What is the government like in A Thousand Splendid Suns?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The majority of the novel's action takes place under Afghanistan's Taliban rule.  At the book's beginning, Mariam is a child during her country's Golden Age.  Even though Afghanistan was ruled by a king during this time, it was quite modern, forward-thinking, and prosperous.  When the king was overthrown and the Communists eventually take over, the country was ruled by chaos (as the Soviets fight for power over Afghanistan).  Once the Soviet Union pulls out, the Taliban takes over and enacts totalitarian rule through the use of a religious dogmatism. Like most real and fictional totalitarian regimes, a select few (the Talibs) hold ultimate power and control virtually every aspect of the people's lives. Afghans are told what to wear, how to worship, and even what to like and dislike.  They are punished publicly so that they can be "examples" to others and deter future law-breaking.

If you ever get a chance to watch the documentary Beauty School of Kabul, it presents an interesting, firsthand view of life under the Talib government in Afghanistan.

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A Thousand Splendid Suns

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