“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.