Summary and Analysis Part 1: Chapter 14



Mariam grapples with her grief over the miscarriage, wavering between sadness and anger as she tries to blame first Rasheed, then God, for her loss. In the end, her sadness mixes with guilt. Mariam knows these are uncharitable thoughts and she prays and asks for forgiveness.

Rasheed also mourns, but does so by avoiding Mariam. He talks less and spends most of his time in his room, smoking cigarettes. One night when Rasheed and Mariam are listening to the radio, Mariam asks if he's angry with her and Rasheed — ironically — becomes angry and insists he is not. Mariam suggests they have a private burial ceremony for their lost child, but Rasheed dismisses the notion, saying he's already buried one son too many. Some days later, Mariam holds the ceremony alone. She buries in their yard the coat Rasheed had bought for the boy.


In Chapter 14, a rift forms in Mariam and Rasheed's relationship, and it may not heal. The many differences between Mariam and Rasheed's personalities emerge as their grief takes them in different directions. Mariam allows herself the full range of grief, at turns feeling paralyzed with sorrow and at other times feeling angry at fate. Eventually, Mariam is able to take comfort in her religious faith, through both prayer and her private burial of her unborn child. Through these actions, she begins to recover from grief and make sense of it.

Rasheed, however, retreats from his grief, isolating himself from Mariam and spending most of his time alone. When Mariam tries to bridge the gap forming between them by asking if he's angry with her, he suggests such an idea is ludicrous, even though his actions indicate otherwise. When Mariam suggests the burial ritual as a means to move beyond their grief, Rasheed refuses to participate. These interactions indicate not only that he's unable to deal with his grief, but that he blames Mariam for his loss and sees no reason to heal the rift between them. Their opposing methods of dealing with grief suggest a troubling future for the two — how can Mariam's idea of her happy marriage persist in the face of such coldness?