While Saeed’s mother only appears in the first three chapters of the novel, her character plays a significant role in Saeed’s personal development as well as the overall trajectory of the plot. A former teacher with a bright and ambitious spirit, Saeed’s mother cares deeply about her family and attempts to maintain an optimistic attitude for them despite the growing conflict in their city. This love extends all the way back to the early days of her relationship with Saeed’s father, one built on mutual affection and shared interests. As Saeed grows up, his parents model the importance of togetherness, and he develops a close connection to his family and their traditions as a result. The sense of belonging that he feels at home eventually impacts how Saeed navigates his experiences as a refugee, especially when loneliness begins to eat away at him. 

Even before he leaves his country, however, the growing anxiety that Saeed’s mother feels regarding her family’s safety impacts how he approaches his relationship with Nadia. Saeed’s mother begins praying more regularly and takes a sedative before bed as the violence in the city increases, and these changes enlighten Saeed to the true severity of their situation. Given his determination to protect the love he has in his life, he asks Nadia to move in with his family as a safety precaution. She initially refuses, but when Saeed’s mother dies after being hit by a stray bullet, she acquiesces. This moment marks the other key way in which Saeed’s mother influences the events of the novel. Were it not for her death, Saeed’s family would have remained intact, and his relationship with Nadia may have played out in a more natural way. Instead, Saeed spends the remainder of the novel trying to recreate the sense of belonging he felt at home among his family, and this struggle ultimately becomes too much for Nadia, who yearns for change, to bear.