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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What is the plot resolution of A Thousand Splendid Suns?

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Toward the end of the novel, the plot reaches its climax when Mariam kills Rasheed. Both Mariam and Laila are married to Rasheed, and he has been verbally and physically abusive to both other the years. Laila's first love Tariq has returned and she feels bolder because she sees the possibility of life outside of the marriage. One of her children with Rasheed is actually fathered by Tariq (her first child, with whom she was pregnant when Rasheed rescued her from bomb wreckage and had Mariam nurse her back to health). In a pivotal scene when it seems Rasheed will kill Laila, Mariam kills him to defend her. The women hide his body, but Mariam eventually feels she must confess. This allows Laila, Tariq, and the children to flee. Tragically, however, Mariam is found guilty and executed for murdering Rasheed. Under the harsh rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan, women have few or no rights; a woman was not allowed to be outdoors alone without a male chaperone, so killing her husband, even if it was technically in defense of herself or another, was considered unthinkable. While Laila and her family do escape, they must leave their homeland, and that combined with Mariam's execution, make for a bittersweet ending to this complex novel.

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After Mariam's tragic and horrific death by public execution in one of the infamous stadiums in Afghanistan that are used for such executions, Laila and Tariq run away with both of Laila's children and live for a while in Pakistan as refugees. However, in a novel that is dominated by such a fierce passionate love of Afghanistan, as symbolised by the poem where the title is taken from, they yearn to return to their homeland. The US invasion of Afghanistan gives them this opportunity and they return to Kabul. The novel ends on a hopeful note as we are shown a couple that genuinely loves and is committed to each other and their country, in spite of all of the many sufferings, cruelties and the harshness of life in Afghanistan. This gives us hope of a brighter future as such individuals work to try to restore something of Afghanistan's fabulous past in the bitter, war-torn present.

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