And the Mountains Echoed

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Father / Saboor Character Analysis

A Stoic, hard-working Afghan farmer and laborer, Saboor is arguably the most ambiguous major character in the novel. He’s responsible for making the choice to sell his daughter, Pari, to a wealthy couple, Mr. and Mrs. Wahdati—a choice which has consequences that echo throughout the rest of the book. And yet we know little to nothing about Saboor’s personality, his “inner life,” etc. After selling Pari, Saboor becomes alienated from his other child, Abdullah, and dies in his early forties, unaware of the effects Pari’s absence will have on the other characters in the book.

Father / Saboor Quotes in And the Mountains Echoed

The And the Mountains Echoed quotes below are all either spoken by Father / Saboor or refer to Father / Saboor . 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 2 Quotes

Father sat down by the remains of the fire. “Where did you go?” “Go to sleep, boy.” “You wouldn’t leave us. You wouldn’t do that, Father.” Father looked at him, but in the dark his face dissolved into an expression Abdullah couldn’t make out. “You’re going to wake your sister.” “Don’t leave us.” “That’s enough of that now.”

Related Characters: Abdullah (speaker), Father / Saboor (speaker), Pari Wahdati
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

Abdullah is traveling with his father and his sister, Pari. In the middle of the desert, Abdullah wakes up to find that his father has gone. When his father eventually returns, Abdullah claims that he'd thought his father has been murdered--since there's no way his father would ever leave his family behind voluntarily.

Although we don't know it yet, Abdullah's father has planned to leave his family behind: he's going to leave Pari in the care of a wealthy family (paralleling the way Baba Ayub left Qais in the care of the div). Unable to make ends meet, Abdullah's father Saboor has betrayed his own children, yet in a way also sacrificed his own happiness to give one child a "better" life--and so here, Saboor doesn't want to hear Abdullah's plea, "don't leave us."

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Father / Saboor Character Timeline in And the Mountains Echoed

The timeline below shows where the character Father / Saboor appears in And the Mountains Echoed. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
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The chapter begins, “Father had never before hit Abdullah.” Father—as of yet, he has no other name—hits Abdullah hard,... (full context)
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Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
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Pari, Abdullah’s sister, calls out “Abollah,” her affectionate name for Abdullah. Together, Father and Pari climb into a wagon and begin riding away from their home, leaving Abdullah... (full context)
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Refusing to give up, Abdullah keeps running after the wagon carrying his father and sister. Eventually, he succeeds in catching up to them. Father turns around and tells... (full context)
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Abdullah, Pari, and Father ride along in their wagon—their destination isn’t clear. They travel through a vast desert, full... (full context)
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Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
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...while giving birth to Pari. Iqbal, Abdullah’s half brother, is the son of Parwana and Father—he is one year old. Sometimes, Parwana hits Abdullah, but she’s also kind and tender with... (full context)
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It is revealed that the children’s “Uncle Nabi” has found a job for Father—the job that Father, Abdullah, and Pari are riding out to perform. Uncle Nabi is actually... (full context)
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Night falls, and Father, Abdullah, and Pari eat dinner together in the middle of the desert. As they do... (full context)
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As it gets later, Pari and Abdullah ask their Father to tell them a story. Sometimes, Abdullah notes, Father enjoys telling them stories, but often... (full context)
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Abdullah wakes up in the middle of the night, and sees that his Father is gone. He wonders, frantically, if his father has been kidnapped or killed by bandits... (full context)
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Father leads his children through Kabul, to a building where Uncle Nabi has been waiting for... (full context)
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In the Wahdati house, Mrs. Wahdati asks Father if he’s been to Kabul before. She addresses him as Saboor. Saboor says that he... (full context)
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The narrative cuts ahead to the winter of 1952, when Father is busy cutting down an oak tree that grows near his home. Abdullah helps his... (full context)
Chapter 3
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As Parwana goes about her usual business, she sometimes sees Saboor. Saboor, as Parwana sees him, is a mature family man. One day, Masooma asks Parwana... (full context)
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...Masooma and Nabi, her older brother. Growing up, the children would often eat dinner at Saboor’s family’s house. Saboor liked to entertain his friends by telling them stories about heroes and... (full context)
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During Nabi’s visit, he tells Parwana that the rumors are true: Saboor is looking for a new wife, following the death of his former wife in childbirth.... (full context)
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...are 17 years old, they sit in the branch of a tall tree and discuss Saboor. Saboor has made it clear that he’s going to ask Masooma to marry her. As... (full context)
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...If you wait until morning, you’ll lose heart.” As the sisters talk, Parwana reveals that Saboor has asked her to marry him. This will require Parwana to abandon Masooma instead of... (full context)
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...into Masooma’s eyes for a long time, Parwana decides to leave her sister and marry Saboor. She walks away from her home, in the direction of Saboor’s home. Suddenly, she hears... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...his new life. He was careful never to talk about Mr. Wahdati, however. His brother-in-law, Saboor, would praise him for his career success, calling him Nabi. By this point, the author... (full context)
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...she’ll be dismissive of his family’s poverty. In Shadbagh, Nabi introduces Nila to his family. Saboor in particular is uncomfortable around Nila. Nila tries to make pleasant conversation, and praises a... (full context)
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Nabi stops for a moment to note the intimate connection between Abdullah and Pari, Saboor’s two children. For whatever reason, he explains, the two siblings were extremely close. During her... (full context)
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...thinks that there’s a way for him to find her a child. He speaks to Saboor about this idea. Nabi notes that Saboor was a proud, terse man, like many Afghanis... (full context)
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After much agonizing, Saboor agrees to go along with Nabi’s idea, recognizing that he can make a great deal... (full context)
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...eventually, both Nila and Pari cease paying attention to Nabi. When Nabi goes to visit Saboor, Saboor is equally oblivious to his presence. Nabi recognizes that Saboor blames him for the... (full context)