Summary and Analysis
Part 3: Chapter 27
In the care of Mariam and Rasheed, Laila sleeps fitfully, often murmuring or crying out in her sleep. Rasheed had found her in the rubble of her home after the rocket hit. He tells Laila about the metal shard stuck in her shoulder, and that she was lucky, and that she will make a full recovery.
Laila's recovery is slow. While she begins to leave bed more often and take meals with Mariam and Rasheed, she's also often plagued with survivor's guilt — Laila says it should have been her father taking the books out of the house, not her. Mariam is unsure how to comfort her, knowing all too well how empty the kind words of others can be when one is wracked with grief and guilt. After a month with Rasheed and Mariam, a man named Abdul Sharif arrives and insists on speaking with Laila.
In Chapter 27, Laila's suffering forges her connection to Mariam, and Rasheed's behavior foreshadows changes in his and Mariam's life together. Whereas until this moment, Laila and Mariam were parallel characters whose lives did not significantly intersect, now they share a home. Both Laila and Mariam have suffered the death of their mothers, loss of loved ones, and a sense of guilt for those losses. Mariam always blamed herself for Nana's death; Laila blames herself for her father's. Through this shared mix of grief and guilt, Mariam empathizes with Laila and treats her with the kindness she would have lavished on her children.
Laila's presence also changes Rasheed and Mariam's routine. For the first time since Rasheed and Mariam's marriage began, Rasheed acts with kindness towards another. He purchases pills for Laila to help her sleep, and he jokes with Laila to try to cheer her up. However, when Mariam notes Rasheed's exaggerations in his stories, Hosseini hints at Rasheed's motives: Does Rasheed see Laila as a stand-in child? Or as a new teenage bride? As Laila continues to recover and think about her life options, her relationship to both Mariam and Rasheed will evolve.