Khaled Hosseini is an Afghan-born American author. He debuted with “The Kite Runner” which was his first novel, in 2003. The Kite Runner takes place in Kabul, Afghanistan and ends in California, America. It is about a friendship between two boys and how the oldest boy gets another chance make up for the mistakes that he committed in is his childhood. The plot takes place in Kabul, Afghanistan in the 70’s. Amir is a wealthy boy from the upper class. He has always had problems being acknowledged and accepted by his father, which is also introduced as Baba in the book.
Amir has always felt like Baba was blaming him for the death of Amir’s mother, because she died giving birth to him. But Amir is lucky enough to have someone like Rahim Khan, Baba’s friend, who understands and supports him better than Baba. And on the other side, we have Hassan who is Amir’s best friend and introduced as a mere “hazara”. A “hazara” is a member of Afghan ethnic minority group, and is primarily of the Shi’a Muslim faith. Hassan is the son baba’s servant Ali. And they usually spend their days flying kites, climbing on pomegranate trees and telling stories.
In the wintertime, during the holidays in Afghanistan the usual kite tournament took place. There were hundreds of kite flyers competing to be the best, but this tournament meant more to Amir than anyone else. This was the only chance he had to impress Baba. He wanted to win so badly, because he knew that he had never been the son his Baba always wanted. Baba always claimed that he was though and masculine, and this made Amir, who were more into stories and books feel like a coward. He felt like Baba loved Hassan more than him, this made him jealous.
Hassan was a skilled kite runner for Amir; he always knew where the kite would land without even watching it. On a triumphant day, Amir won the local competition and Baba’s acceptance. Hassan runs along to get the last kite for Amir, while shouting “For you, a thousand times over”. Unfortunately he meets Assef, a bully who Hassan threatened to save Amir earlier, on his way to get the kite. Assef is threatening to beat him up if he does not give up Amir’s kite, but Hassan refuses to give him the kite. So as revenge for the events that happened earlier, he rapes Hassan.
Amir is starting to wonder why Hassan takes so long, so he goes after him and witnesses this while hiding. Amir, who is a coward, does not dare to help because he basically thinks that Hassan deserves it a little. Amir walks home, ashamed of his own cowardice. He has been jealous of Baba’s love for Hassan. Amir feared that if Baba found out how heroic Hassan defended Amir’s kite, and how cowardly Amir himself had acted, he would love Hassan even more. Later in the book, Amir accuses Hassan for stealing his watch and hides it under Hassan’s pillow.
Hassan does not deny, because of his blind love and loyalty for Amir. Baba forgives Hassan even though he previously explained Amir how he viewed stealing as the worst act a human could do. But because of shame Hassan and his father leaves for good. And Amir was finally rid of the daily reminder of his cowardly betrayal, but he still lives with the shame. Five years later, the Soviet Union invades Afghanistan. So Amir and Baba escape to Peshawar Pakistan, and then Fremont California. And he meets the woman who eventually became his wife, Soraya Teheri.
A few days later, we get to know that Baba is very ill and will not live for long. But he still manages to ask Soraya’s father for his blessing and her hand for Amir. He says yes, and Baba dies soon after. Several years later, Amir gets a successful career as a writer. One day, he receives a call from Rahim Khan, who is dying of a disease. Rahim asks Amir to come to Pakistan, and says: “there is a way to be good again”. Amir accepts the challenge and leaves without knowing what he’ll face. When he meets Rahim Khan in Pakistan, he tells him that Hassan got married and had a son called Sohrab.
Taliban soldiers killed Hassan and his wife while they were protecting Baba’s house where they grew up together. And Sohrab had been sent to an orphanage. He also reveals that Baba was Hassan’s biological father, so Hassan was his half brother. And that he should go back to Kabul and save Hassan’s son Sohrab from the orphanage. When Amir returns to Kabul, he meets Assef again after all these years. He was sexually abusing young boys, and Amir suspects that Assef abused Sohrab as well. Assef says that Amir can bring Sohrab home in one condition, which is that he will beat him up thoroughly.
Assef strikes and kicks Amir until Sohrab shoots Assef in the eye with a slingshot and meet the threat his father had given Assef years earlier. Amir takes Sohrab home to America and adopt him, it takes hard work and dedication because they were having complications with his migration. Later Amir takes Hassan to teach him how to fly a kite like he and Hassan did. Amir cuts the wire to one of the other kite’s, and runs after it while whispering: “For you, a thousand times over”. We can also talk about who these characters are, and what characterizes them.
We have Amir who is the story’s narrator and protagonist. He is an Afghan boy who lived a peaceful life with his father in Kabul until the invasion in Afghanistan. He betrays his closest friend, Hassan. He is also a very jealous type. In the book we can see how Amir develops as a character, he returns back to Afghanistan to face the consequences of his actions. He basically becomes more and more like Hassan. Hassan is the most loyal and devoted servant. A quote that makes him stand out is; “For you, a thousand times over”. No matter what Amir did to him, he would never betray or do anything to hurt Amir.
He is smart and stands up for other, and not to mention the best kite runner in Kabul. His love for Amir and Baba was indescribable. Baba was a wealthy and well-respected man with a dark secret; he had an affair with Ali’s wife and Hassan was his illegitimate son. He always talks about how stealing and murder is the worst act a human being can do, but later in the book we see that Baba is not a very trusting man. And that he never holds his word. Baba’s closest friend, Rahim Khan was always the one who cheered up Amir. He often knew what people were thinking and how and what to tell them.
Rahim always encouraged Amir to become a writer. On the other side, we have Ali. He was Hassan’s “father” and was a Hazara whom Baba’s father took in when his parents were killed. He is religious, strict but at the same time very loving. He always cared just as much for the boys, and never wanted anything bad to happen to them. And always, there is a villain in this story as well. Assef was basically a sociopath who worshiped Hitler. He felt the same way for the Hazara’s like Hitler did for the jews. He raped Hassan as a child, and used Sohrab as a sex slave until Amir rescued him.
After reading the book, you can find several themes: betrayal, forgiveness and love. For most of the novel, Amir attempts to deal with his guilt by avoiding it. But doing this clearly does nothing toward redeeming himself, and his guilt endures. Only when he rescues Sohrab, is he finally able to take the necessary steps toward redemption. Forgiveness is also a big part of the book. Examples can be; Hassan forgiving Amir for accusing him of being a thief. Baba trying to gain public forgiveness for something he even did not admit. Amir by answering, “God will forgive” to Rahim Khan’s letter.
And of course love. They all did what they did for love. Amir loved his father dearly, Hassan loved Amir too much to reveal the truth and Baba wants to protect Amir and Hassan against the shame they would feel if the truth came out. We can also find a lot of different symbols in the book. The first and most important one is obviously the kite and everything that associates with it. Traditionally, kites symbolize prophecy and fate, and we can definitely associate the book with those two things. And we also have the pomegranate tree that the boys carefree played on.
The tree symbolizes their relationship, they carve their names in the tree, eat the fruit from it and so on. Last but not least we have the slingshot. It represents two generations, Hassan and Sohrab’s. The slingshot symbolizes their childhood and the guts to stand up for one self. Both father and son use a slingshot to stop Assef, even though Hassan only threatened to do it but Sohrab was forced to do it. The setting is obviously in Afghanistan Kabul under good circumstances in Amir and Hassan’s childhood. Baba was a rich man and was therefore able to take care of everyone.
This was until the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and they had to migrate to America. Taliban conquered Afghanistan and the living conditions in the country were bad. Women were being raped and they were not allowed to walk outside, especially not without something that hid their hair. People lost their jobs and the country was caused great losses. Personally I think that this is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. The author describes the setting, characters and tells a great story. This is one of those books you do not want to finish, because it definitely plays with your emotions.
The book is able to make you feel the betrayal, love and everything the characters go through. They all taught me different, but important things. Amir there is no escape from the past, and that sooner or later you will have to make up for the mistakes and actions that still hides in your subconscious. But Hassan taught many things, some of them were that one loyal friend is worth more than ten thousand relatives. And self-sacrifice is actually when someone protects others within their shadows, that they are the real heroes.
The story itself taught me to appreciate everything I have more than I already do. That jealousy and envy does not fit into a friendship and judging a person by their appearance is not okay. Because even though Hassan was his half-brother, he treated him like a slave. Hassan never thought of Amir as something else than a brother he would lay down his life to save. And finally, later in the book Amir accepts the fact that he cannot live his life in disgrace. He believed that it was impossible to abandon the will of someone who once laid down his life in order to protect you.