Summary and Analysis
As Laila and her father sit down to dinner, they hear a knock at the door. A stranger asks to speak to Laila's parents and her father tells her to go upstairs. Fariba joins Hakim and Laila spies on their conversation with the stranger; it quickly becomes clear that he brings news that Laila's brothers, Noor and Ahmed, have died.
Funeral preparations begin the next day. Women flood their home, comforting Fariba and preparing the house for guests. Laila and her father wander aimlessly, both of them feeling useless around the women. That afternoon, the men gather at a hall and the women, including Mariam, gather with Fariba at home. They listen to a recorded reading of the Koran and Laila realizes she doesn't feel anything: she hardly knew her brothers. Tariq has always been the only brother in her life.
Throughout Ahmed and Noor's absences, the family struggled to maintain hope while being plagued by fear that the brothers would be harmed. This fear took its largest toll on Fariba. With the news of their sons' deaths, Hakim and Fariba can finally enter into true mourning and begin to try to make sense of their new lives. Will Fariba be able to re-enter into life and be a better mother to Laila? Will Fariba and Hakim be able to mend the rift between them? How will these changes affect Laila?
Hosseini's depiction of the funeral preparations and ceremonies show how gender expectations shape every aspect of this community. First, it is the women who tend to Fariba, reinforcing the idea that women are primarily caretakers. The fact that men separate from the women for the actual ceremony isolates Fariba and Hakim even more as they grieve for their lost sons. While these divisions create a sisterhood among the women and a feeling of brotherhood among the men, they also perpetuate the distance between Fariba and Hakim.