And the Mountains Echoed | Study Guide

Khaled Hosseini

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And the Mountains Echoed | Plot Summary

See Plot Diagram


A Family Is Torn

In the small Afghan village of Shadbagh in 1952, poverty and harsh winters can easily kill a child. Yet three-year-old Pari and her brother, 10-year-old Abdullah, find happiness and security in their devotion to one another. Their step-uncle, Nabi, works in the city of Kabul as a chauffeur and personal servant to a wealthy couple. Nabi is wildly in love with his employer's young wife, Nila, a rebellious poet. When Nila confesses her sorrow over being unable to conceive, Nabi devises a plan to give her the child she cannot have: she can pay Pari's father, Saboor, to adopt Pari. Saboor will be able to better provide for his family, Pari will have every opportunity in life, and Nila will no longer feel hollow. It will be better for everyone, Nabi reasons. Yet no one is prepared for the horrific rupture that occurs when Pari and her brother are separated. Pari is swept into her new family, and her old memories are systematically denied until she forgets where she came from. Her struggle to understand her roots and the sense of absence that plagues her, along with Abdullah's unshakable desire to be reunited with his beloved little sister, will span three continents, numerous wars, and six decades before reaching closure.

Stories Intertwined

And the Mountains Echoed is a collection of stories about the people and events that surround this ruptured relationship. There is the letter that Nabi writes at the end of his life, meant to be given to Pari Wahdati after his death so she will know her own story. There is the story of Pari Wahdati's life in France, where she raises a family and embarks on a successful career as a mathematics professor. There is the story of Nila, Pari Wahdati's adoptive mother, a critically acclaimed poet whose alcoholic and self-destructive nature eventually culminates in suicide. There is the story of Abdullah's life as an immigrant running a restaurant in California, and the burden of sorrow and love for his lost sister that his own daughter, also named Pari, shoulders. There is the story of the village of Shadbagh, destroyed in the war and claimed by a powerful opium-growing former jihadi. These and other stories form a ring of echoes spreading outward in time and space from the novel's core, the relationship between Abdullah and Pari Wahdati.

Reunion and Healing

Six decades pass before a complicated series of events leads to a reunion between Pari Wahdati and Abdullah. Although dementia has robbed Abdullah of the ability to recognize Pari Wahdati as his sister, the healing of this old loss takes place on mysterious levels deeper than consciousness and memory. Abdullah's daughter, Pari, shares in the healing of this generational grief with her aunt. Now knowing where they came from, the two women step forward in freedom into a new life of familial love and joy.

And the Mountains Echoed Plot Diagram

Falling ActionRising ActionResolutionClimax123456789101112Introduction


1 Masooma is paralyzed after falling from an oak tree.

Rising Action

2 Nabi leaves his sisters to work for Suleiman Wahdati.

3 Nabi becomes enamored with Suleiman's new wife, Nila.

4 Saboor and Parwana's infant, Omar, dies in the winter cold.

5 Nila takes Pari Wahdati to live in France.

6 Nila commits suicide.

7 Baba jan destroys Shadbagh and builds his compound there.

8 Nabi hosts Markos Varvaris and his colleagues in Kabul.


9 Markos finds Pari Wahdati and reads her Nabi's letter.

Falling Action

10 Pari Wahdati travels to Kabul to visit her childhood home.

11 Pari Wahdati visits Abdullah and his daughter, Pari.


12 Pari travels to meet her aunt Pari Wahdati's family.

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