It is simple feminine jealousy that creates the chasm between Mariam and Laila in A Thousand Splendid Suns. Following the death of her parents, Laila is nursed back to health in Rasheed's home. Rasheed's motive soon becomes obvious: He is smitten with the fourteen year old girl, and he wants to make her his second wife. Laila could have turned him down; after all, there was at least a 35 year difference in their ages. But Laila has no money and nowhere else to go. When she discovers that Tariq is dead, there is nothing left to do but accept Rasheed's proposal. To Laila, Rasheed seems sincere, as he previously appeared to Mariam. Mariam sees that Rasheed is enamored with the young girl, and she recognizes that her new position will be that of the second wife: She is the sturdy Volga (a Russian auto), while Laila will become the Mercedes Benz. Rasheed will now spend his nights with Laila, and Mariam will become an outcast in her own home. Her jealousy borders on hatred, and she tells Laila that she will neither be her servant nor her friend.
"I wouldn't have fed you and washed you and nursed you if I'd known you were going to turn around and steal my husband."