A Thousand Splendid Suns Questions and Answers
by Khaled Hosseini

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How are Mariam in A Thousand Splendid Suns and Anne Mueller in The Thorn Birds similar and different to each other?

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Similarities:

Both Anne Mueller and Mariam are kind, considerate women. Anne has had many challenges in her life, not least the infantile paralysis she suffered as a child. As a result, she knows what it's like to suffer and has developed a profound sense of empathy with other people.

Mariam is also a kind woman who's had to overcome many challenges herself, albeit related to the tensions in her marriage. Though initially hostile to her husband's second wife, Laila, she eventually warms to her, showing her considerable love and kindness.

Both women are discreet, not wanting to rock the boat in any way. Though Anne knows all about Meggie's illicit relationship with Father Ralph, she keeps the secret under wraps, knowing as she does the enormous damage it will cause if it ever gets out.

Mariam, though deeply unhappy about her husband's marrying Laila, remains demure and dutiful. Rightly or wrongly, she doesn't feel it appropriate to come right out and complain about the change in domestic arrangements.

Differences:

Whereas Mariam was initially bitter at Laila after she married her husband, Anne has never really been bitter at all; she's just not that kind of person. Given the incredibly bad hand that life dealt her when she was a child, one would expect her to be bitter and twisted. Yet at no point has she ever been anything less than sweetness and light.

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