You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go.
-Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Literature Analysis

1. Briefly summarize the plot of the novel you read according to the elements of plot you've learned in past courses (exposition, inciting incident, etc.).  Explain how the narrative fulfills the author's purpose (based on your well-informed interpretation of same).

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a great novel by Khaled Hosseini. In this novel the main characters are Women from Kabul, Afghanistan. The novel gives the reader an insight on how life was for the Afghan women and how life was when the Taliban and corruption began in their beloved country. There are four parts to the novel. They contain pieces of Mariam Jo’s life, Laila’s life, their lives as wives of Rasheed, the memory of Mariam and finally Laila’s family happiness. Mariam comes from a poor background and is raised only by her pessimistic and mean mother. She is often visited by her rich father, but has never lived with him. One day she goes out to look for his house and spends the night on the cold floor waiting for her father. When she returns home she finds her mother is dead. She is then sent to live with her father. Mariam is soon sold to old Rasheed who with time mistreats her and beats her. Laila is a girl who lives with both parents, but does not receive her mother’s attention much for she always grieves for her sons at war. She grows up into a normal and educated life style. She falls in love with Tariq her neighbor. Tariq and his family flee the town and the day before him and Laila say goodbye by making love. Laila and her parents decide to flee weeks after. Her parents die of a bomb attack. Laila is left an orphan and picked up by Rasheed. She becomes his next victim and wife. Laila gives birth to Tariq’s girl Aziza who is supposedly Rasheed’s and much later to Zalmai who actually is Rasheed. Mariam and Laila live under violent circumstances and are unable to escape Rasheed’s evil self until one day Mariam beats him to death with a shovel when he was trying to kill Laila. Laila flees with Tariq the love of her life and her two kids. Mariam stays and bares the consequences. The main conflict in this novel is the women trying to free themselves from Rasheed and their Country witch has stripped them from their rights and is no longer safe for any women. The author’s purpose in this novel is to give the reader a glimpse of how life was and still is in some places of Afghanistan for women. How the Taliban corrupted the country and how women were stripped from the little rights they had to begin with. This novel gives us a glimpse of Afghanistan from a women’s perspective.

2. Succinctly describe the theme of the novel. Avoid cliches.

I believe the theme of the novel is discrimination of women in Afghanistan and the resistance of afghan women.

3. Describe the author's tone. Include a minimum of three excerpts that illustrate your point(s).

Hosseini’s tone in the novel is very straightforward, to the point and in detail. Mariam Jo and Laila are the reader’s eyes and ears; the emotion comes from them. The tone of the novel is hopelessness, fear, hope, and peace.

Ex1)  Pg. 36 “But Mariam could not hear comfort in God’s words. Not that day. Not then. All she could hear was Nana saying, I’ll die if you go. I’ll just die. All she could do was cry and let her tears fall on the spotted, paper-thin skin of Mullah Faizullah’s hands.”

Ex2) Pg. 231 “Every where she looked, Laila saw Rasheed. She spotted him coming out of barbershops with windows the color of coal dust, from tiny booths that sold partridges, from battered, open-fronted stores packed with old tires piled from floor to ceiling. She sank lower in her seat.”

Ex3) Pg. 291 “ She didn’t dare breathe, or blink, even for fear that he was nothing but a mirage shimmering in the distance, a brittle illusion that would vanish at the slightest provocation. Laila stood perfectly still and looked at Tariq until her chest screamed for air and her eyes burned to blink. And, somehow, miraculously, after she took a breath, closed and opened her eyes, he was still standing there. Tariq was still standing there.”

Ex4) Pg. 367 “ …Laila thinks if the naming game they’d played again over dinner the night before. – Tariq like Mohammad. Zalmai…is puzzled as to why an afghan boy cannot be named Clark. Laila likes Omar. But the game involves only male names. Because, if it’s a girl, Laila has already named her.”

4. Describe a minimum of ten literary elements/techniques you observed that strengthened your understanding of the author's purpose, the text's theme and/or your sense of the tone. For each, please include textual support to help illustrate the point for your readers. (Please include edition and page numbers for easy reference.) 

Ex1) Pg.1 -Foreshadowing: “Mariam was five years old the first time she heard the word harami. It happened on a Thursday. It must have, because Mariam  remembered that she had been restless and preoccupied that day, the way she was only on Thursdays…”
Without knowing the significance of this word there is something about it that brings a bad connotation to it. The fact that it was one of the first words introduced and the way it was embedded in the sentence may have helped give it that connotation. Later we learn that the word means bastard. The reader than is introduced to a bad situation. The word itself foreshadows bad comings.

Ex2) Pg.36-Flashback: “But Mariam could not hear comfort in God’s words. Not that day. Not then. All she could hear was Nana saying. I’ll die if you go. I’ll just die. All she could do was cry and cry and let her tears fall on the spotted paper-thin skin of Mullah Faizullah’s hands.”
Here Mariam is reminiscing about her mom’s last words to her.

Ex3) Pg. 66-Point of view: “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 scruntinizing eyes of strangers.”
Here Mariam is speaking her thoughts on the burqa which she wears only when going out. She learns to like it, because she is not seen or exposed like a normal human being when wearing it.
Ex4) Pg. 340-Exposition: “The TV is turned to BBC. On the screen is a building, a tower, black smoke billowing from its top floors. Tariq says something to Sayeed and Sayeed is in midreply when a plane appears from the corner of the screen. It crashes into the adjacent tower, exploding into s fireball that dwarfs any ball of fire that Laila has ever seen. A collective yelp rises from everyone in the lobby. In less than two hours, both towers have collapsed.”
Here the author is referring back to the Terrorist attack on the twin towers.

Ex5) Pg. 148- Allusion: “If it isn’t Laila and Majnoon referring to the star-crossed lovers of Nezami’s popular twelfth-century romantic poem-a Farsi version of Romeo and Juliet, Babi said…”

Ex6) Pg.350-Imagery: Gul Daman is a village of a few walled houses rising among flat kolbas built with mud and straw. Outside the kolbas, Laila sees sunburned women cooking, their faces sweating in steam rising from big blackened pots set on makeshift firewood grills. Mules eat from troughs. Children giving chase to chickens begin chasing the taxi. Laila sees men pushing wheel barows filled with stones. They stop and watch car the car pass by.”

Ex7) Pg. 172-Symbolism: “One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”
This line comes from a poem by Saib-e-Tabrizi. This poem speaks of the beauty of Kabul and Afghanistan as a whole. It is quite controversial because the novel itself does not make Kabul seem like a beautiful place. I think despite the changes people eventually found peace in Kabul.

Ex8) Pg. 8-Metaphor: “I was a pokeroot. A mugwort…Unlike weeds, I had to be replanted, you see, given food and water. On account of you. That was the deal Jalil made with his family.”
Ex9) Pg.356 Mood: “A wind is blowing, making the grass ripple and the willow branches click. Before she leaves the clearing, Laila takes one last look at the kolba where Mariam had slept, eaten, dreamed, held her breath for Jalil. – Good-bye, Mariam.”
I would say the mood is melancholic and somewhat at peace because Laila is able to say her good byes to Mariam’s soul.

Ex10) Pg.237 & Pg. 300-Climax: Ex1) “You do realize, hamshira, that it is a crime for a women to run away. We see it a lot of it.
This excerpt can also be argued as a climax, because after Laila and Mariam attempt to run away life get more difficult and miserable for them. Everything goes downhill form there.
Ex2) “ He has a limp,” Zalmai said. “Is this who I think it is?” “ He was only visiting.” Mariam said. “Shut up, you,” Rasheed snapped, raising a finger. He turned back to Laila. “Well, what do you know? Laila and Majnoon reunited. Just like old times.
This excerpt of the novel shoes one of the many possible climax of the story. At this point Tariq and Laila have reunited and Rasheed is about to get his furry on. Everything from here goes downhill. From the beatings that come after this is what ignites Mariam to finally kill Rasheed. 

1. Describe two examples of direct characterization and two examples of indirect characterization.  Why does the author use both approaches, and to what end (i.e., what is your lasting impression of the character as a result)?

Indirect: Ex1) Pg. 4 Nana- “ You are a clumsy little harami. This is my reward for everything I’ve endured. An heirloom-breaking, clumsy little harami.”
Ex2) Pg.200 Rasheed- “Anyway, Mariam will be accountable. And if there is a slipup…”

Direct: Ex1) Pg. 10 Nana “Nana collapsing suddenly, her body tightening, becoming rigid, her eyes rolling back, her arms and legs shaking as if something were throttling her from the inside, the froth at the corners of her mouth, white, sometimes oink with blood.”
Ex2) Pg. 49 Rasheed “ In the mirror, Mariam had her first glimpse of Rasheed: the big, square, ruddy face; the hooked nose;the flushed cheeks that gave the impression of sly cheerfulness; the watery, bloodshot eyes; the crowded teeth…”

The author uses both indirect and direct characterization so that the reader is able to analyze the character from tow points of view. I also think it is to give the reader a better understanding of the character and to build an opinion on them. I personally thought that Nana’s hardships made her a negative, pessimistic and rancorous women. AS for Rasheed he had a sly and frightening personality. He acted pretty decent until the other characters actually got to meet him. I hated his character he was a brutal man.

2. Does the author's syntax and/or diction change when s/he focuses on character?  How?  Example(s)?
When Hosseini focuses on a character more than often the diction changes from details of the novel to broad conversation or visa versa.
Ex1) Pg.258 She put on one of the gloves hung by a clothespin over the sink. She pushed on Laila’s belly with one hand and slid the other side. Laila whimpered. When the doctor was done, she gave the glove to a nurse, who rinsed it and pinned it back on the string.
“Your daughter needs a caesarian. Do you knoe what that is? We have to open her womb and take the baby out, because it is in the breech position.”
In this excerpt Hosseini is going from a descriptive background to a plain conversation when the character is speaking.
Ex2) Pg. 272 “I swear you’re going to make me kill you, Laila,” he said, panting. Then he stormed out of the house”
Depending on the characters personality there is brusque diction and syntax like when Rasheed speaks.

3. Is the protagonist static or dynamic?  Flat or round?  Explain.
The protagonist Mariam is a dynamic character in my opinion, because through out the novel we see different sides of her. She changes from being a unwanted yet hopeful young girl to a mess of a young lady, to an obedient and suffering wife, to a bitter women and finally a loving and brave women.
Ex1) Pg. 5 Happy and hopeful Mariam- “For an hour or two every Thursday, when Jalil came to see her, all smiles and gifts and endearments, Mariam felt deserving of all the beauty and bounty that life had to give.”
Ex2) Pg. 36 Hopeless Mariam- “But Mariam could not hear comfort in God’s words. Not that day. Not then. All she could hear was Nana saying. I’ll die if you go. I’ll just die. All she could do was cry and cry and let her tears fall on the spotted paper-thin skin of Mullah Faizullah’s hands.”
Ex3) Pg.89 obedient Mariam- “I ask because-“
“Chup Ko. Shut up.”
Mariam did.
Ex4) Pg.311 Brave Mariam- “ And so Mariam raised the shovel high, raised it as high as she could, arching it so it touched the small of her back. She turned it so the sharp edge was vertical, and as she did, it occurred to her that this was the first time that she was deciding the coarse of her own life. And, with that, Mariam brought down the shovel. This time, she gave it everything she had.”
Ex5) Pg. 202 Bitter Mariam-“I will cook and wash the dishes. You will do the laundry and the sweeping. The rest we will alternate daily. And one more thing. I have no use for your company. I don’t want it. What I want is to be alone. You will leave me be, and I will return the favor. That’s how we will get on. Those are the rules.”

Ex6) Pg. 319 Loving Mariam- “ 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 thoughts and ordinary stories with an air of gratitude…”

4. After reading the book did you come away feeling like you'd met a person or read a character?  Analyze one textual example that illustrates your reaction. 
Hosseini is an extraordinary writer, his characters are so well written that the reader feels for them and with them. As the readers point of view I thought I got a good understanding of who Mariam was, because of Hosseini’s way of describing her and her own dialogue and actions. I think this next excerpt of the novel not only lets us(readers) see Mariam’s roots, but also where she came from and how she became who she was.
Ex1) Pg.355 “A young Mariam is sitting at the table making a doll by the glow of an oil lamp. She’s humming something. Her faces is smooth and youthful, her hair washed, combed back. She has all her teeth. Laila watches Mariam glue strands of yearn onto her doll’s head. In a few years, this little girl will be a woman who will never let on that she too has had sorrows, disappointments, dreams that have been ridiculed. A women 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. 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. Something that, in the end, will be her undoing and Laila’s salvation. The little girl looks up. Puts down the doll. Smiles. Laila jo?”

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