A Thousand Splendid Suns A Thousand Splendid Suns question

Mariam or Laila?

Mariam. I'm still not over it.

First of all I loved this book. I couldn't keep the book down and read it all during a weekend.

This is a really hard decision and one I cannot make. Mariam and Laila are like ying and yang. You can't have one without the other. Having both personalities in one book is what made A Thousand Splendid Suns so great. I loved them both!

I felt for both Mariam and Laila, but I think Mariam's life in my opinion was more traumatic; seeing the suicide of her mother I would imagine was very traumatic, I'm sure this was a constant internal conflict that lived with her for years, then "fighting" for the love of her father, feeling rejected, being "sold" against her will and finally living with an abusive husband. It took great strength for Mariam to overtake her oppressor in the end. Any type of prison was better than the prison she lived while married to Rasheed.

laila for her tenacity...her spunk...her courage....her never ending hope...in the end she even rubbed off on mariam...but kudos to mariam for sacrificing herself...

Mariam is one of the most heroic characters I've ever read about. A hero in the truest sense of the word.

F 25x33
Arwa I totally agree! I actually think she's my all time fav character. ...more
Jun 06, 2014 05:14AM · flag
Maritza Yes! SO true, people tend to stereotype heroes as people who go on these grand adventures, save people, and so on. Mariam is more of a hero than any o ...more
Sep 08, 2014 09:02PM · flag

I think it would be unjust to blame Mariam for what happened to her mother. After all she was a 14yr old girl who was curious to see the world outside her "confinement" and meet her father whom she worshipped. What her mother did was totally unacceptable! She abandoned her daughter for one mistake!

Really hard to decide but being very honestly, my heart ached more for Laila cause she was one who was treated as princess in her early life. Later calamaties were so harsh on her that our 'princess' was turned into mistress cum wife of an old geek. Mariam, though suffered more till the end, never really saw any bright ray in her life. Laila seems more like an Aristotelian tragic protagonist who deprived off nobility and prosperity and descended to advesrity.

Both Mariam and Laila proved to be extremely strong characters in the book. This was one of the best books I've ever read.

If I had to choose , i would choose mariam.they both been through alot but i felt that mariam did a heroic job for saving laila from rasheed, surrending herself to the taliban and letting laila and her family live happily while she takes all the blame.

Well this is a hard thing to decide.Because both of them are suffering in their life but in different corner. Marriam is a girl who has lost her mother and feeling guilty that she has betrayed her mother and her so called father has given up her. Laila is soeone who has lost her brothers and parents. She was suffering from her heart that she had lost her love and raising his daughter. She hadn't had anything to do other than marring marriam's husband. Both Marriam and Laila had to marry him even though they didn't want to. But the thing is not only Marriam and Laial but most of the Muslim women have to face these kind of problems in their life in a pitiful way. But marriam paying from her life for what she and Laial have gone through in their life for Laial's sake. That is beyond explanation. So i think Marriam has gone through many bad and sad things than Laial. I pity them both.

A very difficult choice indeed, but for me it would be Mariam because she had to suffer a lot in her life, still she had heart enough to step aside for Laila and even sacrificed herself for her sake. One of the strongest female characters I've come across till date.

They had extremely different and colorful personalities.

Laila actually took an escape route when she knew her life is going to be hell when she decided to marry Rasheed.
But Mariam all through the book endured pain and hardship. She was the one who took the fall for the Laila in the end as well.The character portrayal of Mariam is far stronger than that of Laila.

Mariam! I think Mariam had such a hard life, from beginning to end, but found a way to survive and eventually learn how to love and have a family again even after her father rejected her. She endured so much: she had daddy issues, her mom killed herself, her husband abused her, and she couldn't have children, not to mention the other details in which she never really fit in nor was she even allowed to. I am proud of her for growing throughout this novel, but it pains me, her ending. I definitely cried for her.


Absolutely Mariam, you can't deny how courageous and brave she is! After depleting all of its power, she finally sacrifices her own life for a woman that she should have HATED! Beside all of that, Laila made many prohibited things.. She lied to Rasheed and mated with Tariq, and at the end of the story, her son is missing his real father.

I usually don't try hard to pick a favorite character. It's not the most pressing thing to me while I'm reading.

I liked them both, and of course I felt like both played important roles in the story. I liked that we had two generations of women working together under the same crap conditions.

Is Mariam really one-dimensional? That seems like a harsh, hasty judgement to me. I think a lot of her depth shows up in the way she handles her husband: when they first get married, she doesn't like him but she does want a baby. Later, she's jealous of his attention to Laila. Very Stockholm Syndrome. In spite of the suffering she's endured, she takes all of the blame on Laila's behalf and allows her to escape. That's powerful.

I will say I can relate to Laila too, partly because we get more out of her family life and partly because we get more out of her love life. (Mariam didn't have much opportunity for either.) I love Laila's dad. I can relate to her heartache.

But I still related to Mariam too.

First of all, heart-felt gratitude to Mr. Hosseini for giving such wonderful insight into the lives of the Afghans. The imagery that he has created is remarkable. Though I've never been to that place, but the vivid details of the cities, their dialects, life-style and landscape is tempting enough for me to visit Afghanistan. I personally, that is it's single biggest achievement- that it brought Afghanistan to the mainstream literary world.

I agree with the readers above me, that you don't often pick your favorite character in a book as you do in a movie, but if I really had to chose, I'd say Mariam. Her earlier life before her marriage still intrigues me, be it her relation with her father, mother or the way she assumes the world perceives her - Harami. Her initial resistance to her marriage, the consequent resentment towards her father,husband the the later desire for attention from him and finally alienation has so many hues of possibly all the human emotions one goes through. She has lead a severe life and I was moved to tears finally, (which only a few books have managed to do) when she decides to put an end to her and Laila's misery. The supreme act of courage that is displayed when she asks Laila to flee and stays back herself stills leaves me dumb-founded. I love and appreciate Laila too, her love story painted in blood, isolation, eternal wait and finally solace. But most importantly, I love the fact that she remembers Mariam, and is thankful to her , every waking moment. A part of me has lived her life suffered and resisted alongside her, when she was going through all these emotions. Needless to say, she took a part of me too, when she dies in the novel.

A huge tear-jerker book, which when put down- is a sin.

And Mariam Jo is the biggest reason I'll keep reading it again and again, in several years to come!

Mariam is so badass!But so was Laila in a way. Definitely a hard question.

What? You're asking me to choose???! No! Both were amazingly heroic in their own way. Both suffered equally terrible losses and barbaric brutality at the hands of a violent husband. They both sometimes seem the same person to me, both victims of fate. And both faced their fates valiantly.

They completed one another , Courageous ,bitter Laila and Abandoned
Shame-suffering Mariam

Mariam of course she suffered more than layla .. Terrible child, injustice marriage and in the end she paid a price

I don't find myself liking either Miriam or Laila, because they don't have real motivations. Miriam wants attention from her father, and then ignores him when he comes to visit her. She becomes fonder of her husband when she discovers his cache of pornography. Laila on the other hand becomes pregnant, if horrifically injured, remains pregnant and realizes it? Even though she has been raised to think more independently she immediately chooses the worst stereotype of a man to marry. When characters do not ring true it is hard to choose between them.

I liked mariam and laila. Mariam's character was inspirational as throughout her childhood, she was considered lowly, but at her end she left a lasting influence on Laila. Likewise laila's love story was her driving force throughout her life with rasheed, and her bravery against him was amazing

When paper and ink offer someone you can fall in love with. What a wonderful character she was,and such horrible life she has lived. Khaled Hosinei has twisted her fate brilliantly that he filled me with dread against the injustice that befell her.

It's been over since I've finished reading the book, and I couldn't just get Mariam out of my mind.Not that I like her or something , but SHE IS JUST LIKE ME.I spent 3 hours cryng like a baby for her, and still my face hasn't dried up.I believe Mariam is going to be a part of me forevet now.Her relation with her mother,Nana,deeply moved me.Going to bed with my eyes still wet, and with Mariam in my mind.May she remain forever in my memories.

Jaye (last edited Jul 21, 2012 10:07AM ) Jul 21, 2012 10:07AM   0 votes
If find it hard to believe that anyone could not feel love and sympathy towards Marian in their heart!!! Unloved by mother and father! Made to feel unwanted, branded as a, 'harami,' !!! Cast onto the outskirts of her father's life, left to watch the proceedings from the outside. Made to live in abject poverty with a bitter mother. Good grief, how could one not love her??!! I am amazed...the fact that her love endures, and is able to blossom with ONE person: Laila, is a miracle, and a testament to what the Father creates. How can one compare Mariam to Laila? Laila has received love and nurturing and friendship from her own father. Granted her mother is not 'present' but she also receives love, and experiences it with Tariq. When does Mariam? Yes, with her Teacher, but that is all. Then to go from love-less parents to a self-centred, hard-hearted and abusive husband... I am in awe that anyone could over look these facts...


Mariam certainly. It is Mariam who rose against the custom and that too in a manner that is not expected of a woman in Afghanistan. The last scene tells who Mariam is. She goes to face her death in an assured way. She is confident that she had done the right thing and that the world around her matters nothing to her because it does not realize her worth. That is a strong character.

First was a fantastic book! As of Laila or Mariam both women went through real tragedys but I think personally Mariam suffered more. I think overall she faced many more problems and dissapointments that Laila didnt expierience. First Laila got to expierience her fathers lovew where Mariam did not. Personally I think having your parents die would be a better thing then having them leave you to fell unwanted. Also Laila was able to have children and was not beat throughout her life by Rasheed. Because Mariam expierienced more horrors in her life I found myself rooting for her throughout the book, and found her to be a truly heroic character.

Cole (last edited Jun 15, 2014 07:10PM ) Jun 15, 2014 07:06PM   0 votes
Mariam and Laila are so similar in the situations they experienced. But to me, Mariam is like a mother to Laila. Mariam is more wise in her experience than Laila, partly because she is older, but also the different hardships she faced - loneliness, isolation, abuse (mental manipulation and disturbing physical abuse). Laila, arguably, faced more hardships in a shorter amount of time. It's not easy to choose, because I often think about the two characters as one, and the everlasting, powerful voices of abused women.

And although they didn't get along at first, Mariam gave Laila the comfort of a mother, or perhaps even a big sister. That is what I really admire about Mariam. Mariam had to rely on her own intuition for much of her life. The things and stories her father was telling her pierced her heart when she found out that it was all a lie. He had no use for her except to throw her out, into the hands of another disgusting man. For this, and many other things, I admire Mariam more than Laila, not in the fact that I think she is better because of her experience, but because of her wisdom.

First sentence corrctn : It's been over 7 hrs since I'VE finshed reading the book........

Mariam was such a heroic character. I really admired her bravery and her courage even after being trapped with Rasheed for all those years. She could have easily turned her back on Laila, but she supported her and saved her life- even taking the consequence for doing so. I took a liking to Laila too, but for me, Mariam portrayed such an undefeated and strong individual, making me appreciate her even more.

For those who think less of Laila.. I must say that at least Mariam never knew what love, affection and care was like to actually miss it. For Laila it was like she had everything in the world and suddenly it was all snatched away from her! I truly respect her for her strength, when she asks the Doctor to cut her open without anesthesia to save her son's life! The pain and suffering she endures to spend a few hours with her daughter when her husband puts her away in an orphanage!

deleted member Jun 21, 2013 08:36AM   0 votes
Mariam was a true heroine actually. She went through a very hard life since she was a child to the day she died. She suffered without knowing true happiness, but still she was strong and fearless, she fought to the end without even knowing what she was really fighting for. Laila was brought up in whole other conditions, she had everything and lost it. She felt the pain more, as she knew what she wanted in her life and she knew that she couldn't get it. Mariam had accepted her fate long ago, (though she still tried to change it she knew that she could always end up to where she was before) while Laila wasn't willing to do so. Of course things turned out well for Laila in the end, but I think that both women were brave and strong and I believe that more women should try to be like them for real and face what life throws on them holding their heads high, just like these two did despite their destinies.

I feel that it is truly unfair that Mariam and Laila should be compared. I mean they both are two different characters n they cannot be compared.I don't think that the intensity or duration of their suffering is a parameter to compare them. Both of them were strong women in their own respects.

Ela (last edited Jun 17, 2012 01:28AM ) Jun 17, 2012 01:23AM   0 votes
Picking up favorite character doesn't usually happened in a book but mostly in a movie.. Now who I like the most?

I could say that the two characters are both rounded characters because they show different emotions and different behavior as a character. The two women depict what women Afghanistan has that time.. One traditional and little bit modern.

I like Mariam much than Laila because she portrayed the role of a true afghan woman despite the fact that she is Harami. She is a reflection of a traditional woman of their time who accepted her destiny of getting married with whom she doesn't love and accepts all the hardships of being harami. Although she cannot live independently(only because they are not allowed to having no makhram), she still lives her life like she has no family,( where the fact she has). She is almost independent emotionally.She is so strong of facing all the challenges in her life without nothing at her back. She got few friends but all were gone or far from her. She struggled very hard. Life teach her to be strong.She's been so patient and obey her husband like what their religion teach them. Although this kind of woman is not IN in our time now,I mean by this time she is considered as martyr but I still admire everything about her.No one now will live with the second wife of their husband, but she is different, She treated Laila a family. They are the family she never has.Her bravery of getting killed her husband just to save Laila is what breaks me. All the beating she receive just to save them is very heartbreaking,and among all, facing the punishment of getting stoned to death where she has all the chance to escape. She is so brave. She lost her mother so early, get married so early and all the hardship she's gone through.. No one in our time now can do what she did. Laila has a great character too but I like Mariam much. I know it's fiction only but for me as muslim,, everything is true and while I'm reading, its like I'm her. Part of me was there also..

Ela, I agree with you that Mariam is a good wife and that she has a great inner strength to carry on being a good wife in such circumstances. What disturbs me about the story is that Rasheed is a bad husband and that nobody in authority is criticising him for it. He is picking out bits of his religion to follow and ignoring others, such as the behaviour and responsibilities of a good husband.

Fatimah (last edited Apr 18, 2013 09:46AM ) Mar 27, 2013 12:25AM   0 votes
Mariam, definitely. Nothing seemed to work out for her. She lived a life that's full of terrible things she didn't deserve, but she was still trying to be happy. She was blamed for being a "harami" something that is obviously NOT her fault. Compared to Mariam, Laila seemed to get everything easily. I'm not saying that having her parents bombed and getting married to a 60-year-old psychopath is not tragic, I'm just saying that despite all of that, she got to be happy in the future by re-uniting with Tariq and having more babies with him. For Mariam, she witnessed her mom commit suicide, got rejected by her own father, got forcefully married at the age of 15 , had dozens of abortions, got abused by her husband and brutally beaten by him AND AFTER ALL THAT, got punished and took the blame for something that's not entirely her fault and was HANGED for it . Both women are incredibly strong to be able to endure such horrific hardships, but at least Laila got to experience love, at least she got to be happy again. But Mariam? She didn't know how love is like to even miss it.

Vid (last edited Jul 09, 2014 11:08AM ) Jul 09, 2014 11:07AM   -1 votes
Mariam is the best female character I have ever come across. I like her more than Sayuri of Memoirs of Geisha or Lisbeth Salander of The girl with Dragon tattoo. Why?
Because her heroism comes from within.She is just an ordinary woman like us who is not gifted with mesmerising beauty or photographic memory but fights till the end. This book brought tears to my eyes only coz of Mariam. The truth is Mariam is everywhere, in every society, in every corner of the world.She is inside every woman.

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