Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Thousand Splendid Processes

Khaled Hosseini slowly tries to introduce feminism into his novels, knowing that if he blatantly states it, it would not be well-received by the educated Middle Eastern population--namely, men.

Key Passages:
"...Nana had been one of the housekeepers.  Until her belly began to swell.  When that happened, Nana said, the collective gasp of Jalil's family sucked the air out of Herat.  His in-laws swore blood would flow.  The wives demanded that he throw her out.  Nan's own father, who was a lowly stone carver in the nearby village of Gul Daman, disowned her.  Disgraced, he packed his things and boarded a bus to Iran, never to be seen or heard from again." (6)
"Learn this now and learn it well, my daughter: Like a compass needle that points north, a man's accusing finger always finds a woman.  Always." (7)
"One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs
And the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls." (89)
"I wonder," the young Talib said.  "God has made us differently, you women and us men.  Our brains are different.  You are not able to think like we can.  Western doctors and their science have proven this.  This is why we require only one male witness but two female ones." (324)

Analysis: Hosseini shows in the very beginning what the tone of this novel will be with the two passages on pages six and seven.  However, he doesn't touch on it again until well after the reader has fallen into the story and read the entire biography of Laila and Mariam, and by that point, the reader is clearly able to see the discrimination and mistreatment women are forced to go under.  For good measure, he includes the poem that the title line is taken from.  By doing this, Hosseini also underlines the main theme: the fact that men hide behind the women: "and the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls."  Kabul, the city being talked about in this poem, is female.  The suns/sons aren't hiding behind her walls for protection; they are using her (and other women) as scapegoats to protect their pride and honor (re: page 6 passage).  Hosseini details this in the last pages of the novel; first in a conversation between a police officer and Mariam and Laila; then in the trial of Mariam (seen above); and last in her sentencing (not detailed here).


  1. Can I just say how much I love your recurring title theme? It really draws me in and makes me want to read your posts.

    Also, I think your topic is super interesting.

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  3. That's great that the theme is so strong in the book! It's just begging to be analyzed. I'm excited to see how you'll incorporate Alice in Wonderland into your paper. Will you compare the two works? Will you mention feminist moments / time period / symbolism from Lewis Carroll? Does Alice represent any feminist or anti-feminist ideas?

  4. You're talking about feminism in your essay, right? This is excellent analysis, especially of the suns/sons part, and I actually really want to read this book along with your essay once it's written. Keep up the good work :)