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    • Extended essayWomen in the United States, although more free, less restricted than in Afghanistan are still seen as second class inferior to men in Khalid Husseini book The Kite Runner. However this essay will also be exploring the similarities and differences in the role and presentation of female characters in the USA and Afghanistan in Khalid Husseini books The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.What are the similarities and differences in the role and presentation of female characters in the United States and Afghanistan in Khalid Husseini books The Kite Runner and A Thousand splendid Suns?AbstractThis essay explores the similarities and differences in the role and presentation of female characters in the United States and Afghanistan in Khalid Husseini’s books The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. My arguments is that women in the United States, although more free, and less restricted than in Afghanistan, are still seen as second class citizens, inferior to men by the Afghan community in The Kite Runner. However there are important differences after the marriage of Soraya and Amir in The Kite Runner and Mariam and Rasheed in A Thousand Splendid Suns. Rasheed sees her wife nearly as an object to full fill his sexual desires as state of symbol whereas Soraya and Amir genuinely love and respect each other even though they have to marry the traditional way.Acknowledgments I from Afghanistan, My Country have suffered from decades of war. I did this essay to encourage my fellow Afghans everywhere in the World to Stop Gender Discrimination against women and show respect to them and tell them they do Matter. I would like to thank everyone who understand and supported and encouraged me that I can do this. Especially My Parents, My supervisor and the Diploma coordinator thank you all very much. Content Page<br /> <br />
      • Introduction ……………………………………………………..……………………………………………… 5
      • Analyzing rights of female characters in The Kite Runner……………………….….…….. 5-9
      • Analyzing rights of female characters in A Thousand Splendid Suns and
      • comparison to The Kite Runner…………………………….…………………………..….…………. 9-11
      • Similarities and difference .…………………………………..……………………………………..….. 10-11
      • Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………………………….……. 10-11
      • Bibliography …………………………………………………………………………............................ 12
      Introduction<br />Women in the United States in Khalid Husseini book The Kite Runner are freer and less restricted however still face gender discrimination. Their rights are limited and they are forced to abide their old culture conventions. However they can choose not to but it will be seen rude. They will have low states in the community and everyone will disregard them. They will be given no importance and will be a shame to their families. The research question is what are similarities and differences in the role and presentation of female characters in the United States and Afghanistan in Khalid Husseini books The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. I will argue that the younger generations in The Kite Runner observe the outward forms of traditional requirements of courtship and engagement but after their marriage they have much more liberal, open marriage based on love and mutual respect. Therefore they question many of the assumptions of a traditional marriage. However, Rashid’s marriage to Mariam, in A Thousand Splendid Suns, is much more ‘traditional’ both before and after the wedding. Mariam is a little more than a status symbol and sexual object for Rashid, which seems to mirror the ‘traditional’ Taliban view. Rashid does not seem to see anything wrong in this.<br />Main Body<br />Amir meets Soraya at the flea market where most of the people from the Afghan community sell their goods. As it is a small community, everyone knows each other. However Amir finds it extremely daring to go talk to Soraya, despite the fact that the norms and beliefs that applied to them back home in Afghanistan do not now here in the United States. He is afraid of the Afghan double standard which favors his gender. Soraya doesn’t dress like the usual Afghan women do or should. She wears western clothes, and all western clothes are seen as rude and disrespectful by Afghans. She doesn’t wear a scarf nor does she cover the body parts that Islam requires females to cover. She runs the small shop that they have in the market, when her father is away to socialize with others who are around in the market. She interacts with others, handling the money, and basically handling the whole shop.(The Kite Runner: 127) This shows she is pretty independent. Her father has given her the responsibility to look after the shop when he is not around. He expects her to not let him down as she is determined she will not. <br />Amir is very careful how he approaches Soraya because he is scared of General Taheri and doesn’t want to disrespect him in anyway. To Afghan men honor matters more than their life and General Taheri is very defensive about his honor. When Amir first approaches Soraya he is not able to show her his affection. They meet when she brings her father his tea, while her father is socializing with Amir and his father. However General Taheri doesn’t introduce her to Amir or to his father. Only after she has left the room does he actually says: “My daughter, Soraya jan,”(The Kite Runner: 123). Eager to change the subject he takes a deep breath and requests to leave too. As he is worried, about his honor and pride he is eager to leave. It might be he do not want strangers to talk about his daughter with him because of something she might have done before or the shame she have brought on the family. <br />As Soraya comes near them Amir describes his situation “I blinked, my heart quickening…For the rest of that day, I fought the urge to look toward the gray van” (TKR). This clearly shows Amir has affections for her. However he knows he will have to overcome a lot of challenges in order to get with her. Further he has to make excuses to stroll near General Taheri’s small shop and waves at him as he is there most of the time there. Even though they are in the United States they still persist with their norms and beliefs they have in the Afghanistan. “Remember this,” Baba said, pointing at me, “The man is a Pashtun to the root. He has nang and namoos.” Nang. Namoos. Honor and pride. The tenets of Pashtun men. Especially when it came to the chastity of a wife. Or a daughter.” (TKR:126). He is very careful about not to stare or make eye contact with Soraya. The point is Amir simply can’t go to Soraya and talk to her or ask her out for a cup of tea or coffee as this will dishonor General Taheri. There are problems he has to overcome. He is dying to meet her but he is pretending he doesn’t know her. General Taheri is Pashtun by tribe and therefore Amir is advised by his father not to do anything “ahmaq” stupid as Honor and pride is something that means to General Taheri more than anything. <br /> To Pashtun men there is nothing more important than Honor and Pride even in the United States. General Taheri is Pashtun. He is very defensive about his honor and pride especially when it comes to the chastity of a daughter. Offending General Taheri in anyway will lead to a series issue. Amir father is warns Amir that he can offend him very easily therefore he is very careful about everything. Even though they are not in Afghanistan and General Taheri might not do what he would if they were in Afghanistan, it will still lead to violence. This is the problem Amir is very careful about and has to overcome. It is restricting him from going to talk to Soraya. On top of the fact that they are in the United States which is less restricted and everybody has freedom of speech. Amir and Soraya should both have freewill of showing affections for each other as they are over eighteen, but however they can’t as they are still restricted by their Afghani norms and beliefs in the United States. <br />These are the cultural conventions they still have to abide. They cannot to talk to each other or show affections. Amir is dying to meet her but constrained by his culture conventions he wouldn’t dare to go talk to her. As it takes him more them two months to find a way or excuse which he can use to introduce himself to her. To general Taheri honor and pride mean more than his life. Afghan Men’s honor is the other thing that is hard for Amir to overcome. Amir takes huge risk by talking to Soraya and he knows it, but persuaded by the affections for her he couldn’t control himself. He is scared of doing this as the following quote shows “Is General Sahib here today?” I said. My ears were burning. I couldn’t bring myself to look her in the eye.” (TKR:127). However this is the first time he talked to her. They are restricted by their culture and have to abide their culture convections he couldn’t ask her out for a date as everyone would normally do. However eventually Amir does marry Soraya but in the process he overcomes a lot of issues. First of all like mentioned above he couldn’t simply go and spend time with her as it will offend General Taheri even though if Soraya agrees to this. She will be seen as a bad mannered person and shame on her family. The Afghan community value men more than women as Amir suggests “I was fully aware of the afghan double standard that favored my gender. Not Did you see him chatting with her? but wooooy! Did you see how she wouldn’t let him go? What a lochak!”(TKR:128) It is proven by all the points above that Soraya’s rights were limited because she is a female. In the other hand it is right for Amir to talk to women he doesn’t know and people wouldn’t gossip about it. <br />The relationship between father and son is open however between father and daughter it is stricter. Amir can talk to his father about women. He can actually discuss about marriage with his father. On the other hand Soraya can’t. It will be seen very rude and offensive to her father’s reputation. “he said, his eyes playful, lingering on mine. “Has she made an impression on you?”(TKR:123). Amir asks his father about Soraya and the rumor about her, very casually, however he knows Soraya had made an impression on Amir. Amir and his father talk about women like friends do, and it is not seen rude or offensive to the family repetition in anyway. “I want you to go khastegari. I want you to ask General Taheri for his daughter’s hand.” (TKR:141). Later Amir asks his father to go to General Taheri’s house and ask for his daughter’s hand for him. Significance of this is Amir follows traditional way of marriage and doesn’t risk or offend general Taheri. This might actually impress General Taheri as he is very strict about his tradition and who definitely wants to do his daughter’s marriage in a traditional way. “I burst into giggles. Baba joined in.” (TKR:142). After Amir’s father schedule a meeting with General Taheri about Soraya’s hand on the phone Amir and his father burst into giggles like two best friends after they hang up. Their relationship is very open and less strict then Soraya and her Father. They joke and laugh very loud together. Amir can ask his father to go ask for Soraya’s hand. In the other hand Soraya will not dare to ask her father such a thing. It is very disrespectful and it will be disgrace to the family reputation. “Fathers and sons could talk freely about women. But no Afghan girl — no decent and mohtaram Afghan girl, at least — queried her father about a young man. And no father, especially a Pashtun with nang and namoos, would discuss a mojarad with his daughter,” (TKR:128-129). This shows Soraya’s rights are limited by their norms and beliefs even here in the United States. And the relationship between her and her father is strict. She can’t discuss her marriage with her father. In order to communicate with her father about any concerns, she has to talk through her mother. And this might be the reason she run away back then with someone because she did not have freedom. However if they were back in Afghanistan Soraya will not do this even if she wants. <br />Amir’s and Soraya’s marriage is done very traditionally. As always the boy family have to go to the girl’s and ask for the girl hand for their son. The other way around will be seen as being cheap. Therefore the girl family will not go to the boy’s as a suitor.If Amir he goes himself that will be seen offensive to General Taheri. To show respect to General Taheri’s family Amir’s father, despite his terminal illness, has to ask on behalf of Amir. Other norms and beliefs are still followed by the Afghan community in the United States but not clothing. Women can wear western clothes, even though it is against Afghans custom and especially against Pashtuns. It is seen very rude back in Afghanistan if girls do that. Women are allowed to wear western clothes, which is against their norms and beliefs. However that is alright with Afghan community in the United States however they limit their other rights like freedom of speech or the power of making their own decisions after they turn eighteen.<br />Amir and Soroya’s wedding is extremely traditional, even in the United States. Amir has to stay at home and wait for the news from his father. Amir’s father asks General Taheri for his daughter hand for Amir. This is a life time decision but someone else decides it for her. She wants to marry Amir but first her father had to agree. Whatever decisions her father make she will have to respect that and go with it “Amir?” Soraya’s voice.“Salaam.” “My father said yes.” (KR:143). Her mother also can’t say yes or no in this matter. This shows how to a great deal female rights are limited even here in the United States. The families in the Afghan community still stand for their standards and customs which they used to abide back in Afghanistan. Men are given more importance and considered the leader of the family. The process of the wedding is very long and usually takes months. Since Amir’s father health conditions are critical. They have to remove and quicken some wedding traditions. The process is in three steps, before the engagement there will be an engagement party thrown by the bride family. After the engagement then there will be wedding and the wedding will be paid by the groom’s family. Amir has to abide these traditions and customs even if it does not fit him as everyone else does. Amir still can’t go out with Soraya outside alone while preparation for the wedding is proceeding as it is considered improper. After the nika they are allowed to be together and the wedding process starts. General Taheri wants a traditional wedding. “Now, this is the right way — the Afghan way — to do it, bachem.” (TKR:146) the general tells Amir. Even though some traditions were removed from the marriage process the wedding was still customary. Things like Ayena Masshaf, was done, where the groom and the bride is given a mirror in which they can gaze at each other so that they don’t have to look at each other in front of everyone. Family friends are invited to the wedding. The band is Afghan and sings Farsi songs. A group of young men do traditional dance attan which mostly involves shaking their heads, in a circle and following each other. The guests leave in midnight and that’s when the wedding process comes to an end.<br />Traditional weddings are still carried out by the Afghan community in the United States as shown above. Women clearly don’t have enough roles like when Amir’s father went to ask for Soraya’s hand General Taheri said yes. However if he wouldn’t have said yes then Soraya and Amir will not marry even if Soraya agrees. This is part of their honor, pride, culture and tradition. Traditions have deep roots in Pashtuns society therefore everybody has to accept that. If not consequences will be tough and usually leads to violence. That is why Amir’s father reminds him his standards and beliefs.<br />Yet A Thousand Splendid Suns is set in Afghanistan, a country where tradition is law and traditions have been enforced more strongly than a civil law because the majority of the community accepts it. These traditional laws are code of conducts, stronger then civil law, if violated in anyway the punishment will be sever and tough. The difference between Afghan communities in the United State and Afghanistan is vast which will be explored further. <br />The relationship between Mariam and her father is very close and friendly. The fact is that she is “harami” in other words bastard. Her father doesn’t live with her and lives with his real family. This reveals her father’s attiudes toward her and how much importance he has actually given to Mariam. He does visit weekly to keep her happy as she is only a child right now. However if she was not female her father might have taken her to his house as male children are given more importance than female by the society in Afghanistan. However the relationship between her and her father changes as she grows up. He kept his other wives but not Mariam’s mother because she was just a maid in his house who is actually seen inferior in the society. This reveals if Mariam grows and if her mother is not in control her father might be harsh on her. This shows in the society more importance is given to legitimate children than illegitimate daughters. Discrimination against Mariam is even more as not only she is female but bastard too. So when Mariam’s mother commits suicide her father has no choice but to take her to his house. However he doesn’t wants to keep the fifteen year old Mariam for long in his house therefore he finds her a suitor who is thirty year senior from her. So the relationship between Mariam and her father gets stricter as she gets older. Her father attitudes towards her become harsh as he forces her to marry someone thirty year older than her. In the other hand General Taheri will never do that to his daughter. He actually loves her, which might be the reason why he is so protected about her. <br />Mariam’s marriage is arranged marriage. First of all she is forced to marry at age fifteen, which is considered legal by civil law, traditional law will be even stricter. Conversely, in the Afghan community in the United States this is wrong and they do not force their young daughters to marry to thirty years older men then them. She hasn’t turned eighteen yet, which in the United States is legal age for marriage. The marriage is arranged by her father. The process is simple her father is well known man, word of mouth finds a suitor and he just accepts that person and forces his daughter to marry him. However General Taheri actually care about his daughter and do a full traditional marriage. On top of all this the marriage process is shorten by an agreement between Mariam’s father and the suitor. “The nikka will be tomorrow morning, and then there is a bus leaving for Kabul at noon.”(A Thousand Splendid Suns:45). This shows her father actually doesn’t want her because she is an illegitimate daughter. He finds her a suitor in one day and forces her to “nikka” him. In the other hand General Taheri looks for a rights person for his daughter. Mariam’s father attitudes towards her are cruel and harsh however his attitudes towards his legitimate sons and daughters are kind and loving. Mariam father being harsh and cruel to Mariam destroys relationship between her and her father and that is why she tells him to never visit her again”No, No” she said. Don’t come. I won’t see you. Don’t you come. I don’t want to hear from you. Ever. Ever.” (TSS:50). A lot norms and beliefs are ignored example honor and pride. No man with honor and pride will force their daughter to marry someone thirty years older than her. This is discrimination against female gender. Their rights of choosing who to marry and when to marry are taken. They do not have freedom of speech and are forced to comply with these traditional laws which are not necessarily Islamic. The marriage has no love and she meets her husband for the first time not knowing what kind of person he is. <br />Rasheed and Mariam go to Kabul from Herat after the “nikka”. While in the bus to Rasheed’s home there is no conversation between them. For a while Rasheed’s attitude towards Mariam is affectionate and friendly. Rasheed is Pashtun by tribe his norms and beliefs are strict. <br />I have customers…women [who] come uncovered, they talk to me directly, look me in the eye without shame. They wear makeup and skirts that show their knees. Sometime they even put their feet in front of me, the women do, for measurements, and their husbands stand there and watch. They allow it. They think nothing of a stranger touching their wives’ bare feet! They think they’re being modern men. Intellectuals, on account of their education, I suppose. They don’t see that they’re spoiling their own nang and Namoos, their honor and pride.” (TSS:63).<br />He expects Mariam to not do anything like that and to follow whatever he says if not he will force her to. Mariam cannot talk to male strangers or show her face.”But I’m a different breed of man. Mariam. Where I come from, one wrong look, one improper word, and blood is spilled. Where I come from, a woman’s face is her husband’s business only. I want you to remember that. Do you understand?” (TSS:63). Here he clearly tells Mariam what kind of man he is and what he stands for. He wants her to cover herself wearing “hijab” when she is going out to bring water from outside near in the neighborhood. She is not allowed to go far or just go out for fun to get to know her neighborhood and neighbors as Rasheed thinks women in his neighborhood are spoiled. However Rasheed does take her outside on Fridays to show her around Kabul but her responsibilities are in the house. She is a house wife and cannot go out being accompanied by Rasheed. <br />Rasheed’s attitude towards Mariam changes from being affectionate to being cruel and harsh as she fails five times to give birth to a child. “what about Zalmai?” he said. “It’s a good Pashtun name.” “what if it’s a girl?” Mariam said. “I think it’s a boy. Yes. A boy" (TSS:78). When Mariam is first pregnant for the first time, Rasheed doesn’t a want a girl he wants a boy. This also reflects the many other social problems the society is facing. Male children are seen as wealth and the future protectors. Rasheed prefer male child as he see this not only for economic reason but also a future social protection. However when Mariam failed to give birth to a child this resulted in getting a second wife which added more social problem for Mariam and social discrimination against her gender. Rasheed is also cruel and harsh on his second wife as their marriage also luck love. His second wife Laila gives birth to a female child but later she gives birth to another child who is male. Rasheed’s attitudes toward his son are friendly and loving however he discriminates his daughter. <br /> In Afghanistan it is more a question of degree then principle, however in the United States it is a more a principle. In the United States women are allowed in the Afghan communities to handle a lot of things. Like Soraya handling their money in the flea Market. She is allowed to talk to male strangers; she is allowed to wear western clothes. This shows they are less restricted and free than women in Afghanistan. Their role is limited more by a principle than to a degree. In the other hand in Afghanistan females are more restricted. Like Mariam she is forced to marry at age fifteen to someone who is thirty years older than her. There is no love in their marriage and her husband is cruel and harsh man. Even though Amir’s and Soraya’s marriage was done traditionally there is still love in their marriage and Amir will never be a harsh man to Soraya. This shows Amir actually stick to the “nikka” words which before the marriage promised to do. Their families also show no sympathy. Decisions made by their parents have to be complied by them or they will be force to comply. But in the United States they can choose not to comply however they will be seen as a shame on their families and on their societies. In the United States the Afghan communities still abide their norms and beliefs. However it is less restricted and civil. <br />Bibliography<br />Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. New York: Riverhead, 2003. Print.<br />Hosseini, Khaled. A Thousand Splendid Suns. New York: Riverhead, 2007. Print.<br />