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Madison Markel

Mrs. Damalos
Pre-IB Inquiry Skills P.6
Themes Connection in ATSS
In the novel A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, the biggest
message being expressed throughout the book was the corrupting influence of absolute
power. In the beginning, when Nana was still alive, her relationship with Jalil was not a
healthy one, but a corrupted one of absolute power. The influence and power Jalil had
over Nana and Mariam both changed all of their lives forever. Jalils corruption killed the
three of them in the end. Jalil made Mariam her marry Rasheed, just so she would be
gone. Rasheed was a prime example of this corruption of power as well. He made
Mariam live every day of her life with him in fear. The Talibans corrupting influence of
absolute power held waves of destruction. This main theme amplified the other themes
of the story.
The systematic victimization of women by patriarchal institutions is a direct result
from the corrupting influence of absolute power. When the Taliban gained control over
Kabul, they enforced laws heavily restricting women. They were so petty and harsh, that
if a woman painted her nails, she would lose a finger. The Taliban made what Rasheed
was doing, the basis for the perfect citizen. These laws from the book are very
important: Girls are forbidden from attending school. All schools for girls will be closed

immediately. Women are forbidden from working. They give people who have an
education, the upper hand, an advantage.
The power of education is shown many times throughout the book, especially
when you see the difference in the lives of educated women during the soviet hold of
Kabul to Mariam. These educated women were independent, self-reliant, and strong.
Mariam was not independent, reliant on Rasheed, her abuser, and weak. Education was
a big factor in this book, and without it, a character struggled. Specifically in A Thousand
Splendid Suns, the Taliban made education powerful, and women received none of it.
Education was only for men during the Taliban reign, giving men the hold of
power. By kicking girls out of schools, they will grow up learning that the abuse and
oppression is okay or normal, and not to resist. Not having an education, leaves these
women with nothing other than the ability to raise kids, clean, and cook. The differences
between Mariam and Laila are astonishing: Rasheed beats both Mariam and Laila, but
only Laila stands up to him, because she was taught that it was wrong. Mariam doesnt
know, because she never had a father figure or a strong model to learn from. This not
educating women opens the door up for mans inhumanity to man, and much more.
In this book, mans inhumanity to man is more like mans inhumanity to women;
every man in this book, except Lailas dad, has committed at least one crime against
humanity, especially to women. Rasheed physically and mentally damaged all three of
his wives and Aziza; Jalil was embarrassed of Mariam, to which he admitted through his
actions; and the Taliban enforced harsh rules and punishments on women more so then

men. A general array of acts against humanity made spousal abuse more prevalent all
over Afghanistan.
Spousal abuse didnt occur very often when the Soviets were in power. The
Taliban changed all of this with their older style morals and rules. What a man does in
his home is his business As a matter of policy, we do not interfere with private family
matters, hamshira. (pg.238) Abuse could run free for all the Taliban cared, because
they think women are less than human. All of the themes above lead to this one, but
when spousal abuse increases, there are more chances for resistance towards this
Many families under the Taliban rule had to change around every aspect of their
lives. More men could abuse their wives. More wives could resist. After having near
equality with men during the rule of the Soviets, women were not eager to give it all up.
Especially when your value would be equal to that of dirt. So resistance was common.
Laila, not allowed to see her daughter without a man at her side and a burqu on her
head, went anyways. The relationship between parents and children was stretched,
sometimes to the breaking point.
Laila and Azizas relationship would have been torn apart if it wasnt for Lailas
resistance. Not being with her mother took tolls on Aziza. She began to stutter, was less
out-spoken. The worst part was that Laila couldnt fix it. Zalmai had an unhealthy
connection to his father as well. He was being raised to think that men are superior to
women, meaning that his relationship with Laila was a soiled one too. Both of these had
a domino effect of guilt, shame, and regret.

All of the eight themes above lead to guilt, shame, or regret. Corruption of
absolute power made Jalil regret his actions. Laila not being able to care for her
daughter made her feel all three. Mariam felt guilt and regret for not letting her father in
when she could. Tariq felt a deep regret for not marrying Laila when he could. Nearly
every situation that occurred lead to at least one of these feelings. After a while, it made
a deep impact in the people of Kabul, Afghanistan, and their entire society.
These themes held a great deal in the lives of the characters. Every theme
changed around the way a family worked, the laws, how people acted, how relations
worked, nearly everything. It changed the society, for the worst it seemed. But after the
Taliban was kicked out, Kabuls society changed yet again, sort of to the way it was
before the wars. Over time, the society will probably go back to the way it was, but it will
take a lot to fix the damage that was Kabul for a long time.