|name||The Kite Runner|
|media_type||Print (HardcoverHardback & Paperback)|
|pages||336 p. (first edition, hardback)|
|isbn||ISBN 1-57322-245-3 (first edition, hardback) & ISBN 1-59448-000-1 (paperback edition)|
Amir, a well-to-do Pashtun boy, and Hassan, a Hazara and the son of Amir's father's servant, Ali, spend their days in a peaceful Kabul, kite fighting, roaming the streets and being boys. Amir’s father (who is generally referred to as Baba, "daddy", throughout the book) loves both the boys, but seems critical of Amir for not being manly enough. Amir also fears his father blames him for his mother’s death during childbirth. However, he has a kind father figure in the form of Rahim Khan, Baba’s friend, who understands Amir better, and is supportive of his interest in writing stories.
Assef, a notoriously mean and violent older boy with sadistic tendencies, blames Amir for socializing with a Hazara, according to Assef an inferior race that should only live in Hazarajat. He prepares to attack Amir with his steel knuckles, but Hassan bravely stands up to him, threatening to shoot Assef in the eye with his slingshot. Assef and his henchmen back off, but Assef says he will take revenge.
Hassan is a successful "kite runner" for Amir, knowing where the kite will land without even watching it. One triumphant day, Amir wins the local tournament, and finally Baba's praise. Hassan goes to run the last cut kite, a great trophy, for Amir saying "For you, a thousand times over." Unfortunately, Hassan runs into Assef and his two henchmen. Hassan refuses to give up Amir's kite, so Assef exacts his revenge, assaulting and raping him. Wondering why Hassan is taking so long, Amir searches for Hassan and hides when he hears Assef's voice. He witnesses the rape but is too scared to help him. Afterwards, for some time Hassan and Amir keep a distance from each other. Amir reacts indifferently because he feels ashamed, and is frustrated by Hassan's saint-like behavior. Already jealous of Baba's love for Hassan, he worries if Baba knew how bravely Hassan defended Amir's kite, and how cowardly Amir acted, that Baba's love for Hassan would grow even more.
To force Hassan to leave, Amir frames him as a thief, and Hassan falsely confesses. Baba forgives him, despite the fact that, as he explained earlier, he believes that "there is no act more wretched than stealing." Hassan and his father Ali, to Baba's extreme sorrow, leave anyway. Hassan's departure frees Amir of the daily reminder of his cowardice and betrayal, but he still lives in their shadow and his guilt.
Five years later, the Russians invade Afghanistan; Amir and Baba escape to Peshawar, Pakistan and then to Fremont, California, where Amir and Baba, who lived in luxury in an expansive mansion in Afghanistan, settle in a run-down apartment and Baba begins work at a gas station. Amir eventually takes classes at a local community college to develop his writing skills. Every Sunday, Baba and Amir make extra money selling used goods at a flea market in San Jose. There, Amir meets fellow refugee Soraya Taheri and her family; Soraya's father, who was a high-ranking officer in Afghanistan, has contempt of Amir's literary aspiration. Baba is diagnosed with terminal oat cell carcinoma but is still capable of granting Amir one last favor: he asks Soraya's father's permission for Amir to marry her. He agrees and the two marry. Shortly thereafter Baba dies. Amir and Soraya learn that they cannot have children.
Amir embarks on a successful career as a novelist. Fifteen years after his wedding, Amir receives a call from Rahim Khan, who is dying from an illness. Rahim Khan asks Amir to come to Pakistan. He enigmatically tells Amir "there is a way to be good again." Amir goes.
From Rahim Khan, Amir learns the fates of Ali and Hassan. Ali was killed by a land mine. Hassan had a wife and a son, named Sohrab, and had returned to Baba’s house as a caretaker at Rahim Khan’s request. One day the Taliban ordered him to give it up and leave, but he refused, and was murdered, along with his wife. Rahim Khan reveals that Ali was not really Hassan's father. Hassan was actually the son of Baba, therefore Amir's half-brother. Finally, Rahim Khan tells Amir that the true reason he has called Amir to Pakistan is to go to Kabul to rescue Hassan's son, Sohrab, from an orphanage.
Amir returns to Taliban-controlled Kabul with a guide, Farid, and searches for Sohrab at the orphanage. In order to enter Taliban territory, Amir, who is normally clean shaven, dons a fake beard and mustache, because otherwise the Taliban would exact Shariah punishment against him. However, he does not find Sohrab where he was supposed to be: the director of the orphanage tells them that a Taliban official comes often, brings cash and usually takes a girl back with him. Once in a while however, he takes a boy, recently Sohrab. The director tells Amir to go to a soccer match and the man "who does the speeches" is the man who took Sohrab. Farid manages to secure an appointment with the speaker at his home, by saying that he and Amir have "personal business" with him.
At the house, Amir has his meeting with the man in sunglasses, who says the man who does the speeches is not available,. The man in sunglasses is eventually revealed to be his childhood nemesis, Assef. Assef is aware of Amir's identity from the very beginning, but Amir doesn't realize who he's sitting across from until Assef starts asking about Ali, Baba and Hassan. Sohrab is being kept at the home where he is made to dance dressed in women's clothes, and it seems Assef might have been sexually assaulting him. (Sohrab later says, "I'm so dirty and full of sin. The bad man and the other two did things to me.") Assef agrees to relinquish him, but only for a price - cruelly beating Amir. However, Amir is saved when Sohrab uses his slingshot to shoot out Assef's left eye, fulfilling the threat his father had made many years before.
Amir tells Sohrab of his plans to take him back to America and possibly adopt him, and promises that he will never be sent to an orphanage again. After almost having to break that promise (after decades of war, paperwork documenting Sohrab's orphan status, as demanded by the US authorities, is impossible to get) and Sohrab attempting suicide, Amir manages to take him back to the United States and introduces him to his wife. However, Sohrab is emotionally damaged and refuses to speak or even glance at Soraya. This continues until his frozen emotions are thawed when Amir reminisces about his father, Hassan, while kite flying. Amir shows off some of Hassan’s tricks, and Sohrab begins to interact with Amir again. In the end Sohrab only shows a lopsided smile, but Amir takes to it with all his heart as he runs the kite for Sohrab, saying, "For you, a thousand times over.".
The Kite Runner Themes
Major themes explored in the novel are war, loyalty, forgiveness, friendship, redemption, sacrifice, race, class, fear and the relationships between father and son. With race, class, and gender, a theme could be the inhumanity inflicted by one man unto another based on one's race. The Kite Runner is a novel to be read, discussed, and enjoyed by anyone who has wanted a chance to make things right again. It also provides a sense of traditional Afghan lifestyle, and culture. However, the four main themes shown to us by the author are strength of character, sin and redemption, relationship between parent and child, as well as Loyalty and friendship between two people.
Amir is the main character of the story and the narrator. He is the best friend of Hassan, son of Baba, and husband of Soraya. He is also the half-brother of Hassan (as they are both Baba's progeny) and is the adoptive father of Sohrab. He makes a decision as a child which haunts him in adulthood.
Hassan is the best friend and servant of Amir. He is originally though to be the son of Ali, but it is revealed in the story that he is actually Baba's son. He is loyal to Amir despite any impact it may have on himself. He was raped as a teen, which Amir witnessed. This is one of the most important parts of the novel. He is Sohrab's father. Amir does because of a Taliban search. He is killed in a back-alley along with his wife.
Baba is the father of Amir and Hassan. He is a wealthy citizen of Kabul who is known for his public works. He has a strained relationship with his son, Amir. He dies of lung cancer.
Ali is the servant of Baba, the supposed father of Hassan. He is like a brother to Baba. He is poor, and his leg is crippled from polio (this also prevents him from having children). He dies from a landmine explosion.
Khan is the business associate and close friend of Baba. He also has a close relationship with Amir, and is the main reason Amir returns back to the Middle East.
Assef is the antagonist of the story. He is the neighbourhood bully who hates Hassan because he is of Hazara descent. He is also a firm believer in the ways of Adolf Hitler, and a future leader of the Taliban. He takes Sohrab from the orphanage in Kabul.
Soraya is an Afghan living in California, and the wife of Amir.
Sohrab is the orphaned so of Hassan. He is enslaved and abused by Assef, but rescued and adopted by Amir. He is also Amir's half-nephew. Sohrab suffers from depression and attempts suicide by cutting his wrist.
The narrator, Amir, recalls a day in the winter of 1975 that changes his life. On this day, he remembers hiding behind a crumbling mud wall, peering down an alley. He does not go into greater detail, but he notes that the memory haunts him. He speaks of committing suicide.
He also recalls a phone call he received the summer before from his friend Rahim Khan, who requests that Amir visit him in Pakistan.
After the phone call, Amir walks through San Francisco, where he now lives. He sees two kites and remembers the words Rahim Khan said before he hung up- “There is a way to be good again.”
Hassan is another childhood friend. He has a cleft lip, but is otherwise beautiful. Hassan is always loyal to Amir and tries unfailingly to please him. Hassan’s father is Ali, who works for Amir’s father. They live in a mud shack on the property. Hassan’s mother left one week after he was born to live with traveling dancers. This is considered very shameful.
Amir’s father is well-to-do and they own an estate in an affluent neighborhood in northern Kabul. Amir calls his father Baba. Baba has many friends, but his best friend is Rahim Khan. Amir’s mother died while giving birth to him.
Ali’s lower facial muscles are paralyzed, so he cannot show much emotion. He also has a twisted right leg, which causes him to have a strange walk. He is a Hazara and a Shi’a Muslim. Amir’s family is Pashtun and Sunni Muslim. Which he recieves verbal abuse by the Pastuns for.
Hassan and Amir grew up together. Amir’s first word was Baba. Hassan’s was Amir. Amir believes this laid the foundation for what happened in 1975.
Baba is a formidable man, both in stature and business. Amir longs to be close to him, but always fears his father is distant because his wife died giving birth to Amir. Some of Baba’s businesses are an orphanage, a restaurant, and a carpet-exporting business. He is one of the richest merchants in Kabul.
Baba says that theft is the one true sin. All other sins (such as murder) are variants of theft. He believes that a murderer robs a wife of a husband, a child of a father. Baba’s father was murdered when Baba was a child.
Amir overhears a conversation between Baba and Rahim Khan. Baba says that he doesn’t understand Amir because he does not stand up for himself. Even when teased and pushed in the streets, Amir lets Hassan defend him. Baba does not respect this quality, and says that if he did not see Amir’s birth, he would not believe Amir is his son.
Rahim Khan says Amir just lacks a mean streak. Baba is glad Rahim Khan understands Amir and can be close to him.
The next day, Amir snaps at Hassan out of jealousy. Amir says he does have a mean streak.
Baba’s father was a judge who adopted an orphan and raised the boy along with his son. The orphan was Ali. Baba never refers to Ali as a friend, and Amir realizes he never refers to Hassan as a friend.
Hassan and Ali are servants in Baba’s home. Amir goes to school, but Hassan does not. Amir reads to Hassan. One time, Amir pretends to read, but makes up his own story. When he finishes, Hassan claps and says it is the best story he has heard. . He mentions that he would love to hear stories like the one he just shared.
Amir writes his first short story that night. Amir brings the story to Baba, but he is not interested. Rahim Khan reads the story and writes Amir a note, encouraging him to write because he has a God-given talent, especially his understanding of irony. Amir wishes Rahim Khan was his father. He shares the story with Hassan, who points out a problem with the plot, Amir's first introduction to the plot hole. Amir is astounded and slightly angry, because an illiterate, uneducated boy can find something he could not. At the end of this chapter Amir says that suddenly Afgahnistan changed forever.
Amir and Hassan’s conversation is cut short by an explosion and gunfire. Ali hides with the boys during the attack.
Amir and Hassan are stopped by Assef, the neighborhood bully. He is relentlessly cruel to Hassan because he is Hazara. Assef says Hitler was a great leader, and the new president should follow his plan to get rid of the Hazara. (Assef himself has blue eyes and blonde hair because his mother is German; he points out, however, that his mother despises Hitler.) Hassan pulls a slingshot on Assef, Assef backs off saying he will get them later.
For Hassan’s twelfth birthday, Baba arranges for Hassan to have his cleft lip repaired by a plastic surgeon. After the surgery, his scar is barely noticeable.
During the icy winter months, the schools of Kabul are closed. Kites are a popular activity. It is one of the only interests that Amir shares with Baba. Kabul holds kite-fighting tournaments that are greatly anticipated. Baba takes the boys to Saifo, a shoe repairman and the city’s most famous kite maker.
The kite strings are coated with glue and glass so that the opponent's kite string can be cut down during the fight. Kite runners run after kites after their strings are cut, chasing them until they land. The runner gets to keep the kite, but the grand prize is the last cut kite.
Hassan was the greatest kite runner.
Amir wins the annual kite fight as Baba watches. Amir wonders if Baba is proud of him or proud of Hassan. Hassan runs after the last kite Amir cut, as Amir plans to present the kite to Baba as a trophy.
Amir looks for Hassan and finds him cornered in an alley by Assef and his friends. They want to take the kite and beat up Hassan. Assef tells Hassan that he is not really Amir’s friend, but his servant. They start to beat Hassan as Amir crouches behind a wall, watching because he is too afraid to step in.
Assef rapes Hassan as his friends hold him down. Amir runs away. He later meets Hassan and pretends he doesn’t know what happened. Hassan gives Amir the kite, and Amir wonders if Hassan knows Amir saw. Amir gives the kite to Baba, who is proud of Amir.
Hassan avoids Amir and spends most of his time in bed. Ali asks Amir if he knows what happened the night of the kite fight. Amir snaps and tells Ali to do his work.
Baba shows a lot of interest in Amir, even taking him to the movies. For one particular outing, Amir hopes to go with just Baba, but Baba invites three van loads of friends to go along. Amir cannot enjoy any of this because he feels guilty. Amir becomes an insomniac as a result of his guilt.
Hassan attempts to be friendly with Amir again, but Amir pushes him away.
Amir angers Baba by asking if he ever thought about getting new servants. Their relationship deteriorates.
Amir tries to start a pomegranate fight with Hassan, but Hassan will not fight back. He takes a pomegranate and smashes it into his own head instead of hitting Amir. This shows Hassan's loyalty to Amir.
Baba throws a huge thirteenth birthday party for Amir. Assef presents Amir with a gift- a biography of Hitler. Rahim Khan tells Amir that he can talk to him anytime and gives a blank book for writing.
Amir realizes that he cannot live with Hassan anymore. Amir lies and tells Baba that Hassan stole his birthday money and watch, a gift from his father. Baba talks to Ali, and then confronts Hassan with Amir. Hassan admits to stealing to protect Amir. Amir realizes that Hassan knew everything- including his hiding behind the wall instead of helping him.
Baba surprises Amir by forgiving Hassan. Ali tells Baba they are leaving. Baba begs them to stay, but they leave. This is the first time Amir sees Baba cry. Baba drives Ali and Hassan to the bus station.
In March of 1981, Amir and Baba flee Kabul, taking only a few personal items. They do this in secret because spies for the Russian soldiers are everywhere. They are headed for Pakistan.
At the border, they are stopped by soldiers. They say they can cross the border after they have half an hour with the young woman traveling with them. Baba protests and the young soldier pulls a gun on Baba, who won’t back down. An older officer stops the younger soldier and allows them to pass.
The group is supposed to change vehicles, but the second truck has been broken for weeks. Baba nearly kills the man when he realizes the man only transported them for the money. They will have to wait for the truck to be repaired, along with thirty other refugees and rats.
In the basement, they meet Kamal and his father, friends from Kabul. Kamal was raped just like Hassan. Kamal does not speak anymore.
All of the refugees are transported in a fuel truck to Pakistan. Kamal dies during the trip, apparently from gas fumes. Kamal’s father kills himself because he feels that he just lost his last valuable aspect in life.
Baba and Amir settle in Fremont, California. Baba does not fit in and is not happy working at a gas station. He says he came to America for Amir. Amir says,"For me, America was a place to bury my memories. For Baba, a place to mourn his"
Amir graduates High School in 1983 at the age of 20, after graduation Baba takes him out to dinner and then to a bar where they drink. Baba winds up drinking too much but makes a good impression on all the patrons of the bar and buys them all rounds of drinks. When they get home Baba tells Amir to drive to the end of the block, a Ford Grand Torino is sitting there, Baba said it needed work, but it ran and will be needed for Amir to go to College.
Amir displeases his father when he tells him he wants to major in English in college.
Amir and Baba buy a VW bus and go to frequent garage sales. They then sell the items at a profit at the flea market. Amir meets Soraya, the daughter of Baba’s old friend, General Taheri.
Amir begins to court Soraya. She asks to read one of his stories. Though Baba does make many allusions to honor and pride (dissuading Amir from flirting with Soraya), ultimately, the reason Amir stops courting Soraya is because of Soraya's father who finds the two talking alone together in the market. Amir had given Soraya one of his stories, which Soraya's father promptly threw in the garbage.
Baba is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. Baba refuses treatment. He collapses with a seizure at the flea market. Soraya and her family visit. Days later, Baba arranges Amir’s engagement to Soraya. She worries that her past- she ran away with a man and lived with him for a month- will cause Amir to not want to marry her. Amir envies her because her secret is out.
Amir and Soraya are married. She moves in with Amir and Baba because Baba is so sick. She takes responsibility for Baba’s care. She reads Amir’s stories to Baba. He dies one month later in his sleep
The couple settles into a routine. Amir finishes his first novel in 1988. The book is released the following year. Amir remembers Hassan’s belief of his writing ability.
The couple try to conceive for one year. They are unsuccessful and try in-vitro fertilization. They consider adoption, and General Taheri, her father, does not approve. They decide not to adopt.
Amir and Soraya have a Cocker Spaniel, named Aflatoon, which means Plato in Farsi - they said, “that if you looked hard enough into the dog’s black eye’s that you’d swear he was thinking wise thoughts.” Soraya, has been teaching at the same school for six years. Amir tells Soraya that he has to go to Pakistan to visit Rahim Khan, who is very sick. Amir, believes that there is an un-spoken secret between Rahim Khan and himself. This is foreshadowing the fact that Rahim Khan knows all about Hassan, and how he is Amir’s brother and will soon tell him. Rahim Khan, has also always known about the circumstances surrounding Hassan, being raped, and what Amir did in order to get Hassan and Ali out of his life. Amir finally decides to go to Pakistan and visit Rahim Khan.
Amir returns to Pakistan. Amir sees an ill Rahim Khan, who tells Amir about the unbearable life of Afghans under Taliban rule. Rahim Khan was happy at first when the Taliban defeated the Russian soldiers because he thought life in Kabul would improve. Most people felt this way because they thought the fighting would stop.
Rahim Khan tells Amir that Hassan lived with him in Baba’s house in Kabul after he left. He says he wants to tell Amir about Hassan.
Rahim Khan found Hassan in 1986. Hassan was married and his wife was expecting a baby. Ali had been killed by a land mine.
Hassan asked many questions about Amir and wanted to know if Khan would read a letter from Amir. He wept when told about Baba’s death.
Hassan and his wife decide to move with Rahim Khan, but will only live in the hut and work as servants so as not to offend Amir.
Hassan’s daughter was stillborn. Hassan’s mother returns to see him, disfigured from a recent knife attack. They nurse her back to health.
Hassan’s wife gave birth to a son named Sohrab. Hassan’s mother died four years later.
Hassan taught his son to be a kite runner. The Taliban banned kite fighting shortly after taking power. Taliban fighters massacred the Hazaras in Mazar-i-Sharif.
Amir asks where Hassan can be found. Rahim Khan hands him a picture of Hassan and his son and a letter.
In the letter, Hassan tells him about living under Taliban rule and his family. Hassan clearly wishes to see his friend Amir.
A month after Rahim Khan left for Pakistan, Taliban officers came to take the house. Hassan refused to leave. He and his wife were shot dead.
Rahim Khan asks Amir to go to Kabul and bring 10 year old Sohrab to him.
He also tells Amir that Ali was sterile. Hassan was also Baba’s son. Hassan never knew.
Amir feels betrayed and angry. He feels his father is a thief because he stole his brother and dishonored Ali. He realizes that he, like his father, betrayed the one person who would have done anything for him. He thinks about the good life Hassan could have had in America but due to his actions he did not. Amir decides to go to Kabul.
Amir enters Afghanistan with the help of Farid, a man who has contempt for Amir because he was born with privilege. Farid dislikes Amir at first because he believes that the only reason Amir is returning to Afghanistan is so he can sell off property, and ultimately make money. Farid takes Amir to Wahid's house. There, Amir is served a dinner, which he offers to share with Wahid's children. Amir notices that the children are staring at his watch.
During dinner, Amir reveals to Wahid and his family that he has returned to Afghanistan in order to rescue his half brother's son. This is suprising, because Amir is very reluctant to reveal his father's lack of pride and honor. Later on, he overhears Wahid and his wife arguing that they had to give food to Amir since he was a guest, even though they barely had any food for themselves. Farid thinks better of him when he learns why he is going to Kabul. Farid and Amir leave the house, and Amir gives his watch to one of the children. However, Amir realizes the kids weren't staring at his watch at all, they were staring at his food. At the very end of the chapter, Amir puts money under his matress for the children to find and buy food with. He also realized it had been 26 years since he had put money under someone's bed; the first time, however, was for a terrible purpose. This reveals how much Amir has grown and changed as a man.
Amir enters Kabul and is shocked by the destruction and begging children. Amir and Farid locate the orphanage where Sohrab has been living. Amir convinces the director to help them find Sohrab by referring to his skills with the slingshot. When the director lets Amir and Farid in, he regretfully informs Amir that a Talib Official had come to the orphanage and bought Sohrab. Farid is furious about this, and accuses the director of selling the children to make a profit. He then begins to strangle the director until Amir intervenes.
The director informs Farid and Amir that he has no choice but to sell some of the children. He says that if he refused, the Taliban would take as many children as they want instead. He adds that he had spent his life savings on the orphanage, and instead of escaping to Pakistan like many others did, he chose to stay and run the orphanage. The director then instructs Amir and Farid to go to Ghazi stadium, and look for the Talib official with the black sunglasses, this man will know where Sohrab is.
Amir and Farid visit Amir's childhood home, and they find his neighborhood is now home to the rich Taliban.
The next day, they go to Ghazi Stadium to find the official who bought Sohrab. The stadium is filled with people watching soccer. During halftime, a man and a woman are stoned to death for adultery on the field by a man in white and wearing "John Lennon sunglasses," the Taliban official.
Amir and Farid arrange for a three o’clock appointment with the official.
Amir goes in alone to see the official, who lives in a palatial home. He is verbally abused and threatened by the official, who instructs guards to bring Sohrab to the room. He looks just like Hassan. Sohrab is dressed almost like a court jester, wearing make-up, and forced to dance whenever music is played.
The official asks Amir where “babalu” is, in reference to Ali. He removes his glasses, and Amir realizes the official is actually Assef. Assef says he can have Sohrab, but first he has to earn him. Assef tells his guards not to come in the room, no matter what they hear. He and Amir have unsettled business. Only one of them will come out alive. If it is Amir, then the guards will have to let Amir and Sohrab go.
Assef beats Amir badly, breaking his nose and teeth. Amir starts laughing. He believes it is funny how just now that he is being beaten up he finally feels comfort. His laughing angers Assef more.
The fight ends when Sohrab points his slingshot at Assef, who lunges at Sohrab. Sohrab’s shot takes out Assef’s eye. This fulfilles the taunt of Hassan of calling him a "One Eyed Assef". Sohrab helps Amir out of the house. Farid drives them away.
Amir fades in and out of consciousness. He wakes up two days later in a hospital with a broken jaw, punctured lung, ruptured spleen, and other injuries.
Rahim Khan has left town, leaving a letter for Amir. He tells Amir that he should forgive himself for what happened to Hassan and he should also forgive Baba someday. Baba was torn between two sons and took out his frustration on Amir. Rahim Khan also leaves his money in a safe deposit box for Amir.
Amir has to be moved soon because the Taliban are looking for him. Amir bonds slowly with Sohrab over cards. The people Amir planned to leave Sohrab with were made up by Rahim Khan. Amir takes him to Islamabad.
Amir wakes up one night and Sohrab is gone. He finds him by the mosque. Sohrab says he is beginning to forget what his parents look like. Sohrab is ashamed of what Assef did to him. Amir offers to take him to live with him in America.
Amir calls his wife and tells her about Hassan, what happened in Kabul, and his desire to adopt Sohrab.
A man at the American Embassy in Islamabad says adopting Sohrab is impossible, due to the fact that Amir would need death certificates of his parents (Hassan and Farzana), when most people in Afghanistan hardly had birth certificates. Also, he would need to prove that Sohrab is really his half nephew, which was nearly impossible as well. However, he still gives them the name of an immigration lawyer. Amir meets with the lawyer who says Sohrab may have to wait in an orphanage. He is willing to help. Soraya arranges for a humanitarian visa to get Sohrab into the U.S. Later, Amir tells Sohrab that he would need to go to an orphanage again. Terrified, Sohrab becomes very upset. Later that night, Sohrab was taking a bath; Amir enters to talk with Sohrab, but finds that he has slit one of his wrists with a razorblade. It was said that Amir was still screaming after the ambulance arrived.
Sohrab tries to commit suicide rather than be put in an orphanage. He survives, but he tells Amir he wishes that he had died. Sohrab does not speak for a year after that.
Amir and Sohrab go home to America. Sohrab remains silent.
At a party thrown by the American Afghan community, Amir buys Sohrab a kite. The two of them kite fight together and win. Just as he and Hassan had done years earlier. Amir is Sohrab’s kite runner, and for the first time Sohrab smiles for Amir.
The Kite Runner Quotes
- “There is a way to be good again.” (Pg. 2) This is said by Rahim Khan to Amir to encourage him to help Hassan’s son escape Afghanistan and finally redeem himself.
- “I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.”, Said by Amir, story opener that talks about the time he betrayed his best friend Hassan in an alley in Kabul.
- “There was brotherhood between people who had fed from the same breast, a kinship that even time could not break.”
- "For you, a thousand times over." (Pg. 2) This is said by Hassan to Amir as Hassan runs his last kite, the prized blue one that would earn Amir his Baba's praises. Years later, Amir still remembers these words when he thinks of Hassan.
- "I brought Hassan’s son from Afghanistan to America, lifting him from the certainty of turmoil and dropping him in a turmoil of uncertainty."
- "Because when spring comes it melts the snow one flake at a time, and maybe I just witnessed the first flake melting" (Pg. 372) Referring to the smile on Sohrab's face, the first one seen in America.
- "I had been the entitled half, the society-approved, legitimate half, the unwitting embodiment of Baba's guilt. I looked at Hassan, showing those two missing front teeth, sunlight slanting on his face. Baba's other half. The un-entitled, under-privileged half. The half who had inherited what had been pure and noble in Baba. The half that, maybe, in the most secret recesses of his heart, Baba had thought of as his true son." p.359
- "I looked down at Sohrab. One corner of his mouth had curled up just so. A smile. Lopsided. Hardly there. But there." (p.370)
Study Questions and Essay Topics
- The novel begins ‘I became what I am today at the age of twelve’. To what is Amir referring? Is his assertion entirely true? What other factors have helped form his character? How would you describe Amir?
- Amir had never thought of Hassan as his friend, despite the evident bond between them, just as Baba did not think of Ali as his friend (page 35). What parallels can be drawn between Amir and Hassan’s relationship, and Baba and Ali’s? How would you describe the relationship between the two boys? What makes them so different in the way they behave with each other? What is it that makes Amir inflict small cruelties on Hassan? Had you already guessed at the true relationship between them? If so, at what point and why?
- It is Amir’s dearest wish to please his father. To what extent does he succeed in doing so and at what cost? What kind of man is Baba? How would you describe his relationship with Amir, and with Hassan? How does that relationship change and what prompts those changes?
- Khaled Hosseini vividly describes Afghanistan, both the privileged world of Amir’s childhood and the stricken country under the Taliban. How did his descriptions differ from ideas that you may already have had about Afghanistan? What cultural differences become evident in the American passages of the novel? How easy do the Afghans find it to settle in the US?
- After Soraya tells Amir about her past, she says ‘I’m so lucky to have found you. You’re so different from every Afghan guy I’ve met’ (page 157). What do you think of the reasons that Amir puts forward for this? Could there be others? How do Afghan women fare in America? Are they any better off than they were in Afghanistan before the Taliban seized power?
- On the drive to Kabul Farid says to Amir ‘You’ve always been a tourist here, you just didn’t know it.’ (page 204) What is Farid implying? What do you think of his implication? Amir feels that he is 'home again' (page 210) but how well does he know or understand his country?
- How does Hosseini succeed in bringing the horror of the Taliban to life? Why did he choose the role for Assef that he did?
- 'There is a way to be good again' (page 2) promises Rahim Khan, a phrase which resonates throughout the novel. Does this prove to be the case for Amir? How important is Rahim Khan to him?
- After reading Amir's story Rahim Khan writes to him: 'the most impressive thing about your story is that it has irony.' (page 28). It is surely an irony that Hassan, whose ignorance Amir pillories, points out that there was no need for the man to kill his wife to weep tears, he could simply have smelled an onion. How important is irony in the book? Were their other instances that particularly struck you?
- How significant is the tale of Rostam and Sohrab? What does it mean to Hassan, and to Amir?
- How important is religion in the book? What attitudes do the main characters have to it? How do they compare to the popular Western idea of Islam?
- What is the significance of kites in the book? What do you think they symbolise? Who is the eponymous kite runner? What is the significance of the kite scenes appearing at both the beginning and end of the novel?
- "The past is always there"- Give three examples of how this shown in The Kite Runner.
- Why do you think Khaled Hosseini wrote The Kite Runner?
- How did saving Sohrab allow Amir to forgive himself?
- Did Amir atone for his lack of action in defending Hassan later in the novel?