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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In A Thousand Splendid Suns, why is Laila strongly attached to her father?

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In a home that often feels crowded by worry, darkness, and death, Laila's father, whom she calls Babi, gives her hope. Babi dreams with her and for her while her mother mourns the life that was taken from her.

Laila's older brothers are not an active part of her life, as they are fighting with the Mujahideen. Their mother suffers from depression, as she is in constant emotional turmoil over their safety, and she often stays in bed for long periods of time. She becomes very much removed from the active life of her living and present daughter. When the family receives news that her brothers have died,

the ailments that would hound Mammy for the rest of her days began. Chest pains and headaches, joint aches and night sweats, paralyzing pains in her ears, lumps no one else could feel. (Chapter 20)

In contrast, Babi never stops hoping for his daughter. Although he works at a bread factory, he can often be found in the evenings soaking up books, and he values his university education as well. He successfully works to instill a value for education in his daughter; she prides herself on her own academic accomplishments.

For the last two years, Laila had received the awal numra certificate, given yearly to the top-ranked student in each grade. (Chapter 16)

Babi dreams with her about living somewhere else: someplace in the world with hope and that is big enough for their dreams—a place like California.

Babi said the Americans were a generous people. They would help them with food and money for a while . . . (Chapter 21)

Babi also gives her his happier memories of Mammy, when

she was just about the liveliest, happiest person [he'd] ever met. (Chapter 21)

Babi gives Laila room to be herself. He gives her hope for a future that is inclusive of strong, educated, happy women in Afghanistan. He loves her and invests in her daily life in ways that her mother, buried in worry and grief, is unable to do.

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In A Thousand Spledid Suns, Laila feels a strong attachment to her father primarily because he respects women and supports her education.  Her father is an academic himself, so he raised Laila with the belief that education for all is important.  At the time the story is set, there are still people in Afghanistan who believe that women should not be educated--this dynamic is shown in the experience of the novel's other major character Mariam.  Laila's family is considered fairly progressive, so she was sure to be educated.

In addition to liking her father's support of her education, Laila also feels attached to her father because her relationship with her mother is a bit distant.  Laila's brothers are away at war, and the mother is almost consumed with thoughts of them.  She is harsh with both Laila and the father, so the two commiserate at home.

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