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 is an example of an important symbol in A Thousand Splendid Suns?

An example of an important symbol in A Thousand Splendid Suns is the snow. It relates to the theme of oppression that is central to the novel because it represents a sigh emitted by a woman suffering somewhere in the world, which gathers and forms clouds, before separating again as each snowflake falls on people below without making any noise.

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What is different about this book compared to Hosseini's previous bestseller, Kite Runner, is that A Thousand Splendid Suns focuses far more on the suffering of women in Afghanistan under the Taliban. There are several examples therefore of symbols that explicitly relate to this theme. One of these is introduced by Mariam as she watches the snow fall from her window when she is married to Rasheed and being abused by him. She remembers Nana saying how each snowflake is a result of a sigh that is emitted by a woman who is aggrieved somewhere in the world. According to Nana, all of these sighs go up in to the sky, form huge clouds, then separate once more as each snowflake falls on the people below without any noise:

"As a reminder of how women like us suffer," she said. "How quietly we endure all that falls upon us."

Snow then is an important symbol in this novel because it relates explicitly to one of the central themes: the oppression of women and how, in Afghanistan at the time of the setting of the novel, they had no recourse except for quietly accepting their fate as best as they could.

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