English Oral – The Kite Runner (Social Class/Marginalization) Good Morning/Afternoon and my fellow colleagues. My speech today will emphasise the discriminatory behaviour between different social classes. Throughout The Kite Runner, discrimination between different social classes is quite evident and is shown in many cases throughout the novel. The author of the novel,KhaledHosseini,uses a biased point of view to describe and portray the events, characters and culture represented in the story.
In the novel, Khaled Hosseini uses prejudice as a tool to tell this story of betrayal and redemption. The story is set in Afghanistan, and the ethnicity of the characters plays an essential role in the relationships and situations that arise. Whilst the author uses individual characters to tell the story, he portrays the general attitudes and history associated with the characters’Hazara and Pashtun ethnic origins and the conflicts that subsequently arise. Ali and Hassan represent the marginalized group in this story.
They are considered by the ruling class to be of lesser value due to their ethnic origin, religious beliefs, appearance and social standing. They are discriminated against because of these differences. The Kite Runnerorbits around the life of Amir, a wealthy non-practising Sunni Muslim Pashtun living in Afghanistan. His father, his Baba, is very wealthy and has a Hazara servant, named Ali. Ali’s son, Hassan, is Amir’s servant, yet Hassan regards Amir as a close friend although Amir doesn’t feel the same.
The curious thing was, I never thought of Hassan and me as friends either… In the end, I was a Pashtun and he was a Hazara, I was Sunni and he was Shi’a, and nothing was ever going to change that. Nothing”. Amir thinks of Hassan as more of a companion when he wants one, rather than a friend, due to the marginalized beliefs of his people that Pashtuns are superior to Hazaras. The author gives us a glance of this when Amir reads about the harassment of, and attempted uprising of the Hazaras, and how Amir’s people, the Pashtuns had: “…quelled them with unspeakable violence”.
The disregard that the Pashtun people have for the Hazaras is reinforced when Amir asks his teacher about what he has read and he responds by saying, “That’s one thing Shi’a people do well, passing themselves as martyrs. He wrinkled his nose when he said the word Shi’a, like it was some kind of disease”. This idea confirms that the social indifference and discriminatory behaviour also dwells between different religious groups, not only race. Apart from the act that the Hazaras were of Mongolian descent, the main reason they were being persecuted and oppressed was because of their religious differences.
The fact that they were Shia Muslims rather than Sunni placed them as inferior to the Pashtuns. They were looked down upon, verbally abused and in some cases, such as Hassan’s, physically and sexually abused. When Assef rapes Hassan, he tells his companions that “It’s just a Hazara,”because of his religious beliefs, as if Hassan was not even human. Another reason why the Hazaras were persecuted was because of their “flat-nosed… ongoloid,” features.
They were described as looking somewhat Chinese, and since they looked out of the ‘norm’, were placed in a lower social class. Ali himself wasn’t described as having a harelip like Hassan, but “Ali had congenital paralysis of his lower face muscles, a condition that rendered him unable to smile and left him perpetually grimfaced”. Despite all the torment that Ali and Hassan received because of being Shii’, it seemed that they had a deformity of their own, inevitably causing more pain.
The relationship between Hassan and Amir is rather complex due to the many differences between each character. As said before, Hassan is a Hazara which predominately classified him lower in social standing. Amir feels superior to Hassan because of his social status and ethnicity. Amir seems to feel that he is superior to Hassan because his family is renowned and wealthy; he’s allowed to receive an education and he is not of Hassan’s ethnic group. Amir is also jealous of Hassan because his father pays a lot of attention to Hassan, such as never forgetting his birthday.
When witnessing the rape of Hassan, Amir fails to react, and cowardly runs away. If it weren’t for the social prejudice that was heavily upheld against the Hazaras, Amir may have reacted differently. Kabul’s ‘sociopath’, Assef, is portrayed as an extremely discriminatory figure when it came to the Hazaras. Some Afghan’s believed that he wasn’t totally ‘sane’, which only fuelled his hatred for the Hazaras. When confronting Amir and Hassan, Assef once again shows how internalized this hostility is when he says, “Afghanistan is the land of the Pashtuns.
It always has been, always will be. We are the true Afghans, the pure Afghans, not this Flat-Nose here”. Ironically, Assef himself isn’t a ‘pure’ Afghan being a half-Afghan half-German hybrid, yet he still regards himself superior. Both Hassan and his father Ali accept their position in life without question, and while they may feel pain when insulted by Assef and the Pashtun community, they seem content with their simple, yet happy lives. Another social difference present throughout the novel is the under rated position of women.
In the beginning of the novel, there is a complete absence of women and the stress of relationships lies on the ties that are formed between males. Neither Amir nor Hassan has a mother and there is absolutely no mention of women or the part they play in daily life in Afghanistan. Instead, there is much more focus on the ties that exist between father and son and in the friendships made between males. BecauseThe Kite Runner is a male dominated novel about the male’s role in an Afghanistan society, the lack of input of women in this novel reinforces the lack of women’s rights.
Amirs’ wife,Soraya, raises the issue of oppression through her conflicting past that was constantly haunting her due to her lower social class, being a woman. Through this text Soraya demonstrates a strong belief that the oppression of females still occurs in the Afghan community. “Their sons go out to night clubs looking for meat and get their girlfriends pregnant… Oh, they’re just men having fun! I make one mistake… and I have my face rubbed in it for the rest of my life. ”Soraya’s previous belief proves that the Afghan culture of male dominance is still present in many Afghans, even out of Afghanistan.
In conclusion, The Kite Runner is a novel that emphasises discrimination in the difference between various social classes in the Afghan community. The Shii are abused by the Sunni because of their different religious beliefs. The Pashtuns abuse the Hazaras because of their cultural differences. Men make up the bulk of Afghanistan’s leadership, whilst the women are left in the streets, husbandless. It is stated in the novel by Amir’s father that there is one sin and that is theft; and the novel clearly establishes that the minority of Afghanistan’s social class have had their rightful life stolen from them.
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