Mariam is headstrong and hopeful as a child. She believes in her father. After she leaves her mother to visit him, she learns the truth about him. The result is that her mother kills herself. Mariam is then forced into a marriage with an older man.
Mariam is a subdued wife who tries to have hope in the marriage, but after she loses his son due to miscarriage he begins to beat and mistreat her. She spends many years cowering from hi blows just trying to survive.
Mariam gains internal strength after Laila and she develop a mother daughter relationship. She eventually gets up the courage to protect Laila and kills Rasheed. She knows her destiny will be to die. The Taliban kills her for committing murder. She has become strong.
Laila has always been headstrong. She goes off with Tariq and even violates the rules by having sex with him before he leaves. She learns later that she is pregnant by him but she ahd married Rasheed so eh thinks it is his child. Laila is a smart. She sneaks money from Rasheed and plans her escape.
She is a kind person who befriends Mariam despite the way Mariam has treated her. She is open and caring. She is a loving mother. When she and Mariam try and escape, they are caught and returned to Rasheed who beats them and locks them up and does not give them food nor drink.
She never caves in to Rasheed. She gives him back the smart answers that he fires at her. She takes up for Mariam.
Rasheed is a bully and typical of a man who declares ownership of his wives. He makes them wear Burqua's so no other man can see them. He talks about purity but has x-rated magazines. He only cares about having a son. He mistreats Mariam because she does not give him one. He marries Laila for sex and to have a son. Once he has a son he treats her badly but treats his son like a king.
Rasheed beats his wives and is awful to them. He eventually is killed by Mariam during a fight with the women. His abusive behaviors have led to his violent end.