laila began hanging out together, Laila began to fight back at Rasheed. Since Rasheed thinks this he acts violently and beats Mariam with a belt to show how he is tired of Mariam poisoning Laila’s mind. Because Rasheed blamed Mariam for Lails’s actions she has to suffer yet another beating and now Rasheed is watching her more closely.
While Rasheed’s opinion that Mariam is responsible for Laila’s actions, it shows how he really likes Laila because he does not blame her for her own outbursts. Third, Rasheed had come home from work and asked Zalmai what his mother was doing today, “She was…She was downstairs talking to that man [Tariq]”, he said (Hosseini 344). Right after that Rasheed locked Zalmai upstairs and came back downstairs with a belt, beating Laila, and then he “wrapped his hands around Laila’s neck…He meant to suffocate her, and there was nothing either of them could do about it” (Hosseini 347).
Rasheed acts like this because he does not like seeing Laila hanging out with Tariq all the time, because Laila is his wife and Laila and Tariq used to be really close to each other. Rasheed is trying to show Laila how angry he is at her because he was willing to suffocate her for her actions. Rasheed illustrates that he does not tolerate people who disobey him, and anyone who does not obey him will receive a consequence. Rasheed acts out violently a lot because he does not like having to endure people not listening to him and people rebelling against him, like Mariam and Laila.
It is important to know that all the characters act out like they do because of having to endure something so painful in their life, which they could not handle anymore, ultimately causing them to have an outburst and or make impulsive choices. Their choices and actions had a long lasting impact on their lives, because their actions changed the way someone viewed them as a person, and caused someone to react back to them. If the character’s had just kept enduring, instead of fighting back, it could have ultimately changed their lives because they would not be in the position they are in now.
For instance, if Mariam had not killed Rasheed, and instead just sat there and endured the pain of watching him strangle Laila, she would not have been sent to jail, and executed by the Taliban. It is important to be careful and think before acting as your choices and actions can dramatically change your life forever. In this book, the character’s lives might not have resulted in tragedy had they not fought back and endured the life they had been given.