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Rachel-K
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Discussion Topic: Violence in the novel

[ Edited ]
This point was raised in the First Impressions thread, and I'd like to bring it to the top, because it is such a powerful aspect of the book:

Is there anyway that a writer could describe such brutality without exposing us to the exhaustion and nausea of having to witness it as we do in the novel?

Does it make the reading experience too overwhelming to take in, by numbing us? Or does it make the rewards of reading about this deepening friendship, the risks, the bravery of the novel that much sweeter?

Message Edited by LitEditor on 08-14-2007 09:01 AM
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kiakar
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Re: Violence in the novel



rkubie wrote:
This point was raised in the First Impressions thread, and I'd like to bring it to the top, because it is such a powerful aspect of the book:

Is there anyway that a writer could describe such brutality without exposing us to the exhaustion and nausea of having to witness it as we do in the novel?

Does it make the reading experience too overwhelming to take in, by numbing us? Or does it make the rewards of reading about this deepening friendship, the risks, the bravery of the novel that much sweeter?




To write a novel, it seems you would have to secure every device known to an author, to assure that the reader was caught up in its plot. This novel, in order to be engrossed in it, you had to feel the pressure these women felt, you had to feel these women's hearts break in a million pieces with each word uttered by the author. The pain, felt so real at times, but without it, you do not have the affects that it has on your heart. So all the drama, of the beatings need to be there to show what a horrible situation it can be in this country. And the author does such a wonderful job of showing us these affects.
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IBIS
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Re: Discussion Topic: Violence in the novel

[ Edited ]
I sometimes found the domestic violence in this novel very hard to stomach. The worst was when the 2 women are boarded up in the house, with an infant girl, and left to die in the heat for three days, until Rasheed, decides he would let them live.

The women suffered so much that I found myself crying in the middle of it, "Enough!Enough already!"

The beatings and humiliations Mariam and Laila endure would be reason to file charges in the US. Or in any civilized, humane country.

Rasheed is evil incarnate. But despite his brutality, Rasheed is more of a straw man, a scape goat, than the true villain. He acts consistently in accordance with centuries-old Afghan tradition. His brutalities are encouraged by groups like the Taliban simply because he belongs to an elite solely on grounds of his gender.

The REAL villain in this story is any country, any society, any religion that allows, encourages and re-enforces this brutal behavior. The obscene behavior that devalues women under the guise of protecting them.

Message Edited by IBIS on 08-14-2007 04:54 PM
IBIS

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Mariposa
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Re: Discussion Topic: Violence in the novel

I think I mentioned somewhere else (any thread?) that I found the violence numbing. It not only was the detail of the descriptions, but also the number of times it occurred. It made me lose sight of some of the beauty in the relationships in the book especially between the two women.

There was a person in another online book club that I belong to who almost did not finish the book because of the violence. And it is not as if I can't stomach violence. I have read both Blood Meridian and The Road by Cormac McCarthy where there is a lot of violence but it did not affect me the same way. I always felt that it had a purpose and that it furthered my connection to the text. Here I felt that some of the violence could easily have been edited out and the book would have been just as or perhaps even more powerful.

Lizabeth
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IBIS
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Re: Discussion Topic: Violence in the novel

[ Edited ]
Several male readers I know read the book as well, and they didn't react so viscerally to the domestic violence passages in SPLENDID SUNS.

Is it because we are women that this domestic violence affects us so deeply?
It's interesting that a man could write so intimately about us.

Message Edited by IBIS on 08-15-2007 04:56 PM
IBIS

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DSaff
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Re: Discussion Topic: Violence in the novel


rkubie wrote:
This point was raised in the First Impressions thread, and I'd like to bring it to the top, because it is such a powerful aspect of the book:

Is there anyway that a writer could describe such brutality without exposing us to the exhaustion and nausea of having to witness it as we do in the novel?

Does it make the reading experience too overwhelming to take in, by numbing us? Or does it make the rewards of reading about this deepening friendship, the risks, the bravery of the novel that much sweeter?

Message Edited by LitEditor on 08-14-2007 09:01 AM


I don't think there is another way to describe what happened to these women than the way we read it here. I found myself walking away from the book a few times just to take a break and process what I had read. Then, I picked it back up because I wanted to believe that these women survived. I wanted to believe that good would win over evil, even in this small part of Kabul.

It's funny that we should have such a visceral a reaction to a book. There are so many violent books on the best seller lists, yet it seems that they aren't as big a problem to read. Maybe that is why the author wrote with such clarity and distinction. Maybe that is the only way to really get us to feel for, and with, these characters; and to understand that it is real.
DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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Rachel-K
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Re: Discussion Topic: Violence in the novel




I don't think there is another way to describe what happened to these women than the way we read it here. I found myself walking away from the book a few times just to take a break and process what I had read. Then, I picked it back up because I wanted to believe that these women survived. I wanted to believe that good would win over evil, even in this small part of Kabul.

It's funny that we should have such a visceral a reaction to a book. There are so many violent books on the best seller lists, yet it seems that they aren't as big a problem to read. Maybe that is why the author wrote with such clarity and distinction. Maybe that is the only way to really get us to feel for, and with, these characters; and to understand that it is real.




This is such an interesting point! This novel was far more difficult for me to read than the ordinary thriller (which might have just as much violence). Is that true for you? Is it because we believe in these characters so completely, and really feel we live with them?

A shoot-em-up novel is more like getting on a roller coaster for the thrill of the ups and downs to me.

I'd love to hear what others think of this!
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kiakar
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Re: Discussion Topic: Violence in the novel


rkubie wrote:



I don't think there is another way to describe what happened to these women than the way we read it here. I found myself walking away from the book a few times just to take a break and process what I had read. Then, I picked it back up because I wanted to believe that these women survived. I wanted to believe that good would win over evil, even in this small part of Kabul.

It's funny that we should have such a visceral a reaction to a book. There are so many violent books on the best seller lists, yet it seems that they aren't as big a problem to read. Maybe that is why the author wrote with such clarity and distinction. Maybe that is the only way to really get us to feel for, and with, these characters; and to understand that it is real.




This is such an interesting point! This novel was far more difficult for me to read than the ordinary thriller (which might have just as much violence). Is that true for you? Is it because we believe in these characters so completely, and really feel we live with them?

A shoot-em-up novel is more like getting on a roller coaster for the thrill of the ups and downs to me.

I'd love to hear what others think of this!




I believe we know these are fictional characters the author wrote about, but then we also know that in real life this happens everyday in this country and probably has happened for a long long time. So its like Mirium and Laila are the women of this country, that we feel deeply about that get mistreated everyday of their lives. What can we do about it? Probably zits, but we can pray, support any form of help to these women. That is the reason it really gets to us. We know its surreal! It happens everyday for sure here in this country.
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IBIS
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Re: Discussion Topic: Violence in the novel

[ Edited ]
Both Mariam and Laila come fiercely alive for me because they are very lovingly written. Mr Hosseini describes them -- their weaknesses, their flaws,their strengths -- in generous, loving prose. He observes them with a generosity of spirit. I couldn't help but fall in love with Mariam and Laila.

Although I do read stories that are more violent than SPLENDID SUNS, the violence in other books was impersonal for me. I wasn't emotionally invested in the characters.

Mariam's and Laila's suffering was excruciatingly painful for me because I identified intensely with them. Mr Hosseini has succeeded to make me imaginatively inhabit his characters' lives and their living conditions. He's done a splendid job encouraging my empathy. I found richer, emotional truths in his fiction than any non-fiction could have done.

Message Edited by IBIS on 08-17-2007 03:25 PM
IBIS

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aireloom
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Re: Discussion Topic: Violence in the novel

>The REAL villain in this story is any country, any society, any religion that allows, encourages and re-enforces this brutal behavior. The obscene behavior that devalues women under the guise of protecting them.

I agree with your statement.Would a novel written by an American male author,telling of the violence women experience in America,cause such emotions? Every day women are abused,frightened, and killed. Too afraid to try to build a life on their own. They too, are taught that they are subservient,unable to think for themselves.I feel this novel could have been written about any two women in any country,society,and religion
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scheeber
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Re: Discussion Topic: Violence in the novel

I think that Khaled Hosseini did a marvelous job at creating a colorful descriptions for all readers. His novel had a lot to do with violence and war, but at no point during the story was I so distraught that I couldn't go on reading. Of course, the story was absolutely heartbreaking, but Hosseini wrote A Thousand Splendid Suns in such a way that no matter how gruesome the event was, you keep reading on. He put such faith and hope into the characters that I couldn't help but be hopeful too.
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