illustration of two women standing in burkas with two overlapping circles between them and the title A Thousand Splendid Suns written above them

A Thousand Splendid Suns

by Khaled Hosseini

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Is Mariam right to feel guilt about the suicide death of her mother in A Thousand Splendid Suns? Explain.

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It is certainly not surprising that Mariam felt a sense of guilt after discovering the body of her mother hanging from a tree. Mariam was all that her Nana had, and when Nana discovered that her daughter had ventured down the hill for her father's home in Herat, she knew that she might never return to her. Nana also felt that Mariam was becoming too closely attached to Jalil, who she knew would eventually let her down. Nana was fearful of being left alone, and she feared that Jalil would break Mariam's heart, as he had done to her.

"Everything I endured for you! How dare you! How dare you abandon me like this, you treacherous little harami!"

Nana warned Mariam that

"I'll die if you go... I'll swallow my tongue and die. Don't leave me."

But Mariam's desire to see the cartoon at the picture show, to meet her brothers and sisters, and to be a bigger part of Jalil's life prevailed, and she went to see him. Mariam also believed that it was Nana who had misjudged Jalil, and that

You're afraid that I might find the happiness you never had. And you don't want me to be happy. You don't want a good life for me. You're the one with the wretched heart.

Mariam was not completely wrong about her mother's motives, but she was wrong about Nana's strong desire to die if she had to live without her daughter. After Nana's death,

Mariam could not find comfort in God's words... All she could do was cry and cry and let her tears fall... 

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