Who is good, who is bad, and who is in the middle amongst the male characters in A Thousand Splendid Suns?

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There are several good contenders for rotten men in A Thousand Splendid Suns , but probably none are as despicable as Rasheed. He loses a son before the plot picks up, so it might be tempting to have compassion for him. Sadly, he really doesn't have any redeeming character traits...

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There are several good contenders for rotten men in A Thousand Splendid Suns, but probably none are as despicable as Rasheed. He loses a son before the plot picks up, so it might be tempting to have compassion for him. Sadly, he really doesn't have any redeeming character traits to work with. He marries the much-younger Mariam and never treats her with kindness. Instead, when she fails to bear children (particularly sons) for him, he essentially tosses her to the side, forcing her to live more as his servant than a wife. Later, he callously tells her that she's going to have to accept a new wife in their home. He doesn't treat the new wife, Laila, much better, and eventually he tries to kill her. Rasheed believes in the ultimate superiority of men and is convinced that women are susceptible to all sorts of behavior he doesn't approve of. He rules his home with a heavy fist, and when he dies, it really doesn't generate any sympathy in the reader.

Tariq is my personal favorite "good guy." He and Laila share a tender relationship from the very beginning, and he never seems caught up in the typical stereotypes about women which are so prevalent in his culture. He isn't a perfect man, and he has to leave Laila when he flees with his parents. But he also returns to her and commits to raising the Rasheed's child as his own. He embraces Laila's dreams and supports her. Tariq shows the hope of a new type of male leadership in this culture.

"In the middle" is a tough category to tackle, and it really depends on the character traits that you personally value as you're reading the story. I might place Mariam's father, Jalil, in this category. He isn't a readily available father early in the story, and when Mariam really needs him following the death of her mother, he pawns her off on Rahseed. Later, though, he does make an attempt at reconciliation, so he's definitely in a different category than Rasheed.

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