Mariam’s Unique Sense of Justice in A Thousand Splendid Suns
A Thousand Splendid Suns is Khaled Hosseini’s second book after a famous Kite Runner, where he explored father-son relationships. In this novel the author focuses on mother-daughter relationships and women friendship in particular. The situation he brings to light is not typical – he tells about a deep and meaningful connection of the wives of the same man, Mariam and Laila who have big age difference. Each of them had a difficult history, and the first two parts of the novel are dedicated to the women`s background. Despite the expected enmity and hatred women find love and support in each other and unite in their common desire to escape from abusive husband. The relationships of the two women resemble the connection between a mother and a daughter and constitute the essence of the novel. Mariam eventually sacrifices her life in order to give a chance to Laila to have a happier fate. Thus, in such a way the main heroine finishes her quest for justice. Despite the fact that in common sense Mariam’s life ends tragically and unsuccessfully, in the heroine`s personal perception her search for justice is completed as for her it means gaining an ability to love. Nevertheless, Mariam does not blame God for her troubles but accepts her fate obediently.
Mariam’s quest for justice is long and painful taking into account that she was deprived of bacic human care and affection from early childhood. At the age of five Mariam acknowledges that there is something wrong with her, yet her childish mind cannot figure what exactly. Mariam is a bastard child, which means that her father does not accept her and does not permit her living with his rich family in his gorgeous house. Mariam’s mother treats her in a detached and strict way, and it seems that she does not love and support her child regretting the circumstances of her birth. In the beginning of the novel Mariam breaks a bowl from a very precious porcelain piece and her mother calls her harami, which the kid does not understand at that moment:
“She understood then what Nana meant, that a harami was an unwanted thing; that she, Mariam was an illegitimate person who would never have legitimate claim to the things other people had, things such as home, family, love, acceptance”(Hosseini 5).
This event is really symbolic for the novel understanding as it hints on the fact that Mariam will be not capable to live in plenty. Thus, the author underlines Mariam’s special fate from the very beginning: her illegitimacy status imposes serious limits on Mariam, and though she accepts it to some point, the heroine cannot understand how a person can be guilty only for being born. From the very beginning the readers notice that injustice of people`s treatment accompanies Mariam from early childhood, which evokes guilt in a woman for all her life. Nevertheless, Mariam happens to have a tolerant and loving nature. She treats her mother with obedience and respect, and loves her father whom she sees only once a week for an hour.
The desire to be needed drives Mariam to the home of her father in her fifteenth birthday. On the same night her mother commits a suicide. Later the girl is forced to get married to Rasheed, the man much older than Mariam who cannot become a loving partner to her. But Mariam is excited with the idea of becoming a mother. However, the destiny has another plan for her: she cannot bear a child, and all her pregnancies end in miscarriages. Here we have another evidence of injustice towards loving and patient Mariam. She feels from the very beginning of her life that she will suffer but inability to become a mother strikes her hard. She accuses God in this, pointing that she is incapable to rule over her destiny:
“It was God`s fault for taunting her as He had. For not granting her what he had granted so many other women”(Hosseini 60).
Mariam looks for connection with people, and Laila unexpectedly to her becomes her close friend and a daughter in some sense. Mariam acquires what she needs: love is given to Mariam unexpectedly, it proves the fact God does not leave her on her own. When Laila has children Mariam’s treats them like her own and is finally happy to be able to give love. In the moment of hunger and despair she promises to Laila to do all possible and impossible to save her children:
“I won`t let them die, Laila. I wil take care of them, I promise” (Hosseini 84)
Mariam is not used to think about herself, she is born to give love and receive it back. And interesting enough that despite her hardships Mariam considers herself a happy person being able to care about Laila and her children. Thus, she views her connection to this woman as some justice restoration, she cannot have children but at least she is able to love.
But the most decisive moment for Mariam’s quest for justice is her murder of Rasheed. Being raged after finding out that Laila saw Tarique, Rasheed attacks the woman and beats her brutally. It is when Mariam asks herself if she deserved such treatment:
“Mariam saw now in those same eyes what a fool she had been. Had she been a deceitful wife? A dishonorable woman? Discreditable? Vulgar? What harmful thing had she willfully done to this man? Had she ever justly deserved his meanness?” (Hosseini 210)
Mariam understands that the only way out for them is to kill Rasheed and restore the justice for her family. It is paradoxical how a murder can be an honorable deed, but Mariam tries to save four lives with this murder. Moreover, later she takes all the blame on herself. Death penalty is verdict for Mariam, which this honorable woman meets bravely:
“This was a legitimate end of to a life of illegitimate beginnings” (Hosseini 224).
Mariam concludes that nothing has changes from the episode with the broken cup for her: she still feels illegitimate. However, she has found someone to love and to take care of. Mariam serves as a role model of woman in the novel; she does not accuse God in her difficult destiny and asks Lord for forgiveness in the last moments of her life. Though destiny was challenging and violent to her sometimes, Mariam was able to give and receive love which she considered the biggest gift of hers and which she perceived as justice of life. However, moral laws were violated by her with Rasheed’s murder, and she has to pay with her life for this.