A Thousand Splendid Suns Questions and Answers
by Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns book cover
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What are two important symbols and their significance in "A Thousand Splendid Suns"?

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Tim Mbiti eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The author uses eyes to symbolize the complex emotions of the characters at different times in their lives. After Mariam is taken in by her father Jalil, she discovers that he does not care for her as much as she thought he did. She sees “…the weight of eyes on her” symbolizing the strained relationship between her and her father’s co-wives as well as between her and Jalil. They resented her, looked down upon her and wanted her gone. This realization deeply hurt Mariam. On her bus ride home from seeing the doctor, at the thought of her pregnancy, Mariam’s eyes clearly reflect her emotions. The author says that “It is as though a rainbow melted in her eyes.” The rainbow is symbolic of happiness.

The other symbol in the book is the burqa. This traditional dress whose length reaches the floor and covers one completely from head to toe is symbolic of the hardships of a woman in that society. She has no rights living in a patriarchal society...

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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mkcapen1 | Student

In the book A Thousand Splendid Suns Mariam is a little girl who lives with her mother in a kolba.   A kolbais a very small mud house.  The kolba is a symbol of the entrapment and poverty that Mariam will experience for all of her life.  It is a home for her as a child, but it is also a prison.  She is a child born out of wedlock which places her in a terrible status and kept there away from others.

Another symbol in the story is the burqua.  Mariam nor Laila had to wear one before, but when they become Rasheed's wives he makes them wear one when they go into the community.  For the women it is again a symbol of entrapment.  It also symbolizes their loss of identity in their marriage and later when the Taliban control the community.

The burqua is also a symbol of hiding for both women.  When they appear in public they are able to look around and not have to smile or show expressions that they do not feel.