The theme that a just society has obligations to an individual is seen how in A Thousand Splendid Suns? 

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hosseini shows that the Taliban fail to represent that a just society has obligations to an individual.  This becomes most evident in Mariam defying this existing reality.

A Thousand Splendid Suns is direct in asserting that the Taliban do not represent a just society.  They lack any obligation to women. The exertion of power over women is representative of how they do not represent what is owed to all people. Mariam's action of killing Rasheed is a repudiation of this social construction.  

Mariam's sacrifice arises from this lack of obligation to women.  Rasheed has abused her, Laila, and Aziza without any social repercussions.  Mariam understands that her act of self- defense in saving Laila is not going to be accepted in Taliban society.  She must sacrifice herself in order for Laila in order to find  happiness because the Taliban lack a legal and social place for women. 

Her quick trial and the lack of voice she is afforded in it display the full extent of the Taliban's injustice.  She provides the obligation to her fellow woman that the society lacks.  This becomes clear in her final words:

 She thought of her entry into this world, the harami child of a lowly villager, an unintended thing, a pitiable, regrettable accident. A weed. And yet she was leaving the world as a woman who had loved and been loved back. She was leaving it as a friend, a companion, a guardian. A mother. A person of consequence at last.

Mariam's surrounding social world marginalizes women, denying any obligation to them.  However, her actions represent the restoration of voice and responsibility towards women.  When she is able to see that she dies as a "person of consequence," it is clear that she represents what society should be.  When Laila assures that if her next child is a girl she will name it Mariam, it becomes clear a just society has obligations to all of the people in it. Mariam and Laila personify this theme in their loyalty to one another.  They stand in contrast to the Taliban, a unjust society because of its failure to account for women.

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A Thousand Splendid Suns

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