Heroic West, Villainous East: A Postcolonial Interpretation of Narrative Structure in Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns

Document Type : Research Article


Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Literature, Alzahra University, Tehran, Iran


Many readers and critics regard Khaled Hosseini’s fiction as an insider’s account of life in Afghanistan. This study, however, aims to depict how Hosseini’s novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, reinforces the orientalist discourse toward Afghanistan through certain narrative structures. Greimas’s actantial model and Todorov’s equilibrium/disequilibrium model are used. Then, Said’s postcolonial theory is used to interpret the orientalist attitude revealed by those narrative studies. The deep structure of the novel suggests that all the positive actants have affiliations with the West and are exceptional to the East. In addition, the cause of disequilibrium is the East, whereas the West restores equilibrium. These narrative structures tend to naturalize in the readers the binary opposition of the West vs. the East and, in accordance with the post-9/11 media discourse, depict Afghanistan as the Other of the U.S. which needs to be saved from itself.