A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Tariq Character Analysis

Laila’s childhood friend and eventually lover and husband. Tariq wears a prosthetic leg since he stepped on a land mine at the age of five. He can be mischievous and goofy, and he is always eager to prove his strength by joining in any fight and by defending Laila against other neighborhood boys. Tariq adores Laila and is unfailingly loyal to her, returning to Kabul to find her after years of imprisonment and exile in Pakistan.

Tariq Quotes in A Thousand Splendid Suns

The A Thousand Splendid Suns quotes below are all either spoken by Tariq or refer to Tariq. 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 19 Quotes

It was hard to feel, really feel, Mammy’s loss. Hard to summon sorrow, to grieve the deaths of people Laila had never really thought of as alive in the first place. Ahmad and Noor had always been like lore to her. Like characters in a fable. Kings in a history book.

It was Tariq who was real, flesh and blood.

Related Characters: Laila, Tariq, Fariba (Mammy), Ahmad, Noor
Page Number: 140
Explanation and Analysis:

Ahmad and Noor, Laila's two brothers, have been killed in the course of fighting, and Mammy, who has always adored them, is beyond comforting. During the funeral, Laila attempts to understand her mother's feelings, and to feel her sorrow herself, but is unable to. Ahmad and Noor, off fighting since Laila was very young, have long remained abstract figures to her rather than real, present, loving brothers. She understands the importance of their positions and their courage in fighting for their country, but these ideals have never gained a sense of reality for Laila. She can only contrast the way she feels about her brothers to the way she feels about Tariq, whom she has grown up with, and to whom she feels more loyal and loving than she feels even towards her own brothers. While Laila would never be able to vocalize such sentiments, she does allow herself these silent feelings as she attempts to come to terms with her family's loss.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other A Thousand Splendid Suns quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Part II: Chapter 26 Quotes

There would come a day, in fact, years later, when Laila would no longer bewail his loss. Or not as relentlessly; not nearly. There would come a day when the details of his face would begin to slip from memory’s grip, when overhearing a mother on the street call after her child by Tariq’s name would no longer cut her adrift. She would not miss him as she did now, when the ache of his absence was her unremitting companion—like the phantom pain of an amputee.

Related Characters: Laila, Tariq
Page Number: 187
Explanation and Analysis:

This is one of the few moments in the book during which the narrator looks into the future and compares one of the character's later states of mind with how she is feeling at the current moment. Here, the contrast between Laila's current and later states is meant to show just how acute her pain at Tariq's absence is now—but also how such acute suffering inevitably softens and eases with the passage of time. This is not to say that Laila will have lost her feelings for Tariq. Instead, the book tries to show how it is possible for even those who have suffered the most, in ways unimaginable to many readers, to carry on in their own lives. The book is also interested in the persistence of love, and how it can change and mutate even while persevering below the surface. The way this takes place is described through a simile that is highly significant, given that Tariq of course has an amputated leg himself. The simile of amputation is meant to show how an absence can be its own kind of presence. 

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.

Part III: Chapter 30 Quotes

But, miraculously, something of her former life remained, her last link to the person that she had been before she had become so utterly alone. A part of Tariq still alive inside her, sprouting tiny arms, growing translucent hands. How could she jeopardize the only thing she had left of him, of her old life?

Related Characters: Laila, Tariq
Page Number: 219
Explanation and Analysis:

Laila had been plotting to escape Rasheed and flee to Pakistan, but now a regular morning nausea has made her realize that she is pregnant with Tariq’s child, and her plans are forced to change. In some ways, this realization makes things more difficult and complicated: no longer can Laila realistically escape, and she will have to find a way to ensure that Rasheed believes that this child is his own. But rather than feeling afraid or trapped, Laila’s pregnancy is a source of gratefulness and relief.

After the death of her parents, Laila had been left with no living blood relations: only the knowledge that Tariq was alive and safe gave her a sense of continuity with her past. With Tariq gone, Laila feels alone in the world and bereft of anyone who could make her feel the kind of belonging she had with Babi and Tariq. The thought of Tariq’s child now gives her the strength to want to carry on, and the ability to withstand the desperation of her new life by clinging on to something that remains from her former reality.

Get the entire A Thousand Splendid Suns LitChart as a printable PDF.
A thousand splendid suns.pdf.medium

Tariq Character Timeline in A Thousand Splendid Suns

The timeline below shows where the character Tariq appears in A Thousand Splendid Suns. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part I: Chapter 15
Gender Relations Theme Icon
...outside the window neighbors milling about, including Fariba with another woman, holding a little boy’s name—Tariq, Mariam has heard her say. (full context)
Part II: Chapter 16
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...and Laila, who is nine years old, is sulking at the departure of her friend Tariq for a two-week vacation. She knows that time goes by more quickly or more slowly... (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 a signal with a flashlight... (full context)
Part II: Chapter 17
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...Laila. He mocks her and asks what she’ll do to stop him—have her crippled friend Tariq save her? He pumps the trigger and warm water sprays onto Laila’s hair, face, and... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Laila knows the boys wouldn’t have dared to do it if Tariq was there—but also that it wouldn’t have happened had Mammy showed up. She grows angry... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...always refuses any suggestion as unworthy of her boys. These conversations make Laila think of Tariq. (full context)
Part II: Chapter 18
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
After a few weeks, Tariq still hasn’t returned. Laila initially is able to distract herself, but then grows anxious that... (full context)
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
The next day Laila hurries to Tariq’s house, where she exclaims at his newly shaved head and his sunburned cheeks. He says... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
After lunch, Laila and Tariq go to his room, where he tells Laila about his trip and they play games.... (full context)
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...to go to the zoo. Laila says that she’s missed him, and after a pause Tariq makes a face and asks what’s wrong with her. She realizes that with boys, friendship... (full context)
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...bus stop, she sees Khadim grinning at her from down the street, and she tells Tariq the story. Clenching his teeth, he crosses the street to Khadim, and bends down as... (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 door with... (full context)
Part II: Chapter 19
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
...Ahmad and Noor had only ever seemed like characters in a story to her. It’s Tariq, instead, who is truly real to her. (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... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...the memories, and Laila knows she’ll always remember Babi in this way, happy and reminiscing. Tariq heads off to explore the caves, and Babi says to Laila that he also misses... (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... (full context)
Part II: Chapter 22
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...the last Soviet convoys. Mammy holds a photo of Ahmad and Noor over her head. Tariq taps Laila and Hasina on the shoulder, dressed in a giant Russian fur hat, for... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
That day, Laila and Tariq go to Cinema Park to see a Soviet film dubbed, very badly, into Farsi, which... (full context)
Part II: Chapter 23
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Over the next three years, Tariq’s father has a series of strokes, Tariq is issued a new leg by the Red... (full context)
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Gender Relations Theme Icon
...all the neighbors over for a big lunch. As she prepares, she asks Laila how Tariq is doing—almost a man now, she says. She tells Lails it was charming when they... (full context)
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
In fact, Laila has fallen head over heels in love with Tariq. She pictures them in bed together at night, though she feels guilty when she thinks... (full context)
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Gender Relations Theme Icon
Every once in awhile, Tariq wanders in to taste the food before being shooed out by the women. Laila tries... (full context)
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Gender Relations Theme Icon
After lunch, Tariq motions to Laila discreetly and slips out the door. A few minutes later, she follows,... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Tariq tells Laila that her hair is getting longer, and looks nice. She teases him about... (full context)
Part II: Chapter 24
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Laila confides to Tariq that she hates the whistling—or rather, the brief moments between when it starts and the... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Laila sees Massoud’s men everywhere, roaming the streets and stopping people for questioning. Tariq buys a gun, telling Laila that three sisters were raped and killed in Karteh-Seh last... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Laila asks Tariq if he has it in him to kill with the gun. He says that he... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Gender Relations Theme Icon
...element teaching, but Laila still finds it difficult to concentrate—she’s distracted by the thought of Tariq, and the now three kisses they’ve shared. (full context)
Part II: Chapter 25
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
It’s August 1992, and Tariq and Laila are sitting in her living room, as he tells her that he and... (full context)
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Gender Relations Theme Icon
...redress hastily, unable to believe what they’ve just done. She suddenly feels shame and guilt. Tariq tells her to come with him, that he wants to marry her. They could marry... (full context)
Part II: Chapter 26
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...to her parents upstairs and torn between shame and guilt at what she did with Tariq, and the thought that it was not sinful but natural and beautiful. She tries to... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...they’ll go to Pakistan first to apply for visas, and Laila is thrilled—Pakistan is where Tariq’s family is. (full context)
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
That night, Laila has a dream of her and Tariq sitting on a quilt on a beach, watching sailboats. They hear a noise like a... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...becomes conscious of a man and woman feeding her, giving her pills. She wonders where Tariq is. In another flash of consciousness, she sees herself and Babi sitting high up, looking... (full context)
Part III: Chapter 27
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...Laila (which is how he refers to her, rather than “the girl”) that her friend Tariq’s house is now occupied by some of Sayyaf’s men. Mariam sometimes sees them playing cards... (full context)
Part III: Chapter 28
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...grows increasingly anxious. Abdul Sharif continues that at the hospital he met her friend, Mohammad Tariq Walizai. (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
One of the nurses told Abdul Sharif that Tariq was in a lorry with other refugees headed for Peshawar when they were hit with... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Abdul Sharif continues, saying that initially he thought Tariq had lost both legs in the attack, but the nurse told him that the left... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
When Abdul Sharif said he was going to Kabul, Tariq had asked him to find Laila and tell her he was thinking of her, and... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...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 30
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...realizes she’s missed a cycle. She imagines herself in a refugee camp, with her and Tariq’s baby beneath a dirty tent. She can’t run now. So many people in her life... (full context)
Part III: Chapter 32
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
...dreams about the free, open Kabul of her childhood. But then her thoughts turn to Tariq, she pictures him pierced through with tubes on a hospital bed far from home, and... (full context)
Part III: Chapter 34
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Laila adores lying next to Aziza and watching her, whispering stories about her father Tariq. Sometimes she notices that Rasheed looks at Aziza oddly. One night he asks what things... (full context)
Part III: Chapter 38
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
...Cinemas are shut down, and Laila remembers having gone to see melodramatic Hindi films with Tariq. Mariam wonders what’s happened to Jalil’s cinema.  (full context)
Part III: Chapter 42
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
...Bamiyan, despite a worldwide outcry. Laila remembers standing atop one of them in 1987 with Tariq and Babi. (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...broken at the slightest movement. She closes her eyes, but when she opens them again Tariq is still there. She takes a step, then another, then runs towards him. (full context)
Part III: Chapter 43
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...is looking after Zalmai upstairs, and he’s in a troublemaking mood. He had looked at Tariq suspiciously, and soon descends into a crying tantrum, until Laila has to come upstairs to... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Female Friendship Theme Icon
...details, and how much Rasheed had paid Abdul Sharif to tell Laila the story of Tariq’s death. (full context)
Part III: Chapter 44
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Tariq is telling Laila about one of the men in a jail cell with him, whose... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Laila marvels how adult Tariq seems. He is still handsome but with weathered instead of fair skin and his hair... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Tariq says that he lives in the foothills in Pakistan, near Islamabad, at a summer retreat... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Tariq tells Laila about his family’s stay at a refugee camp in Pakistan with sixty thousand... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Tariq vowed to get his family out of the camp. In fall 1993 he met a... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
...that night: Zalmai says the man has a limp. Rasheed, stony-faced, says that Laila let Tariq into his home, with his son. Laila says that he lied to her, and Rasheed... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
That afternoon: Tariq doesn’t mention much about his years in prison. His mother tried to see him but... (full context)
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Gender Relations Theme Icon
That night: Rasheed asks if Laila let Tariq see her face, and Zalmai pipes in that she did. (full context)
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
That afternoon: Tariq says that her son doesn’t like her much. Laila feels guilty, knowing that Zalmai is... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Tariq says that he befriended a Pakistani named Salim, who had plenty of contacts. Salim found... (full context)
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Laila says, again, that she thought Tariq was dead. She asks for his forgiveness for having married Rasheed. Tariq doesn’t blame her.... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
As Tariq leaves, he says he wants to meet Aziza. Laila thinks back to the times they’d... (full context)
Part III: Chapter 46
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Female Friendship Theme Icon
...Mariam tells her they’ll find them sooner or later, and she won’t have Laila and Tariq living like fugitives too, especially with their children. It isn’t fair, Laila says. But it... (full context)
Part IV: Chapter 48
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
The narrator shifts into the present tense in Part IV, as Laila and Tariq have made it to Murree, They had married the day the arrived. Sayeed brought a... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
...celebrated. They have a real bathroom, not an outhouse. Laila cleans the hotel rooms with Tariq, and Aziza helps out with spraying the windows. (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...about her real father a few days after the wedding ceremony, and already she and Tariq are finishing each other’s sentences and seem to share a constant private conversation. Aziza asks... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Zalmai, on the other hand, is sullen and rebels against Tariq, saying he’s not his real father. Every night, Laila tells him the same lie about... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Female Friendship Theme Icon
Sometimes, they all take the bus to Kashmir Point, where Tariq shows them the Jhelum River valley, or to Nathia Gali and the Governor’s House. When... (full context)
Part IV: Chapter 49
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
One day that September, Tariq races into the bungalow to announce that Ahmad Shah Massoud is dead. He was giving... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Tariq says that the Taliban have announced they won’t hand over bin Laden because he’s a... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Tariq suggests that war with the Americans might not be so bad in the end. Laila... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
That night, Zalmai wakes up coughing, and Tariq rocks him back and forth. When he comes back to bed, they’re silent, but Laila... (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
...with Rasheed. She is thankful for it, but one night in July 2002, she and Tariq are talking about how the coalition forces have driven the Taliban out of every major... (full context)
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
When she tells Tariq, he asks if she’s not happy in Murree. Though she is, she tells him that... (full context)
Shame and Reputation Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
After a night in a hotel, Tariq finds Laila a taxi, since she wants to go alone. Zalmai starts to cry when... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Female Friendship Theme Icon
That night, after they’ve eaten dinner and returned to the hotel, Laila tells Tariq about the letter and shows him the money in the sack. He holds her as... (full context)
Part IV: Chapter 51
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Finally, in April 2003, the drought has ended. Laila and Tariq have rented a house in Deh-Mazang, and Tariq has built a slide and swing set... (full context)
History and Memory in Afghanistan Theme Icon
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
...Laila wake up at five every morning for prayers—Aziza’s way of staying close to Mariam. Tariq now works with a French NGO that fits land mine survivors with prosthetic limbs. Laila... (full context)
Suffering and Perseverance Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...published a piece recently about the renovation. As she looks at the picture of Zaman, Tariq, Laila, and another attendant behind the children, Laila thinks about Giti and Hasina, and Hasina’s... (full context)