Sunday, May 18, 2008

Splendid Suns - Communist Occupation

After the Communist invasion, the USSR ruled in Afghanistan from 1978 - 1989. At the time, it must have made all kinds of sense (from the Soviet point of view) to take over Afganistan. When you look at this map, the USSR was right there.

Virtually all the neighboring countries were part of the Soviet republic. (Look at the lower left corner of that map - Afg. is Afghanistan. Other than Iran to the west and China to the east, the USSR was it. I'm sure the USSR truly believed they were protecting Afghanistan from the improper advances of those other countries.

What it meant for Laila, attending school under the Soviet regime, was she was taught to believe there was no difference between men and women, and everyone should receive equal treatment.
Was that why she was feistier and less subservient to Rasheed than Mariam, later in the book?

Laila was also raised loathing the Soviet invaders. As far as her family was concerned, the Soviets had murdered both her brothers.

Why was Laila so different than Mariam? Was it because of her parents' attitudes? Mariam's schooling under the Soviets? Or was it just a difference of personality?

1 comment:

sb54 said...

There are a combination of factors that contribute to Laila's being so different from Mariam, including all the factors listed above. The biggest factor, though, is Laila's upbringing. Although Laila struggles in maintaining a relationship with her mother, her father is extremely supportive of her throughout her childhood and offers her a great deal of encouragement in every aspect of her life, most specifically in her educational strivings. Consequently, Laila develops a stong self-confidence that she carries into her marriage to Rasheed, a confidence that Mariam--berated by her mother, discarded by her father, forced into a marriage she didn't want, and made to leave the only home she had ever known--utterly lacks. It is this lack of confidence that prevents Mariam from defending herself: she doesn't think herself worthy of better treatment, so she's hardly willing to fight for it. Laila, on the other hand, knows what it's like to be treated with respect and to be loved within a household. As a result, she demands similar treatment by Rasheed in her new home. It is only when Mariam begins to experience true feelings of sisterly love and devotion for Laila that she can become more like the younger woman and begin standing up to Rasheed, for Laila and her children if not for herself.