Analyse how an extended written text was structured to develop an important idea. In the novel A Thousand Splendid Suns written by Khaled Hosseini, the significant idea or theme that is portrayed throughout the novel is that sexism has devastating effects by negatively impacting the quality of life lived by “inferior” genders and causes oppression which crushes hope in some individuals and for other individuals, it creates a need to defy and escape this oppression. This is shown to us through the initial contrast of characteristics between Mariam and Laila.
Hosseini develops this important idea through key events in the novel such as when Mariam marries Rasheed, Laila marries Rasheed, Tariq’s “resurrection. The novel is structured chronologically to develop this important idea. When Mariam is informed that she has a suitor, she is extremely shocked and does not want to be married. However, she is forced into this arranged marriage because she is an illegitimate child. Her father, Jalil who had three wives decided to have sexual intercourse with Mariam’s mother (who was a housekeeper) and resulting in Mariam and her current illegitimate status.
This causes great shame to Jalil which is reinforced by the quote: “She was being sent away because she was the walking breathing embodiment of their shame. ” This shows that Mariam is unwanted and unloved because she is being cast away and has to suffer the consequences of her parent’s actions. When she marries Rasheed, she is at first apprehensive and misses her old life, but then she feels a kinship with Rasheed after realising he suffered similar sorrows and losses that she felt.
However, when Mariam has seven pregnancies and miscarriages, Rasheed becomes cold and distant and increasingly violent towards Mariam. This violent behaviour escalates and reaches the climax when Mariam cooks rice for Rasheed. Rasheed thinks that the rice is too hard and overreacts by shoving pebbles into her mouth and forcing her to chew them. “He shoved two fingers into her mouth and pried it open, then forced the cold hard pebbles into it. ” This shocking cruelty that Rasheed portrays symbolises the personal oppression that restricts Mariam and crushes her hopes about marriage.
Mariam was hoping that the marriage would be something that could lead to contentment and possibly love, however, the marriage actually descends into abuse and oppression because Rasheed believes himself to be superior to Mariam by physically and mentally abusing her which further reinforces my idea that sexism has devastating effects by negatively impacting the quality of life lived by “inferior” genders and causes oppression which crushes hope in some individuals and for other individuals, it creates a need to defy and escape this oppression.
Laila is pressured to marry Rasheed because both her parents were killed and she was told that her best friend and lover, Tariq was also “killed” and Laila is pregnant with Tariq’s baby, which is why she decided to marry Rasheed, not because she loved him but so that the baby could survive. This statement is supported by a quote from the book: “But even though the baby inside her was no bigger than a mulberry, Laila already saw the sacrifices a mother had to make. Virtue was only the first. ” From this quote, we can understand the hardships and difficulties that women had to face in Afghanistan.
Also, Rasheed was the one who set up the person who crushed Laila with Tariq’s death: “And how much had Rasheed paid Abdul Sharif-if that was even his name-to come and crush Laila with the story of Tariq’s death. ” This truly shows the bonds of oppression that Rasheed places on those he considers “inferior” around him and after the story of Tariq’s “death”, Laila’s dreams about Tariq are destroyed and she is extremely distraught and in the forced marriage with Rasheed, she only feels disgust. The abuse and oppression suffered only worsens, when Laila gives birth to a girl which causes Rasheed to despise her more.
Also, after when Laila and Mariam try to escape Rasheed and are caught, this results in Rasheed becoming extremely angry and the beatings, indignities and suffering only gets worse and leads to Rasheed disregarding Laila and Mariam and treating them with disdain which results in Laila losing more hope and suffering until she finally finds out that Tariq is actually alive. This restores her hope and dreams: “another shudder passed through her, a current of something sad and forlorn, but also something eager and recklessly hopeful. This also causes her to start to escape the oppression that Rasheed imprisoned her with.
However, when Rasheed finds out Tariq has visited Laila, he is extremely mad and tries to kill Laila, but he instead he is killed by Mariam who strives to escape this oppression as well: “It occurred to her that this was the first time that she was deciding the course of her own life. ” By breaking free of her own personal oppression, Mariam was able to free Laila from her oppression caused by Rasheed and allowed Laila to live the life she wanted with Tariq.
In conclusion, these examples further reinforce the idea that sexism has devastating effects by negatively impacting the quality of life lived by “inferior” genders and causes oppression which crushes hope in some individuals and for other individuals, it creates a need to defy and escape this oppression because Rasheed was extremely sexist which lead to his oppression of Mariam and Laila who decided to defy and escape this oppression by killing him out of self defence and ending his abusive legacy, they manage to break the chains of oppression and be free. Sexism has devastating effects and causes oppression which crushes hope in some individuals whereas in other individuals, it creates a need to defy and escape this oppression. ” Sexism was also common and was supported throughout society in the novel as Rasheed’s abusive actions and beliefs went unpunished.
We can also see that sexism is reinforced and even encouraged in this society as after the Taliban take over Kabul, they enforce laws that further degrade women and oppress them: “Girls are forbidden from attending school….. Women are forbidden from working. ” From this example, we can see that the Taliban who are in charge think themselves superior to women: “that in the eyes of the Taliban, being a communist and the leader of the dreaded KHAD made Najibullah only slightly more contemptible than a woman. This is truly shocking and reflects upon the despair and hopelessness that women felt during the Taliban regime, because there is no one there to support them; their own husbands treat them with disdain and abuse and the government encourages this which further reinforces my idea that sexism has devastating effects and causes oppression which crushes hope in some individuals whereas in other individuals, it creates a need to defy and escape this oppression.
Another devastating effect caused by sexism was the denial of basic human rights for women. In 1997, Kabul was shrouded by gender apartheid. Majority of hospitals were only for men and had clean water, medications, electricity and equipment. The minority of hospitals for women lacked all these necessities and in the novel, Laila has to give birth to Zalmai, her son without anaesthetics or medication. “The doctor took a breath, then told Laila that the hospital had no anaesthetic. The pain and suffering that Laila has to go through during childbirth truly shows the sacrifices that a mother has to make. “Mariam would always admire Laila for how much time passed before she screamed. ” This event in the novel was caused by the societal mindset that men are better than women and clearly shows the devastating effects of sexism and the pain and suffering that it causes, and has helped me understand that sexism is an outdated and unnecessary type of discrimination in modern society.