Summary and Analysis
Chapter 34 - Laila
Laila's love for Aziza deepens, and Lailia tells her daughter about Tariq as often as possible, always careful to never use his name but refer to him only as her father. One evening when they're preparing for bed, Rasheed asks Laila about her relationship with Tariq. Although Laila is quaking with fear, she holds her ground and insists that she and Tariq were always and only friends. Rasheed warns Laila that if he'd better never discover her in a lie. This confrontation makes Laila worry about her newly formed plan: to take the money she's secretly been stealing from Rasheed to escape to Peshawar in the spring. Laila is horrified by what the consequences would be if Rasheed found out about this planned betrayal.
A couple of days later, Laila finds a stack of baby girl clothes outside her door and thanks Mariam for the generous gift. Mariam explains that she has no use for them, having made them years ago when she was pregnant. Mariam also thanks Laila for standing up for her, explaining that no one else had ever done so. Laila tells Mariam she was raised to stand up for injustice, then suggests the two of them have some chai on the porch. While drinking the tea, Laila and Mariam have a long visit. Laila can tell they are no longer enemies.
Hosseini shows the power of female friendship in this chapter through the growth of Mariam and Laila's affection for one another. Through the exchange of peace offerings, Laila and Mariam are able to come to a new understanding. Mariam's gift of girl clothes shows Laila that she no longer resents Laila and Aziza's presence. Laila returns the favor by suggesting they drink chai on the porch. These exchanges are symbols for the change in their relationship. Their alienation from Rasheed no longer pits them against each other but unites them.
Rasheed's domineering masculinity ends up thwarting the very goal he hoped it would ensure: rather than pitting the women against each other, his behavior has united them. The gift of clothes and the sharing of chai represent Laila and Mariam's desire to take care of each other and to forgive any hurtful things they may have said. These healing qualities stand in stark contrast to Rasheed's cruelty as well as to that of the men waging war in the city around them. Hosseini suggests through Mariam and Laila's behavior that only through embracing and celebrating feminine qualities will Kabul and the rest of Afghanistan begin to heal.