Afghanistan, and then finally gains a measure of autonomy when she kills her psycho husband who treats both Miriam and Leila like dogs. At a very young age, Maria’s Nana tells her that “Learn this now and learn it well, my daughter: Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a women. Always. You remember that, Miriam” (Hussein, 7). At that age she is taught that no matter what happens women will always get the blame.
She faces these stereotypes in her life when she is told not to leave outside the kola because her Nana would tell her that people would aka fun of her and not accept her because she is a “Hiram; that she, Miriam, was an illegitimate person who would never have legitimate claim to the things other people had, things such as love, family, home, and acceptance” (4). As a child she is always put down by her own mother’s fear that people would laugh at her. When Miriam asks if she could attend school instead of getting home schooled Nana tells her “They’ll call you Hiram.
Don’t waste your time!
Order your assignment!
They’ll say the most terrible things about you. No more talk about school” (19). She once again is being stereotyped for being a Hiram daughter. At the age of fifteen Miriam is forced to marry a forty-year-old man Rehashed. Even as a married woman she is forced to obey her husband, listen to her husband and not talk back to him. Rehashed gives Miriam his own set of rules that she has to follow, because she is his wife. First of all he makes Miriam wear a Burma because he believes that a women should be covered up for her pride yet he can wear whatever he wants.
Miriam does not rebel against him, instead she just nods causing him to tell her “You’ll get used to it. With time, bet you’ll even like it” (72). As the novel progresses, Rehashed forcibly sleeps with Miriam, even though Miriam says, “I can’t” (76). He replies with “There is no shame in this, Miriam. Less what married people do” (77). In order to fulfill his needs he forces Miriam to sleep with him. There are times in the book where Rehashed treats Miriam horribly yet Miriam goes back to him to apologize because she knows as a women she has no power against him, she is afraid Of Rehashed. It wasn’t easy tolerating him talking this way to her, to bear his scorn, his ridicule, his insults, his walking past her like she was thing but a house cat. But after four years of marriage, Miriam saw clearly how much women could tolerate when she was afraid. Miriam was afraid. She lived in fear of his shifting moods, his volatile temperament, his insistence on steering even mundane exchanges down a confrontational path that on occasion, he would resolve with punches, slaps, kicks, and sometimes try to make amends for with polluted apologies and sometimes not” (98).
For Miriam following the rules that Rehashed has set for her becomes even worse when the Italian’s make it an official rule. The way Rehashed wanted to hid Miriam from the rest of the world, it was now a law. “Attention women, you will stay inside your homes at all times. If you go outside, a male relative must accompany you. If you are caught alone on the street, you will be beaten. You will not show your face. You will cover with Burma when outside. F you do not, you will be severely beaten” (278).
Living in a country where she has no rights over any men or anyone in general, Miriam is forced to live her life based on how her husband wants her to and how the Italian’s will treat ere if she does not obey the laws. For the next twenty-seven years Miriam stands by Rasher’s side no matter what. When Rash tries to kill Leila; the Women who made Miriam feel loved and wanted for the very first time in her life, it comes to a point where she for the first time decides to do something heroic for both her and Leila.
She takes a shovel and hits Rehashed on his head, where he dies. As Miriam hits Rehashed “it occurred to her that this was the first time that she was deciding the course of her own life” (349). Killing her husband was not the only thing he has ever decided to do in her life; it was one of her most important acts for redemption, it was her becoming a hero. When Leila tells her that they can all run away, Miriam says no because when the cops find Rasher’s body they will get caught. Therefore she decides to stay back and get caught. For me it ends here. There is nothing more want. Everything I’d ever wished for as a little girl you’ve already given me. You and your children have made me so very happy. Its all right, Leila joy. This is all right. Don’t be sad” (358). Whether it was Miriam listening to her Nana telling her that she will never be accepted by society because she was a Hiram, or obeying her husband’s cruelty without a word, or even obeying the Italian’s laws, she finally at the end of the book does something heroic.