A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns

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Mariam’s father, a successful cinema owner in Herat, who has three wives and nine legitimate children in addition to Mariam. Jalil comes to see Mariam every week when she is a child, but he never allows her to visit him in Herat or join the rest of his family there. Jalil does seem conflicted about Mariam, but he refuses to see her when she comes on her own. Though he seems regretful, he also allows his wives to arrange the marriage between Mariam and Rasheed. For the rest of the novel, there are hints that Jalil deeply regrets the way he acted with Mariam, though it is only at the very end that we learn the extent of this regret and shame.

Jalil Quotes in A Thousand Splendid Suns

The A Thousand Splendid Suns quotes below are all either spoken by Jalil or refer to Jalil. 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 I: Chapter 6 Quotes

For the first time, Mariam could hear [Jalil] with Nana’s ears. She could hear so clearly now the insincerity that had always lurked beneath, the hollow, false assurances.

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

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

Related Characters: Mariam (speaker), Jalil
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

Mariam has returned to Jalil's house after Nana's funeral, and Jalil has told her that he will allow her to stay with him. There was a time when nothing would have made Mariam happier than to be able to live with Jalil. Now, however, Nana's suicide has changed everything. It is not that Jalil's character has been transformed by Nana's death: instead, Mariam simply recognizes the aspects of his character that she had been unable or unwilling to see all along.

Throughout Mariam's childhood, she had idolized Jalil, refusing to see him through Nana's eyes and instead remaining convinced that he was a kind, good father. Only now can she recognize that what she believed to be his goodness was only a pleasant façade concealing a deeper insincerity. After all, Jalil directly participated in keeping Mariam and Nana isolated and apart from his "true" family. Now Mariam's loyalty has shifted definitively to Nana. However, this change of heart comes too late for Nana, who did not live to see her daughter fully come to to terms with her father's true self. Mariam's belated realization will long haunt her.

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Part III: Chapter 41 Quotes

Mariam regretted her foolish, youthful pride now. She wished now that she had let him in. what would have been the harm to let him in, sit with him, let him say what he’d come to say? He was her father. He’d not been a good father, it was true, but how ordinary his faults seemed now how forgivable, when compared to Rasheed’s malice, or to the brutality and violence that she had seen men inflict on one another.

Related Characters: Mariam, Rasheed, Jalil
Page Number: 309
Explanation and Analysis:

Mariam has gone to the Intercontinental Hotel with Rasheed to attempt to call Jalil. They want to ask if he can help the family, as the children are going hungry and they are in a desperate situation. Mariam has not seen Jalil for thirteen years, since he came to see her at Rasheed’s house, and she had refused to go out to meet him. Thinking back on that moment, Mariam decides she was wrong to stubbornly refuse to see her father. She does not argue that Jalil was blameless, or that she should forgive him for his behavior with her and Nana. But having lived longer and having seen greater suffering and greater evil, Mariam now acknowledges that Jalil’s sins are not on the same level as those of the Taliban, for instance, or even of Rasheed.

Mariam has developed a more nuanced understanding of the way that love and loyalty can function in families. She does not expect love to mean that families will be perfect, or that family members will not hurt each other, but she has come to accept that she can still acknowledge her father and respect him without forgetting about the pain he caused her.

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Jalil Character Timeline in A Thousand Splendid Suns

The timeline below shows where the character Jalil appears in A Thousand Splendid Suns. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part I: Chapter 1
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
...“harami,” or bastard. She is five years old, and it’s a Thursday—the day her father Jalil comes to visit her at the small one-room house where she lives with her mother,... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Mariam adores Jalil, who never calls her such a name, but instead visits and tells her stories about... (full context)
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Gender Relations Theme Icon
Jalil has three wives and nine legitimate children. He owns a cinema and is very wealthy.... (full context)
Part I: Chapter 2
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Nana says that when she gave birth to Mariam, in spring 1959, Jalil hadn’t bothered to call a doctor. She describes her pain to Mariam, who apologizes. However,... (full context)
Part I: Chapter 3
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Every so often, Jalil’s two sons push a wheelbarrow filled with food and cooking supplies up the hill to... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Gender Relations Theme Icon
One day, Mariam confides that she’d like to go to school—Bibi jo had mentioned that Jalil’s other daughters would be attending. Mullah Faizullah asks Nana, but she says there’s no use.... (full context)
Part I: Chapter 4
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Though Mariam loves having visitors, she treasures Jalil’s visits each Thursday the most. Each week she awaits him anxiously, though she tries not... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Jalil shows Mariam how to fish, teaches her rhymes, and shows her clippings from Herat’s newspaper—a... (full context)
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Jalil gives Mariam a leaf-shaped pendant. Mariam loves it, but Nana scoffs that it’s just nomad... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
After Jalil’s visits, Mariam always wonders what his life in Herat is like, and imagines living with... (full context)
Part I: Chapter 5
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
For Mariam’s fifteenth birthday, she asks Jalil to take her to see the American film that is playing at his cinema—a cartoon... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Nana is furious when she hears, and mocks Mariam for thinking she’s wanted in Jalil’s house. She tries to make Mariam guilty by saying a jinn will come and she’ll... (full context)
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...next day, Mariam dresses in her nicest hijab and sits by the stream to meet Jalil. After an hour, she heads down to Herat alone—the first time she’s ever gone to... (full context)
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
A young woman opens the door, and when Mariam introduces herself, she runs inside. Jalil’s chauffeur comes to the door and says Jalil’s not there, and didn’t say when he’d... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...back, Mariam cries out of disillusionment, anger, and mainly shame at how much she idealized Jalil and dismissed Nana, who had been right all along. She wonders how she’ll be able... (full context)
Part I: Chapter 6
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
After Nana’s funeral, Jalil brings Mariam back to the kolba to gather her things. Mullah Faizullah arrives and tries... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Jalil tells Mariam she can stay in his house, but now Mariam sees through his façade... (full context)
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
On Mariam’s second day, Niloufar, another of Jalil’s daughters, comes into the room to get her gramophone. She plays a song for Mariam... (full context)
Part I: Chapter 7
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Jalil and his wives—Afsoon, Khadija, and Nargis—sit across from Mariam at a long dark table. They... (full context)
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Gender Relations Theme Icon
Khadija tells Mariam that she has a suitor named Rasheed, a friend of Jalil’s business colleague. He’s a Pashtun who lives in Kabul, but speaks Farsi like them. He’s... (full context)
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...childbirth, and his son drowned a few years ago, so he’s suffered too. Mariam begs Jalil not to make her go. The wives continue to try to convince her, but she... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Gender Relations Theme Icon
...her about chores of intimacy that women have to endure with their husbands. Mariam begs Jalil to say no to his wives, but after a long silence, he only asks Mariam... (full context)
Part I: Chapter 8
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
...accepts this man as her husband, she initially stays quiet. After a few awkward moments, Jalil whispers her name and she finally says, “Yes.” The mirror is slipped under her veil,... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
As Mariam and Rasheed wait for the bus, Jalil tells Mariam how beautiful Kabul is. Unable to stand it, she tells him she used... (full context)
Part I: Chapter 9
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
...barren, unkempt yard, with an outhouse, well, and tool shed. The house is smaller than Jalil’s but much larger than the kolba. But as Mariam looks around, she misses the familiarity... (full context)
Part I: Chapter 11
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...likes it, and looks away shyly. Mariam realizes how much this true gift contrasts with Jalil’s halfhearted, insincere gifts, and she says the shawl is beautiful. (full context)
Part I: Chapter 12
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Mariam recalls how Jalil would visit Mariam and Nana at the first of the three days of Eid-ul-Fitr, the... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
In the bottom drawer, Mariam finds a picture of Jalil’s son, Yunus, and below that, a beautiful woman standing next to Mariam. She feels a... (full context)
Part III: Chapter 35
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...and if Mullah Faizullah and Bibi jo are still alive and coping. She wonders about Jalil also, hoping he’s safe and away from all the killing. (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Female Friendship Theme Icon
...hair as Aziza is curled up asleep on the floor. Mariam starts telling Laila about Jalil, Nana, and Mullah Faizullah, about her humiliation at Jalil’s house and Nana’s suicide. After she’s... (full context)
Part III: Chapter 38
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
...remembers having gone to see melodramatic Hindi films with Tariq. Mariam wonders what’s happened to Jalil’s cinema.  (full context)
Part III: Chapter 41
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Mariam thinks back to the last time she’d seen Jalil, thirteen years earlier, in the spring of 1987. He had stood outside her house next... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Mariam realizes that Jalil was dying back then, and had driven from Herat to say goodbye. Rasheed looks at... (full context)
Part III: Chapter 47
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...Mariam’s ten days in prison, she watches children below her barred window, singing a rhyme Jalil had taught her. That night she’d dreamed of eleven pebbles, arranged vertically; of a young... (full context)
Part IV: Chapter 50
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...for Mullah Faizullah’s house, he says that he is his son Hamza. She’s come about Jalil Khan’s daughter, Mariam, Laila says. At once, Hamza’s face lights up, and he asks if... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...long silence, Hamza says his father was incredibly fond of Mariam, and was upset when Jalil sent her away. But Mullah Faizullah lived to an old age, he says. (full context)
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Upon their return, Hamza gives Laila a box, which Jalil had given to his father before he died, asking him to keep it for Mariam.... (full context)
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Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
The envelope holds a letter dated May 13, 1987. In it, Jalil tells how disappointed he was that Mariam did not come out to speak with him... (full context)
Part IV: Chapter 51
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
...they’re called—and music can again be heard at the street corners. Laila wishes that, like Jalil’s letter, Kabul’s rebirth hadn’t arrived too late for Mammy and Babi. (full context)