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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Comparing Characters in The Thorn Birds, The Kite Runner, and A Thousand Splendid Suns


Characters in The Thorn Birds, The Kite Runner, and A Thousand Splendid Suns share complex relationships and face immense personal and societal challenges. They navigate love, loyalty, betrayal, and redemption, often shaped by their cultural and historical contexts. These themes highlight the universal human experiences of struggle and resilience across different settings and times.

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Who is the character in The Thorn Birds and The Kite Runner most similar to Fariba in A Thousand Splendid Suns?

In Hosseini's 2007 best-selling novel A Thousand Splendid Suns, we encounter many interesting minor characters. One of these characters is Laila's mother Fariba or "Mammy." When she was young, Fariba was a lively, confident, and "ferocious" woman who was full of energy, and she was eager to make friends and get close to Miriam. She didn't like to be ordered around, and she was definitely not an obedient or a submissive woman. Her family was very important to her, which is why she tried to have a good relationship with her husband and her three children.

Unfortunately, when her two sons Ahmad and Noor decide to leave home to fight in the Mujahideen, Fariba slowly begins to lose her vibrant spirit. She grows distant from Laila and blames her husband for not being able to stop Ahmad and Noor from leaving. When she learns that her sons have died, Fariba becomes depressed and locks herself in her room to grieve in peace; she starts to neglect her husband and refuses to take proper care of Laila. Fariba knows that what she's doing is wrong and hurts her family, but she can't find the strength or the motivation to change. It's not until Laila is in danger and almost dies that Fariba decides that she must stop grieving and neglecting her family and tries to leave Afghanistan to save herself and her husband and daughter.

Out of all the characters in Hosseini's critically acclaimed debut novel The Kite Runner, I'd say that Fariba is most similar to Baba. Just like Fariba, Baba is also confident and has an independent spirit, but he is also a parent who neglects his biological son, Hassan. When Hassan and his wife are killed for not allowing the Taliban to confiscate Baba'a home, Baba realizes that he shouldn't have treated Hassan the way he did and knows that he will have to live with the guilt of having never acknowledged and loved Hassan as his son.

Baba loses his son just like Fariba lost her two boys, and he tries to redeem himself by leaving everything behind to give his son Amir a chance to have a good life in America. Unlike Fariba, however, Baba succeeds in his plans and settles in America. Never forgetting about Hassan, Baba tries to be a better father to Amir and develops a loving relationship with him.

In McCullough's 1977 best-selling family drama The Thorn Birds, Fariba doesn't really share any personality traits with any of the characters; however, it might be argued that she is somewhat similar to Fiona. Fiona is a strong-willed woman who prefers her son Frank over her daughter, Maggie, but the love she feels for Frank is real. At one point, Fiona says that she has lost her son in the "worst way a mother could." The love she feels for her son and the pain she feels after she realizes that she might not see him ever again are, in fact, the only things that she shares with Fariba.

Unlike Fariba and Baba, Fiona doesn't change and doesn't try to redeem herself; she fails to realize that she is actually selfish and maybe even cruel and firmly believes that she didn't do anything wrong.

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Who is the character in The Thorn Birds and The Kite Runner most similar to Fariba in A Thousand Splendid Suns?

Mullah Faizullah is comparable to Dane Cleary in The Thorn Birds and Rahim Khan in The Kite Runner. Mullah Faizullah teaches Miriam passages of the Koran and Muslim prayers. He is the only positive role model in Miriam's life and functions as her conscience. She never sees him again after she leaves Kabul, yet his teachings guide Miriam throughout her life.

Similarly, Dane is a source of guidance and emotional support for his sister Justine. Although Justine is not particularly religious, Dane's unconditional love makes up for her mother Meggie's favoritism toward Dane. Dane eventually joins the Catholic Church and is described by Cardinal Ralph as the "perfect priest." Shortly after becoming a priest, Dane goes to Greece alone, planning to return to the Vatican afterward to begin his priesthood. Dane succeeds in rescuing two women from drowning and ends up drowning himself. This sacrifice transforms Dane into a martyr-like figure.

Rahim Khan is a father figure for Amir, who struggles to communicate with an emotionally distant Baba. Rahim informs Amir that Hassan has a son named Sohrab and that Hassan and his wife were killed by the Taliban. He convinces and helps Amir rescue Sohrab from the Taliban. Throughout adulthood, Amir was plagued by regret for having stood by as Hassan was raped by Assef when they were children. Assef joins the Taliban and goes on to rape Sohrab. By rescuing the boy and later adopting him, Amir is redeemed for his betrayal of Sohrab when they were children.

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Who is Fariba in A Thousand Splendid Suns most like in The Thorn Birds and The Kite Runner?

Fariba is similar in some ways to Fiona from The Thorn Birds. Like Fiona, Fariba is a mother who cares very much for her children and tries to protect them from the challenges they face. The sorrows in both of their lives, however, often weigh them down. For Fariba, losing her children, Ahmed and Noor, when they leave to fight sends her into a spiral of grief. She spends many days in her bed worrying about her sons. Fiona was initially an aristocrat and is unused to the life of labor she now lives with Meggie and her husband, Paddy. She often feels mistreated and overwhelmed by how much work she has to do.

Fariba is also similar to Sofia from The Kite Runner. Sofia is Amir's mother, who is mainly referred to in reflection, as she died young. She is compassionate and has a sensitive soul, and Amir inherited his love of poetry from her. Fariba is also kind and compassionate, though her grief often overshadows these qualities. Like Sofia, Fariba also dies suddenly after a bomb hits her home.

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Who is Nana in A Thousand Splendid Suns most similar to in The Kite Runner and The Thorn Birds?

The character of Nana in A Thousand Splendid Suns is the mother of Mariam. She has several similarities to Sanaubar, the mother of Hassan, in The Kite Runner, and Fiona Cleary, the mother of Frank, in The Thorn Birds. In each case, the woman is not married to the father of this particular child. In many ways, the women show devotion to the illegitimate children, but their maternal behaviors also have problematic aspects.

Jalil is the father of Nana’s daughter, Mariam. Because of class differences, he refuses to take Nana as another wife. As she raises her child alone, Nana becomes extremely bitter toward Jalil in particular and toward men in general. She seems to feel that she is protecting Mariam and preparing her to endure life’s difficulties. However, her harsh treatment and resentful attitude alienate the girl. Longing to know her father and half-siblings, Mariam goes to meet them. While she is gone, Nana makes good on her threat and ends her own life.

While she is married to Ali, Sanaubar has a sexual relationship with Baba, who becomes the biological father of Ali. In this case, the boy’s paternity is kept secret from almost everyone for many years. After Sanaubar, who has reputedly had sexual relationships with numerous other men as well, leaves the family, Ali raises the boy alone. Unlike Nana, she remains alive, but is shown to have suffered terribly before she returns to Hassan.

Fiona Cleary has an affair with a married man, Pahek, and becomes pregnant by him. Her father persuades Paddy Cleary to marry her and claim the boy, Frank. For many years she conceals from Frank and the world that Paddy is not his father. Her favoritism toward her son is contrasted with her treatment of her and Frank’s daughter, Meggie, whom she sends to live with Frank’s sister. Later in life she confesses all to Meggie as a warning about her involvement with Father Ralph.

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