The Thorn Birds Questions and Answers
by Colleen McCullough

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Who is Meggie Cleary in The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough most like in The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini?

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Readers who have read all three novels will all have differing views on the messages within them. In answering the question "Who is Meggie Cleary in The Thorn Birds most like in The Kite Runner?" students are being asked to identify and extrapolate similarities and challenges in common. For example Meggie and Baba are both parents so there's a simple place to start; a student could start by just looking at the parenting experience of each character. Was it difficult and disappointing at times? Or was the experience of the parent joyful and rewarding? In the case of Meggie and Baba, it would seem disappointment and even surprise are true. For example Meggie is unlucky in love twice over, once when Ralph leaves her in order to remain in the priesthood and also when her son by Ralph becomes a priest and drowns when still quite young—so there is bitter sorrow there and also unfulfilled dreams. Meggie's daughter Justine, who is fiercely independent but perhaps a disappointment to a mother who may have expected a more traditionally feminine daughter, takes up the unsteady career of acting and has total freedom as her goal. Many mothers want secure and lucrative careers for their daughters.

Some readers may see the disappointed parent character in Baba too in the way he is presented in The Kite Runner. They may even suspect that he actually rates Hassan more highly, because Hassan seems more masculine in his interests and pursuits. Baba doesn't seem to understand his own son, Amir, who is not a fan of aggressive Afghan sports. He wonders why Amir can't defend himself and give back as good as he gets. What both these parents are missing is acceptance of their child's right to be his/her own unique self and love them for who they are, not for who they want them to be.

In A Thousand Splendid Suns Rasheed is also a parent who has certain expectations of his children even though he does not set them a good example himself and is disappointed to have a daughter. He appears to feign fundamental beliefs but does not practice them properly. He only values sons and is disappointed with his daughter and mistreats girls and women. This contrasts sharply with his inflated sense of pride in his son. Rasheed also drinks alcohol, looks at demeaning portrayals of women, and during Ramadan he doesn't bother to fast.

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scobiedog | Student

I would say Meggie is like Laila in A Thousand Splendid Suns in that both marry men they don't want to. Meggie wouldn't have married Luke O'neil if Father Ralph hadn't been intent upon being a priest. Laila wouln't have married Rasheed if she had't been pregnant with Tariq's child and not been all alone in the World. Even if Laila had known Tariq was alive she would have not married Rasheed. Both Meggie and Laila are abused by their husbands. Luke is a total Miser with Meggie and Rasheed beats up Laila. Meggie leaves Luke O'neil when she is pregnant with Father Ralphs child and Laila leaves Rasheed when Tariq turns up. The only difference between Luke and Rasheed are that Luke would not try to murder anyone. Meggie was able to leave him. Luke would not have got away with some of the things Rasheed got away with. Also basically Laila did not really have a choice about marrying Rasheed whereas Meggie did not have to marry Luke O'neill.

 

In the Kite runner I would say Meggie was like Hassan. Just as Meggie loved father Ralph unconditionally, Hassan loved Amir unconditionally. The only difference was that Hassan moved on with his life better than Meggie did. He married a good wife Farzana and had a son Sohrab and had a reasonably happy life. Where as Meggie married a Brute and mysogonist who treated her and her daughter like a Chattel.