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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What are three examples of verbal irony in A Thousand Splendid Suns? How do they relate to the purpose of the story?

Examples of verbal irony in A Thousand Splendid Suns include when Laila tells Tariq his mom will kill him if she finds him smoking and when Mariam is described as a weed.

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One example of verbal irony in A Thousand Splendid Suns is in chapter 23 when Laila tells Tariq, “Your mother would kill you if she knew about your smoking.” This quote qualifies as verbal irony because Laila does not mean that Tariq’s mom will literally kill him. She’s overstating the reaction of Tariq’s mom and intentionally using the word inaccurately. The verbal irony relates to the purpose of Khaled Hosseini’s story because it shows the importance of family. Tariq’s mom cares about him so much that she’ll “kill” him if she spots her son jeopardizing his health.

A second example of verbal irony can be found at the end of chapter 47. About to be killed by the Taliban, Mariam reflects on her life. She came into this world “a weed.” This is verbal irony because Mariam was not born a literal weed. Like Laila’s quote, this quote utilizes overstatement. Hosseini exaggerates Mariam’s position in society to illuminate what she’s accomplished.

The verbal irony continues when Hosseini writes that Mariam has “become a person of consequence at last.” This statement serves as verbal irony due to its incongruity. It might strike some as odd that only on the cusp of death does Mariam realize her importance. As with the first example, these instances of verbal irony relate to the purpose of the novel because they touch on community and family.

For a third example of verbal irony, review some of the other scenes between Tariq and Laila. The two of them frequently use verbal irony to express their deep bond.

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