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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How are Tariq from A Thousand Splendid Suns and Luke O'Neil from The Thorn Birds similar and different?

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Tariq in A Thousand Splendid Suns and Luke O'Neil in The Thorn Birds are similar in that they are men who become fathers to daughters, are separated from their child, and dedicate themselves to achieving their goals. One difference is that Tariq is kind, but Luke is harsh. Also, Tariq does not marry the girl’s mother, but Luke does; another man raises Tariq’s daughter, while Luke’s supposed son was fathered by another man.

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These two male characters show a few similarities but more differences. Tariq in A Thousand Splendid Suns and Luke O'Neil in The Thorn Birds become fathers as young adults. Each of them has a daughter from whom he is separated. Both men are goal-oriented and persevere until they achieve their goals.

Tariq and Luke are very different in temperament and personality, however. Tariq is kind and compassionate, whereas Luke is harsh and often disregards other people’s feelings or injures them. For a long time, Tariq does not know that he has a child because he and Laila, the girl’s mother, did not marry and were separated before the baby’s birth. Luke was already married to Meggie before their daughter’s birth, but he also believes that he is the father of her son, while in truth Dane’s father is Father Ralph.

Both the similarities and the differences in the men’s personalities strongly influence the plot. Although Tariq leaves Afghanistan because it is dangerous, he deeply loves Laila and later returns because she wishes it. He had not given up on his goal of being with her. Luke, in contrast, was interested in marrying Meggie more out of ambition to become a successful rancher than from any emotional attachment to her. His ruthless behavior alienates his wife, which leads to her affair and then her choice to leave him.

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How are Tariq in A Thousand Splendid Suns and Luke O'Neill in The Thorn Birds similar and different to each other?

The characters of Tariq and Luke O'Neill are vastly different, though they are minimally alike if you consider their life circumstances. Tariq is genuinely in love with Laila and remains so even when they are separated for years. Tariq and Laila are separated from one another when he leaves Kabul with his family for Pakistan as the war worsens. Rasheed hires a man to lie and tell her that Tariq is dead. With this information, Laila marries Rasheed to protect herself and her unborn child fathered by Tariq.

On the other hand, Luke O'Neill develops an interest in Meggie knowing that she receives sums of money regularly from Ralph De Bricassart, who oversees Drogheda after Mary Carson bequeaths all her possessions to the Catholic church. While Laila and Tariq are separated by circumstances they cannot control, Luke barely sees his wife. While she works for the Muellers, he is focused on his work at the cane fields and prefers to spend time with his friends.

Laila and Tariq are reunited after the war, while Meggie leaves Luke and never sees him again, despite her having given birth to his daughter Justine. He sends a few half-hearted letters to her promising he has almost saved up the money to purchase them a wool farm, but this correspondence eventually stops. In terms of the men's personalities, Tariq and Luke are polar opposites, with the exception of their mischievousness. Tariq is kind and protective of Laila, whereas Luke is selfish and neglectful.

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How are Rasheed in A Thousand Splendid Suns and Luke O'Neill in The Thorn Birds similar and different to each other?

Rasheed in A Thousand Splendid Suns and Luke O'Neill in The Thorn Birds show many similarities. Both male characters are ambitious to succeed financially and gain power. Their aggressive, domineering personalities are shown through their emotional and sometimes physical abuse of their wives. Both men are also deceived by their wives in similar ways: Laila and Meggie both become pregnant by other men and conceal this information from their husbands, each of whom then serves as a father to the child. In Rasheed and Laila’s case, the child is female, whom he denigrates because of his deep-seated sexism, and they later have a boy together. In Luke’s and Meggie’s case, they first had a girl together while Meggie’s and Ralph’s child is male.

As the novels are set in different countries with different cultural and religious traditions, the characters differ in nationality and religion. Rasheed is Afghan and Muslim, while Luke is Australian and Christian. One related difference is that Rasheed has two wives, as permitted by national law and his religion, while Luke has one wife. Rasheed is an urban artisan, while Luke is a rancher.

The men’s abusive relationships toward their wives also end differently. Mariam ends up killing Rasheed when he physically abuses Laila after they had tried to leave him. Meggie, however, succeeds in taking her children and leaving Luke.

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How are A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Thorn Birds similar and different to each other?

There are several similarities and differences when it comes to A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Thorn Birds.

One main difference is the setting for the two stories. Suns takes place in Afghanistan while Thorn Birds takes place in New Zealand and Australia. The latter are stable. The former is volatile. In Suns, both war and the Taliban play a critical role in the story. In New Zealand and Australia, the characters, more or less, can determine their own fate without having to worry about what's going with their country's government. Think about how the presence of the Taliban endangers Laila's pregnancy.

Despite the disparate stability of the countries, both books take place in isolated areas of their respective countries. We start Suns in a hut and Thorn Birds comes to center on a sheep station in the Australian desert.

Another link between the two books comes through our main characters. In both books, our main characters are women In Suns, we trace the struggles of Mariam before we shift our focus to Laila (and then back to Mariam). In Birds, we focus on Meggie and then Justine. All of the main female characters struggle with marriages, pregnancies, and flawed men. Though the stories focus on different cultures, we can say that both authors seem to emphasize the particular hardships that women have to face as they try to create a life for themselves.

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