The Sacrifices Women Make

    An Individuals capacity for self-sacrifice in the face of compelling circumstances.

In the middle of war-torn Afghanistan, Mariam and Laila, two Afghan women born into different life circumstances, find themselves thrown into one another’s lives. In Khaled Hosseini’s novel A Thousand Splendid Suns he shows the dark truth that Afghan woman live through in a wreckedlifestyle, and the sacrifices they have to make in the face of compelling circumstances.  Laila sacrifices her happiness when she marries a man older than her father, and then beds him multiple times after finding out an unexpected surprise. She goes through multiple years of unhappiness with him after she finds out that she has another to protect aside from herself. Mariam however sacrifices her entire life, from childhood and ultimately to her death, in order to keep those in her life happy and content. Laila and Mariam ultimately put their lives on hold and make multiple sacrifices in order to preserve the happiness and well-being of those they hold dear to themselves.

     An unexpected pregnancy, the supposed death of the man of her dreams, and her parents killed after a bomb hits their house. As dramatic and unrealistic as it sounds to those from American culture this is the life of Laila, a girl who had her life ripped apart from her and had to make choices that she wouldn’t have dreamed of before. She found herself marrying a man named Rasheed in order to stay alive and have all of her needs met. Later on, after finding out that she is pregnant with her best friend Tariq’s child, she finds herself critically thinking about the situation and bedding with Rasheed in order to save her child’s life. As the outcome of Rasheed’s scheming Laila is led to believe that Tariq is dead, and therefore she lies in bed with Rasheed so that he will believe that her child is also his. She then puts her daughteimager, Aziza, in an orphanage years into her marriage when they run out of money and are forced to sell their belongings. Zalmai, her son, is allowed to stay in the house since he is a boy but her daughter would’ve been forced to the streets. In a last attempt to stay close to her daughter, and too know that Aziza is being kept safe and is taken care of, Laila allows her rights to her daughter to be relinquished as she places her in an orphanage.  Laila wouldn’t have survived her years with Rasheed if it weren’t for the lady she grows to love Mariam, Rasheed’s first wife.

     From birth Mariam’s mother felt nothing but resentment and hatred for Mariam, even going as far as too call Mariam a harami, a bastard.  She was even told as a child when she asked to get schooling done that the only skill she needed in life was tahamul, to endure. She lived separate from her father, her mom and her living outside of the town, but her father would visit her regularly. Although as a child Mariam thought that he was doing it out of love, she realizes after her mother’s death that he is ashamed of her and only met her out of obligation and guilt. After her father forces her into an arranged marriage with a man named Rasheed, Mariam has to sacrifice her respect and rights as a woman in order to survive since her husband is abusive and is a misogynists. He believes that woman are only useful for taking care of their husband and for giving birth, so imagine his delight when he finds out that Mariam is unable to have children. Mariam then had to sacrifice her rights as a wife when her husband marries a second wife, Laila, who is much younger than Mariam and is more appreciated by Rasheed. She then selflessly pushes all ill feelings away and befriends Laila, knowing that the younger girl needs support and love at this point in her life and not Mariam’s jealousy.

     Through marrying on the do not love for their parent, too chaining themselves to a life of misery for their child’s safety, both Mariam and Laila have had to made great sacrifices in compelling circumstances. In Khaled Hosseini’s novel A Thousand Splendid Sun we are shown the hidden truth of the lives that the two protagonists, Laila and Mariam, live and the life of many Afghan women.  He shows that these women are willing to sacrifice their own lives and happiness in an instant if it means survival and happiness for themselves and those they care for. The two women put their entire lives on hold in order to please those around them, and in order to ensure that they are not thrown onto the streets. For Laila she also had to ensure that both of her children are also granted protection, and she did whatever necessary in order to reach that point. In compelling circumstances, a women will make whatever sacrifices necessary to ensure their own survival as well as the survival of those their care for, as is shown in Khaled Hosseini’s novel A Thousand Splendid Suns.

One thought on “The Sacrifices Women Make

  1. Dear Gurleen,

    Your essay was well-written and addressed the prompt effectively! The only thing I would suggest is checking over your work for small errors, like not putting spaces between words or writing “Sun” instead of “Suns” in the title of the book in the conclusion. The small things, when numerous, can be a bit distracting! But overall it was well done and I know that you’ve grown a lot as a writer!

    Well done!


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