Imagine living in a country which is completely different from Canada. The lifestyle of this country will be very different from what you are accustomed to. And the culture will be more different. There are many cultures around the world. Each culture has different beliefs and expectations. The lifestyles of people in these cultures are all influenced by the culture. Based on the novel, The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, the Afghani culture imposes restrictions on the characters in the novel, consequently resulting in a negative impact on their lives.
The Afghani culture inflicts restrictions on relationships, career choices, and household activities. Relationships are an aspect of the characters lives which is restricted by the Afghani Culture. In the Afghani culture, people believe that people should only marry within their own status: “People scoffed that [he] would never marry well- after all, he was not of royal blood” (Hosseini 16). Thus, due to the cultural influence, marriages between others of a different status are often forbidden.
Royalty only weds royalty, poor only weds poor, and people in merchant families only wed people in other merchant families. Henceforth, a negative impact is imposed upon the characters, Baba and Rahim Khan, as they are not allowed to marry whoever they want. Even if marriage with a person of lower status occurred, the spouse “‘would have suffered, [the] family would have never accepted them an equal. You don’t order someone to polish your shoes one day, then call them ‘sister’ [or ‘brother’] the next’” (Hosseini 105).
Furthermore, the relationship between the two castes, the Hazaras and the Pashtuns, are influenced by the Afghani culture, as the Hazaras are considered a lower caste by the Pashtuns: “[T]he reason Pashtuns had oppresse[d] the Hazaras, was that Pashtuns were Sunni Muslims, while Hazaras were Shi’a” (Hosseini 9). The cultural belief of the Hazaras being an unworthy caste results in restrictions of relationships between the Hazaras and the Pashtuns.
Many Hazaras are almost never able to have a positive relationship with Pashtuns, instead they “have often been persecuted for their distinctive ethnicity and religious beliefs” (“Hazara”). Therefore, negative consequences are imposed on the Hazaras as they are often faced with a high level of hatred and a low level of respect. In the novel, Ali and Hassan, father and son who are Hazaras, are frequently bullied and teased by many of the Pashtuns in the community.
The career choices of the characters in the novel are limited due to the Afghani culture. In the Afghani culture, people believe that people will be more successful in the same career path as their family: “People were always doubting him. They told Baba that running a business wasn’t in his blood and [that] he should study law like his father” (Hosseini 16). Thus due to the cultural belief of following your family’s career path, people in this culture are often restricted from choosing a career of which they truly desire.
If someone was to follow a specific career path which matched their interests but was completely different from the careers of their family, they will be often pressured into not following their dreams. Hence, a negative impact is imposed on people in these situations as they are not able to follow their dreams and do what they wish to do. Similarly, in the novel, Baba’s wishes to become a business man were discouraged and pinned down by his loved ones as it was not a similar career to rest of his family’s.
Furthermore, due to the strong discrimination of Hazaras in the Afghani culture, Hazaras will always be servants and cooks: “What does he know, that illiterate Hazara? He’ll never be anything but a cook” (Hosseini 37). The discrimination in the Afghani culture restricts Hazaras from getting a job other than as a servant or a cook. They will be born into servant families and grow up to be servants and that is how it will always be. Following their dream career paths is restricted by the Afghani culture as they do not have a choice of what career they want.
The negative impact, as a result of this cultural restriction, is that Hazaras are never going receive the opportunity of having a career other than a servant or cook. They are always going to be burdened with the fact that they are going to be servants and cooks and nothing else. In the novel, even though Hassan, who is a Hazara, had dreams of having a successful career, he has “accepted the fact that he’d grow old in that mud shack in the yard as a servant, the way his father had” (Hosseini 62), due to the cultural restrictions in the Afghani culture.
Household activities are limited and very specific due to the Afghani culture. There are specific activities which are believed to be sins in the Afghani culture such as drinking because “Islam consider[s it] to be a terrible sin; those who dr[i]nk would answer for their sin on the day of Qiyamat; judgement day” (Hosseini, 17). The cultural belief of specific activities being sins restricts people from performing these activities. These activities do not only include drinking but other activities as well and therefore many activities are restricted.
Therefore, a negative impact is imposed on the people of this culture as they are not able to do some activities, even though might want to. Even if someone was to go against the culture, they would have to do the activity in secrecy or face negative attitudes from everyone else. Additionally in the novel, Baba drank even though it was considered a cultural sin and he received many negative comments from the people surrounding him.
Moreover, in the Afghani culture, there are specific guidelines on what food can be eaten and how it should be prepared; “Baba had hand-picked the sheep again this year… The mullah recites the prayer… The custom is to divide the meat in thirds… The custom in to not let the sheep see the knife. Ali feeds the animal a cube of sugar – another custom to make death sweeter… The mullah grabs it under its jaws and places the blade on its neck… before he slices the throat in one expert motion” (Hosseini, 81).
These guidelines restrict the people of this culture of eating specific food. All of their food must be a specific food prepared a specific way because “the common Islamic food prohibitions are respected in Afghanistan. For example meat is only eaten from animals that are slaughtered according to the Islamic law” (“Culture of Afghanistan”). Therefore they cannot eat all foods. They are negatively influenced by this cultural belief as they are not allowed to eat whatever they want.
They must always make sure they are following the specific food prohibitions and therefore they are not able to try different foods. The Afghani culture imposes restrictions on relationships, career choices and household activities. Overall, many negative impacts of the characters in the novel, The Kite Runner, have occurred as a result of the restrictions placed upon them by the Afghani culture. Although the restrictive attributes of the Afghani culture has a negative impact on the people, it is those same attributes which make it unique from other cultures.
Courtney from Study Moose
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