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Character comparisons between The Thorn Birds, The Kite Runner, and A Thousand Splendid Suns


In comparing characters from The Thorn Birds, The Kite Runner, and A Thousand Splendid Suns, Dane O'Neill, Hassan, and Mariam share a selfless inclination to sacrifice for others. Dane's optimism and sacrificial death align with Hassan's loyalty and Mariam's ultimate sacrifice for Laila. Conversely, Luke O'Neill, Rasheed, and Assef exhibit cruelty and self-interest, mistreating those around them.

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Who is Dane O'Neill in The Thorn Birds most similar to in The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns?

By all indications, Dane O'Neill is most similar to Mariam in A Thousand Splendid Suns and Hassan in The Kite Runner.

While it's true Dane and Hassan are more sanguine in temperament and Mariam is more pessimistic in her approach to life, there is one commonality which links the three characters together: a selfless inclination to sacrifice personal comfort and safety for the benefit of others.

In The Thorn Birds, Dane is an easy-going and affectionate man. He has an open, welcoming nature that often endears himself to anyone he meets. As a child, his

habitual expression was a smiling one, his nature a curious combination of quietness and deep, sure happiness; he seemed to have grown into his identity and acquired his self-knowledge with none of the pain children usually experience, for he rarely made mistakes about people or things, and nothing ever exasperated or bewildered him.

As a grown man, Dane proves to be adept (even more than his mother, Meggie) in navigating a relationship with his difficult and often tempestuous sister, Justine.

Dane's optimism and habitual cheerfulness is the perfect temperament for a priest-in-training; his "natural tendency was to understand and forgive human failings in others, and be merciless upon them in himself." As a result of his moral stature and his warmth, Dane maintains an effortless connection with both his mother, Meggie, and his sister, Justine.

In the story, Dane dies while on vacation in Crete. After heroically saving two women from drowning, Dane has a heart attack that proves fatal. He dies as he exerts himself on behalf of the two women. He dies as he lived, sacrificially and selflessly.

In The Kite Runner, Hassan shares Dane's sanguine and forgiving nature. His loyalty to Amir is what compels him to sacrifice himself time and time again for his employer's son. When Assef threatens to appropriate Amir's kite, Hassan stands his ground. Despite Assef's cruel taunting about a Hazara's loyalty to a Pashtun, Hassan stands up for Amir and maintains he and Amir are friends. Hassan's courage is repaid by treachery on Amir's part and brutal violence on Assef's part. In the story, Amir remembers Hassan had the "look of the lamb" while Assef raped him. Essentially, Hassan sacrificed himself to save the kite he had retrieved for Amir.

Later, Amir, in a stunning act of betrayal, accuses Hassan of stealing his money and watch. Disregarding the pain inflicted on him, Hassan owns up to the theft, despite his innocence. The text tells us why:

This was Hassan's final sacrifice for me. If he'd said no, Baba would have believed him because we all knew Hassan never lied. And if Baba believed him, then I'd be the accused; I would have to explain and I would be revealed for what I really was. Baba would never, ever forgive me. And that led to another understanding: Hassan knew. He knew I'd seen everything in that alley, that I'd stood there and done nothing. He knew I had betrayed him and yet he was rescuing me once again, maybe for the last time.

Hassan's rape is a symbol of innocent sacrifice and the kind of sacrifice that is especially portrayed in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

In A Thousand Splendid Suns, Mariam gives her life in a sacrificial death in order to save Laila from sure execution. Despite her status as a harami (illegitimate child), rejected and reviled by the larger society, Mariam is an honorable and selfless woman. When Laila begs Mariam not to sacrifice herself, Mariam answers that she's lived life on her terms and she's proud to give herself one last time for those she loves.

"For me, it ends here. There's nothing more I want. Everything I'd ever wished for as a little girl you've already given me. You and your children have made me so very happy. It's all right, Laila jo. This is all right. Don't be sad."

She thought of her entry into this world, the harami child of a lowly villager, an unintended thing, a pitiable, regrettable accident. A weed. And yet she was leaving the world as a woman who had loved and been loved back. She was leaving it as a friend, a companion, a guardian. A mother. A person of consequence at last.

Hassan, Mariam, and Dane O'Neill lived for others. Their warmth, loyalty, compassion, and selflessness can be seen in the way they chose to decide their destinies in life.

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Who is Luke O'Neil in The Thorn Birds most similar to in The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns?

That's an interesting set of comparisons to make since, at least prima facie, there are no obvious resemblances between The Thorn Birds and Hosseini's novels. One way to attempt to answer this is to first characterize Luke O'Neill and then consider the characters from A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner.

Luke treats women as objects and marries Meggie for mercenary reasons. He's brutish as well as miserly and treats Meggie very poorly. He also seems not to care at all about his daughter, Justine.

In A Thousand Splendid Suns Rasheed is the character most similar to Luke. He is reprehensible and inflicts abuse upon his wives until one of them (Mariam) finally kills him. (Meggie leaves Luke, which is rather less drastic!) Rasheed is also disinterested in the daughter that his second wife (Laila) bears him.

In The Kite Runner, Assef is probably the closest to Luke in character. There are not too many parallels between their lives, but both characters are cruel and sadistic and have little regard for anyone besides themselves.

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Who is Luke O'Neil in The Thorn Birds most similar to in The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns?

Luke O'Neill in The Thorn Birds is more like Rasheed in A Thousand Splendid Suns. Luke is a heartless man who romances Meggie and gets her to marry him. Once married to Meggie, he is heartless and cold. He leaves her to harvest sugarcane and hires her out to be a housemaid to another family. Luke thinks mainly of money, and refuses to have a child until he is well established with a station (a ranch). Even after Meggie tricks him into having a child, he is not interested in raising the child and is loveless toward his wife.

Rasheed in A Thousand Splendid Suns marries Mariam out of expedience rather than love, similar to the reasons Luke marries Meggie in The Thorn Birds. Like Luke, Rasheed is loveless and impatient towards Mariam. Also like Luke, Rasheed sees women as sexual objects but not as objects deserving of love, and is impatient and abusive towards Mariam after they marry. Unlike Luke, Rasheed wants to have a child and is displeased when his wife has several miscarriages. After his second wife, Laila, gives birth to a daughter, Rasheed abuses the daughter and eventually gives her to an orphanage. He shows the same disregard for his daughter that Luke O'Neill shows toward his daughter. At first, Amir in The Kite Runner is an unethical boy who betrays his friend, Hassan. Unlike Rasheed and Luke, who are unredeemed, Amir eventually rescues Sohrab, Hassan's son. In the end, Amir is loving toward a child and redeems himself, unlike Rasheed and Luke. 

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Who is Luke O'Neil in The Thorn Birds most similar to in The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns?

Colleen McCullough's Thorn Birds highlights the story of the Cleary family over the course of 54 years, emphasizing the life of Meghann "Meggie" Cleary who lives at Drogheda, a sheep station in the Australian Outback. Meggie is eventually courted by Luke O'Neill, a miserly and misogynistic ranch worker at the station. Luke and Meggie unenthusiastically marry each other, but Luke doesn't stick around for long, leaving her to cut sugarcane in North Queensland, stealing her wages and savings in the process. 

Luke is more like Rasheed in Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns. Rasheed is a shoemaker from Kabul who marries the much younger Mariam and is incredibly abusive toward her. Rasheed also later abuses the other female protagonist, Laila, who bears his son. 

Amir, from Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, is much more passive than the two aforementioned characters. He does witness a horrific act of violence and chooses not to intervene, but he does not play an active role in injuring anyone. Thus, I would say Luke, who is very aggressive, is not really like Amir.

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Who is Luke O'Neil in The Thorn Birds most similar to in The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns?

All three men share a number of things in common. For one thing, they all have retrograde attitudes towards women, seeing them as little more than wives and mothers who must do whatever their menfolk tell them to do.

Even so, there are differences between their actual behavior. Though General Taheri in The Kite Runner dominates and controls his wife according to the old customs, there's no suggestion that his behavior towards her ever descends into outright abuse. The same, however, cannot be said of Luke O'Neill in The Thorn Birds or Rasheed in A Thousand Splendid Suns, which is why it's fair to say that Luke resembles Rasheed much more than General Taheri.

First of all, Luke treats his wife, Meggie, with utter contempt and disrespect. He certainly doesn't see their marriage as being based on love or mutual support. No sooner are Luke and Meggie hitched than Luke's putting his new bride out to work as a glorified servant. If that weren't bad enough, he makes sure that her wages are directly paid to him. Clearly Luke doesn't believe that women should have any financial independence.

Rasheed's attitude towards his second wife, Mariam, is strikingly similar. As soon as it becomes clear that Mariam's unable to bear Rasheed any children, he starts subjecting her to abuse, both verbal and physical. Things eventually get so bad that Mariam is driven to kill Rasheed in self-defense.

Luke's abuse of Meggie may be economic rather than physical, but it's no less oppressive for that reason. And although Meggie may not be driven to such desperate measures as Mariam, she's no less traumatized by her experiences.

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