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Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner relies too heavily on coincidence; consequently, surrealism masks the novel. Though the novel portrays the cruelty of the Taliban and poverty in Afghanistan, Hosseini’s reliance on coincidence lessens its literary value as the novel descends into ridiculous and unrealistic plot twists. As critic Edward Hower notes, such plot twists are “better suited to a folk tale than a modern novel.”
Hosseini thickly foreshadows the plot line and in doing so, uses coincidence as a form of simplicity. He thus not only insults the intelligence of the reader, but also lessens the novels literary value by using contrived plot twists. When Amir randomly starts talking to a homeless man in the street of a devastated Kabul, for example, he learns that the homeless man was a former university professor who, coincidentally, taught with Amir’s long deceased mother.
Amir learns more about his mother’s characteristics from the homeless man – that she was “profusely happy” – than he did from Baba, his father. This coincidence consoles Amir during his archetypal night journey through Kabul, and further lessens the novels literary value because it uses a ridiculous incident in an attempt to relieve the reader’s anticipation of absolute chaos and turmoil. Instead, the plot transforms into a surrealistic story in which the reader still anticipates a typical “night journey.” Hosseini even attempt to excuse his writing flaw through Amir, who explains that while the incident may seem coincidental, such random meetings occur often in Afghanistan.
When Amir learns his former childhood nemesis, Assef – now the emblem of Hitler, who ironically was Assef’s childhood role model – keeps Sohrab hostage, the plot line spirals into “a folk tale.” Reality seems even more surreal. Just as Assef threatens and molests Hassan, he now ironically threats and molests Hassan’s child.
When Assef and Amir fight, Sohrab defends Amir by skillfully using his slingshot to injure Assef’s eye; similarly, Hassan uses a slingshot to threaten Assef and protect Amir from Assef. After Amir’s surgery due to injuries from the fight, a scar appears above his lip; this parallels Hassan’s scar after a surgery that fixed his hare-lip. Ultimately, these ironies and coincidences demonstrate little literary mastery.
Amir finally redeems himself from betraying Hassan when he selflessly flies a kite for Sohrab. He does so in an attempt to give Sohrab the “will to live again.” Before he runs a kite for Sohrab he echoes Hassan’s words by saying “for you, a thousand times over.” This scene ultimately draws too many parallels; the novel ends on a surrealistically happy note which devalues the overall Afghani “tragedy.” The tragedy ends on a ridiculous note by suggesting Amir redeems himself by acting like, and having the characteristics of, Hassan. The plot twists throughout the novel present more literary flaws than literary value.