Study Guide

Rasheed in A Thousand Splendid Suns

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There are some characters that seem like bad guys at first glance but reveal a soft heart when you look a little deeper. They might do bad things, but you can understand their struggles and get some insight into why they do what they do.

Well, Rasheed is not that type of character.

Rasheed, we're sorry to say, is rotten to the core. We see a few of the things that might have caused the rot, but nothing that could justify or explain the awful things that he does to Mariam, Laila, and Aziza.

Sorry, loyal Shmoopers, but there are few jokes to be made about Rasheed. He's violent. He's cruel. He's manipulative. He's a raging misogynist. We all know how his first son died: he drowned in a lake while Rasheed got drunk. That was a turning point for him, sure, but we're not sure whether any dude who "shoved the barrel of [his] gun" into Laila's mouth has much going for him (3.40.56).

Rasheed is pretty much the product of his society—and that's a big problem. In his eyes, men are always in charge, violence is always an effective solution, and women are always up to no good. He's bought these ideas hook, line, and sinker, and there's nothing in the world that can change his mind. You can see that in his—ahem—untimely end. Mariam pretty much had no choice but to kill him: Rasheed wanted blood.

See, that's how bad Rasheed is: Mariam isn't a violent person, but she ends up a murderer. What kind of man brings his family to that point? Some might be tempted to view Rasheed in a sympathetic light because of the trauma in his past, but it's hard to defend someone who so thoughtlessly follows his worst impulses every step of the way.

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