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Rachel-K
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Discussion Topic: Mothers and Fathers

[ Edited ]
We are able to witness in only a few hundred pages, decades of life. Our earliest glimpse of a "family" in the novel, is through Miriam's eyes, and perhaps with her, we might have felt repulsed by her mother's cruel speech and charmed by her father's cheerful visits. We then feel for Laila's plight with her overbearing, wildly moody mother and her slight, mild, brilliant, and encouraging father.

After knowing these characters, Rasheed can certainly not be seen as a "typical" Afghan husband and father, but he is certainly one who seems to thrive in this chaotic and war-torn world.

How does his character make us re-evaluate the earlier fathers we've seen?

How do we re-evaluate the earlier mothers of the novel once Laila (and also Miriam) have taken on such a role in such a culture?

Message Edited by LitEditor on 08-14-2007 09:00 AM
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IBIS
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Re: Discussion Topic: Mothers and Fathers

In a previous post, I mentioned that I thought Mr Hosseini exalts "motherhood" in this novel. Motherhood emerges as the highest ideal, not only for Mariam and Laila, but for women in general.

The words by Mariam to Laila (who has 2 children), "Think like a mother," captures the mother-daughter-like relationship that grew between them. Laila's children would not thrive in such a hate-filled environment. Thinking like a mother in this hostile climate means escape--freedom from Rasheed by any means possible.

Murdering Rasheed was the only key to freedom, and Mariam was willing to make the greatest self-sacrifice of all. Giving up your own life for another. Love means laying down one's life for a friend. For Mariam, love came down to the decision that Laila's and her children's welfare surpassed her own.

And that's a pretty good definition of what true parental love is.
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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Chaser
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Re: Discussion Topic: Mothers and Fathers

I am wondering, though, if it's true that Hosseini exalts motherhood, what he is communicating by the portrayal of both Mariam and Laila's mothers. Neither one of them seem to be role models, they're both fairly selfish people, and they both tend to choke the life/free spirit out of their daughters.




IBIS wrote:
In a previous post, I mentioned that I thought Mr Hosseini exalts "motherhood" in this novel. Motherhood emerges as the highest ideal, not only for Mariam and Laila, but for women in general.

The words by Mariam to Laila (who has 2 children), "Think like a mother," captures the mother-daughter-like relationship that grew between them. Laila's children would not thrive in such a hate-filled environment. Thinking like a mother in this hostile climate means escape--freedom from Rasheed by any means possible.

Murdering Rasheed was the only key to freedom, and Mariam was willing to make the greatest self-sacrifice of all. Giving up your own life for another. Love means laying down one's life for a friend. For Mariam, love came down to the decision that Laila's and her children's welfare surpassed her own.

And that's a pretty good definition of what true parental love is.


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Sunltcloud
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Re: Discussion Topic: Mothers and Fathers

Maybe the idea of role models is of little importance when survival is at stake. Mariam is beaten down by the time Laila comes into her life. What does she have to give? And how much does Laila have to give her own children? Being a role model demands reflection and who has time for reflection in a time of war? And yet both women take tiny steps toward giving of themselves. They learn to accept each other. They become close. They take care of the children. As screwed up as their lives are, they do grow in character. They might not be the kind of role models we expect in the peacetime middle-class household of a prosperous nation but they band together against the enemy to shelter each other and the children from evil. That's motherhood.




Chaser wrote:
I am wondering, though, if it's true that Hosseini exalts motherhood, what he is communicating by the portrayal of both Mariam and Laila's mothers. Neither one of them seem to be role models, they're both fairly selfish people, and they both tend to choke the life/free spirit out of their daughters.




IBIS wrote:
In a previous post, I mentioned that I thought Mr Hosseini exalts "motherhood" in this novel. Motherhood emerges as the highest ideal, not only for Mariam and Laila, but for women in general.

The words by Mariam to Laila (who has 2 children), "Think like a mother," captures the mother-daughter-like relationship that grew between them. Laila's children would not thrive in such a hate-filled environment. Thinking like a mother in this hostile climate means escape--freedom from Rasheed by any means possible.

Murdering Rasheed was the only key to freedom, and Mariam was willing to make the greatest self-sacrifice of all. Giving up your own life for another. Love means laying down one's life for a friend. For Mariam, love came down to the decision that Laila's and her children's welfare surpassed her own.

And that's a pretty good definition of what true parental love is.




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Sunltcloud
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Re: Discussion Topic: Mothers and Fathers

Sorry, I read your post too quickly; it is one thirty in the morning. I thought you were referring to Mariam and Leila when you questioned their mothering skills. I saw, after I posted, that you referred to their mothers. But this doesn't change my thoughts about the forward movement of the characters in the novel. Mariam and Leila's mothers are not the best mothers, if they had been role models in our sense, their daughters' progress would not mean as much.




Chaser wrote:
I am wondering, though, if it's true that Hosseini exalts motherhood, what he is communicating by the portrayal of both Mariam and Laila's mothers. Neither one of them seem to be role models, they're both fairly selfish people, and they both tend to choke the life/free spirit out of their daughters.




IBIS wrote:
In a previous post, I mentioned that I thought Mr Hosseini exalts "motherhood" in this novel. Motherhood emerges as the highest ideal, not only for Mariam and Laila, but for women in general.

The words by Mariam to Laila (who has 2 children), "Think like a mother," captures the mother-daughter-like relationship that grew between them. Laila's children would not thrive in such a hate-filled environment. Thinking like a mother in this hostile climate means escape--freedom from Rasheed by any means possible.

Murdering Rasheed was the only key to freedom, and Mariam was willing to make the greatest self-sacrifice of all. Giving up your own life for another. Love means laying down one's life for a friend. For Mariam, love came down to the decision that Laila's and her children's welfare surpassed her own.

And that's a pretty good definition of what true parental love is.




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IBIS
Posts: 1,735
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Re: Discussion Topic: Mothers and Fathers

Sunltcloud, your post made me think about the use of irony in the novel. Irony that can be found on many levels in the book.

On the personal level, there is the irony that despite the "bad" mothering, and the negative role models of their mothers, both Mariam and Laila became nurturing and loving mothers.

Mariam overcame Nana's cynical motherly advice, "What's the sense of schooling a girl like you? It's like shining a spittoon." (p. 17).

And when the kindly mullah Faizullah advocates for Mariam to go to a regular school, Nana replies to him: "...you should know better than to encourage these foolish ideas of hers....There is nothing out there for her. Nothing but rejection and heartache. I know, akhund sahib, I KNOW." (p. 18)

But on p. 27. Mariam's inner character shines through when she thinks, "You're afraid, Nana. You're afraid that I might find the happiness you never had. And you don't want me to be happy. You don't want a good life for me. You're the one with the wretched heart"

The same can be observed about Laila and her mother. Mammy mourns her two sons at the expense of Laila's childhood. She is a negligent mother and the girl's physical and emotional wellbeing suffers.

(p.148) "What rankled Laila was that Mammy hadn't earned the right to make it (...the observation about gossip between Laila and Tariq...) It would have been one thing if Babi had raised this issue. But Mammy? All those years of aloofness, of cooping herself up and not caring where Laila went and whom she saw and what she thought...It was unfair."

There is the use of irony on the larger, national level.
Babi, Laila's father captures that best. Despite the history of violence waged on their soil, the Afghani people did not let their military and political victors break their spirit.

Babi ... would sigh and say, "Laila, my love, the only enemy an Afghan cannot defeat is himself." (p.122)
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: Discussion Topic: Mothers and Fathers

_____________________________________
Chaser wrote:
I am wondering, though, if it's true that Hosseini exalts motherhood, what he is communicating by the portrayal of both Mariam and Laila's mothers. Neither one of them seem to be role models, they're both fairly selfish people, and they both tend to choke the life/free spirit out of their daughters.
_________________________________________________________________

Chaser, I agree that the bad and negligent mothering of Nana and Mammy, by themselves, are negative themes of motherhood. And it would be the core message if both Mariam and Laila took these negative lessons to heart, and in turn, became bad mothers.

However, as the novel progresses, we see how both Mariam and Laila rise above these bad role models, and become loving, nurturing mothers. No matter how much they "choke the life/free spirit out of their daughters, Nana and Mammy failed miserably.

Motherhood is exalted in this novel because despite the bad mothering that these women had, they overcame it and took care of the children. They overcame their shame and suffering and united against Rasheed to shelter the children from abuse. The highest ideal of good motherhood is exemplified by Mariam's self-sacrifice.
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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Sunltcloud
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Discussion Topic: Mothers and Fathers

I think the use of irony points to Mr. Hosseini's writing skills. It takes knowledge and reflection to infuse several layers of the novel's construction with such passages as you have mentioned.





IBIS wrote:
Sunltcloud, your post made me think about the use of irony in the novel. Irony that can be found on many levels in the book.

On the personal level, there is the irony that despite the "bad" mothering, and the negative role models of their mothers, both Mariam and Laila became nurturing and loving mothers.

Mariam overcame Nana's cynical motherly advice, "What's the sense of schooling a girl like you? It's like shining a spittoon." (p. 17).

And when the kindly mullah Faizullah advocates for Mariam to go to a regular school, Nana replies to him: "...you should know better than to encourage these foolish ideas of hers....There is nothing out there for her. Nothing but rejection and heartache. I know, akhund sahib, I KNOW." (p. 18)

But on p. 27. Mariam's inner character shines through when she thinks, "You're afraid, Nana. You're afraid that I might find the happiness you never had. And you don't want me to be happy. You don't want a good life for me. You're the one with the wretched heart"

The same can be observed about Laila and her mother. Mammy mourns her two sons at the expense of Laila's childhood. She is a negligent mother and the girl's physical and emotional wellbeing suffers.

(p.148) "What rankled Laila was that Mammy hadn't earned the right to make it (...the observation about gossip between Laila and Tariq...) It would have been one thing if Babi had raised this issue. But Mammy? All those years of aloofness, of cooping herself up and not caring where Laila went and whom she saw and what she thought...It was unfair."

There is the use of irony on the larger, national level.
Babi, Laila's father captures that best. Despite the history of violence waged on their soil, the Afghani people did not let their military and political victors break their spirit.

Babi ... would sigh and say, "Laila, my love, the only enemy an Afghan cannot defeat is himself." (p.122)


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