Analysis Essay of Mariam in A Thousand Splendid Suns

Analysis Essay of Mariam in A Thousand Splendid Suns
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Mariam is one of the two female protagonists in the story. At the onset of the book, she is portrayed as a very quiet and a thoughtful child. She was born out of wedlock to Jalil of Herat who was a very rich businessman and Nana who was his housekeeper. Mariam is forced to live under strict conditions imposed by her mother which she does not like as it limits her freedom to associate with other people as well as her peers.

Mariam Character Analysis

Mariam resents the fact that she only has one day to see her father every week and as a result, there is very little time for her to bond with her father. She is greatly ashamed by her illegitimate status which hinders her from standing up for herself in many instances in the novel. Her inability to stand and defend her course makes her to run away from home leading to her mother committing suicide. This act portrays her as a very daring person whom at age 15 runs away from home not knowing where she was going to. She develops a lot of guilt which tends to control major part of her life as well as contributing to her submission to an abusive marriage to Rasheed. She becomes a very fearful, bitter and a resentful woman due to her inability to have children and the increase level of abuse that she receives from her husband. The situation is worsened by the nature of the society in which she lives that does not uphold the right and freedom of women.
Her personal experiences in life make her to develop an understanding of her mum and the position of women in general in her society. Her life takes another turn at the arrival of the second wife of Rasheed known as Laila as she begins to appreciate the value of life. She develops love and affection for Laila and her children whom she regards as her own children. She becomes very optimistic in life as the children of Laila have helped her in fulfilling her dream of becoming a mother. Her ability to struck a close friendship with Laila is an indication of her ability to interact with other people so as fulfil her ambitions. She is unforgiving by the fact that she kills Rasheed leading to her execution by the Taliban.

In the entire novel, Mariam is the only character who has demonstrated a lot of changes in the in both her character and association. In the beginning, she is portrayed as a young Harami girl from a small village with little hope for the future. Due to her place of origin, she is denied the privilege of taking part in many things, “the things other people had, things such as love, family, home, acceptance” (116). She leads a very lonely life which is evident by the fact that she has no close family members apart from Jalil and Nana. Her craving for a decent family marked by acceptance is understanding is fulfilled when she meets Laila and Aziza. Her deep concern and care for other people is made manifest by how she treats Laila who views her as a mother figure. She is so caring to Laila and this character can be taken in the context that she was trying to compensate for the lack of concern that she failed to demonstrate to her mother. Laila is a sign of hope and happiness to Mariam as she is able to realize and understand many issues about life through her.

The relationship that Mariam develops with Laila can be likened to that of peanut butter and jelly. They show a life of complete interdependence and strength on their own. Mariam demonstrates an inner strength that is described in the text as, “hard and unyielding as a block of limestone” (450). The deep bond between the two women result into something that is very fierce and can conquer every odd. Mariam gains confidence as a result of her union with Laila. She longed for confidence and high self-esteem in her life which was not forthcoming until she met Laila who gave her self-worth and dignity. She began to realize a new sense of life, “she might even think that its just the “twin poisonous flowers” called love—but, believe us: its sure going to sprout” (335).


The author has offered a detailed account of the challenges that his country was going through. This was a period of war and strife in the country as evident by the relationship among the various characters in the novel. He is optimistic of better society after the end of the war.

Hosseini, K. (2007). A thousand splendid suns. London: Bloomsbury.