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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Who is more saintly, Maryam and Tariq?

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Both Mariam and Tariq have made qualities that might be considered saintly. The reader can evaluate which one has more of these qualities, and which one shows moral lapses that make them seem more human.

Mariam, the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy man, endures a difficult childhood living with her epileptic mother in the poor quarters he provides for them. While Khaled Hosseini portrays her in many ways as a loving daughter, she is deeply conflicted in her attitude toward her father, who fills her head with stories about wealthy people’s lives. Mariam’s willfulness causes her to spend a night outside his home after her mother had begged her to stay home. She returns to find her mother has died by suicide. Her father can certainly be blamed for inspiring her fantasies about living differently, Mariam herself did decide to put her own desires over her mother’s health. In that regard, her behavior was more selfish than saintly.

Tariq is portrayed as a kind, thoughtful man whose war-time injuries have changed his perspective on life. The tender love that he and Laila share grows out of the deep, sincere affection they have for each other. Although his sexually active behavior might not be considered saintly, the author conveys that their sexual relationship is an expression of true love.

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