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And The Mountains Echoed

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on 11 April 2014

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Transcript of And The Mountains Echoed

By Khaled Hosseini
And The Mountains Echoed
Why are sacrifices made?
How are characters deemed good or bad based on their actions?
"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there." - Jelaluddin Rumi,13th Century
What determines if an action is right or wrong?
How is storytelling used to justify the actions of characters?
Pari was a girl who was sold to a wealthy couple. Nila Wahdati, her new mother, told her stories to convince Pari she never had another family.
The night before Samoor set out on the trek to Kabul to sell Pari, he told her and her brother the tale of a man who painfully gave up his son to a life of bounty and happiness, much more than he could have provided.
"She asked her mother a few years earlier why she didn't bear the customary horizontal mark and Maman explained that the doctors had given her some sort of technical reason at the time that she no longer remembered. 'The important thing,' she said, 'was that they got you out.'" (184).
How does the last line make reference to Pari's old life in an attempt to justify the act of tearing her from her family?
"Sometimes in unguarded moments, he caught Father's face clouding over, drawn into confusing shades of emotion. Father looked diminished to him now, stripped of something essential... His voice dragged now in a way that Abdullah did not remember, as though something weighed on each word he spoke... He didn't tell stories anymore." (48)
Saboor's neverending grief after selling his daughter to a better family showed he did not act selfishly. Part of him never recovered from the choice he had to make.
Was Saboor wrong in giving away his daughter for a better life, breaking the unmistakable bond between Pari and Abdullah, even though his intentions were good?
A man named Saboor sold his youngest daughter, Pari, to a wealthy couple so his poor family could make it through the winter. In doing so, he separated Pari and Abdullah, siblings who had a rare and powerful bond.

Though it was unfair, was this a bad decision?
Did it make him a bad man?

"A finger had to be cut to save the hand," (48).
Nabi was the uncle of Pari and Abdullah. He came up with the idea to sell Pari to the wealthy Wahdatis.
"I proceeded with a mostly clean conscience, and with the conviction that my proposal was born of goodwill and honest intentions. Something that though painful in the short term, would lead to a greater long-term good for all involved. But I had less honorable, self-serving motives as well. Chief among them this: that I would give Nila something no other man-not her husband, not the owner of that big pink house-could." (100)
Was it wrong for Nabi to suggest selling the young girl because his intentions were somewhat selfish?
Was Nabi a good man for also believing he was doing the right thing for everyone involved?
Idris was a young man who formed a bond with a young girl named Roshi, who desperately needed an operation. He promised to make the operation happen for her but upon returning home, he decided to forget about the young girl and continue living his content life.
"Everything he owns he has earned...he had given his twenties to medicine. He has paid his dues. Why should he feel badly? This is his family. This is his life. In the last month, Roshi has become something abstract to him, like a character in a play. Their connection has frayed...The experience has lost its power...The distance between him and the girl feels cast now. It feels infinite, insurmountable, and his promise to her misguided, a reckless mistake, a terrible misreading of the measures of his own powers and will and character. Something best forgotten. He isn't capable of it. It is that simple." (170)
Was Idris a bad man because he decided not to take any action towards giving the young girl her operation?
Was it wrong of him to feel overwhelmed by the burden of going beyond the comfort of his life to help a young suffering girl?
Can sacrifices be both selfish and selfless?
All her life, Parwana, a plain woman, sacrificed her own happiness to stand beside her beautiful sister Masooma. She let her sister pursue the man she had always desired.
"Parwana said no, she didn't mind, but inside she was crumpling...It cut her to the bone. That night, on her cot, she cried very quietly." (58)
"For years now Parwana's life has been one long unspoken apology. But to what end? Her own relief once again at Masooma's expense?" (69)
An accident, which Parwana believed she was to blame for, crippled Masooma for the rest of her life. As a result, Parwana dedicated her life to taking care of her sister, giving up all other pursuits.
Was Parwana's service to her sister an attempt to make up for the guilt she felt?
Masooma asked Parwana to walk her out into the desert to die.
"She suddenly realizes that she may not know how to live without Masooma. She doesn't know if she can. How will she bear the days when Masooma's absence feels like a far heavier burden than her presence ever had?" (70)
Was Parwana's sacrifice of her sister at all selfish - to relieve herself of the burden she'd been carrying - or selfless - to relieve Masooma of the pain she suffered just living?
Did Saboor's tale provide any justification for the action he took in selling his daughter?
"If he took him home what kind of life awaited Qais in Maidan Sabz? The hard life of a peasant at best, like his own, and little more. Could you forgive yourself then, Baba Ayub asked himself, knowing that you plucked him, for your own selfish reasons, from a life of luxury and opportunity? How could he bear it?
You are a good father, the div said." (12)
The sacrifice Saboor made, giving up his daughter, Pari, to the Wahdatis in order to be able to provide for his family, also gave Pari a life of wealth and opportunity.

Was this a selfish or selfless act of sacrifice?
Presentation by Maya Williams
Full transcript