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thousand splendid suns

Even though Mariam doesn't like Laila at first in A Thousand Splendid Suns, why does Laila defend Mariam from a beating from Rasheed?


Laila and Mariam are both married to Rasheed in A Thousand Splendid Suns. Mariam is basically given to Rasheed by her father when she is a teenager; Mariam is an illegitimate child that her father Jalil wanted to have settled so he could be through with his obligation to her. Mariam's marriage to Rasheed is unhappy and based purely on duty. For a time, Mariam thinks she can be somewhat happy if she's able to have a child, but when she loses pregnancy after pregnancy, she gives up hope. Mariam grew up poor and without a formal education. She is expected to simply serve her husband and even though she does not want to, she feels she has no choice.

Laila, on the other hand, is well-educated and used to a more liberal lifestyle before the Taliban took over Kabul. Her parents are killed in an explosion and Laila is left orphaned. Rasheed finds her and takes her in; once she is healed, he takes her as a second wife. Meanwhile, Laila's true love has fled the country. Laila is much more rebellious than Mariam since her life circumstances were so different. She feels that Rasheed's treatment is inherently unjust, while Mariam to some extent has become accustomed to it. Laila feels sorry for Mariam, and once Mariam shows her true love and compassion for Laila's daughter, the two become close.

Laila defends Mariam in this scene, and later, Mariam kills Rasheed to protect Laila. The two women form a bond despite the fact that the family structure and Rasheed's treatment sought to make them enemies.

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