Socio-political context, the authors background
The author of the given story is an Afghan-born American novelist and physician (“Biography” par. 2). Being born in Kabul, he was able to understand the nature of his native land, its beliefs, culture, and peculiarities of peoples mentality. Besides, in the second half of the 20th century, this state experienced devastating civil and military conflict that had an overwhelming impact on peoples lives. These lands became devastated, and thousands of people had to leave their homes hoping to find a new place to live. Hosseinis father was among these individuals (“Biography” par. 4). Being a diplomat, he moved to France and asked for asylum in the USA. Small Khaled was only 11 years old; however, this very event obviously impacted his mentality greatly (“Biography” par. 4).
He perfectly recognizes the horrors of civil war and the sophisticated character of relations that rest on the discrimination based on religion. The Afghanistans society of that period of time was not homogeneous, and it consisted of the representatives of different versions of Islam and ethnic groups (Hamilton par. 6). This fact combined with difficult climate conditions and the mountainous character of some regions predetermined the long-term character of the war. Moreover, the society became separated, and even nowadays the state suffers from the aftermath of that military conflict.
For this reason, Khaled Hosseini and his family did not return to Afghanistan. Besides, having experienced numerous episodes, he became able to write his novels describing the real events and uncovering true motifs of the main characters. In this regard, The Kite Runner could be considered the reflection of his early childhood memories combined with the real-life experience (Hamilton par. 5). Finally, the Talibans ban on kite flying which was one of the main entertainment of Afghan boys served as the main stimulus for the creation of the novel.
The plot of The Kite Runner might be considered tragic and fascinating at the same time. The story opens with Amirs memories related to his childhood when he is a young boy who lives in Afghanistan. He resides in Kabul with Baba, his father. Their house is comfortable, and the family enjoys their well-being. Moreover, there are two servants Ali and Hassan, his son. However, they belong to Hazaras, a depressed ethnic minority which is degraded in the state (Hosseini 5). Amir and Hassan remain good friends and take part in the traditional kite-fighting tournament. Trying to impress his father and demonstrate his love, Amir wants to win.
He manages to do it; however, he also has to bring his kite back, and Hassan wants to accomplish this task. Unfortunately, he is trapped by Assef and his friends Wali and Kamal who rape Hassan just because he belongs to Hazaras. Being afraid, Amir watches and does nothing. Later, boys pretend that everything is fine but Amirs conscience is bothering him, and he is not able to forget his helplessness and cowardice. For this reason, he puts money and watch in Hassans bed, blaming him in a theft.
The boy understands that Amir wants to get rid of him and admits guilt, leaving the house with his father. Many years later Amir lives in the USA. He is married to Soraya, but they do not have children. Baba, his father, dies from cancer. One day, Rahim Khan, Babas old friend, wants Amir to come to Pakistan and tells him the truth. Hassan was also Babas son. He is killed by the Taliban, but his child Sohrab survives and is somewhere in the orphanage (Hosseini 275). Amir manages to find a boy who was tortured by Assef because of his sadistic inclinations. The boy and Amir escape and reach the USA; however, Sohrab remains reserved and does not want to communicate. At the end of the story, Amir presents a boy with a kite, and he smiles, giving hope for the further recovery.
List of significant characters, subjects, and notions
- Amir – the main character of the story who betrays his friend and brother. However, trying to atone this sin he finds this friends son and takes care of him.
- Baba – Amirs father. Cares for his son and manages to reach the USA, having experienced the hellish voyage
- Hassan – Amirs best friend who belonged to Hazaras. He was raped by sadists and betrayed by Amir. The Taliban movement kills Hassan.
- Assef – a person with sadistic inclinations. He rapes Hassan and later tortures his son in the orphanage.
- Sohrab – Hassans son who manages to survive in Afghanistan and move to the USA with Amir
- Rahim Khan – Babas old friend who reveals the secret and says that Amir and Baba are brothers
- Soraya – Amirs wife
- Hazaras – a depressed ethnic minority in Afghanistan.
- The Taliban movement – Sunni Islam fundamentalist movement that managed to seize power in Afghanistan (Hamilton par. 8).
The main themes
- Relations between sons and fathers – Baba, Amir, and Hassan introduce a classical dilemma related to the attempts to attain parental love and respect. Amirs wish to win Babas devotion makes him take part in the tournament.
- Peoples destinies in terms of civil war, military conflict and devastations. Lives of the main characters were impacted by these events greatly.
- Kite – the symbol of hope, better life, and happiness.
- Hassans cleft lip – the symbol of segregation peculiar to the society of that period of time.
- The lamb – Hassan and Sohrab are innocent, and they are sacrificed as lambs.
- The novel also provides an archetypical story that includes a sin, guilt, and atonement.
List of short but significant citations
- “It was a look I had seen before. It was the look of the lamb” (Hosseini 64) – it demonstrates Hassans innocence and helplessness
- “Huddled together in the dining room and waiting for the sun to rise, none of us had any notion that a way of life had ended” (Hosseini 28) – these words show the significant alterations of the traditional mode of life and end of a certain epoch.
- “Hassan’s upper lip was a grotesque mesh of swollen, raw tissue” (Hosseini 40) – the description of Hassans lip introduces its symbolic meaning and could be used to describe the situation in the state.
- “Every winter districts in Kabul held a kite-fighting tournament” (Hosseini 40) – the phrase states for the happy and joyful life before wars.
- “The past claws its way out” (Hosseini 1) – the quote demonstrates that a person could not forget his/her sins.
The novel could be characterized by numerous stylistic devices like metaphors, allusions, comparisons, etc. For instance, the kite is obviously used as a symbol of hope and redemption. The story begins and ends with the description of flying kites that provide much fun to boys. It means that despite all horrible events and actions, there is always a place for hope as life continues and people have to recover and enjoy it. Moreover, both Hassan and Sohrab are given a specific symbolic meaning. They are innocent people who are sacrificed during the war. The author uses these characters as a synecdoche to demonstrate suffering of all people living in the area.
Altogether, The Kite Runner impresses a reader greatly. The author manages to create the unique atmosphere. Due to the latest events, Afghanistan is usually associated with wars and constant skirmishes. However, Hosseini demonstrates that this state used to be prosperous and people lived in peace there. Amirs memories about his childhood and the kite tournament create the calm and even attractive picture. We could also observe the first signs of the conflict as ethnic minorities are depressed because of their religious and cultural peculiarities. People like Assef became the main actors who contributed to the further aggravation of the situation and supported Taliban. In this regard, Hosseinis story could be considered a unique source that presents another perspective on the events that resulted in the significant deterioration of the situation in the region. Moreover, the common story of relations between the son, his father, brother, and the complexity of their intercourse becomes even more dramatic on the given background.
Possible IB question
Amir was sure that he betrayed Hassan and was not able to forget it. He suffered from guilt and even was not able to live with his former best friend. Yet, he manages to atone his sin by caring for Sohrab and taking him to the USA. However, would he go for Sohrab if relations with Hassan remain good?
“Biography.” Khaled Hosseini, Web.
Hamilton, Samuel. “The Effect of the Setting in ‘The Kite Runner’.” Seattle, Web.
Hosseini, Khaled. “The Kite Runner.” Hazeley, Web.