Compare and contrast Mariam and Lila in "A Thousand Splendid Suns".In spite of circumstances, each finds meaning in life.  

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pippin1313 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both Laila and Mariam find meaning in each other. Mariam lives childless and feels worthless as result. She finds meaning in her friendship with Laila. She becomes a mother figure to Laila and grandmother to Aziza. She sacrifices herself for these two and it demonstrates her deep love for them. It is interesting that she is such a loving mother as Nana, her own mother was constantly hounding her. However, Mariam realizes that Nana was trying in her own way to protect her.

Laila never really feels loved by her own mother who is more concerned with her dead sons. This is why Laila finds meaning in her relationships with Mariam and Tariq. Mariam shows her the meaning of motherly love and becomes an example of how one should treat their children. Laila recognises the strength of Mariam (who never thought of herself as strong) and uses this to stand up to Rasheed.

When Tariq returns, Mariam sees what it means to be treated with respect by a man. Laila had always known this as her own father had loved her and treated her with respect.


thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both Mariam and Laila are unwillingly forced into early marriages due to their circumstances. At only fifteen years of age, Mariam is coerced into marrying Rasheed, who is at least three decades her senior. After Tariq’s departure and her parents’ demise, Laila has no choice but to accept Rasheed’s proposal in order to survive.

Both women are strong-willed and endure living in the war-torn patriarchal society. From their choice of clothes, freedom of movement, and even access to healthcare—as in the case of Laila during her son’s birth—the two suffer greatly but endure.

Mariam is childless; she attempts to have children several times but miscarries with each attempt. Laila, on the other hand, is fortunate to have three children, two by Tariq and the other by Rasheed. Unlike Mariam, whose parents deny her the opportunity to seek education, Laila is privileged enough to obtain some level of education. Her father is particularly keen on education and urges her to pursue it before settling into marriage.

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A Thousand Splendid Suns

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