I believe that The Kite Runner does present quite a depressing picture of life in Afghanistan, the first thing coming to mind being the rape of Hassan by some local boys. The boys justified this obscene act by referring to Hassan as “just a Hazara,” displaying the ultimately racist attitude that Sunni Muslims possessed. This gives the impression that Afghanistan is a highly racist place that is unpleasant, especially for Hazaras. The Russian invasion additionally paints life in Afghanistan to be a highly negative experience, with “Roussi soldiers patrolling the streets” keeping order and taking away any freedom that the Afghanis had.
After the Russian invasion, The Taliban takes over, which is expected to be a miracle, even Rahim Kahn “danced” in the streets, and he “wasn’t alone”, the people thought that this was a positive thing. Initially, the Taliban are described as “heroes”, however later they are likened to a “rabid dog” indicating their negative effect on the country. The Taliban treat Afghans that appear to challenge their rules violently, resulting in the death of Hassan and the beating of his wife after she spoke too loudly one day at a market, she was given a “large purple bruise”, showing how restrictive and violent the Taliban is.
Furthermore, life in the country is painted as very depressing, especially for Hassan – a Hazara – when his mother leaves him when he was just a boy, which is “far worse than death” as she chose to leave him. The way Hassan is taunted for this, when two soldiers make remarks such as “What a tight little sugary cunt she had! ” which would have upset Hassan quite a lot, especially with the vulgar language as he is only a boy at this point.
The fact that Baba and Amir left the country for America proves that life in Afghanistan under the Taliban rule is not desirable or fulfilling, Baba “loved” the idea of America; the fact that it was free and people were not getting shot in the streets for having an opinion – in America, people had freedom of speech, which is very desirable. This relates to the American Dream – Baba believes that he can get a better life for himself and his son in America. In contrast to this, however, life in Afghanistan isn’t always bad. We see the strong bond and love between Amir and Hassan, they would be “giggling, laughing” together, showing that you can find some happiness if you have the right people. Their brother-
like relationship is truly very sweet, drawing emotion from the reader. Hassan “fends” off anyone that tries to hurt Amir, showing his devotion to his friend. The place is also described as a very beautiful place, especially in wintertime when you could go kite running, Amir writes about how he “loved wintertime in Kabul” showing that there are some perks to living in Afghanistan, as you wouldn’t get a winter like that anywhere else. Amir’s admiration of Rahim Khan is also quite sweet, as we see that Rahim appears to be the only one that understands what Amir is going through at times, he offers to read his stories when his father will not, showing the caring nature of him.
He makes Amir’s life in Afghanistan a lot happier, as Amir knows that he cares and he defends Amir being different when he tells Baba “children aren’t colouring books”. Furthermore, life in Afghanistan is shown to be quite pleasant by the description of Amir’s family’s house in Jalalabad, it had a “walled garden with apple and persimmon trees” and is generally described as being a very scenic and beautiful place. Amir’s admiration of Baba is also very sweet, Amir describes him as a “force of nature” and is clearly very much in awe of his capabilities.
He idolises his father, which is apparent throughout most of the book. Amir’s trips out with Hassan to see the Magnificent Seven “thirteen times” shows that the boys had freedom and fun, they were able to spend their little amount of money how they pleased. Afghanistan is described as quite pretty at times too, Baba had built “the most beautiful house” showing that there is beauty in this area, so it can’t all be depressing. To conclude, I believe that The Kite Runner presents life in Afghanistan as very depressing, as ultimately the depressing features of the area outweigh the positive.
Hosseini writes so that Afghanistan is not entirely depressing – it has its positives – however when the Taliban takes over, it is described as a thoroughly depressing place, making the escape to America even more of a relief. The contrast between Talbian-ruled Afghanistan and America is immense, and so the reader is happy that they have left the place, and are sad to find out that Hassan still remained there and died there. However, life before any invasions in Afghanistan was painted as quite a pleasant place to be, apart from the obvious discrimination against Hazaras.
Courtney from Study Moose
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