In Chapter 23, Hosseini explores both the theme of gender roles as well as how the ongoing political unrest shapes the lives of the main characters. Through Tariq and Laila's evolving relationship, Hosseini shows how traditional gender roles of their community influence their behavior. Now that Tariq and Laila are teenagers, other people see them as approaching adulthood and thus make different demands on Tariq and Laila's behavior. Laila's mother reminds her that she should distance herself from Tariq because even an innocent friendship can be perceived as sexual. Fariba stresses this point because a girl's reputation is essential to her social standing in their community — while Laila is pursuing her education, she is still expected to marry; and to marry well, she must remain pure.
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