And the Mountains Echoed

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Dr. Markos Varvaris (“Mr. Markos”) Character Analysis

The narrator of Chapter Eight of And the Mountains Echoed, Dr. Markos Varvaris is a troubled plastic surgeon, who’s spent many years of his life trying to find a profession that will both bring him happiness and make his mother, Odelia, proud. As a young man, Markos develops a close friendship with Thalia—a friendship that ultimately inspires him to become a plastic surgeon and travel to Afghanistan, where he uses his training to care for the injured. Markos is also instrumental in reuniting Pari and Abdullah: after Nabi dies, Markos is the one to inform Pari that she has a brother.

Dr. Markos Varvaris (“Mr. Markos”) Quotes in And the Mountains Echoed

The And the Mountains Echoed quotes below are all either spoken by Dr. Markos Varvaris (“Mr. Markos”) or refer to Dr. Markos Varvaris (“Mr. Markos”) . 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:
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Riverhead Books edition of And the Mountains Echoed published in 2014.
Chapter 4 Quotes

I said nothing even though he had it wrong. I was not joking that time. My staying was no longer for him. It had been at first. I had stayed initially because Suleiman needed me, because he was wholly dependent on me. I had run once before from someone who needed me, and the remorse I still feel I will take with me to the grave. I could not do it again. But slowly, imperceptibly, my reasons for staying changed. I cannot tell you when or how the change occurred, Mr. Markos, only that I was staying for me now. Suleiman said I should marry. But the fact is, I looked at my life and realized I already had what people sought in marriage. I had comfort, and companionship, and a home where I was always welcomed, loved, and needed. The physical urges I had as a man—and I still had them, of course, though less frequent and less pressing now that I was older—could still be managed, as I explained earlier. As for children, though I had always liked them I had never felt a tug of paternal impulse in myself.

Related Characters: Uncle Nabi (speaker), Mr. Suleiman Wahdati , Dr. Markos Varvaris (“Mr. Markos”)
Page Number: 126-127
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Nabi explains why he stayed with Mr. Wahdati for so many years At first, Nabi stayed with Mr. Wahdati because of his guilt at having abandoned his niece many years before: he allowed Nila to adopt Pari without protest, and has regretted his decision for a long time. But as Nabi makes clear, he eventually comes to enjoy living with Mr. Wahdati for its own sake: he even thinks of his relationship to Mr. Wahdati as a kind of marriage, providing him with comfort and contentment.

The passage is strange, insofar as it suggests a kind of homoerotic attraction between Nabi and Mr. Wahdati, even though Nabi has previously maintained that he's not homosexual in any capacity. While it's certainly possible that Nabi actually does have some repressed gay feelings (or is somewhere else on the spectrum of sexuality), Hosseini suggests that Nabi feels a less erotic form of love for Mr. Wahdati, similar to love for a close sibling or a very good friend. And yet ultimately, there's no way to understand Nabi's relationship with Mr. Wahdati totally. In spite of the vast length of Nabi's letter, this kind of love is a mystery--another example of the various kinds of "families" the book presents us with.

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As you can see enclosed in the envelope along with this letter is my will, in which I leave the house, the money, and my few belongings to her. I ask that you give her both this letter and the will. And please tell her, tell her that I cannot know the myriad consequences of what I set into motion. Tell her I took solace only in hope. Hope that perhaps, wherever she is now, she has found as much peace, grace, love, and happiness as this world allows.

Related Characters: Uncle Nabi (speaker), Pari Wahdati , Dr. Markos Varvaris (“Mr. Markos”)
Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Nabi bequeaths his house and possessions to Pari, the niece whom, years ago, Nabi allowed to be adopted by Nila Wahdati. Nabi has addressed his letter to Dr. Markos Varvaris, with the instructions that Markos must find Pari and tell her that her brother Abdullah is still alive.

Perhaps the key word in this passage is "consequences." It is Nabi who first puts the events of the book in motion by suggesting that Pari be sent to live with the Wahdati family. Nabi eventually comes to realize the core truth of the book--that the world is too complicated and interconnected for any one man to control. Nabi thinks that he's correcting a simple problem by sending Pari to live with the Wahdatis; in the end, though, he realizes that there's no such thing as a "simple" problem. Nabi ultimately embodies a cautious optimism about the universe: life is imperfect and unsatisfying, and yet he hopes that one day Pari and Abdullah will reunite and find the happiness and love they deserve.

Chapter 8 Quotes

“You’ve made me proud, Markos.”
I am fifty-five years old. I have waited all my life to hear those words. Is it too late now for this? For us? Have we squandered too much for too long, Mamá and I? Part of me thinks it is better to go on as we have, to act as though we don’t know how ill suited we have been for each other. Less painful that way. Perhaps better than this belated offering. This fragile, trembling little glimpse of how it could have been between us. All it will beget is regret, I tell myself, and what good is regret? It brings back nothing. What we have lost is irretrievable.

Related Characters: Dr. Markos Varvaris (“Mr. Markos”) (speaker), Odelia Varvaris (speaker)
Page Number: 358-359
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Markos--the doctor we first met in Nabi's letter--talks to his aged mother, Odelia Varvaris. Markos has always had a strange relationship with Odelia--while he knows that Odelia is a good mother, he's always felt that Odelia is too disapproving and cold with him, as if she doesn't really love him. Now, after decades of coldness between the two of them, Markos learns the truth: Odelia has always loved Markos, and is enormously proud of his achievement as a doctor and a human being.

It's important to notice the fine line between joy and sorrow in this passage. Markos is of course pleased to hear the words he's always craved from his mother. And yet his mother's words also sadden him, because they remind him of the years of happiness he could have had with his mother, and now can't get back.

In short, Hosseini uses Chapter 8 to question the notion of a happy reunion. On paper, Markos and Odelia's reunion is perfectly happy: they say all the right things to one another. And yet no amount of kind words can make up for the intervening years. A tearful reunion isn't always enough for a happy ending, because of the constant power of memory and the past.

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Dr. Markos Varvaris (“Mr. Markos”) Character Timeline in And the Mountains Echoed

The timeline below shows where the character Dr. Markos Varvaris (“Mr. Markos”) appears in And the Mountains Echoed. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
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...for God). It becomes clear that the chapter is a letter, addressed to one Mr. Markos, the man who taught the letter’s author to speak English and Farsi. The author reminds... (full context)
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...but only under Mr. Wahdati’s tutelage does he become a confident reader). Nabi tells Mr. Markos that, in secret, he had been looking for a replacement for himself. He’d interviewed many... (full context)
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...workers are busy repairing the city of Kabul. Nabi finds that his visitor is Mr. Markos—the man to whom the letter is addressed (and whose identity is still not clear to... (full context)
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Inside the house, Markos explains that he is a surgeon, sent from Greece to help sick Afghan children. He... (full context)
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...to a close by saying that he doesn’t have long to live. He thanks Mr. Markos for his friendship, and for his devotion to helping the people of Afghanistan. He humbly... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...are about twenty people inside, all of them smoking and drinking. Idris and Timur greet Markos, who introduces them to the owner, an elderly man (whom we know to be Nabi).... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...earlier than usual, and receives a phone call she’s been expecting. The call is from Markos Varvaris. Markos has contacted Pari via email, saying that he has information that she’ll want... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...to know how his work in Kabul is going. Thalia refers to the narrator as Markos (whom we know from earlier chapters of the book). Markos keeps a picture of Thalia... (full context)
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Markos jumps back to explain how he met Thalia. They met in 1967, when he was... (full context)
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When Madaline and Thalia arrived in Markos’s home, Madaline introduced the two children. Markos noticed that Thalia was wearing a dark veil... (full context)
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Back in 2010, Markos calls his mother. She asks him about his conversation with “the French woman” (whom we... (full context)
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Markos continues talking with his mother on the phone. He thinks to himself that his mother... (full context)
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As a child, Markos was fascinated and horrified by Thalia’s appearance. Madaline and Thalia would visit Tinos often, and... (full context)
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When Markos was a child, Odelia told him to spend more time with Thalia. When Markos protested... (full context)
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Thalia and Markos spent more time together, but only because Markos didn’t enjoy being around Odelia and Madaline... (full context)
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Several days after their conversation about photography, Thalia and Markos are standing in Markos’s house. Markos is preparing to take some photographs of his family.... (full context)
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The next day, Markos assembles Odelia, Thalia, and Madaline on the beach near his house. He directs them to... (full context)
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As Markos counts, the narrative cuts ahead to a scene from his early twenties, when he’s in... (full context)
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Markos remembers other times when he’s jealously guarded the photograph of Thalia. Once, in South America,... (full context)
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Markos remembers other episodes from his life. Once, as a young man, he was traveling through... (full context)
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The narrative returns to Markos’s childhood, when Madaline and Thalia were visiting Tinos. Madaline announces that she’s leaving Tinos, leaving... (full context)
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Madaline leaves Thalia in Tinos with Markos and Odelia. Thalia doesn’t seem very sad to see her mother go. In the coming... (full context)
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The narrative cuts ahead to 2002, more than thirty years after Thalia’s letter arrives. Markos discovers that Madaline has died. He learns that she was a successful actress and theater... (full context)
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After he finishes medical school, Markos decides to become a plastic surgeon. He realizes, partly because of Thalia’s advice, that physical... (full context)
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Some time in the 2000s, Markos arrives in Tinos, and Thalia picks him up from his ferry. He’s returned to Greece... (full context)
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Thalia takes Markos back to his old house, where his mother still lives. Inside the house, Markos reminds... (full context)
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In the afternoon, Odelia, who’s been taking a nap, comes downstairs and greets Markos. Odelia and Markos drink coffee together, and Markos expresses his worry that Odelia is becoming... (full context)
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The next day, around ten-thirty in the morning, Markos, Odelia, and Thalia gather outside to watch the eclipse. As the eclipse proceeds, Markos notice... (full context)