Kite Runner

“The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini is about a man named Amir who recalls important times in his life. Most of the events that Amir describes take place in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The story begins with Amir receiving a call from Rahim Khan, who tells Amir to come visit him in Pakistan. This phone call immediately launches the book into its main story. Amir mentions kites and kite flying after he gets off the phone. He specifically mentions an old friend, Hassan, who he labels a kite runner. It seems like a safe assumption that a kite will be a recurring metaphor throughout the novel.

 

Amir begins his story by fully introducing the readers to Hassan. Amir talks about how Hassan and him used to play together in Kabul, a city in Afghanistan. Right away we are able to see that there is a power imbalance in their friendship: Hassan and his father work as servants for Amir and his father. Added on top of this is the fact that Hassan is a Hazara, which is a minority ethnic group. This imbalance seems to foreshadow how certain events between Hassan and Amir could play out.

 

As the book progress to Chapter 3 we meet Baba, Amir’s father. Amir describes Baba as the manliest man you’ll ever find. Amir recounts the many stories that he has heard about Baba, specifically one regarding Baba tackling a bear to the ground. Amir seems to idolize his father, but also slightly fear him. Amir continually tries to please his father by following in his footsteps. Here is yet another relationship where power is not shared equally. This pattern of imbalanced relationships suggests to me that the author may have an underlying message about relationships.

 

Amir goes on to mention a story that he and Hassan used to read together: Rostam and Sohrab. The story centers around Rostam killing Sohrab during a battle and then Rostam going on to realize that Sohrab was his son. This seems like quite the spoiler and metaphor for the story. Based on the already known imbalance in Amir and Hassan’s relationship, I would guess that Amir is Rostam and Hassan is Sohrab. What does this mean for the future. Does Amir literally kill Hassan or metaphorically? The first instance of tension between Amir and Hassan appears later in Chapter 4. Inspired by Rostam and Sohrab, Amir writes his own short story. When he reads it to Hassan, Hassan ries to make a suggestion to Amir. This angers Amir. Amir recounts that he had derogatory and harsh thoughts about Hassan after he made the correction.  Even though Amir and Hassan seem to be friends, Amir still appears to strongly believe in his superiority over Hassan.

 

This tension eventually resides and Amir shows goes on to show that he is Hassan’s friend. Amir and Hassan are ambushed by Assef, a known neighborhood bully. Assef believes in ethnic purity for Afghanistan, specifically killing Hazaras. Amir is presented with an opportunity here to allow Assef to beat up Hasson so that he can get away, but he doesn’t. Amir stands by Hasson, which causes Assef to attack Amir. Hasson stops Assef with his slingshot, a symbol that he is reciprocating Amir’s sign of friendship.

 

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13 responses to “Kite Runner

  1. johnredinbo

    This book, as Michael pointed out, revolves around various relationships (father-son, friend-friend, master-servant, etc.). Through this first entry, I would like to point out each of these relationships, and how they teach important lessons about people.

    Right off the bat, the book confronts the relationship between a mother and her child. Amir and Hassan are polar opposites. Amir is selfish (and lazy) but rich, with a cold father who is incessantly disappointed in his son. Meanwhile, Hassan may be poor, but he is loyal, hardworking, and his father couldn’t be prouder. One of the biggest differences between them is how their mothers acted in their early years. Amir had a beautiful, kind, and intelligent mother, that supposedly kept his bitter father constantly happy. However, Hassan’s mother was beautiful, but cruel. She made fun of Ali (Hassan’s father) for his deformities along with everyone else, and when Hassan was born, she simply laughed, calling Hassan an idiot child. Both mothers abandoned their children, but in very different ways. Amir’s mother died in childbirth, while Hassan’s mother just left them. The conflicting personalities of the mothers and their children demonstrate that parents do not define who their children become, they simply guide them through it.

    The father and son relationship between Amir and his “Baba” causes Amir to do horrible things, simply to impress his dad. Baba is a successful, businessman, who is always up for charity work, and was quite the athlete as a child. Amir likes poetry, and long hours in the library, while possessing no physical ability whatsoever. This huge gap between them that causes Amir to harm Hassan in several ways, due to a jealousy over Baba’s fondness for Amir. I believe Khaled Hosseini (the author) wanted to demonstrate the foolhardiness of chasing after people’s expectations, because if Amir sat down to talk with Baba about their relationship, many avoidable events would not have occurred. Baba would maybe even congratulate Amir on his honesty, since he’s always lecturing him about the importance of integrity and honesty.

    Finally, perhaps the biggest relationship is the friendship of Amir and Hassan. Although Amir denies it in the story, it is pretty evident that they are friends, despite Hassan being Amir’s servant. But, how do such different people become almost like brothers? Amir mistreats Hassan A LOT, in shocking ways, and yet Hassan stays loyal to Amir, always catering to his every need with a cheerful disposition. The moral of their relationship is simple. A true friend is one who doesn’t necessarily agree with you are, but who you can become. Hassan sees the potential in Amir to become a great person, and by staying loyal, hopes to help him with this transformation.

    This is only a portion of the relationships presented in the novel, and yet each one has a clear and important moral to accompany it. I am so far enjoying “The Kite Runner” immensely because of its views on human nature. The book seems to be going down a dark turn, and I am interested in seeing how this affects the relationships!

  2. benjaminaltman

    The ongoing relationship between Amir and Hassan, as pointed out by both Michael and John, is symbolic of both discrimination and the hope of unity. Amir obviously has more power than Hassan and uses it to get away with certain actions. He doesn’t even consider Hassan to be his friend even though he spends all his time with him. This arrogance is one fueled by the years of hatred between the two groups. Amir is simply following social norms by putting himself over Hassan, who obediently remains his servant. I believe Amir is confused about his relationship with Hassan because society is telling him that Hassan is inferior, yet he shares a strong bond of friendship with him.

    The difference in the two father-son relationships shows me a lot about why the two boys are who they are. Hassan copies his father Ali, learning to be a servant. He is loyal and humble, and even stands up for Amir. As for Amir, he is nothing like his father. As a kid, Baba played soccer and was an athlete. He is tall and muscular, but Amir is much different. He has no athletic ability and is more lazy. He can’t fight his won battles and likes poetry which to his father is ridiculous. It’s hard for them to get along when they’re so different. However, it is the bond between Hassan and Baba that really drives a spike into their relationship. Amir just wants to be loved and given attention by his father, but he and his father don’t see I to eye on many subjects. Baba acts very isolated and cold towards Amir because he has no idea how to understand him.

    Assef, the neighborhood bully, shows us as the reader the deep division in the community. The past between the two groups is filled with violence and is still prevalent in modern society. Asset sounding very similar to Hitler, describes how he wants all of Hazaras to be killed so Afghanistan can be “pure”. He also makes fun of Amir for being around Hassan. Amir actually thinks about telling him that Hassan is just his servant, which proves how cruel he is to Hassan. Amir is lucky Hassan steps in with his slingshot to rescue him from a beating. This is ironic because Assef was just talking about how much better his ancestry was and how he is superior, but gets shown up by a Hazard.

    Overall, the first part of the novel was fascinating to read. There was a lot of character development, although I’m sure there will be plenty more in the coming chapters. The plot has taken interesting turns so far, so I’m anxious to see if any more surprises come up. Sometimes the surprise is something normal in middle eastern culture, but to me is foreign. It makes me think more about the pressures the boys face and how they continue to grow along with the country.

  3. Brogan Deem-Ranzetta

    The Kite Runner, as stated by Michael, John, and Ben revolves around the tentative relationship between Amir and Hassan where there actions toward one another depict social differences. Amir is the son of a rich Afghani businessman who at times seems to chastise his son due to their many differences. Baba (Amir’s father) was a strong athlete as a child where he played soccer and flew kites as a sport. Amir on the other hand is the exact opposite where he does not have any athletic talents and instead loves reading and writing stories which explains his father’s strong disapproval. He is also very lazy and often rude to Hassan who along with his father, Ali, are the servants of Amir and his father and take care of all the chores of there large estate in Afghanistan. Despite often being berated by Amir for being illiterate and also being on the receiving end of many jokes Hassan always keeps a good mind where he displays loyal and caring acts to Amir. These include making his breakfast every morning plus cleaning all of his clothes. Not to mention the constant friendly nature he endures around Amir where story telling and adventures are ever present.

    Despite demonstrating all of these compassionate characteristics he never gets the treatment he deserves due to him and Amir’s social differences. For one, Amir is a wealthy, selfish, rich boy who rests on his morals and rarely conveys sympathy towards Hassan due to his rank on the societal spectrum. Hassan is born into his social class (servant) due to him and his father’s ethnicity, Hazara, which is a minority ethnic group within Afghanistan. Even though Amir often characterizes Hassan as a friend at times he throws this notion away due to society’s beliefs of the Hazaras as a minority group who should be treated with little respect and importance. Throughout this story Amir has frequently relied on society’s beliefs to shape his own decisions in order to gain social recognition and respect among the majority.

    Ironically, Amir’s own father seems to act in a more empathetic fashion towards Hassan and Ali despite their ethnicity and level on the societal spectrum. Even though he and Ali have been friends since they were little kids (Ali was Baba’s servant) Baba still treats both Hassan and Ali with the same respect as he would with close friends and considers them a part of his family to Amir’s detriment. He does not allow societal views to get in the way of his own personal beliefs. Surprisingly, Baba often treats his servants in a better manner compared to his son where he turns on a cold, stern persona when in his presence. This is most likely due to Amir’s arrogant, conflicted personality where he shares little to no similarities to his own father and rarely attempts to solve these differences which leads to him taking on a more isolated approach.

    Throughout these first hundred pages I have gained a strong connectedness to all the main characters present so far in the novel. They have shown extreme emotions and actions toward each other which is largely based on their many differences. I am interested of how these will be solved in the chapters to come and how each relationship (Amir and Hassan, Amir and Baba) will either grow or terminate and how Afghanistan will be changed (foreshadowing from beginning of the novel).

  4. jefferysun1234

    Michael, John, Ben and Brogan have all been focusing on the relationships that are prevalent in this story. I agree with what they have said and do not find anymore to say about that topic that they have not already stated. So I would like to shift the focus to the writer’s craft and some of the themes that I have noticed in the story. Plenty of which can be analyzed in the very short, 3 paragraph, 1st chapter.

    With the very first chapter there is a lot of things revealed about the book: the characters, events, and even the way the story is going to be told. With the very first sentence the reader can see the story is going to be told in the form of a flashback as the subheading reads “December 2001” and the unnamed narrator immediately begins to speak about 1975.The first chapter is also able to establish the basic setting for the story, Afghanistan and San Francisco. Khaled Hosseini also introduces the narrator who is an important part in this book. The narrator, being thirty-eight years old, not only can share experiences from his youth, but also can comment upon them. The narrator asserts “I became what I am today at the age of twelve” and it is up to the reader to determine the relative truth of this assertion. With these basic facts down from the very first chapter the reader is then able to further jump into the story.

    I would also like to bring light to the use of suspense that Hosseini uses. In the story that narrator is always making references towards things that the readers don’t really know of. For example he references some certain event that happened that the reader doesn’t know of, he Parallels San Francisco and Kabul, and he keeps on mentioning characters like Baba who are a mystery so far. After reading the first chapter the reader desperately wants to find the significance of the event, locations and characters. This is an interesting tactic used by Hosseini, but it definitely worked.

    In the chapter two important lines are highlighted “for you, a thousand times over” and “there is a way to be good again” by putting both in italics. These lines relate specifically to character, plot, and thematic development throughout The Kite Runner. They also encompass the ideas of service, loyalty, the atonement of sins and, as my partners discussed, family. The themes that are going to be in the story are already revealed to the reader which I believe is a hit or a miss. If the reader wants to focus on the story it is a good thing as they would not have to focus on themes and could fully focus on the plot. But, if the reader is trying to create metaphors to common life and world problems it is hard to create new themes for the book when they are so clearly highlighted in the first chapter.

    Overall I have read the book and it has been very fantastic. It starts on a very happy note, but gets darker and darker as the conflict progresses. Friendships are tested by bullies and racism and all leads up to a climax of “Act 1” where Amir witnesses Hassan getting raped yet doesn’t do anything at all. The story is powerful and I can’t wait to read more.

  5. Michael Murray

    I completely agree with Jeff’s analysis of both the writing craft and themes in the novel. I would like to pick up right where Jeff left off: the rape scene.
    As a reminder, Hassan was raped by Assef, a neighborhood bully, and his friends. This part of the novel was graphic and disturbing. As Hassan was being raped, Amir watched and did nothing. Minutes later, Hassan appeared and Amir pretended that he was looking for him. Both Amir and Hassan never speak of what happened. This moment clearly demonstrates the reality of Amir and Hassan’s “friendship.” Amir obviously did not care enough about Hassan to interfere when Assef was raping him.
    Amir feels confused, scared and most importantly guilty after seeing the rape. He tries to distance himself from Hassan since Hassan is quite literally a reminder of Amir’s failure to act. This once again shows Amir’s cowardliness and also his inability to confront his mistakes. While sleeping in a room with other men, Amir tries to lessen his guilt by freely admitting out loud what he witnessed, but no one heard him since they were asleep. This symbolizes how Amir has to live with the fact that he stood by and let Hassan get raped.
    Amir begins by feeling guilty and then secretly desires being punished for his actions. One day while sitting under a pomegranate tree, Amir tries to get Hassan to hit him with pomegranates. Hassan of course refuses. This further shows that Amir does not know how to deal with his guilt. Amir went from trying to distance himself from Hassan to trying to get Hassan to punish him. Eventually, Amir decides that he can no longer be so close to Hassan. Amir hides money and Baba’s watch under Hassan’s bed and then tells Baba that Hassan stole it. When confronted, Hassan does not deny it. Once again, Hassan falls on his own sword for Amir. Ali and Hassan voluntarily leave, which upsets Baba.
    The story then proceeds to go forward in time to when Amir and Baba are attempting to enter Pakistan. As Karim, a truck driver driving Amir, Baba, and other refugees, goes through a Russian checkpoint, the Russian soldiers stop him and say the price to pass is thirty minutes with a women in the truck. Baba quickly jumps to the woman’s side and refuses to give her to the Russians. A soldier raises his gun at Baba, but Baba does not back down. The soldiers eventually lower their guns and let them through. It is important to note how Baba stood up for the woman even when it meant that he was putting himself in harm’s way. This is evidently opposite of Amir’s reaction to Hassan being raped. Amir constantly tries to be just like Baba, but this scene shows how different they are.
    The story then skips again into the future when Amir and Baba are living in California. Once in California, Amir and Baba meet a man named General Taheri. Amir is immediately interested in General Taheri’s daughter, Soraya. After over a year, Amir finally is able to marry Soraya. Around this time, Baba is getting sick with lung cancer and is slowly dying. Baba’s eventual death is juxtaposed with Amir’s new life as a married man. This is an interesting time for Amir because he is transforming into a man. As Baba lays dying on his death bed, he explains to Amir that he was only hard on him because he wanted to prepare him for manhood. This is one of many instances when the audience begins to fill in the gaps. Soraya and Amir eventually try to have a baby, but with no success. Amir is angry and frustrated by the fact he can’t have a baby. I believe that Amir thinks having a child of his own is the last step to becoming a man.

  6. Brogan Deem-Ranzetta

    The second third of this novel brings out a growth in the development of Amir as he escapes the calamitous times he experienced while living in Kabul. This consists and not limited to his passive response to the rape of his servant/ friend, Hassan. During this scene he fought a necessity to intervene and help his longtime companion but instead let the social norms of society and stereotypes placed upon certain individuals take hold of him which influenced his final decision. This submissive action eventually led to the departure of this individual from Amir’s life where regret and satisfaction attacked two sides of his conflicted mind. When this event occurred Amir’s life took on an expected turn (foreshadowing from previous chapters) when he and his father had to leave Kabul due to the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan leading to a total transformation of life for Amir in the US.

    As Khaled Hosseini transitioned the story from Afghanistan to the United States he was able to juxtapose these two distinct cultures in a very clear way. One example comes when the author explains Baba’s (Amir’s father) lack of acceptance of American society as he constantly challenges the state of the food, water, and overall atmosphere around him so different than Kabul. This can be a very big challenge for many people as they transition from one country to the other where they often face homesickness and depression with hopes of returning to their beloved home. Surprisingly this issue actually applies to me as I have a friend who left the United States for Switzerland. Just recently he told me how tough it was to attempt to incorporate yourself into a distinctly different culture where a new language is being spoken and new traditions are being practiced. This relates to Baba who struggles to immerse himself within American culture where he faces these common issues.

    Another major theme that is prevalent among this section of the novel is the concept of love. Amir is immediately sworn into affection as he meets a true beauty in Soraya. This act of love is portrayed in a fascinating manner as the author uses imagery and suspense to introduce these characters’ strong devotion to each other and foreshadow coming events in the future which will shape the rest of their lives. This comes in the form of marriage. One interesting comparison I found from these characters was their strong fondness for reading. This similarity immediately connected these two main characters together where reading fastened each other’s lives as old and new stories became fused into one. The symbol of literature in this novel seems to act as an essential factor within Soraya and Amir’s experience in America as it holds both their Afghan and American lifestyles and encapsulates love, a distinct element in the lives of these two central figures.

    After reading two thirds of the Kite Runner I have been strongly connected to all of the characters involved and also the plot line so integrated with many twists and turns. I am really excited for the forthcoming events in the final third of this coming of age novel.

  7. benjaminaltman

    I would first like to say how much this book disturbs me. The rape scene that has been mentioned so many times is the pivotal event in the book where we see Amir for who he truly is. In the first few chapters of this third, I hated him with a deep passion for everything he did to Hassan, Ali, Baba, and even himself. He let Hassan get raped, broke the forty year relationship between Ali and Baba, and caused himself severe mental pain and torture. He has no one to blame but himself for the sequence of events that followed. Making Baba cry was specifically interesting because he is portrayed as a tough and burly character. His pride overshadowed his friendship with Hassan which eventually causes his broken friendship with Hassan. I am also unsure of how Hassan could handle the truth of knowing Amir had seen the rape and knowing he planting the money and watch in his hut. Even thought Amir had dealt so much pain and suffering to him, Hassan always remained sturdy and loyal. Honestly, at a few points in the novel I almost wanted Amir to die or get killed by Hassan. Luckily this didn’t happen and plot continues to become more and more complex.

    The difference in setting between Afghanistan and the United States really shaped Amir as he continues into adulthood. He finally becomes somewhat decent to others and recognizes the imperfections of society and himself. Baba struggles to adjust to the new normality’s of the country while Amir tries his best to be a “normal” citizen. He is now a full adult but still strays close to his father and obeys his wishes which is more of an Afghani ideal. Graduating high school is a victory for the pair as their futures are determined by their effort which could soon be turned into prosperity. Amir has high hopes for the future, Baba, and himself. He also believes a new country and a new home will help shade the past. However, after Rahim Kahn calls him, he is cast back into past, and rightfully so. He had no right to escape his prior actions and is now face to face with the ramifications of his actions. I truly hope he suffers, and I hope it hurts even more because there is nothing he can ever do to fix what he’s done.

    Hassan and Baba both shaped Amir into the person he is as an adult, and surprisingly, he isn’t a total screw up. In fact, he may have even learned from his mistakes. He is respectful to others, doesn’t lie, is sincere, and most importantly is less selfish. In his youth, he was greedy but for a good reason. Baba didn’t support him, his mother was gone, and Rahim Kahn wasn’t always there to be with him. He wanted Baba to accept him so badly, he would sin just to get some attention. This is partially why he let Hassan get raped. He wanted to return the kite to Baba so that he would gain his respect. This problem of supposed neglect is seen everywhere through the ages. Children want attention, and when they do not receive it, will go to drastic or even dangerous measures to get it. Hassan was different though, in fact maybe even the opposite of Amir. He never wanted the limelight, only wanting to follow orders and serve Amir. Amir showed him no mercy throughout their entire childhood, which is why even years later, he cannot forget.

    I am eager to see what the final portion of the novel has in store, as much as I dread anymore depressing plotlines or scenes to come. The tone of the book constantly soars from gloomy to hopeful in a unique hazy balance, so I will expect some very unique conclusions to come.

  8. jefferysun1234

    Most of my partners have been just splitting the book into thirds by simply dividing the chapters by 3. In reality this book is split perfectly into three engraved parts for the reader to enjoy. The first part establishes all the characters and introduces the event that is influential for Amir in all the later chapters. The second part is about Amir dealing with his guilt and trying to understand the United States. And so far from the third part, it seems to be that it is about Amir finally coming to terms with his past.

    As Ben and Brogan have said the past events with Hassan have shaped Amir into the person that he is in the United States. As my partners have said, the differences in the setting has been able to bring out the juxtaposition of the two cultures and possibly the conflict that Baba and Amir face. As I said before, this second part is all about Amir dealing with his guilt for the sins that he committed towards Hassan. There is at least one event that triggers a emotional response to Hassan in chapters 10-13. America has been the medium that Amir has been using to cope with Hassan, but small events haunt him about the things that he did.

    In Chapter 10 it takes the readers 5 years in the future where Amir and Baba are escaping. In the escape Amir hears a person named Kamal talk about how he had an encounter with 4 men who treated him like Assef treated Hassan. This small mention not only brings Amir to remember Hassan, but also has a greater thematic meaning. When Kamal, a servant of Assef, gets treated just like how Hassan was treated by Assef it created ideas of Divine Punishment or Karma. It is important to point out here that Assef, who is the leader, isn’t the one who gets punished, thus illustrating how the servants suffer for the decisions of those in power. This is again a parallel to Hassan and Amir’s relationship. Hassan had to suffer for the decisions of Amir, but still continued to serve because the minions never have any power any decisions by the leader.

    Even though Amir is using America to bury his past, chapter 11 and 12 are filled with two brief mentions of Hassan that brings Amir to flashback. In chapter 11 when getting his graduating present, Baba briefly wishes that Hassan was with there with them. This causes Amir to momentarily choke and again reminds him of the sins that happened the many years ago. Amir is again reminded by Baba when Baba says, “what happens in few days, sometimes even a single day can change the course of a whole lifetime” (142). The dramatic irony here is how Baba tells him this, yet doesn’t know this perfectly reflects Amir’s experience with the rape of Hassan and framing of Hassan. In chapter 12 Amir’s love interest Soraya mentions a servant that again flashes Amir back to Hassan.

    Finally in chapter 13 we see Amir during his wedding celebration, remembering Hassan and thinking of Hassan’s wedding day, if he even had one, which indicates his compassion, interest and demonstrates his growth as a character.

    The story is perfectly set up for Amir to face conflict in the third part. At the point that I have read Amir has just initiated a trip back to his first home. I am interested to see how the experience will affect Amir.

  9. johnredinbo

    While the first third of the novel seemed to focus on relationships, this second-third has one overarching theme: the truth. Is the truth constructive or degrading, and is it better to hide it, or bring it into the light?

    The biggest plot twist so far is also the greatest lie, which is that Hassan is actually Amir’s brother. Now, this brings up several conflicts, the most important of which is Baba’s identity. Baba used to tell his son that theft was the biggest crime a person could commit, and that it is disgusting to even consider it. That’s one of the several reasons why Amir feels guilty for planting stolen items on Hassan, because it is basically two counts of theft (the items themselves, and Hassan’s life in Kabul). But, now that we know Baba cheated with Sanaubar, and then didn’t claim his illegitimate son as his own, it almost feels like Baba’s identity has been a lie. Throughout the book, although he seems to be overbearing at times, Baba has been the one beacon of morality; his decisions are always for an ulterior cause, not selfishness. Yet after hearing this news, we have to wonder if this lie has revealed the true Baba, who cared way too much about the judgments of his peers to accept his son, Hassan.

    I’m unsure whether this lie shows his real identity, or if it’s a bad decision that has defined his life, akin to Amir abandoning Hassan to be raped. Does this truth only hurt, or does it make Amir into a better person? I for one believe that Amir has finally confronted his flaws because of the shocking truth of his brother, since he finally stands up for himself, and seeks a form of redemption for Hassan by traveling to Afghanistan to rescue his son.

    There’s also the lie of Amir’s childhood, which is pointed out by his bitter Afghani cab driver, Farid. As Amir travels back through Afghanistan, he sees it with less wonder than he did as a child, commenting on the broken down houses, and people dressed in rags. He literally says, “‘ I feel like a tourist in my own country…'” (231). Farid, however, tells Amir that this is the real Afghanistan, and that Amir lived a far-too privileged, and protected childhood to experience the true country. From this, Amir again improves. As a spoiled child, he would bully Hassan, and was ungrateful for the many gifts that were bestowed upon him. However, when Amir enters the home of a relatively poor family (after talking to Farid), he not only finds their cooking superb, but leaves a gift for the children. I believe that this is due to Farid revealing the truth.

    Overall, the Kite Runner is fantastic, and I look forward to seeing how the story will resolve in the last third

  10. Brogan Deem-Ranzetta

    Overall I would give the Kite Runner an 8/10 due to the many plot twists that occur throughout the novel and the character development of Amir as he transitions from being a very selfish and mean individual to a selfless adult in the latter stages of the novel. This was what I found most intriguing in the novel where Amir began to change throughout as he began to regret his passive characteristics as a child, specifically when Hassan gets raped.

    Through the entirety of the novel I thought the author did a great job of using a various number of stylistic devices such as flashbacks, foreshadowing, and suspense which led to a more cunning and entertaining story line. By incorporating flashbacks into the story we were able to see how memorable Amir’s childhood was for him and the guilt he experienced throughout. Furthermore, the use of suspense created a certain conflict in the story between Amir and himself and also among different characters throughout the story. He and other characters in the novel such as Hassan were very unpredictable in their actions. These different unforeseeable events such as the discovery of Hassan and Amir being brothers and also Sohrab (Hassan’s son) committing suicide further demonstrated the conflict between different characters in the novel due to various societal issues and beliefs.

    One major symbol that I felt was significant to the book was the kite. This proved to be the connection between Hassan and Amir despite their differences in ethnicity and also characteristics and feelings where it incorporated teamwork and subsequently resulted in enjoyment for them both. Sadly this came to an end in the beginning of the novel when the Russians invaded Afghanistan and as a result Hassan and Amir’s relationship slowly went downhill. At the end of the novel kite flying was reincorporated into the story which enlivened the relationship between Amir and his “son” Sohrab. I believe this overarching symbol holds a significant purpose in the novel which is to demonstrate happiness and sadly also guilt which is the reason behind the rape of Hassan. It also serves a valuable purpose in reminding him of his childhood which allows him to connect to Sohrab similar to his father, Hassan.

    The one aspect of the novel that proved to be disturbing was the amount of violence and death that was present throughout the whole story. From the death of Hassan to poverty present all throughout Afghanistan the list goes on on. But I realize the author incorporates these sad details into the story in order to demonstrate the violence that envelops Afghanistan currently which shapes the lives of many including Amir and Hassan. This is a must read!

  11. johnredinbo

    The Kite Runner is a great story about redemption, perspective, and family, deserving a 9/10 from me. Through the tale of Amir and his brother Hassan, we discover the devastating effect of the Soviets and Taliban on Afghanistan, within just a few decades, and how far a person may go to erase his mistakes.

    What I found most satisfying from the book was the conclusion. Sohrab (Hassan’s rescued son) at first harshly ignores Amir after his adoption, as he is afraid of more betrayal. However, Sohrab finally shows some level of tolerance by connecting with Amir through one thing: kite-flying. As Brogan said, kites are an important image in the novel, that help the characters build their relationships and connect. I believe that they serve as an escape from the troubles of life; Amir escaping from the disappointment of his father in the beginning, and Sohrab eventually using it to escape from his seeming depression. There’s also the fact that the ending isn’t necessarily happy, which fits within the tone, because it would be out of place to have a completely “contented” ending. As Amir says, “If someone were to ask me today whether the story of Hassan, Sohrab, and me ends with happiness, I wouldn’t know what to say. Does anybody’s?” (357).
    In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned important relationships within the novel. Upon finishing, I have decided that the dominant relationships in the book are between father and son. Between Amir and Baba, we see an complicated relationship, where a son continually attempts to meet his father’s expectations, and although that hurts their relationship, it makes Amir an overall better person. With Hassan and Ali, and Amir and Sohrab, we see that having a biological father isn’t the only way to have a good father. Ali and Amir are equally dedicated to their adoptive children, despite the horrors that originated from their relationships.

    Assef makes for the ultimate and most fitting antagonist within the novel. In the beginning, Assef is one of the reasons Amir feels unappreciated by Baba during his childhood, since Assef has physical prowess and rapes Hassan, sparking the shocking events of the rest of the novel. In the last third, Assef confronts the adult Amir, and it demonstrates how Amir has grown from his mistakes. It is clear that Assef now rapes Sohrab, and instead of being intimated by this despicable man, Amir finally stands up for himself, and attacks Assef, despite his obviously superior combat skills. Amir acts a lot like Hassan in the beginning, and this led me to realize that Amir sort of becomes Hassan towards the end. He is loyal, selfless, and valiant, no matter the obstacles thrown at him, and it goes to show how much Hassan affected Amir’s life, and the give and receive cycle that comes with loyalty.

    The Kite Runner is now one of my favorite novels, not only because of the meaningful relationships, conflicts, and recoveries, but the fresh perspective on the situation in Afghanistan. This book is a great end to the school year, and I thank my group for joining me through it!

  12. Michael Murray

    I would like to start by saying that I completely agree with John’s analysis. I think the conclusion of the novel ties up the story line perfectly.
    As the story continues on, Amir’s guilt and shame about what happened between him and Hassan is revived. Amir travels to Pakistan to visit Rahim Khan, an old family friend. Amir has several flashbacks during his visit to Rahim Khan, who has grown very sick. Amir’s constant flashbacks continue to show how he is unable to leave his past behind. Rahim tells Amir about what he has done in the last several years, most significantly, his encounter with Hassan. Chapter 16 is narrated in first person by Rahim. I personally do not like the author’s choice to have Rahim narrate since I feel it detracts from the notion that this novel is about Amir’s development from a young child to an adult. Regardless, Rahim tells Amir that he traveled back to Hazarajat to find Hassan. Rahim explains that he needed help to take care of Baba and Amir’s old house. Rahim says that when he told Hassan that Baba had died, Hassan cried. This is important to point out because it shows even after Hassan has had his life essentially ruined by Amir, yet he still feels sympathy for Amir’s loss. Hassan agrees to help Rahim take care of the house. Even in adulthood, Hassan is still working on Baba and Amir’s behalf and living in the servant quarters.
    Amir goes on to learn that Hassan and his wife had a baby while living at the house. This is a key fact because remember, Amir was unable to have a baby with his life. Amir was able to grow up and live an ideal life while Hassan had to stay in Kabul and live a more challenging life. However, Hassan was able to have one thing that Amir could never have: a child. All of Amir’s joys and successes in life are overshadowed by the fact he can’t have a child. Time goes on and eventually Rahim leaves the house to travel to Pakistan, leaving Hassan and his wife alone in the house. The Taliban come along one day and discover Hassan living in the house. Hassan desperately tries to explain to them that he is taking care of the house for a friend, but the Taliban soldiers don’t believe him. Hassan is dragged to the street and shot. Farzana, his wife, his shot as she rushes out of the house. I believe this is the most tragic part of the book not just because Hassan and his wife are killed, but because Hassan is harmed as indirect result of Amir. This happened earlier, when Hassan was raped after trying to retrieve the kite for Amir. Now, Hassan is killed for taking care of Amir’s home. Amir is of course shocked and in disbelief, but the worst blow is yet to come. Rahim eventually goes on to reveal that Baba was Hassan’s father. This is hard for Amir to comprehend; not only because he never knew that about his father, but also because he now considers that all of the terrible things he had ever done to Hassan directly or indirectly were actions against his own brother.
    Amir goes on to try and make up for his sins by adopting Hassan’s orphaned son. Amir has to travel into Afghanistan and rescue Sohrab, the son, from the Taliban. The lengths that Amir goes to to get Sohrab shows that he is slowly turning into a more seasoned adult. Sohrab even uses a slingshot to free Amir from a dangerous situation (sound familiar). Adopting Sohrab is almost Amir’s way of repenting for what he did to Hassan.
    Overall, I would give this a 10/10. I really enjoyed this book. I believe the author did a wonderful job of examining the impact that individual choices can have on a person’s life. I also liked that the author chose to focus on the development of one character throughout the novel. That allowed for me to become invested with Amir and to really be able to closely examine his development.

  13. jefferysun1234

    Before I begin my post I would like to state how surprisingly good this book was. I would give this book a 9.5 stars out of 10 because it was very well written and contained a lot of things that I believe make literature so great. The parallels between generations is so powerful and present in this book, and it really gets the reader to think about their relationship with their parents. I believe that the essence of the book can be found in the climax fight scene with Assef in chapter 22. Like John said, this chapter is vital to tying the entire story line into a complete circle.

    At the start of the chapter Amir enters the room alone. Amir entering alone is extremely important for his character’s development, having both literal and metaphorical meaning. For the first time in his life, Amir is facing a difficult situation head on, boldly, like a man, making his own decision based on his own actions. Of course, it is extremely difficult, and that is why these steps can be considered steps into manhood. A book follows the major theme of growing into adulthood which is what happens to Amir throughout the book. Amir also waits in the room to builds suspense. Two bits of foreshadowing — one indirect and one direct — take place during this waiting period. The mention of the coffee table seems to merely be description, but the specific detail about the brass balls is important. Not only do the brass balls serve as a reminder of the table Amir saw in Pakistan, but they also indirectly foreshadow the ammunition Sohrab will use in his slingshot. The mentioning of eating a grape, which would be “the last bit of solid food I would eat for a long time,” explicitly prepares the reader for the beating that Amir is going to sustain.

    Speaking without thinking was another sign of Amir’s growth as a character. His speaking out against Assef and the Taliban is reminiscent of Hassan referring to Assef as “One-Eyed Assef.” That line, spoken by Hassan in Chapter 5, also prepares the readers for Sohrab’s actions with his own slingshot. Some consider the symmetry of the actions between father and son. Physically, Sohrab looks like Hassan; skillwise, he mirrors Hassan; and Sohrab also is saving Amir just like his father. This could be an allusion to the Biblical Story of David and Goliath where a young boy defeats a giant with a slingshot. This contrasts the two religions Islam and Christianity which the author of the book makes a point of making every once and a while.

    It is interesting to see how both the father Hassan and the son Sohrab suffer sexual abuse at the hands of the same perpetrator. Although there is the symmetry between plotlines and generations, I believe that it is an example of improbability which so much of this book is based on.

    The speed of the scene not only indicates the quickness of the battle but also emphasizes that this event is not the focal point of the narrative. Rather, it is just another step on Amir’s journey toward maturity. Not only does Amir finally receive a punishment that he longs for, one that he feels fits the crime, but he is also doing something positive and worthwhile to atone for his sins.

    I would highly recommend to anybody who reads this book and it has now become one of my most favorite books of all time.

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