In a world full of immorality, a human being is inclined of undertaking an act of evil towards another. Some people perform evil actions for good intentions, but some do because of their selfish interests and desire for power. In Khaled Hosseini’s novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, it is questionable whether the characters and the society have displayed cruelty and inhumanity among other characters. Cruelty of mankind is evident in the novel. By examining the corrupted values, abuse, and the discrimination of women visible in society; it will become evident how evil humankind can be.
Corrupted values are detrimental in society because it takes away one’s freedom, education, and a chance to live. First, the Talibans set laws for the Afghans to follow: You will not wear charming clothes. You will not speak unless spoken to. You will not make eye contact with men. You will not laugh in public. If you do, you will be beaten. You will not paint your nails. If you do, you will lose a finger. (Hosseini 278) Freedom is a basic fundamental right that every person deserves to have. The opportunity to speak, believe and pursue happiness without any restriction defines freedom for an individual.
It is the government’s responsibility to distribute and secure the freedom of every citizen by imposing laws and rules that are beneficial for the common good. However, one of the corrupted values evident in this novel is that the society is deprived with freedom. Instead of enforcing laws to promote freedom, the Talibans have barred Afghans to express themselves. This corrupted value will cause the affected citizens to resist, in which will inevitably prompt to create chaos between the oppressors and the victims; the Talibans and the Afghans respectively.
Additionally, taking away one’s freedom is like taking away their right as a human being. If one’s rights are deprived, their actions will be manipulated. Furthermore, Nana prohibits Mariam for going to school even though Mariam is willing to pursue it: “If the girl wants to learn, let her, my dear, let the girl have an education…. What’s the sense of schooling a girl like you? It’s like shining a spittoon…And you’ll learn nothing of value in those schools. There is only one, only one skill a woman like you and me needs in life, and they don’t teach it in school. Look at me. (Hosseini 17-18)
Nana’s point of view about Mariam not going to school is a blinded, selfish and ironic characteristic of a typical mother. Usually, a mother will always want the best for her child, but in this case, she displays the contrary. Her belief deteriorates her moral and ethical values, in which, it also affects the likelihood of her daughter’s education. Every human being should have the right to an education, as it is like a key for success in life. If society deprives this fundamental right for children, necessary actions should be done in order to fix this corrupted value.
Lastly, the Talibans also declared another sanction for those people who commit the crime of stealing. This is shown in the following excerpt, “If you steal, your hand will be cut off at the wrist. If you steal again your foot will be cut off” (Hosseini 277). Retribution is an idea where the amount of punishment given to the offender must be equivalent to the action that has been done. The penalty for theft is too severe to the extent that it can be described as inhumane and cruel. The concept of retribution is unhealthy in a society due to anger and revenge that cause such impaired judgement.
Therefore, enforcing corrupted values into a society greatly harms the lives of the people. Abuse is any behaviour or action that is used to scare, harm, threaten, control or intimidate another person. It comes in many different forms including physical, mental, sexual, financial, or spiritual abuse. First, Rasheed and Mariam have an argument about the loss of their baby, “I don’t know, but ever since the baby–-is that the kind of man you take me for, after everything I’ve done for you? No. Of course not.
Then stop pestering me! I’m sorry. Bebakhsh, Rasheed. I’m sorry. ” (Hosseini 95). Mariam finds ope in her marriage as something that could lead to happiness and possibly love, but the marriage actually transforms into abuse and oppression. Marriage in Islam is usually a sacred union of two people who chose to respect and honour each other in all situations. It is generally a joyous occasion for females. In the novel, marriage is a nightmare in which both women are abused emotionally. Aditionally, since the marriages in the novel tend to be forced, they are not likely influenced by love. In this marriage, Mariam tries to love her husband as a commitment, but in return, what she receives is emotional abuse.
If love cannot be established in a marriage, abuse is inevitable when someone makes a mistake. Furthermore, Rasheed forces Mariam to eat pebbles, this is shown in the following excerpt, “Put these in your mouth. What? Put These. In your mouth. Stop it, Rasheed, I’m–His powerful hands closed her jaw. He shoved two fingers into her mouth, and pried it open, then forced the cold, hard pebbles into it. Mariam struggled against him, mumbling, but he kept pushing the pebbles in, his upper lip curled in a sneer. Now chew, he said. Through the mouthful of grit and pebbles, Mariam mumbled a plea.
Tears were leaking out of the corners of her eyes. (Hosseini 104) Rasheed’s brutal action towards Mariam proves that a human being is capable of harming other people, even very significant ones. The abuse Mariam experiences from her husband is a result of their failed marriage. Furthermore, Rasheed furthers his characteristic into an evil and heartless person who does not care about how painful and harsh his actions are. Lastly, Rasheed finds out that Tariq has met Laila, and this prompts him to lose his temper, and physically harm them. This is shown in the following quote: They crashed to the ground, Rasheed and Laila, thrashing about. He ended up on top, his hands already wrapped around Laila’s neck…Rasheed didn’t notice her coming back into the room. He was still on top of Laila, his eyes wide and his hands wrapped around her neck. Laila’s face was turning blue now, and her eyes had rolled back. Mariam saw that she was no longer struggling. He’s going to kill her, she thought…Rasheed. He looked up. Mariam swung. ” (Hosseini 347-348) This shows the peak of all Mariam’s life experiences: the pain and sorrow Rasheed has caused her, as well as the joy and love she shares with Laila.
When the person that she loves is threatened, Mariam realizes that all of her endurance has not once increased her worth in Rasheed’s eyes. For the first time, Mariam sees her worth and believes that she never deserves the anguish she’s had to endure. Her powerful motivation is shown when she saves Laila’s life. Mariam realizes after her first swing at Rasheed that if she does not kill him, he will kill them both. Even if Mariam is ready to die, she’s not ready to lose Laila. In summary, abuse is an unjust action, and its presence is very obvious in this novel through physical and emotional mistreatment.
The role of women in Afghanistan is an unjust and unreasonable position in which they are continuously denied many freedoms and rights. The women of the story grab the interest and sympathy of the reader; their personalities are almost real and existent. It is amazing that Hosseini, a man, could have so much insight into the feelings of women in a circumstance such as this. Hosseini positively depicts the persona of Afghan women and their ability to endure gender inequality, denied education and Taliban rule.
In A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, the harsh and cruel conditions which women face under Taliban rule are depicted through Miriam and Laila’s horrifying experiences. The Taliban take over was a huge step back for Afghanistan and its blossoming age for women. At first, it was believed the Taliban were saviors for the Afghan people, a lot of people assumed they would solve the problem, people like Rasheed,”Let them come, I, for one, will shower them with rose petals” (Hosseini 275). The people had no idea what the Taliban were doing; they fully supported it, until the Taliban started to impose laws.
Most of these laws were strictly towards women: “You will stay inside your homes at all times. It is not proper for women to wander aimlessly about the streets. If you go outside, you must be accompanied by a male relative. If you are caught alone on the street, you will be beaten and sent home” (Hosseini 278). Laila was beaten on several occasions by the Taliban every week when she would go see her daughter, Aziza, at the orphanage because Rasheed refused to take her. The Taliban went as far as forcing women to one central hospital with limited doctors and supplies, which made child birth for many women to be a terrifying situation.
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