A Thousand Splendid Suns: Style And Technique

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In Literature, style comprises many literary devices that an author employs to create a distinct feel for a work. These devices are a point of view, symbolism tone, imagery, diction, voice, syntax, and the method of narration. Style is a fundamental aspect of fiction, as it is naturally part of every work of prose written. Some types of writing are required to have a certain style, such as academic or journalistic writing. However, every work of creative writing takes on its own style.

Narrative techniques are the methods and devices writers use to tell stories, whether in works of literature, film, theatre, or even oral stories. Many techniques work upon specific uses of phrases, punctuation, or exaggerations of description, but nearly every storyteller regardless of genre or style employs a few foundational techniques.

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The Writer’s Lens Perspective is the lens through which a story is told. A story told in the first-person point-of-view is one in which the narrator is the main character, and uses the pronoun ‘I,’ when describing himself. For example, Holden Caulfield is the first-person narrator of ‘The Catcher in the Rye.’ This type of perspective is intimate, but can limit the perspective of the reader and relies upon a narrator who may not be reliable. By contrast, stories in which the narrator simply tells the tale of other characters, and never uses ‘I’ is called third-person narration. This narrator can be omniscient or limited to the awareness of the thoughts of a single character.

Foundational Techniques Similes and metaphors are foundational devices for storytelling because they allow writers to describe the essence of a character or action both economically and profoundly. Similes and metaphors, however, have a more subtle impact than simply enhancing the description in a piece of writing. They also reveal aspects of the character who makes the comparison. For example, if a first-person narrator regularly compares people to mechanical devices and machines, it might indicate the narrator is detached from emotion or unable to fully understand and empathize with the emotions the narrator observes.

Evoking the imagination the goal of telling a story — in its simplest form — is to transmit narrative events from your imagination into the imagination of the reader. Images are powerful tools for accomplishing this task, and so the imagery is a fundamental tool that writers use. Vividly describing how characters and places look helps the reader to visualize your story and have an experience that is more immersed in the scenes and world of the narrative.

The dialogue while dialogue is not necessary for a story rounds out the basic narrative techniques that all writers use and is the only one that allows the reader to experience multiple characters’ words without the filter of the narrator. Dialogue is when the narrator directly provides a conversation between characters. These exchanges are usually contained within quotation marks to make them easy to identify, but some writers make a stylistic choice not to use them. Notwithstanding, dialogue is a useful tool for allowing characters to reveal qualities about themselves. Passages of dialogue also break up the monotony of prose narration and introduce the unique voices of the characters into the story. Because his first novel, The Kite Runner, proved to be so successful both with literary critics and with the public, many doubted that Hosseini’s second novel could possibly be as good. However, a majority of reviewers found that A Thousand Splendid Suns either lived up to the same standards or surpassed them.

Hosseini has been praised both for the high quality of his prose as well as for his skill at keeping an audience engaged with his stories. He also has the ability to mix captivating characters with the history that surrounds them. He can dig into the emotions of his characters to make them feel real, almost as if he were telling the stories of real people he has long known. He even manages to shed light on a country and a culture that few of his readers are acquainted with. And that, so Hosseini has stated in interviews, is the primary goal of A Thousand Splendid Suns. Although A Thousand Splendid Suns spend time outside of Kabul, the novel is a big love letter to the birthplace of author Khaled Hosseini. After all, the title of the novel is taken from a poem dedicated to Kabul’s beauty.

The novel A Thousand Splendid Suns look at the city during a time of conflict when forces from within and without are struggling to take control of Afghanistan. Kabul itself hits some highs and lows throughout this period, but the novel never loses faith in the people of Kabul and their ability to endure. In terms of figurative language, it is found that it deploys foreshadowing, simile, irony, alliteration, personification, symbolism, allusion, imagery, and irony. The findings provide benefit for the reader, apprehend the structure and style of Khaled Hosseini’s works, his themes, views, and treatment of social life.

Foreshadowing is an advance sign or warning of what is to come in the future. ‘I’ll die if you go, I’ll just die.’ (ATSS 360)This is an example of foreshadowing because later in the book Nana commits suicide. She does this because she thinks Mariam leaves her forever when she is really just going to talk to her father.

A simile is a comparison of two things using like or as. ‘Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman.’ (ATSS 7)

A simile is a comparison using like or as, and in this context they are comparing how men blame women for everything. Simile has been used in the given lines. ‘Mariam kissed Mullah Faizullahs hand-which felt like kissing a set of twigs covered with a thin layer of skin.’ (ATSS 16)

Mariam is comparing Mullah’s hand to twigs because it is rough and spikey.’ It’s like someone jamming a screwdriver into my ear.’ (ATSS 212)

This is an example of a simile. A simile is a comparison using like or as. In this simile, Rasheed is comparing a baby’s crying in his ears, to jamming a screwdriver in his ears.’Noor said her eyes were like gemstones.’ (ATSS 93)

This is an example of a simile. In this simile, Noor is comparing someone’s eyes to gemstones.

The irony is the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humor or emphatic effect. Here in this novel, the author has used irony to exhibit the character,s in real conditions. ‘She felt prized by his protectiveness. Treasured and significant.’ –(ATSS 74)

This is to be considered as an example of irony. Because Mariam feels to protected and prized, when in reality, Rasheed, in the end, is going to be abusive. ‘and you didn’t lie to me? Rasheed roared. Do you think I didn’t figure it out? about your harmami? You take me for a fool, you whore?’ –(ATSS 300)

This is an example of irony. This is irony because at the beginning of the story when Mariam and Rasheed were having sex, he said this is what married people do. But do married people abuse each other and call each other mean names.

Alliteration is when you use words that have the same sound at the beginning. ‘…Mariam found herself looking forward to the sound of Lalia’s cracked slippers slapping the steps as she came down for breakfast….’ (ATSS 251)

This is an example of alliteration. it is an example of alliteration because the ‘S’ sound repeats itself.

Personification is giving life to an inanimate object.’She became intensely aware of her heart thrumping, of the blood thudding in her ears…betray her thoughts’ (ATSS 141).In this example of personification, the author is giving life to a hearing.

The novel looks at the city during a time of conflict when forces from within and without are struggling to take control of Afghanistan. Kabul itself hits some highs and lows throughout this period, but the novel never loses faith in the people of Kabul and their ability to endure.

Dream sequences are a great way to get inside of the mind of a character. Think about The Dude’s dream sequence in The Big Lebowski or 80 percent of Inception. Dreams allow us to get inside the subconscious of a character, where all the icky and unpleasant stuff lives.

Laila’s dream sequence in Part Three of A Thousand Splendid Suns is no exception to the rule. Her dream of burying Aziza alive reveals that she feels like she’s complicit with the oppression of women carried out by the Taliban.

Like all dreams, Laila’s nightmare is sparked by real-world events. Mariam and Laila had spent the day prior burying their television in the backyard, ‘striking the ground with a spade, then shoveling the loose dirt aside’ (3.40.2). The Taliban had been raiding homes looking for illegal media, and the pair decided to hide the Television until the raids die down.

The Taliban’s moral laws are carried out in two main ways, banning media and oppressing women. Laila’s dream connects these two missions. The television gets transformed into her daughter, a young girl who has never had the opportunity to go to school or even play in the streets. This is Laila realizing that she has been forced to hide away Aziza, just like she hid away the Television set.

Laila tells Aziza that it will ‘only be for a while,’ but that doesn’t keep the young girl from panicking. Laila worries that the Taliban’s oppression of women could get even worse, and her fears are realized when Rasheed forces her to send Aziza to an orphanage. Naturally, Aziza’s gender has a huge impact on his decision.

Don’t forget that shovel, “by the way”. Here, it represents the oppression of women, and it comes back in the end of the novel as the weapon that Mariam uses to kill Rasheed. It goes from a symbol of oppression to a symbol of liberation with a heavy cost.

“Shall we compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely. How about if we compare you to a weed? A poisonous flower? Er, what about limestone? Oh, no—you’re not into that? It’s a compliment, we swear!”

Here, let us tell you why—Khaled Hosseini uses that same imagery to characterize Mariam in A Thousand Splendid Suns and chart her growth from a poor harami into a loving and selfless woman.

When we are introduced to Mariam, we are given the image of her as ‘a weed […] something you rip out and toss aside’. These words would hurt coming from anybody, but they hit Mariam especially hard because they come from Mommy dearest. But it is accurate, in a way: the world treats Mariam like a weed because she is a harami. She doesn’t fit into the social order, and people reject her because of it.

At some point, Mariam even begins to believe that she is nothing but a weed. When she’s older, she describes love and hope as ‘twin poisonous flowers’ that she uproots whenever they sprout inside her. Mariam learns to uproot love the same way that she was uprooted.

That changes once Laila and Aziza come along. For the first time in her life, Mariam has people who love her unconditionally. That’s a powerful thing. Mariam ends up expressing her love for Laila and Aziza in the most profound way, by sacrificing her life for them. There’s one thing that’s for sure after that: Mariam is a weed no more.

So, when Laila returns to Mariam’s childhood home at the close of the novel, she does not see Mariam as a weed—she realizes that Mariam is ‘as hard and unyielding as a block of limestone’ (4.50.112). She can’t be uprooted, can not be tossed aside, can not be ignored. Finally.

It’s a fact: everyone loves the movie Titanic. Don’t be ashamed, though: in A Thousand Splendid Suns, the entire city of Kabul catches ‘Titanic fever,’ too. The phenomenon sweeps the city even amidst a violent crackdown by the Taliban against illegal media. These people risked life and limb just to watch Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet make out. The question, of course, is why? We think that Laila has it right when she says that ‘everybody wants Jack’ to come and save them. At this point in the novel, Kabul itself is a sinking ship and the frightened citizens feel trapped. They can see that the war and drought will inevitably get worse, but each person is secretly hoping that someone will come along and save them. Afghanistan might feel like a hopeless cause at this point, but there’s still a chance for personal salvation.

However, we do not quite agree when Laila claims that ‘Jack is not coming back’ to save them. Laila eventually finds her savior in Mariam who, like Jack from Titanic, sacrifices her life so that Laila and her children can live on. At the close of the novel, it even looks like Titanic City might not end up sinking after all.

Despite our surprise, Hosseini’s allusions to American films actually add interesting depth to his characters. The best example of this is his use of the Pinocchio cartoon to develop Mariam and Jalil’s relationship. The film acts as a subtle plot point and can be seen as a metaphor for Mariam’s growth through the novel.  


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