The Portrait of Soraya. Anastasiya Agapitova , 4th year student, BSU, Ulan-Ude

For the first time the author mentions Soraya in the 11th chapter. It was the summer of 1984, when Amir turned 21 and studied creative writing at college. By that time a lot of Afghan families worked at San Joe flee market. Special Afghan atmosphere reigned at that part of American city. Afghans behaved according to their traditional patterns, Afghan music played in the isles. On one Sunday morning Baba and Amir met former general Taheri, who used to work for the Ministry of Defense. General Taheri had a daughter, who will later become Amir’s wife.

The author describes Soraya directly. Amir describes Soraya in details when he saw her for the first time. It is one of the places in the story where the language is full of stylistic devices to reveal the feelings of Amir : Soraya was a slim-hipped beauty, had velvety black hair and thick black eyebrows that touched in the middle like the arched wings of a flying bird, the gracefully hooked nose of a princess from old Persia. Her eyes were walnut brown and were shaded by fanned lashes.

The author hardly describes any other character in the story using so many epithets (walnut brown eyes, velvety hair, gracefully hooked nose) or metaphors (She was a princess from old Persia) and similes (eyebrows like arched wings of a flying bird). Actually, the name Soraya is a variant of the name Sarah and means “Princess”. We see that the language used to introduce Soraya is very poetic presenting her as the most beautiful woman  in the world.

From the first meeting Amir sees Soraya as a very good, obedient daughter and a good helpmate: just the way she addresses to her father with great respect bringing him his tea. Amir couldn’t tear his eyes from Soraya. And when she gracefully left the room Amir noticed a sickle-shaped birthmark on the smooth skin above her left jawline, that he was recollecting lying in bed at night.

We can say that Amir fell in love with Soraya from the first sight, as already the same night in his thoughts he called her metaphorically my Swap Meet Princess, the morning sun to my Yelda (the first night of the month of Jadi, the first night of winter).  Actually he thought of Soraya the whole day: rising from the bed, going to university and later at the market. He kept his eyes on her working with other women.

Soraya never stopped astonishing Amir by her beauty. At her presence he acted as a child and was nervous. But for some time to come they started to talk a lot about different things: about the books Soraya read, the stories Amir wrote. He even read one of his stories to Soraya.

It went on like that for a few weeks. Amir waited for when general Taheri would leave for a stroll and come to the Taheri’s stand. For some time to come, when it turned out that Baba was seriously ill, Soraya and Amir were engaged and soon got married.

Soraya was a very frank and honest woman. She had made a mistake when she was young and didn’t want to start their relationships with a secret and had told Amir about the mistake before the marriage. When she was eighteen she ran away with an Afghan man who was into drugs and lived with him almost a month. She understood what a mistake she did. And even for years to come, she continues to criticize herself. This pain and self-criticism are  revealed with the help of  negatively connotated epithets: stupid, rebellious. When she was brought home she saw her mother had had a stroke and understood what a terrible mistake she had done.

But this fact from Soraya’s life didn’t change Amir’s intentions to marry her. The woman was very wise and frank. She knew how to build relationships with a man and wanted both of them to be always sincere with each other.

Soraya was a very good wife. She always supported her husband. Soon after the marriage she moved to Amir and Baba’s apartment to take care of Baba. She cooked breakfast for him, gave him pills, washed his clothes, read him newspapers. She was a very kind-hearted woman.

Soraya loved her husband very much. She always tried to support, to cheer up Amir, and worried about the health state of Baba.

She was a good and devoted teacher. She chose the profession she liked and the fact that teachers had a low salary wasn’t an obstacle for her to become the one. She really enjoyed spending time with little children, teaching them to read, to write and count. She had a gift of teaching I think, as when she was a little girl, Soraya tought a servant to read and write.

The problem was that Soraya had health problems and couldn’t have children. Amir and she went to doctors, took pills, but nothing helped. They both were disappointed by this fact. I think that Soraya could be a very good and understanding mother, as when she found out that Amir would bring Sohrab she was beside herself with delight. She prepared a room for him, bought clothes, toys – everything what a boy of his age would need. And though Sohrab didn’t speak to anyone at all, I think she was happy that Sohrab lived with them and they could take care of him. Soraya understood how important Sohrab was for Amir and treated a little orphan as if he were her own son.

So we can see that Soraya was a woman who understood Amir very well and for Amir she was an ideal wife. Soraya managed to build relationships based on mutual understanding, support and respect.

I personally admire Soraya’s ability to be a good wife, mother and at the same time be oneself. She is, in spite of her sin, an ideal character in the novel.

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