A Thousand Splendid Suns is a novel by Afghan-American Hosseini Khaled. The novel is a 2007 captivating piece of authorship that captures the life of two women whose fate is tied up together in life; first through simple neighborhood status and eventually as co-wives to shoe maker-Rasheed. The book highlights the great challenges that the two women face and in particular the challenges that women face in society as “lesser” members of society. The story spans a length of time that starts in the 60s and ends in 2003 after the Afghan war as the displaced Afghans return from Pakistan. This particular piece of paper looks at the origin and essence of the title to the book, “A Thousand Splendid Suns” which originates from a poetic quote within the book (Bestnotes.com 1).
The title to the novel originates from the translation by Davis Josephine of the last line, in the fourth stanza of the poem titled “Kabul” by the Iranian Saib Tabrizi from the 17th century(Bestnotes.com 1).
“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs
And the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls (Bestnotes.com 1).”
The novel has gloom and doom that starts off with the death of Mariam’s mother through suicide. The tragic act is followed by non-caring act by her father Jalil who offers her for marriage to a man much older than her by far. The marriage gets abusive and she gets no immediate birth out of it. Its while in her abusive marriage that her life entangles with that of Laila-the co-wife to be that bears an illegitimate child like her out of her relation with Tariq. After the start of the war in Afghanistan, Laila’s parents die and she is taken in by Mariam and Tariq. She later becomes a co-wife and the two have to endure an abusive marriage under Rasheed. In the abusive marriage the two women become confidantes and comforters to one another. The two even plan to run away from their husband, but are unfortunately caught and severely punished (Gokce 21).
The title of the novel shows the real essence of the life behind the women’s survival. Despite the sadness and gloom in their life, the two are still able to shine with life and support towards one another, even as co-wives that are many at times expected to be at loggerheads. The love and caring nature of the two is seen as at outstanding and distinct to the extent that Mariam responds to Rasheed’s attack on Laila when she re-unites with her old time lover Tariq. The response is however fatal and she ends up killing Rasheed with a shove. Her caring nature for Laila is finally seen when she confesses to the murder to draw attention away from Laila even when this meant death (Bestnotes.com 1). The quote towards the end of the novel reinforces the essence of the title by stating that:”“Miriam is in Laila’s own heart, where she shines with the bursting radiance of a thousand suns…(Goodreads.com 1).” This quote refers to Mariam’s continued existence in Laila’s life even after death and thus signifying a brilliance in life greater than the sun and only equal to a thousand suns. The book is more about the war in Afghanistan, but particularly highlights the plight of women in this society, who seems down trodden, but still able to shine amidst all challenges. It shows the great power within the women that allows them to shine with brilliance amidst war and many other challenges. The brilliance of a thousand suns in book alludes to love expressed among the loving characters despite the challenges to love. This may be exemplified by this quote: “Boys, Laila came to see, treated friendship the way they treated the sun: its existence undisputed; its radiance best enjoyed, not beheld directly (Goodreads.com 1).” The brilliance of the thousand suns alluded to in the story tells of the ability to overcome adversity and find brilliance around oneself to be happy and positive despite the dreariness and dullness in every other thing as expressed in Laila’s quote: “Im sorry,” Laila says, marveling at how every Afghan story is marked by death and loss and unimaginable grief. And yet, she sees, people find a way to survive, to go on (Goodreads.com 1).” The story is thus about shining and being brighter than mundane life that the characters lead and that can be expressed by this closing quote by Laila: “And that, …is the story of our country, one invasion after another…Macedonians. Saddanians. Arabs. Mongols. Now the Soviets. But were like those walls up there. Battered, and nothing pretty to look at, but still standing (Hosseini 362).” The title thus signifies the brilliance of the characters, especially through their hard times, and according to the first quote it may signify the brilliant nature that Mariam had and imparted on Laila as well as the positive memories that she left her.
Bestnotes.com . A Thousand Splendid Suns: Study guide/ online notes, retrieved on 29th November 2011 from http://thebestnotes.com/booknotes/Thousand_Splendid_Suns_Hosseini/Thousand_Splendid_Suns_Study_Guide43.html, 2011, Web
Hosseini, K. A thousand splendid suns, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2008, Print
Gokce, A. Khaled Hosseini: “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” GRIN Verlag Publishers, 2011, Print
Goodreads.com. A Thousand Splendid Suns Quotes, retrieved on 29th November 2011 from http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/3271379, 2011, Web