Summary and Analysis Part 3: Chapter 33



One day in the Spring 1993, Rasheed and Laila leave for the hospital. The next day they return with a new baby girl. Rasheed's displeasure is immediately evident: He refuses to help Laila with the baby, and frequently voices his displeasure about the child.

Laila names her daughter Aziza, which means the Cherished One. Laila is obsessed with motherhood and finds everything the baby does to be astounding and wonderful. Mariam reluctantly admits to herself that she admires Laila's devotion to her daughter. Laila begs Rasheed to buy Aziza girl's clothes, but Rasheed refuses, saying the boy's clothes he purchased during Laila's pregnancy are good enough.

One night, Laila and Rasheed bicker in their bedroom. Rasheed is furious when Laila refuses to have sex with him. He rushes into Mariam's room and blames her for Laila's reluctance. As Rasheed prepares to beat Mariam with his belt, Laila clings to Rasheed's arm to stop him. Laila agrees to have sex with Rasheed to protect Mariam.

Later that night, Mariam wakes up three times before finally going downstairs to get a glass of water. She finds Laila and Aziza sleeping on the living room floor. Aziza is awake and tugs playfully on Mariam's finger, and Mariam sits with the baby until she falls back to sleep.


Chapter 33 marks a turning point in Laila and Mariam's relationship. First, Mariam finds herself warming to Laila because of Aziza's presence. She respects Laila's mothering instincts and that respect begins to replace any jealousy she may feel. Second, Rasheed's reaction to the child influences Mariam's perception of Laila. Rasheed's refusal to show affection towards the baby, or help with her care, wears down Laila and makes Mariam sympathize with Laila. Mariam changes even more when Rasheed attacks her and Laila defends her. For the first time, Mariam has an ally and is surprised and touched by Laila's actions. Her new sense of connection to Laila and Aziza comes to a head that night when she sees Aziza and the baby reacts warmly to her. For the first time in years, Mariam experiences affection and is changed by it.