100+ Quotes from A Thousand Splendid Suns: Khaled Hosseini’s Masterpiece
‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ is a poignant and powerful novel by Khaled Hosseini that tells the story of two women, Mariam and Laila, and their struggles for survival and freedom in Afghanistan. Through their experiences, the novel explores themes of love, family, identity, and the cost of war.
Here are some notable quotes from ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ that capture the essence of the novel:
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Afghanistan has a rich and complex history, shaped by centuries of conflict and cultural exchange. In ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns,’ the characters navigate the challenges and beauty of life in Afghanistan, from the bustling streets of Kabul to the rugged landscapes of the countryside.
These quotes offer a glimpse into the diverse experiences of the characters and the unique cultural and political context of Afghanistan. They remind us of the resilience and strength of the Afghan people and the importance of understanding and respecting the complexities of life in this diverse and vibrant country.
- This, she thought, was Ahmad and Noor’s Afghanistan. This, here in the provinces, was where the war was being fought, after all. Not in Kabul. Kabul was largely at peace.
- To me, it’s nonsense – and very dangerous nonsense at that – all this talk of I’m a Tajik and you’re a Pashtun and he’s Hazara and she’s Uzbek. We’re all Afghans, and that’s all that should matter.
- How urbane, how Tajik of you. You think this is some new, radical idea the Taliban are bringing? Have you ever lived outside your precious little shell in Kabul, my gul?
- [Laila] thought longingly of the wide-open skies of her childhood, of her days of going to buzkashi tournaments with Babi and shopping at Mandaii with Mammy.
On Love and Family
Love and family are central themes in Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns. From the enduring bond between mothers and daughters to the complexities of romantic love, these quotes offer insights into the human experience and the power of relationships.
- Mammy didn’t understand. She didn’t understand that if she looked into a mirror, she would find the one unfailing conviction of [Babi’s] life looking right back at her.
- ‘For you,’ he said. ‘I’d kill with it for you, Laila.’
- Leaving Afghanistan had been unthinkable to her while Ahmad and Noor were still alive. Now that they were Shaheed, packing up and running was […] a betrayal, a disavowal of the sacrifice her sons had made.
- She would not miss him as she did now, when the ache of his absence was her unremitting companion—like the phantom pain of an amputee.
- As soon as she was in Mariam’s arms, Aziza’s thumb shot into her mouth and she buried her face in Mariam’s neck.
- It’s my father I can’t leave,’ Laila said. ‘I’m all he has left. His heart couldn’t take it either. Tariq knew this. He knew she could not wipe away the obligations of her life any more than he could his.
- She would never leave her mark on Mammy’s heart the way her brothers had, because Mammy’s heart was like a pallid beach where Laila’s footprints would forever wash away beneath the waves of sorrow that swelled and crashed.
- It is strange, Laila thinks, almost unsettling, the thing between Aziza and Tariq. Already Aziza is finishing his sentences and he hers. She hands him things before he asks for them.
- Mariam had never before been wanted like this. Love had never been declared to her so guilelessly, so unreserved.
- That night, Zalmai wakes up coughing. Before Laila can move, Tariq swings his legs over the side of the bed. He straps on his prosthesis and walks over to Zalmai, lifts him up into his arms.
- Her time with Tariq’s family always felt natural to Laila, effortless, uncomplicated by […] the personal spites and grudges that infected the air at her own home.
- When the children spot Laila, they come running […] Some of them call her Mother. Laila does not correct them.
- [Mariam] thought of her entry into this world, the harami child of a lowly villager […] A weed. And yet she was leaving the world as a woman who had loved and been loved back.
- Laila crawled to her and again put her head on Mariam’s lap. She remembered all the afternoons they’d spent together, braiding each other’s hair, Mariam listening patiently to her random thought and ordinary stories with an air of gratitude, with the expression of a person to whom a unique and coveted privilege had been extended.
- Somehow, over these last months, Laila and Aziza—a harami [illegitimate child] like herself, as it turned out—had become extensions of her and now, without them, the life Mariam had tolerated for so long suddenly seemed intolerable.
- I regret that I did not make you a daughter to me, that I let you live in that place for all those years. And for what? Fear of losing face? […] How little those things matter to me now after all the loss, all the terrible things I have seen in this cursed war.
- Mariam is never very far […] mostly, Mariam is in Laila’s own heart, where she shines with the bursting radiance of a thousand suns.
- Most times, Laila and Tariq make love in silence, with controlled muted passion […] But for Laila, being with Tariq is worth weathering these apprehensions. When they make love, Laila feels anchored, she feels sheltered.
- She picked up ten pebbles and arranged them vertically, in three columns. […] She put four pebbles in the first column, for Khadija’s children, three for Afsoon’s, and three in the third column for Nagis’s children. Then she added a fourth column. A solitary, eleventh pebble.
- She understood what Nana meant, that a harami was an unwanted thing; that she, Mariam, was an illegitimate person who would never have legitimate claim to the things other people had, things such as love, family, home, acceptance.
- One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.
- Yet love can move people to act in unexpected ways and move them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with startling heroism.
- You know.’ ‘Know what?’ ‘That I only have eyes for you.’
- I’ll die if you go. The Jinn will come, and I’ll have one of my fits. You’ll see, I’ll swallow my tongue and die. Don’t leave me, Mariam jo. Please stay. I’ll die if you go.
On Identity and Self-Discovery
The novel is full of powerful quotes on identity and self-discovery. From the struggles of finding one’s place in the world to the impact of culture and society on personal identity, these quotes offer insights into the human experience and the journey of self-discovery.
- That summer, Titanic fever gripped Kabul. People smuggled pirated copies of the film from Pakistan – sometimes in their underwear. After curfew, everyone locked their doors, turned out the lights, turned down the volume, and reaped tears for Jack and Rose.
- In the last few months, she has found herself missing the city of her childhood. She misses the bustle of Shor Bazaar, the Gardens of Babur, the call of the water carriers lugging their goatskin bags.
- For the first time in year, Laila hears music at Kabul’s street corners, rubab and table, dootar, harmonium and tamboura, old Ahmad Zahir songs.
- Though there had been moments of beauty in it, Mariam knew that life for most part has been unkind to her. But as she walked the final twenty paces, she could not help but wish for more of it
- You cannot stop you from being who you are.
- A woman who will be like a rock in a riverbed, enduring without complaint, her grace not sullied but shaped by the turbulence that washes over her.
- Behind every trial and sorrow that He makes us shoulder, God has a reason.
- Perhaps this is just punishment for those who have been heartless, to understand only when nothing can be undone.
- Tell your secret to the wind, but don’t blame it for telling the trees.
On the Cost of War
War and its devastating consequences are a prominent theme in Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns, and the novel is filled with quotes on this subject. From the horrors of violence and loss, to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of tragedy, these quotes offer insights into the devastating cost of war and its lasting impact on individuals and societies.
- And that, my young friends, is the story of our country, one invader after another […] Now the Soviets. But we’re like those walls up there. Battered, and nothing looks pretty to look at, but still standing.
- The Mujahideen, armed to the teeth but now lacking a common enemy, had found the enemy in each other.
- It wasn’t so much the whistling itself, Laila thought later, but the seconds between the start of it and impact. […] Like a defendant about to hear the verdict.
- Giti was dead. Dead. Blown to pieces. At last, Laila began to weep for her friend. And all the tears that she hadn’t been able to shed at her brothers’ funeral came pouring down.
- ‘Fariba, all these people know is war,’ said Babi. ‘They learned to walk with a milk bottle in one hand and a gun in another.’
- It slays Laila. It slays her that the warlords have been allowed back to Kabul. That her parents’ murderers live in posh homes with walled gardens, that they have been appointed minister of this and deputy minister of that.
- The Americans have armed the warlords once more, and enlisted the help of the Northern Alliance to drive out the Taliban and find Bin Laden.
- Massoud’s violent end brings her no joy, but she remembers too well the neighborhoods razed under his watch, the bodies dragged from the rubble, the hands and feet of children discovered on rooftops or the high branch of some tree days after their funeral.
- ‘I’m sorry,’ Laila says, marveling at how every Afghan story is marked by death and loss and imaginable grief. And yet, she sees, people find a way to survive, to go on.
- When the money ran out, hunger began to cast a pall over their lives. It was stunning to Mariam how quickly alleviating hunger became the crux of their existence.
- Death from starvation suddenly became a distinct possibility. Some chose not to wait for it. Mariam heard of a neighborhood widow who had ground some dried bread, laced it with rat poison, and fed it to all seven of her children. She had saved the biggest portion for herself.
- He watched little emaciated boys carrying water in their jerry cans, gathering dog droppings to make a fire, carving toy AK-47s out of wood with dull knives, lugging the sacks of wheat flour that no one could make bread from that held together.
- The Chinese say it’s better to be deprived of food for three days than tea for one.
On the Power of Education
From the transformative nature of learning and knowledge to the barriers that prevent access to education, these quotes from the novel on the power of education offer insights into the vital role it plays in personal and societal growth.
- A society has no chance at success if its women are uneducated, Laila. No chance.
- ‘He’s going to ask for my hand, Laila! Maybe as early as this summer.’ […] ‘What about school?’ Laila had asked. Giti had tilted her head and given her a We both know better look.
- I know you’re still young but I want you to understand and learn this now. Marriage can wait, education cannot. You’re a very very bright girl. Truly you are. You can be anything you want Laila. I know this about you. And I also know that when this war is over Afghanistan is going to need you as much as its men maybe even more.
- You see, some things I can teach you. Some you learn from books. But there are things that, well, you just have to see and feel.
- She pictured herself in a classroom with other girls her age. Mariam longed to place a ruler on a page and draw important-looking lines.
- For the last two years, Laila had received the awal numra certificate, given yearly to the top-ranked student in each grade. She said nothing of these things to Hasina, though, whose own father was an ill-tempered taxi driver who in two or three years would almost certainly give her away.
- There, men saw it as an insult to their centuries-old tradition, Babi said, to be told by the government – and a godless one at that – that their daughters had to leave home, attend school, and work alongside men.
- The streets became so unsafe that Babi did an unthinkable thing: He had Laila drop out of school.
- In fact, Babi thought that the one thing the communists had done right […] was in the field of education […] Almost two-thirds of the students at Kabul University were women now, Babi said.
- Girls are forbidden from attending school. All schools for girls will be closed immediately.
- Aziza said Kaka Zaman made it a point to teach them something every day.
- [T]he husband fancies himself some kind of educated intellectual. But he’s a mouse. Look at him. Doesn’t he look like a mouse?
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On the Oppression of Women
The oppression of women is a pervasive theme in the novel, which is filled with powerful quotes on this subject. From the systemic discrimination and violence faced by women to the strength and resilience of female characters in the face of adversity, these quotes offer insights into the struggles and triumphs of women in a patriarchal society.
- The padded headpiece felt tight and heavy on her skull, and it was strange seeing the world through a mesh screen. She practiced walking around her room in it and kept stepping on the hem and stumbling.
- The loss of peripheral vision was unnerving, and she did not like the suffocating way the pleated cloth kept pressing against her mouth.
- A man’s heart is a wretched, wretched thing, Mariam. It isn’t like a mother’s womb. It won’t bleed, it won’t stretch to make room for you.
- You try this again and I will find you. […] And, when I do, there isn’t a court in this godforsaken country that will hold me accountable for what I will do (Rasheed).
- No matter. The point is, I am your husband now, and it falls on me to guard not only your honor but ours, yes, our nang and namoos. That is the husband’s burden. You let me worry about that (Rasheed).
- Rasheed didn’t say anything. And, really, what could be said, what needed saying when you’d shoved the barrel of your gun into your wife’s mouth?
- Well, one does not drive a Volga and a Benz in the same manner. That would be foolish, wouldn’t it?
- Already Laila sees something behind this young girl’s eyes, something deep in her core, that neither Rasheed nor the Taliban will be able to break. Something as hard and unyielding as a block of limestone.
- God has made us differently, you women and us men. Our brains are different. […] This is why we require only one male witness but two female ones.
- She remembered Nana saying once that each snowflake was a sigh heaved by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world […] As a reminder of how women like us suffer, she’d said. How quietly we endure all that falls upon us.
- The women in this part of Kabul were a different breed from the women in the poorer neighborhoods – like the one where she and Rasheed lived, where so many of the women covered fully.
- ‘They want us to operate in burqa,’ the doctor explained, motioning with her head to the nurse at the door. ‘She keeps watch. She sees them coming; I cover.’
- Mariam saw now the sacrifices a mother made. Decency was but one.
- Mariam had heard about the announcement, in January of that year, that men and women would be seen in different hospitals, that all female staff would be discharged from Kabul’s hospitals and sent to work in one central facility.
- Learn this now and learn this well, my daughter: Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman.
- In Laila’s dream, she and Mariam are out behind the toolshed digging again. But, this time, it’s Aziza they’re lowering into the ground.
- Here in Kabul, women taught at the university, ran schools, held office in the government. No, Babi meant the tribal areas, especially the Pashtun regions in the south or in the east near the Pakistani border, where women were rarely seen on the streets and only then in burqa and accompanied by men.
- Had she ever been a deceitful wife? she asked herself. A complacent wife? A dishonorable woman? Discreditable? Vulgar? What harmful thing had she willfully done to this man to warrant his malice, his continual assaults, the relish with which he tormented her?
- These women were – what was the word Rasheed had used? – ‘modern.’ Yes, modern Afghan women married to modern Afghan men who did not mind that their wives walked among strangers with makeup on their faces and nothing on their heads.
- What good are all your smarts to you now? What’s keeping you off the streets, your smarts or me? I’m despicable? Half the women in the city would kill to have a husband like me. They would kill for it.
- After the fire, Rasheed was home almost every day. He slapped Aziza. He kicked Mariam. He threw things. He found fault with Laila, the way she smelled, the way she dressed, the way she combed her hair, her yellowing teeth.
- ‘I won’t let you turn my daughter into a street beggar!’ Laila snapped.
- I’m all you have in this world Mariam, and when I’m gone you’ll have nothing. You ARE nothing!
Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns is full of touching quotes on friendship. From the bonds of loyalty and support that sustain characters through difficult times, to the transformative power of true friendship, these quotes offer insights into the value and importance of close relationships.
- Boys, Laila came to see, treated friendship the way they treated the sun: its existence undisputed; its radiance best enjoyed, not beheld directly.
- She was leaving it [the word] as a friend, a companion, a guardian. a mother. a person of consequence at last.
- Nine-year-old Laila rose from bed, as she did most mornings, hungry for the sight of her friend Tariq. This morning, however, she knew there would be no Tariq sighting.
Hope is a powerful force that can drive us to persevere through even the most difficult of circumstances. It gives us the strength to keep going and the belief that better days are ahead.
In ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns,’ the characters are faced with countless challenges and hardships, but they hold onto hope and find the resilience to keep fighting. These quotes from the novel remind us of the enduring power of hope and the importance of never giving up.
- Laila has moved on. Because in the end, she knows that’s all she can do. That and hope.
- Of all the hardships a person had to face, none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.
- Maybe this is necessary. Maybe there will be hope when Bush’s bombs stop falling. But she cannot bring herself to say it, not when what happened to Babi and Mammy is happening to someone now in Afghanistan.
- But Mariam hardly noticed, hardly cared…the future did not matter. And the past held only this wisdom: that love was a damaging mistake, and its accomplice, hope, a treacherous illusion. And whenever those twin poisonous flowers began to sprout in the parched land of that field, Mariam uprooted them.
Forgiveness is a complex and often difficult process, but it can also be a powerful act of healing and liberation. In ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns,’ the characters are faced with moments of hurt, betrayal, and injustice, and they must navigate the challenges of forgiveness in order to move forward.
These quotes explore the different facets of forgiveness and the role it plays in the lives of the characters. They remind us of the transformative power of forgiveness and the importance of finding ways to heal and move on from the past.
- It always falls on the sober to pay for the sins of the drunk.
- Time is the most unforgiving of fires.
- Mariam’s final thoughts were a few words from the Koran, which she muttered under her breath: He has created the heavens and the earth with the truth; He makes the night cover the day and makes the day overtake the night, and He has made the sun and the moon subservient; each one runs on to an assigned term; now surely He is the Mighty, the Great Forgiver.
On the Struggle for Freedom
Throughout history, people have fought for their freedom and the right to live in a society where they are treated with dignity and respect. In ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns,’ the characters experience firsthand the struggles and sacrifices that come with fighting for freedom.
These quotes explore the different facets of the fight for freedom and the resilience and determination that it requires. They serve as a powerful reminder of the importance of standing up for what we believe in and fighting for a better world for all.
- And the burqa, she learned to her surprise, was also comforting. It was like a one-way window. Inside it, she was an observer, buffered from the scrutinizing eyes of strangers. She no longer worried that people knew, with a single glance, all the shameful secrets of her past.
- Still, she found some comfort in the anonymity that the burqa provided. She wouldn’t have to watch the surprise in their eyes, or the pity or glee, at how far she had fallen, at how her lofty aspirations had been dashed.
- This was the first time that she was deciding the course of her own life.
On Taliban Rules
The Taliban’s strict and oppressive rules have had a profound impact on the lives of the people of Afghanistan, particularly women. In ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns,’ the characters experience firsthand the devastating consequences of living under the Taliban’s harsh regime.
These quotes explore the oppressive nature of the Taliban’s rules and the ways in which the characters resist and defy them. They serve as a powerful reminder of the importance of standing up for our rights and fighting for a more just and equitable society.
- For two years now, the Taliban had been making their way toward Kabul, taking cities from the Mujahideen, ending factional war wherever they’d settled.
- The Taliban had one thing the Mujahideen did not, Rasheed said. They were united.
- She would later hear that the Taliban had dragged Najibullah from his sanctuary at the UN headquarters near Darulaman Palace.
- Mariam heard the answer in his laugh: that in the eyes of the Taliban, being a communist and the leader of the dreaded KHAD made Najibullah only slightly more contemptible than a woman.
- Laila was glad, when the Taliban went to work, that Babi wasn’t around to witness it.
- The Taliban went to the grave of Tariq’s favorite singer, Ahmad Zahir, and fired bullets into it.
- Rasheed regarded the Taliban with a forgiving, affectionate kind of bemusement, as one might regard an erratic cousin prone to unpredictable acts of hilarity and scandal.
- When NGOs offer money, the Taliban turn them away.
- The Taliban had banned television.
- Mostly, the Taliban confiscated stuff, gave a kick to someone’s rear, whacked the back of a head or two.
- When it was safer, they’d agreed, when the Taliban cut down on their raids, in a month or two or six, or maybe longer, they would dig the TV up.
- Rasheed said he’d heard rumors that the Taliban were allowing these people to set up secret camps all over the country, where young men were being trained to become suicide bombers and jihadi fighters.
- Massoud was now in his native North, and leading the Northern Alliance, the sole opposition group still fighting the Taliban.
- In Europe, Massoud had warned the West about terrorist camps in Afghanistan, and pleaded with the U.S. to help him fight the Taliban.
- A month before that, Laila had learned that the Taliban had planted TNT in the crevices of the giant Buddhas in Bamiyan and blown them apart, calling them objects of idolatry and sin.
- Governments, historians, and archaeologists from all over the globe had written letters, pleaded with the Taliban not to demolish the two greatest historical artifacts in Afghanistan. But the Taliban had gone ahead and detonated their explosives inside the two-thousand-year-old Buddhas.
- But you won’t get past the Taliban.
- Crossing the street, she was spotted by the Taliban and riddled with questions-What is your name? But for Laila, the reward, if she made it past the Taliban, was worth it.
- ‘But we have to pull the curtains,’ Aziza said, ‘so the Taliban don’t see us.’
- More than once, Laila had wondered what the Taliban would do about Kaka Zaman’s clandestine lessons if they found out. Kaka Zaman had knitting needles and balls of yarn ready, she said, in case of a Taliban inspection.
- When the Taliban had found the paintings, Tariq said, they’d taken offense at the birds’ long, bare legs.
- The Taliban have announced that they won’t relinquish bin Laden because he is a mehman, a guest, who has found sanctuary in Afghanistan and it is against the Pashtunwali code of ethics to turn over a guest.
- Laila has to explain to Aziza that when they return to Kabul the Taliban won’t be there, that there will not be any fighting, and that she will not be sent back to the orphanage.
- When they first came back to Kabul, it distressed Laila that she didn’t know where the Taliban had buried Mariam.
- Marco Polo Restaurant, near Chicken Street, had been turned into an interrogation center. Sometimes screaming was heard from behind its black-painted windows.
- It isn’t your fault. Do you hear me? Not you. It’s those savages, those washis who are to blame […] And you’re not alone, hamshira. We get mothers like you all the time – all the time – mothers who come here who can’t feed their children because the Taliban won’t let them go out and make a living. So you don’t blame yourself. No one here blames you. I understand.
About The Book – A Thousand Splendid Suns
In Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns, the story follows two Afghan women, Mariam and Laila, as they struggle to survive in a harsh and oppressive society. Mariam and Laila are forced to marry the same man, Rasheed, and must live together in what becomes a tense and often violent relationship.
Despite the difficulties they face, Mariam and Laila form an unlikely friendship that gives them both the strength and courage to persevere through their hardships. Through their friendship, they discover a sense of hope and the possibility of a brighter future.
As Mariam and Laila endure their struggles, they come to realize that they are stronger together than they ever could be apart.
About The Author – Khaled Hosseini
Khaled Hosseini is an Afghan-American novelist and physician best known for his 2003 debut novel, The Kite Runner. His second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, published in 2007, was a bestseller and has sold millions of copies worldwide. Hosseini’s third novel, And the Mountains Echoed, was released in 2013.
Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1965 and spent his childhood there. He moved to the United States in 1980, when he was 15 years old. He attended college in San Diego, California, and later attended medical school at the University of California, San Diego. After graduating, he practiced medicine in California for several years before deciding to pursue writing full-time.
Hosseini has been praised for his vivid portrayals of Afghan culture and his ability to capture the beauty of the Afghan people and land. His writing is often tinged with sadness and political commentary, as he often reflects on the violence and upheaval that has affected Afghanistan in recent years. Hosseini is an outspoken advocate for refugees and is active in humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan and around the world.
Hosseini’s books have been translated into over 70 languages and he has become one of the most successful authors of the 21st century. He continues to write and tour and continues to be an advocate for refugees and other humanitarian causes.
To conclude, ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ is a deeply moving and thought-provoking novel that explores the complexity of human emotions and experiences, particularly the impact of war on individuals and communities.
These quotes provide a glimpse into the themes and characters of the novel, and the enduring power of love, family, and the human spirit.