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Jacob McGill The Search Story Men and women are not equal. At least, not always.

They may be considered equal in many parts of the Western world, but not so for much of the Middle East, including the country of Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, like many other Middle Eastern countries, women are consistently mistreated and given fewer rights than the men around them. Despite the many political changes Afghanistan and other countries have undergone, the status of women remains roughly the same. This becomes evident throughout Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns. In A Thousand Splendid Suns, Afghanistan undergoes several political upheavals that have dramatic effects on all of the characters in the novel. While reading the novel, I became interested in exploring how these changes affected the female characters, since they were the ones whose perspective was given most often. This was to be expected since the novel’s main protagonists, Mariam and Laila, are Afghani women. Before beginning my research, I had a basic understanding of the historical background of the novel, but no real detailed or specific knowledge. I have been aware of the continuing oppression of women in Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries for an extensive period of time, but I had never looked into the relationship between gender inequality and political change in such turbulent nations. Nor had I ever considered the fact that women remain subjugated even while the balance of power in their country is shifting dramatically. After reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, I began to consider the reasons behind the trials and tribulations faced by Mariam and Laila, as well as the other female characters throughout the

novel. How do the numerous political upheavals that take place throughout the novel affect Hosseini’s female characters? And how does the male-dominated, or patriarchal, society of Afghanistan affect the opportunities available to them? It is clear that the men in the novel exercise a great deal of power over the women, and they are often seen using this power malevolently. This led me to another question: How does Hosseini characterize his male and female characters differently, and how are their emotions and thoughts depicted differently? After considering this, I also began to wonder exactly how accurately Hosseini depicts the ways women in Afghanistan deal with such oppression and emotional turmoil. When beginning my research, I relied primarily on internet databases such as Gale, which provided relevant and useful sources as well as helpful links to other possible sources. These outside links usually included critical essays or other literary articles relating to A Thousand Splendid Suns. I also used other relevant and trustworthy sources I found on the Internet pertaining to feminist theory or the history of Afghanistan, both of which are closely related to my research questions. In A Thousand Splendid Suns, the many political upheavals and patriarchal society of Afghanistan have a dramatic effect on Hosseini’s female characters, who are portrayed differently than the males.