What are three quotes that show how Mariam sacrifices herself in  A Thousand Splendid Suns?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Quotes that show how Mariam sacrifices herself in A Thousand Splendid Suns display the extent to social practice challenges female identity.  

One example of Mariam sacrificing herself can be seen in her marriage to Jalil. She recognizes that in Afghanistan, marriage is synonymous with reducing a woman's identity.  Over the course of her marriage, Mariam understands how this is the case in her own:

It’s not so much what he says, the blatant lies, the contrived empathy, or even the fact that he has not raised a hand to her, Mariam, since he had dug the girl out from under those bricks. It is the staged delivery. Like a performance. An attempt on his part, both sly and pathetic, to impress. To charm. And suddenly, Mariam knows that her suspicions are right. She understands with a dread that is a blinding whack to the side of her head that what she is witnessing is nothing less than a courtship.

Mariam knows that her husband is wooing another woman, thereby reducing her own status.  However, there is nothing she can do about it.  She understands that her life is going to be one of sacrifice.  The quote also shows that Mariam must accept the fact that Jalil will never accept her as a soul mate. She must sacrifice any hope of finding happiness as a wife, a "blinding whack" of reality. 

Mariam sacrifices herself when she kills Jalil.  She does so to save Laila's life. Doing so means that she must accept the punishment of death that Afghan society sanctions:

After Mariam was punished with a sentence of death, she was led out to sign a document while the Taliban watched. “She wrote out her name - the neem, the reh, the yah, and the neem - remembering the last time she signed her name to a document, twenty-seven years before, at Jalil’s table, beneath the watchful gaze of another mullah. 

The signing of her own death warrant represents the sacrifice that was her life. Mariam sacrificed herself the last time she signed a legal document, her marriage certificate.  She now literally sacrifices herself in signing the document that guarantees her death. 

In her final moments of life, Mariam reflects about the sacrifice she made when she says,  “This is a legitimate end to a life of illegitimate beginnings.”  Mariam understands that in order to change the condition that faces women in Afghanistan, sacrifice must be made. She takes an active step towards this in her actions.  She wishes to legitimize something that society had deemed opposite.  When Mariam "does as she is told" for the last time, it is clear that she understands what it means to sacrifice.

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A Thousand Splendid Suns

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