Summary and Analysis Part 3: Chapter 30



When Rasheed brings Laila a wedding band, she is horrified to learn that he purchased it by selling Mariam's old band. Laila insists that she doesn't want a dress or any fuss but just wants to get married as quickly as possible. Laila rushes the ceremony because she knows that the constant nausea she feels is because she's pregnant; she knows if she and Rasheed do not consummate the marriage soon, Rasheed will figure out that Tariq is the baby's father. While Laila had every intention of fleeing Kabul prior to discovering her pregnancy, she knows the only way to support the child is to marry Rasheed.

Laila feels incredibly guilty for her choices and cannot look Mariam in the face during the wedding ceremony. That night, after she and Rasheed have intercourse, she grabs the knife she's hidden under the mattress and pricks her finger to sully the sheets, just to perpetuate Rasheed's belief that he married a virgin.


Chapter 30 builds on the themes explored in Chapter 29 by providing a fuller picture of the limitations Laila faces in her life. Laila does not see her options as limited by her gender so much as by her new role as a mother. Laila has always been independent and willful, and her decision to marry Rasheed demonstrates that. Thus she is able to, in a small way, subvert gender expectations. She's the one taking advantage of Rasheed, even though he thinks it's the other way around.

Laila's subversion of gender role expectations may prevent her from being Rasheed's victim, but it also limits her sense of sisterhood and kinship with Mariam. Laila understands that her choice is disrespectful to Mariam and that it makes it difficult for them to form a true friendship. However, Laila's first priority is her child, which is her last remaining connection to Tariq and her family.