Isolation/oppression and separation
Dream sequences are a great way to get inside of the mind of a character. Laila’s dream sequence in Part Three of A Thousand Splendid Suns is no exception to the rule. Her dream of burying Aziza alive reveals that she feels like she’s complicit with the oppression of women carried out by the Taliban.
Like all dreams, Laila’s nightmare is sparked by real world events. Mariam and Laila had spent the day prior burying their television in the backyard, “striking the ground with a spade, then shovelling the loose dirt aside” (3.40.2). The Taliban had been raiding homes looking for illegal media, and the pair decided to hide the TV until the raids die down. The Taliban’s moral laws are carried out in two main ways: banning media and oppressing women. Laila’s dream connects these two missions. The television gets transformed into her daughter, a young girl who has never had the opportunity to go school or even play in the streets. This is Laila realizing that she has been forced to hide away Aziza, just like she hid away the TV set.
Laila tells Aziza that it will “only be for a while,” but that doesn’t keep the young girl from panicking. Laila worries that the Taliban’s oppression of women could get even worse, and her fears are realized when Rasheed forces her to send Aziza to an orphanage, making them separated and causing a lot of sadness. Naturally, Aziza’s gender has a huge impact on his decision. The shovel represents the oppression of women, and it comes back in the end of the novel as the weapon that Mariam uses to kill Rasheed. It goes from a symbol of oppression to a symbol of liberation – liberation, it must be said, with a heavy cost.
Poverty becomes a crippling problem in A Thousand Splendid Suns. We see its psychological effects on characters like Rasheed and Aziza. Characters that used to be vibrant and energetic, like Zalmai, become lethargic and inactive as they suffer through poverty. That’s not to say the novel is all about poverty. We see the effects of systemic poverty, with even hospitals desperately short on cash, but we also see how war only makes the situation worse. The situation has a psychological effect on Aziza, making her jittery and nervous. A similar effect is had on Rasheed, who becomes much more ill-tempered and can’t seem to cope with his life once he doesn’t have money coming in. In the end, it’s only the strength of the human spirit that gets the characters in this novel through all the hardships.
In Wuthering Heights, poverty isn’t a theme, but separation and oppression are. Heathcliff is oppressed when he is young and a teenager because of his race and origins which are largely unknown. He is always being picked on by Hindley and Nelly seems to have a love hate relationship with him depending on what he is doing and what others are doing to him. She herself is oppressed as a woman and a servant, and she has to do what she is told. She loves and is raising a Hareton at Wuthering Heights but isn’t allowed to stay there with him, and later she has to stay at Thrushcross Grange instead of going to Wuthering Heights to be with Cathy. Separation is shown best, and mostly in, Catherine and Heathcliff. When separated, Catherine seems to be distraught and unable to function normally due to their close relationship, likely a reason for Aziza’s problems too. Heathcliff seems to not like being with Catherine, but it also really starts once she dies, as he is the one that leaves and so he can’t be as effected in that way. When Francis dies, Hindley deals with the separation badly, and destroys himself. Edgar does the opposite and controls himself for his daughter.
Have a good day, and leave a comment if there is anything that you want to add or I missed.