- Angst? What Angst?: Both Mariam and Laila, at different points in the story, are thrilled to be pregnant at only 15 and 14 years old, respectively (while Laila is afraid of being pregnant in the world she lives in, her age does not play into her fears). It's proven to often be very damaging, both physically and especially mentally, for a teenager to be a mother, given how it's basically a child giving birth to a child, especially if one is no more than 15 or 14, yet the two girls don't seem to mind at all, and when Laila does give birth, somehow is a fully capable mother. Perhaps Hosseini figured that giving (particularly) Laila (seeing as Mariam ends miscarrying), anxiety over being pregnant and raising her child would have been too much on top of everything else.
- Complete Monster: Rasheed is nasty, violent-tempered, smug and thoroughly heartless, spending the book ruining the lives of the protagonists in a myriad of ways. Marrying a 15-year-old before promptly raping her and tricking a 14-year-old into marrying him immediately after her family is killed by paying a man to tell her surviving love interest is dead are just a few of the many terrible things he does and let's not go into what he does to his own family. His nature also comes forth in beating the tar out of his wives on a daily basis, completely neglecting his daughter in favor of his son, forcing one of his wives to eat pebbles because he thought her rice was undercooked, and shoving a gun into the mouth of one of his wives and finally trying to strangle her to death. When his wives try to run away, he tells the youngest one that if she ever tries it again, he will kill his other wife (her only friend) and her daughter in front of her. She knows he's not joking, because he's just put them all in sensory deprivation rooms in the blistering heat with no water for three days. What little sympathy the author tries to create for him by letting us know his first son died is quickly dashed away when it's implied that his own drunken neglect probably caused it.
- He's Just Hiding: Tariq wasn't so dead after all...
- Jerkass Woobie: Nana, Mariamís mother. She was happily betrothed, but when her fiancé found out she suffered from seizures, he cancelled the wedding and she never got another marriage offer. She had an affair with her married housekeeper, and when she got pregnant, she was the one who was blamed for it all. She lost her job and had to live in a tiny house, living off her ex loverís charity and was shamed by society for having an illegitimate child, while her father disowned her. Later, believing her daughter Ė whom she loved despite her harsh treatment of her Ė had abandoned her for her father, she committed suicide. Mullah Faizullah claims she was always an unhappy child, possibly stemming from the stigma of her illness, and itís obvious she has untreated depression. Whilst her verbal and emotional abuse of Mariam is unacceptable and sheís unwilling to seek help, Nana is still a pitiable figure and considering what happened to her, itís not really surprising she became so miserable and bitter.
- Squick: A forty year old man having sex with a fifteen year old girl, and later as Rasheed is hitting sixty, having sex with fourteen year old Laila, is certainly this.
- Tear Jerker: The whole thing.
One last time, Mariam did as she was told.
- Jalil left Mariam a copy of Pinocchio, which she had begged him to see when she was a child. She died before she could claim it, and Laila's left wondering about the significance of the gift. That's right, you will tear up over a VHS tape.
- Mariam is executed for defending Laila. This is how her execution is described.
- The Woobie: Hoo boy, Mariam. Both women are Woobies after having to live with Rasheed, but Mariam's life is one big Tear Jerker. She had a mother who committed suicide and a father whom, she found out, was ashamed of her very existence. She was forced to marry an abusive brute, and she couldn't even have children, which she desperately wanted. After years of marriage, she is pushed away in favor of a younger, prettier woman. And when she finally takes control of her destiny by killing Rasheed in self-defense, she is executed for it. Tragic Hero, indeed.