Location: Ms. Wooten's Room

Group 1:

Asa Slayton

Ellie Olshan

Susannah Daggett

Lindsey Robinson

Sydney Sperber

Margi Moran

A Thousand Splendid Suns

By Khaled Hosseini

Introductions: Name, grade, why you chose to read this book.

A. Whip: Go around the circle and each person talks for less than a minute. (7 minutes)
Beginning of the discussion:
1. How did you like the book?
2. How did you respond to Rasheed? Jalil? Nana?
3. What did you care most about in the book?

B. Characters (10 minutes)
List of characters: Rasheed, Nana, Laila, Jalil, Mariam, Aziza, Tariq, Zalmai, Mammy, Babi, Mullah Faizullah

Character whip: Go around the group and each person says one thing about the character using adjectives, text, etc.
- Mariam
- Rasheed
- Laila
- Jalil
- Tariq

C. Ten Words or Less: (10 minutes)
1. Individually, try to summarize the book in ten words or less (three minutes will be given). Go around and everyone will read their summary. Ask the reader a question or comment on their summary (each summary should have at least one question/comment) before moving on to the next person.

D. Open Discussion Starters: (25 minutes)
1. Compare/contrast two characters
- Mariam vs. Laila
- Mammy vs. Nana
- Rasheed vs. Jalil
2. What would you want to ask the author?
3. Does the style of the book and writing match its message? How?
4. Look at the opening sentence and closing sentence. Discuss
5. Which character experienced the most change throughout the novel?
6. What surprised you in the novel?
7. What parallels can we draw between life in Afghanistan and life at Yarmouth High School?

Middle of the discussion whip: (
10 minutes)
1. What passage(s) made an impact on you? Which were the most painful to read?
2. How did you respond when you found out Tariq was alive?

H. Another Point of View: (6 minutes)As a group, choose a scene or longer passage to discuss and examine how it is narrated, what the tone is, etc. Then choose another character's perspective and re-examine the scene. Try to choose a character with a different level of power than the first. Compare/Contrast your findings.
End of discussion whip:
(15 minutes)
1. What did you think of the end of the novel?
2. What questions still linger for you?
3. What have you learned most about the book/the issues raised by the book today?

Optional discussion: __http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4kyalTT_wY__ (Hosseini discusses the book, his inspiration, the characters, etc.)

Rasheed’s Perspective On Chapter Thirty-Seven
by Asa Slayton
Rasheed’s day was boring like any other day in his shoe shop. He needed to work because he had a family at home that he needed to take care of. He didn’t care too much for his wives; his child, Aziza, was who he needed to take care of. Rasheed’s day at work had ended. He was ready to go home and see his children.
Rasheed rode his bike back to his house in Kabul where he thought his two wives, Mariam and Laila, would already have dinner ready for him. He set his bike down by the shed and made his way to the front door.
He stepped into the house and heard nothing. This was quite odd to him. He had a child in the house. Surely she would be making a bit of a racket. There was nothing. It was dead silent. He peered into the kitchen and nothing was cooking. No dinner was already made to be given to him. He thought to himself “Stupid wives. What are they good for if they can’t even make me some dinner?” He would deal with them when he found them.
He searched all over the house. He looked all through the upstairs. Mariam wasn’t in her room. Laila wasn’t to be found. Where was Aziza? Rasheed was becoming increasingly uneasy. Mariam and Laila weren’t supposed to go out in the daylight without him. Where could they have gone?
He started to get furious. He slammed doors running from room to room cursing under his breath. There would definitely be punishment. They couldn’t leave without his permission and endanger his child.
It wasn’t too long before a police car pulled up in front of his house. The driver came out of the car and walked up to the door and knocked. Rasheed opened the door wondering what the meaning of this was. The driver explained to him that Mariam and Laila had tried to board a bus to leave to Peshawar. Rasheed listened intently at what the man was telling him. His wives had left without him and taken his child Aziza with them. They were going to abandon him by himself after everything he had done for them. He was furious. However, he stayed calm with the driver.
Mariam, Laila, and Aziza were allowed out of the car, and they came into the house. Rasheed was insane when he was angry. “You sit down.” He told Mariam. He told Laila and Aziza to go upstairs. At the top of the stairs Laila tried to tell him that it was her fault, and he should not hurt Mariam. This just further influenced his rage. He struck Laila with a painful punch. He then dragged her by her hair into Mariam’s room and threw Aziza on the bed. He then kicked Laila very hard with his foot. He left the room and slammed the door and locked it from the outside.
He ran back downstairs to Mariam. “You shouldn’t have done this.” Rahseed said to Mariam. The beating began. He started pounding on Mariam with his fists. She didn’t scream. She tried to run away from his blows. She managed to run. He would not stop. Rasheed was beyond reason. He threw Mariam into the wall. She continued to run. Rasheed knocked over furniture and glass pursuing her. He ripped Mariam’s shirt down the middle and continued to beat her. Rasheed, now satisfied, led Mariam across the yard and into the shed. Her face was bloody, and she was badly beaten. He pushed her into the shed and locked the door. He then got a ladder and brought it over to where Mariam’s bedroom was. He climbed the ladder with some boards and ladders. He nailed the boards over the window. There was complete darkness in Mariam’s bedroom where Laila and Aziza lay.
Rahseed was angry. His wives would have deserted him. “They got what they deserved.” He thought. It had been a few days since he had beaten Mariam and locked Laila and Aziza in Mariam’s room. He couldn’t let them die there. He didn’t have enough reason to kill yet. He let Mariam out of the shed. He then went to Mariam’s room where Laila and Aziza were. He opened the door and light flooded in. He threatened Laila that if she ever ran away again he would do something terrible to her. First he would make her watch what he would do to Mariam and Aziza. He would save Laila for last. With this threat, he kicked her and left the room.

Sydney Sperber

Chapter in Tariq’s Perspective
Laila,” Tariq mumbled as he tossed and turned in his bed. His eyes snapped open as he tore the covers from his body, sweat rolling off the tip of his chin. Tariq sat on the edge of his mattress, his face cupped in the palms of his hands. It had been almost a decade since the day Tariq and his family had left Kabul to become refugees in Pakistan during the Soviet war, leaving the girl he loved behind. Laila. Her name echoed in his head. Tariq had promised that he would come back for her someday, but he never imagined that someday would be such a long ways away. While in Pakistan, Tariq spent some time delivering illegal goods to earn money for his ill mother, but he was eventually caught and thrown in jail for seven years. He wrote Laila letters while he sat in his cell, enough to fill a book.
Now, almost ten years later, the thought of the girl he once loved still could not escape his mind. He had been living in Murree for a little over a year. Though he thought many times of returning to city where he and Laila had once been neighbors, Tariq was afraid of what he would find. What if Laila had a husband? Surely she would be married and with children by now. He decided that he would only cause trouble by showing up at their door, merely a memory that had been long forgotten. That day, Tariq changed his mind. He was tired of these dreams, these nightmares, haunting him while he slept. Laila was out there in the world, and he needed to go back for her as he’d promised.
That very day, Tariq planned his trip back to Kabul. He selected his nicest black sweater to wear and tucked it neatly into his khaki pants. He studied himself in the mirror hanging on the door, adjusting his pakol in an attempt to hide the thinning hair on his head.
“You’re promised her,” Tariq said to himself, “Everything will be okay.”
It took him most of the day to reach the city by bus, but Tariq finally found himself in front of Laila’s home. He looked around nervously. Next door he saw a mother outside playing with a little boy.
“This is the house where Laila lives?” he asked her, pointing to the door. She nodded. “Can you tell me anything about her?” The woman explained to him how Laila’s home had been hit by a bomb during the war, and that both her parents had been killed. Shortly after, Laila was arranged to marry a shoemaker named Rasheed. Tariq thanked the woman and looked back at the house. He began to think that returning to Kabul may have not been a good idea after all. He shook his head to clear his mind. Tariq assumed that Rasheed would be working in his shop for a few more hours; he needed to make his move now or never. He knocked twice on the door hesitantly, but no one came. He knocked again, a bit harder.
“Hello?” he called. He sighed, leaning against the doorframe and crossing his arms.
“There. That man,” said a small voice. Tariq turned his head to see a boy pointing at him and two women standing next to the boy dressed in burqas. Laila. His mind raced as he stepped forward towards the family. The woman to the right began to move towards him, then suddenly broke into a run, throwing her arms around his neck and sobbing into his chest.
“Laila,” he whispered, “It’s me, I’m here.”
Inside the house, Tariq told Laila of his experience in Pakistan. He studied Laila’s face, bruised and dark with dirt. Her lower lip was cut. He did this to her. Laila’s hair lay flatly beside her frail face, but her eyes sparkled with the beauty of the girl he had known so many years ago. Tariq smiled, but blushed when he remembered his missing tooth. He told her of his experience in Pakistan and his years spent in prison.
“Indeed...” He said as he finished his story. Indeed. Such an adult word, he thought to himself.
“I thought you were dead,” Laila said, her voice breaking. “I wouldn’t have agreed to marry Rasheed. I wouldn’t have...” Tariq asked her to stop. She didn’t have to explain herself. Then Laila said there was someone she needed to tell him about. Tariq looked into her eyes and saw tears, but they did not seem like tears of sorrow.
“I have a daughter,” she began, “She isn’t Rasheed’s child. Her name is Aziza and I think you need to meet her.” Tariq’s heart leaped in his chest as he realized the meaning of her words. He took Laila’s hands in his and knew that was where they belonged.

Ellie Olshan
Inserted passage/Different perspective

Nana knew that it was only a matter of time before Jalil’s wives found out. She knew what to expect, what they would think. Nana knew they wouldn’t allow her to stay there and raise Jalil’s lovechild alongside their children, but where could she go? She had no family to run to, no friends to go to for support, she had no one. Maybe, she thought to herself, Jalil would defend her. Maybe he would stand up to his family and help take care of the baby.
It wasn’t until dinner that night when Nana learned that his wives knew. She was dusting in the sitting room and overheard him defending himself. Himself. Saying that she forced herself on him, that he had tried to stop her but she would not. Nana could not bear to listen to his lies. She was angry that she had lead herself to believe that he was a better man, an honest man, a man with the dil, the heart, to do the honorable thing.
That evening, Jalil walked into the servants’ quarters where Nana lived.
“You have to leave,” he said. “You must go tomorrow morning. I can’t have you here anymore.”
Nana was fuming, her body shaking. “And where do you suggest I go!” She was screaming now, tears running down the sides of her face, down her neck, to her dress. “How am I supposed to care for this child!”
Nana looked into his eyes, her vision blurry from the tears. She thought, for a moment, she noticed a glimmer of sadness. Regret. Shame for his mistake. But then his gaze broke, and his lips tightened.
“I’m sorry. There’s nothing I can do.” His face softened. “I can give you some money, help you find a place to stay. But you can’t be here any longer.”
Jalil turned and left the room.
Nana hurled herself against the door as it closed behind him. She could not believe how she had let this happen, how she allowed it to go so far. She slumped against the wall, sobbing, shaking. After a time, Nana got up and wiped her face, then gathered her few things from the quarters and carried them out the front door.
Nana could not tell how long she had been walking, how many hours had gone by, how many meals she had missed. All she could think of was what would come of this life for her, for her baby. Thoughts went through her head. She considered the unthinkable. Nana almost wished she could find someone with a knife who could stop this baby from being born. Someone who could end its misery before it had the chance to begin. It would be better for her, she knew, and better for the baby, too. What kind of life would it be, to live without a father? Without a home? Without order? But Nana could not bring herself to do such a thing, and she knew that no one else would either. No one had the dil, the heart, for it. She needed to get her thoughts together and devise a plan.
Nana continued to wander through the crowded streets of Herat, thinking of this. Thinking of how she would find a house. How she would find food. How she would raise a child. Eating only as much as she could afford with the little money she had been able to take from Jalil, Nana wandered.
One morning, Nana found a short, overgrown path through the woods and came across an old abandoned kolba. It was here that she decided to stay, to live and raise her daughter.

A Splendid Dispute
(Conversation on Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns)
Susannah Daggett

Bo - Hey! I think I read the most miserable book of my life last week. It was called A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
Ava - No way, I read that same novel for my discussion group, but I absolutely loved it! The way Hosseini gets you emotionally attached to the characters really had me hooked. Personally, I loved Mariam’s story and became loyal to her as a character. Every time it seems like she is going to catch a break, like marrying Rasheed or trying to escape with Laila, I got my hopes up for her but Hosseini dashed them by having Rasheed catch the women. When she died near the end of the novel, it was beautifully heartbreaking.
Bo - Wow, that’s exactly what I hated about it! I mean, I know that’s real life and all, like that’s the reality of what’s happened in Kabul, but it was pretty depressing to read about the different regimes and the oppression that people faced. Remember the scene where Laila has a C-section without anesthesia?!
Ava - So you’d rather stay ignorant and unaware of what real life is like in other parts of the world? I learned so much history of Afghanistan during the novel, good and bad.
Bo - I could read a textbook if I wanted a history lesson! I thought this book was supposed to be a good storyline, but parts of it were so girly and emotional. It was a saga about love, pregnancy, and girl issues!
Ava - That must have been why I liked it... The themes of the true love of Laila and Tariq, the courage of Mariam to seek the truth about her father, the female empowerment of Laila and Mariam to kill Rasheed, and the patchwork family the characters created really struck a chord with me.
Bo - And the ending was such a letdown! It was so cliché how Laila and Tariq live happily ever after, and of course Laila names her baby after the heroine, Mariam. Like that’s never been done before!
Ava - I thought the ending was somehow satisfying to the rest of the novel. Even though they’re living a life of strife in war-torn Afghanistan, they manage to find a small piece of happiness while remembering Mariam who gave the family their freedom from Rasheed.
Bo - Sappy, sappy. Give me a corporate-government thriller and I’m a happy man.
Ava - To each his own, but that isn’t reality!