A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns

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Hakim (Babi) Character Analysis

Laila’s father, and a high school teacher in Kabul before being fired by the communists. Nevertheless, Hakim supports the communist regime’s policy of equality between men and women, and strongly supports Laila’s education, even tutoring her himself after it becomes too dangerous for her to go to school. Despite Mammy’s dismissal of his intellectual leanings, Laila admires Babi for his unwavering commitment to his wife.

Hakim (Babi) Quotes in A Thousand Splendid Suns

The A Thousand Splendid Suns quotes below are all either spoken by Hakim (Babi) or refer to Hakim (Babi). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Riverhead Books edition of A Thousand Splendid Suns published in 2007.
Part II: Chapter 16 Quotes

“I know you’re still young, but I want you to understand and learn this now,” he said. “Marriage can wait, education cannot. You’re a very, very bright girl. Truly, you are. You can be anything you want, Laila. I know this about you. And I also know that when this war is over, Afghanistan is going to need you as much as its men, maybe even more. Because a society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated, Laila. No chance.”

Related Characters: Hakim (Babi) (speaker), Laila
Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:

Laila's friends have been joking around about how to ward off unwanted suitors, but Laila recognizes that she does not need to worry about such problems, since Babi wants her to get an education. Here she recalls what he has repeated to her multiple times.

Babi's advice could not be further from Rasheed's understanding of the proper place of a woman in Afghani life. Rather than considering the home as the women's sphere, Babi thinks that the education of women is not just positive but necessary for Afghanistan to recover from its many wars and succeed in the future. He sees Laila as an example of how the next generation can repair the mistakes and failures of earlier generations, and he understands that that can only take place if all citizens are educated. Babi thus makes the education of women not a private question, a question of giving women opportunities now often barred from them, but a question that is directly linked to the national future of the country.

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Part II: Chapter 18 Quotes

“To me, it’s nonsense—and very dangerous nonsense at that—all this talk of I’m Tajik and you’re Pashtun and he’s Hazara and she’s Uzbek. We’re all Afghans, and that’s all that should matter. But when one group rules over the others for so long…There’s contempt. Rivalry. There is. There always has been.”

Related Characters: Hakim (Babi) (speaker)
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

Unlike Laila's family, which is Tajik, Tariq's family is Pashtun, meaning that they speak Pashto rather than Farsi—but they revert to Farsi when Laila comes to visit, for her sake. Although Laila is not old enough to fully understand all the ethnic conflicts of the country, Babi has explained to her that these two ethnic groups traditionally have not gotten along. However, he also tells her that, from his point of view, such quarrels are not only silly but are also dangerous—especially because the conflicts have so often turned violent.

Babi attempts to instill in Laila a sense of belonging to and gratefulness for the nation of Afghanistan, beyond the quarrels that he sees as petty and belonging to each group. Still, Babi acknowledges the suffering that can result when one group does manage to triumph over others and keep them subservient to its own interests. This inequality, he suggests, is what is at the root of the most violent of ethnic conflicts in Afghanistan, and perhaps what prevents the country from coming together as a unified nation. 

Part II: Chapter 26 Quotes

All day, this poem about Kabul has been bouncing around in my head. Saib-e-Tabrizi wrote it back in the seventeenth century, I think. I used to known the whole poem, but all I can remember now is two lines:

One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,

Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.’”

Related Characters: Hakim (Babi) (speaker)
Related Symbols: Saib-e-Tabrizi’s Poem
Page Number: 191-192
Explanation and Analysis:

As Babi is mourning what has become of the country that he loves so much, he confides in Laila and shares something that consoles him in times of difficulty: a poem. This classic work from the seventeenth century is what gives the novel its title. The poem itself is beautiful, but its significance for Babi lies also in the image of Afghanistan that the work calls up, an image that shares nothing with the violent destructiveness that now seems to characterize Kabul and the nation at large.

These two lines in particular suggest that suffering is not the only thing shared by Kabul’s inhabitants. The “moons that shimmer” and the “splendid suns” underline the beauty of daily life in the city—a spectacle that repeats with each rising of the sun and view of the moon at night. But these beauties are not always readily available, remaining at times “hidden” behind the various walls of the city. The diversity of experiences and lives is to be marveled at, but one should also understand the inability of ever knowing all that takes place behind the physical walls of Kabul and behind the walls of its inhabitants' memories. Even in a time of war, however, it is possible to acknowledge the persistence of such daily histories.

Part III: Chapter 27 Quotes

She was remembering the day the man from Panjshir had come to deliver the news of Ahmad’s and Noor’s deaths. She remembered Babi, white-faced, slumping on the couch, and Mammy, her hand flying to her mouth when she heard. Laila had watched Mammy come undone that day and it had scared her, but she hadn’t felt any true sorrow. She hadn’t understood the awfulness of her mother’s loss. Now another stranger bringing news of another death. Now she was the one sitting on the chair. Was this her penalty, then, her punishment for being aloof to her own mother’s suffering?

Related Characters: Laila, Tariq, Fariba (Mammy), Hakim (Babi), Ahmad, Noor
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:

As Laila struggles to react to the news of Tariq’s death, her mind returns to an earlier moment of another person’s suffering, in another reaction to horrific news. As readers, we too can recall that moment and remember how Laila struggled to feel a real sense of loss at the death of her brothers, even as her own mother broke down in grief at the news. Now Laila can finally recognize what Mammy was feeling at that long-ago moment, but she also feels that she is being made to pay, in some cosmic way, for her lack of grief when Ahmad and Noor died. At that moment in time, she had contrasted the abstract figures of her brothers to the real, visceral presence of Tariq. Here, that comparison is tragically fulfilled, as Laila learns that the person who has always seemed most real and true to her has died. In a tragically ironic twist, Laila can only fully understand her own mother’s suffering when she is made to experience something just as painful herself.

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Hakim (Babi) Character Timeline in A Thousand Splendid Suns

The timeline below shows where the character Hakim (Babi) appears in A Thousand Splendid Suns. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part I: Chapter 10
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Female Friendship Theme Icon
...as Fariba and saying she must be Rasheed’s new wife. She says her husband is Hakim, a teacher, and invites her to tea sometime. The other women begin to gather around... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Gender Relations Theme Icon
...their husbands who think they’re modern intellectuals. Rasheed says they’re spoiling their honor and pride. Hakim and Fariba are one of these couples, he says—it’s embarrassing. Rasheed says that where he... (full context)
Part I: Chapter 15
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...that her son Noor says look like gemstones. Her other son, Ahmad, sings to her. Hakim and Fariba name the baby Laila. (full context)
Part II: Chapter 16
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Downstairs, Laila’s parents are fighting like usual—Mammy, angry and ranting, and Babi, quiet and sheepish-looking. Afterward, Babi calls for Laila, and she brushes her blond hair, recalling... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Gender Relations Theme Icon
Babi shows Laila a rip in the screen door, and says that Mammy has complained it’s... (full context)
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Gender Relations Theme Icon
Babi teases Laila about missing Tariq, saying that before she knows it, he’ll be sending her... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Babi takes Laila to school, and on the way she spots a blue Benz car parked... (full context)
Gender Relations Theme Icon
Female Friendship Theme Icon
...the man arrives to ask for marriage. Laila knows she doesn’t need this advice, since Babi wants her to get an education. He tells her she can do anything she wants.... (full context)
Part II: Chapter 17
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...On Mammy’s good days, she bathes, puts on makeup, and takes Laila shopping before greeting Babi happily upon his return. She bakes and invites other women over for tea and pastries,... (full context)
Part II: Chapter 18
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Though they are Pashtuns, they speak Farsi rather than Pashto for Laila’s sake. Babi says that there are tensions between Tajiks, like them, and Pashtuns—Afghanistan’s largest ethnic group—since Pashtun... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Gender Relations Theme Icon
That night, Laila sets the table for her and Babi alone, as usual. Babi asks Laila what she’s working on—every night, he helps her with... (full context)
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Laila decides to tell Babi about Tariq’s fight with Khadim, but doesn’t have time before a stranger knocks at the... (full context)
Part II: Chapter 19
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
A stocky man asks for Laila’s parents—he has news from Panjshir. Babi asks Laila to go upstairs, and from the top of the stairs she sees the... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Gender Relations Theme Icon
...away, where she feels in the way until Giti and Hasina arrive with their families. Babi also feels useless, and the only thing Mammy says is to keep him away from... (full context)
Part II: Chapter 21
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Gender Relations Theme Icon
Tariq, Laila, and Babi are in a taxi leaving Kabul on a day trip—the destination is Babi’s surprise, though... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
As they enter a valley, Babi points to ancient-looking red walls in the distance. They are Shahr-e-Zohak or the Red City,... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
...in front of two enormous Buddhas, chiseled into a rock cliff and flanked by caves. Babi says that Bamiyan had once been a thriving home of Buddhism before Islamic Arabs began... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Gender Relations Theme Icon
...road lined with poplars, and, beyond, the foothills and then the massive, snowcapped Hindu Kush. Babi says he wanted the children to see and feel their country’s heritage in person. (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Babi says that he often brought Mammy up here, back when she was adventurous and alive.... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
When Babi is done, they both grow quiet, knowing that Mammy would never leave the land of... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Later, Tariq naps and Babi reads under the acacias. Laila dips her feet into the water and thinks about Babi’s... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Six months later, in April 1988, Babi returns home to announce that a treaty has been signed in Geneva. Mammy claims that... (full context)
Part II: Chapter 22
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
On the bus ride home, a man argues to Babi that the Soviets will continue to send weapons to Najibullah, their puppet in Kabul. Mammy... (full context)
Part II: Chapter 23
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
...Red Cross, and Hasina is made to marry a cousin in Lahore. Every few weeks, Babi comes home with news of the Soviet Union crumbling. Najibullah tries to claim he’s a... (full context)
Part II: Chapter 24
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
...bombs that make the whistle as they fall. Often it’s at dinner, and she and Babi clench their teeth and wait, frozen, before hearing a blast fall elsewhere. Sometimes, at night,... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
...of the other ethnicity as well. Girls are raped and bodies found tied to trees. Babi tries to convince Mammy to leave Kabul, but she insists that the fighting is temporary... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Gender Relations Theme Icon
Babi even has Laila drop out of school because of the danger, and becomes her tutor... (full context)
Part II: Chapter 25
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Gender Relations Theme Icon
...that he wants to marry her. They could marry today, he says. But she remembers Babi above the Buddha statues telling her how much he treasures her, and she knows that... (full context)
Part II: Chapter 26
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Babi calls to Laila from upstairs, saying that Mammy has agreed to leave. The three of... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...Mammy she could lose her one last child as well. She looks resigned, but embraces Babi. (full context)
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...watching sailboats. They hear a noise like a chant, and she tells him about what Babi, years before, had called singing sand—the friction of grain against grain. (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Babi says that they should only take what’s absolutely necessary, and they start to gather and... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...pills. She wonders where Tariq is. In another flash of consciousness, she sees herself and Babi sitting high up, looking out over fields of barley. With another pink pill, everything fades... (full context)
Part III: Chapter 27
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
...the girl gets better. One day, she confides to Mariam that she shouldn’t be alive: Babi wanted to take out the boxes of books, but she insisted on doing it herself,... (full context)
Part III: Chapter 28
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...willing her mind towards a better place, with green barley fields and clear water, with Babi reading under an acacia and Tariq napping, under the ancient stone gods. (full context)
Part III: Chapter 42
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
...a worldwide outcry. Laila remembers standing atop one of them in 1987 with Tariq and Babi. (full context)
Part IV: Chapter 49
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
...Laila, though, remembers the gratuitous violence under Massoud’s watch—she remembers, though she’s tried to forget, Babi’s headless torso hitting the ground beside her after the rocket. (full context)
Part IV: Chapter 50
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Gender Relations Theme Icon
Female Friendship Theme Icon
...but also feels restless when she hears about schools and roads being rebuilt. She hears Babi in her head telling her she can do anything she wants; she hears Mammy saying... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
...herself wonders if they’re really right to leave the safety of Murree. But she recalls Babi’s   ode   by Saib-e-Tabrizi to Kabul, about the thousand splendid suns, and she’s convinced that they’re... (full context)
Part IV: Chapter 51
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
...Laila wishes that, like Jalil’s letter, Kabul’s rebirth hadn’t arrived too late for Mammy and Babi. (full context)