A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Patriarchal Analysis of A Thousand Splendid Suns
Khaled Hosseini’s novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, depicts a patriarchal society which denigrates and oppresses the women and children of Afghanistan. From government officials such as the Taliban, to husbands such as Rasheed, to children like Zalmai, the majority of men dominate, alienate and brutalize Afghani women adding to the hardships they already experience in this war torn country. Hosseini’s depiction of this misogynist society is not completely bleak, however. He presents a balance in his portrayal of men by showing those select few who recognize the importance of women and honour their strengths and equality. Tariq, Jalil (in his later years), and Babi are illustrations of Afghani men who believe in a more just, equitable and peaceful society.
One element that defines a patriarchal society is the superiority of men over women through government. In A Thousand Splendid Suns, the theme of government is prevalent throughout the novel. Afghanistan seems to be under constant attack from invading forces and new enemies. Through these foreign oppressors the women of Afghanistan are viewed as easy targets but possible threats to male dominance. In order to maintain a patriarchal society, the women of Afghanistan must be treated harshly to reinforce fear and obedience. This is depicted when the Taliban invade the city of Kabul and demand that men and women are to be seen in different hospitals and all female staff

are to be discharged and sent to one central hospital on the other side of town. Hosseini describes “The waiting room at Rabia Balkhi {as} teeming with women in burqas and their children. The air {smells} of sweat and unwashed bodies, of feet, urine, cigarette smoke, and antiseptic” (Hosseini 255). This depiction exemplifies the poor unsanitary conditions of hospitals which women are forced to utilize. The Taliban show no mercy when it comes to the women of Afghanistan as they are seen with...