Summary and Analysis Part 2: Chapter 26



Without Tariq in her life, Laila feels like she's lost a limb. Her days go by in a haze. Laila's parents spend more time arguing about something, and after a few days they let Laila in on the source: They've decided to flee Kabul. Laila is relieved and overjoyed — she's certain she and her family can catch up with Tariq and his family and that they'll be reunited in just a few weeks. That night, Laila dreams she and Tariq are on a beach listening to sand sing.

Hakim, Fariba, and Laila begin packing. Hakim has hard time letting go of his books, even quoting a poem to Laila while choosing which books to keep. A few days later, Laila remembers the dream or Tariq as she carries heavy boxes to the curb to be hauled away. As she contemplates the sound of sand singing, a whistling passes overhead and Laila is knocked off the ground and into the side of a building. Having survived the bombing, Laila fades in and out of consciousness. She catches glimpses of a long-faced woman taking care of her.


Hosseini uses symbol and allusion to foreshadow significant transitions and departures as the novel's second section ends. First, Hosseini establishes a symbol of change through Laila's dream. In the dream, she and Tariq are sitting on a beach and she tells him to listen to the singing sand. The sand sings both low and high notes and by describing these notes as "groaning" and "mewling," Hosseini suggests the sand, in its shifting, sings of the problems that lie ahead for Laila and Tariq. The fact that Laila remembers the sand right before a rocket hits her house is proof of this. Through this symbol, the reader is reminded of the transitory nature of life — no matter what Laila and Tariq plan for each other, and for their families, they cannot control all aspects of their fates.

Building on this sense of transience is the allusion to the poetry of Afghani writer Saib-e Tabrizi, who writes of the "thousand splendid suns" within the walls of Kabul. This allusion informs the novel as a whole as well as these particular moments in the characters' lives. It provides the reader with insight into the novel's overarching themes. By describing Kabul as the home of a "thousand splendid suns," it's clear that Hosseini is not trying to bad mouth Kabul, despite the many sorrows that occur there, but rather show its complexity, and that its beauty always exists in the hearts of its people. Furthermore, by using this quote as Hakim and his family prepare to flee Kabul, their affection for Kabul and its cultural heritage are demonstrated — even as the city fills with violence. This moment of hope before Hakim and Fariba are killed and is Laila injured foreshadows a shift for Laila as the lone survivor of her family. Despite her suffering, she will once again find something "splendid" within Kabul's walls.