A Thousand Splendid Suns Questions and Answers
by Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns book cover
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Who are the main and secondary characters in A Thousand Splendid Suns?

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The main characters in A Thousand Splendid Suns are Mariam and Laila. Part One is written from Mariam's point of view, Parts Two and Four are written from Laila's viewpoint, and Part Three alternates between the viewpoints of the two characters.

Mariam is born near Herat in 1959. She is the illegitimate daughter of Jalil, who is wealthy, and Nana, who was a servant in his house. As a child, Mariam lives with her mother in an isolated hut. At the age of fifteen, she is forced to marry Rasheed, a much older man.

Laila is born in Kabul on the night of the coup of April 1978. During her first fourteen years, she spends most of her time with her best friend, Tariq. Soon after the Mujahideen start bombing Kabul, Tariq and his parents flee to Pakistan, Laila's parents are killed, and Laila reluctantly consents to become Rasheed's second wife. She and Mariam eventually form a strong bond.

Rasheed, Tariq, and Jalil are the secondary characters. Jalil, Mariam's father, visits her once a week and treats her with affection throughout her childhood. But he marries her off as soon as she gets in his way. Rasheed, Mariam and Laila's husband, forces them to wear burkas and abuses them whenever they displease him. Tariq, Laila's best friend and childhood sweetheart, returns to Afghanistan to see Laila. The two eventually marry.

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