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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
•In March 2001, while practicing medicine,
Hosseini began writing
his first novel, The Kite Runner. Published by
Riverhead Books in
•2003, that debut went on to become an
international bestseller
and beloved classic, sold in at least seventy
countries.
•Born in Kabul- March 4, 1965
•Just as he describes in the kite runner, Kabul was a cosmopolitan city at the time
•Western cultures, including movies and literature , mixed with Afghan traditions such as kite-fighting in the winter
•Lavish parties were normal in Hosseini`s family home in the upper-middle class neighbourhood of Wazir Akbar
Khan
•Hosseini`s father- diplomat with Afghan Foreign ministry and Mother-taught Farsi
•In 1976, the Foreign Ministry relocated the Hosseini family to Paris.
• They were ready to return to Kabul in 1980, but by then their homeland had witnessed a bloody communist coup
and the invasion of the Soviet Army
• The Hosseini`s were granted political asylum in the United States-in September 1980 moved to San Jose,
California
• Hosseini graduated from high school in 1984 and got his bachelor’s degree in biology in 1988 and earned a
medical degree in 1993
• He completed his residency at Cedars-Sinai medical centre in
Los Angeles and was a practicing internist between 1996 and 2004.
A HISTORICAL OVERVIEWOF AFGHANISTAN
•Afghanistan`s main ethnic composition includes the Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Baluchi and
Turkoman people
•The languages Daro and Pashto are officially recognized in the constitution
•Practically everyone in Afghanistan is Muslim representing both Sunni and Shia muslims
•Afghanistan emerged as a nation in the `8th century, after centuries of invasions and conquests which
began in 1973, when Daiod Khan overthrew his cousin Zahir Shah
•Daoud Khan spoke about ending corruption and being true to the revolution but it became apparent
the regime change was only a transfer of power
•Resistance against the new regime was formed immediately by Islamic revolutionary rebels
•The Soviet Union raided Afghanistan in December 1979
•Returned from exile was Babrak Karmal, head of the Parcham fraction, who quickly announced general
amnesty for political prisoners which included the mujahideen leaders and invited moderates to
coorperate in the reconciliation
•After a decade, the soviet army withdrew, leaving the state split among many ethnic fractions
•In the 1990`s, the Taliban`s assumed control and introduced strict adherence to Islamic law
The kite runner is a Shakespearean beginning
to an epic tale that spans lives lived accross
two continents amid political upheavals – The
kite runner is about the price of peace , both
personal and political, and what we knowingly
destroy in our hope of achieving that, be it
friends , democracy or ourselves.
WHAT`S UP WITHTHE TITLE?
Hosseini didn`t name the book the kite FIGHTER,
which means he didn`t name it after his main
character. Why would Hosseini put Hassan-the
kite RUNNER-at the centre of the novel? One
answer might be that Hassan haunts Amir and is,
in one way or another, the subject of Amir`s
thoughts for pretty much his whole life.
However, at the end of the novel, Amir does
become a kite runner. The book ends with Amir
running a kite for Sohrab. It seems to be another
step on his path to redemption that he does for
Hassan`s son what Hassan used to do for him.
DREAMS
The morning of the kite fighting tournament,
Hassan tells Amir about a dream he had: The
two of them are at Ghargha lake, However no
one is in the water because there is a monster
in there. In Hassan`s dream, Amir jumps into
the water anyway and Hassan follows. They
swim out into the middle of the lake and the
people on the shore cheer. The lake is
renamed “Lake of Amir and Hassan, the sultans
of Kabul”. So what does Hassan`s dream
mean?
Its possible Hassan made up the
dream. Amir is very nervous on the
morning of the Tournament. Hassan
could be trying to comfort him through
this story.
Later that day, Assef rapes Hassan in the
streets of Kabul while Amir stands by
and watches. Amir could be the
monster in the lake. Is Amir`s jealousy
of Hassan the monster? Or is Assef the
monster? Much like the people on the
shore, Baba and Rahim Khan cheer for
Amir when he wins the kite
tournament. Does this mean Baba and
Rahim Khan are oblivious of the
monster?
The monster In the lake
DREAMS
Early in the novel, as we`re getting to know
Baba, Amir relates one of the legends about
his father. Apparently, Baba wrestles a black
bear in Baluchistan and has the scars to prove
it. Amir reassures us that this story isn`t
typical Afghan laaf (exaggeration). The story
has obviously affected Amir because he
imagines it “countless times” and even dreams
about it. Interestingly, in his dreams Amir can`t
tell Baba apart from the bear
Baba and theblack bear
On one level you interpret the bear
story fairly simply: it tells us just how
towering of a figure Baba is to Amir.
The fact the Amir believes the story,
too, tells us a little about their
relationship. It`s one of the distant.
But there`s also the oddity of the
bear and Baba morphing into each
other. Perhaps Baba become a fearful
beast to Amir. Or perhaps Baba, in
wrestling with his sins, merges with
them. We are not totally sure. But
Baba and Amir explicitly compares
the troubles and hardships of Baba`s
life to a bear Baba couldn`t beat
HALLUCINATIONS
Later in the novel , when he is in the
hospital in Peshawar, Amir has a
hallucination. In the hallucination, Baba is
in Baluchistan fighting the bear. It`s a rip-
roaring fight- Fur flying. When the dust
clears, Amir gets a good luck at the person
wrestling the bear. It`s not Baba- It`s Amir
Now Amir has taken on the fight with
the bear. Does this mean Amir
achieves some sort of manhood- or
only that he`s taken on his father`s
sins? If we keep in mind the earlier
dream in which Amir can`t tell Baba
apart from the bear, perhaps when
Amir wrestles with the bear he is
really wrestling with his father
SYMBOLISM
Symbolism is the practise or art of using an object or a word to represent an
abstract idea. An action, person, place , word or object can all have a symbolic
meaning. When an author wants to suggest a certain mood or emotion, he can
also use symbolism to hint at it, rather than just blatantly saying it.
SYMBOLISM: The cleft lip
Hassan`s cleft lip is one of his most representative features as a child ( in chapter one Amir
recalls Hassan as “the hare lipped kite runner”) and it is one of the features Amir refers to
the most in describing him.
The split in Hassan`s lip acts as a mark of Hassan`s status in society:
“You! The Hazara!Look at me when I'm talking to you” . It signifies his
poverty , which is one of the things that separates him from Amir, simply
because a cleft lip indicates that he and his family do not have the
money to fix the deformity.
Baba, who is Hassan`s biological father, chooses to pay a surgeon to
repair Hassan`s lip as a birthday gift, signifying his secret fatherly love for
Hassan.
Later, Assef split Amir`s lip as he beats him, leaving Amir with a
permanent scar much like Hassan`s. In a sense, Amir`s identity has
merged with Hassan`s. He learns to stand up for those he cares about, as
Hassan once did for him, and he becomes a father figure to Sohrab
because of this, it also serves s a sign of Amir`s redemption.
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SYMBOLISM: kItes
The kites serves as a symbol of Amir`s happiness as well as
his guilt. Flying kites is what Amir enjoys most as a child,
not least because it is the only way that he fully connects
with Baba, who was once a champion kite fighter, but the
kite takes on a different significance when Amir allows
Hassan to be raped because he wants to bring the blue kite
back to Baba. His recollections of that portray the kite as a
sign of his Betrayal of Hassan. Amir does not fly a kite
again until he does so with Sohrab at the end of the novel.
Because Amir has already redeemed himself by that point,
the kite is no longer a symbol of his guilt. Instead, it acts as
a reminder of his childhood, and it also becomes the way
that he is finally able to connect with Sohrab, mirroring
the kite`s role in Amir`s relationship with Baba.
SYMBOLISM: kItes
A kite fight really is a proxy war. Here`s Afghanistan,
jerked around like a kite for most of it`s twentieth
century history by the British, the Soviets, the
Taliban, played off against its neighbours by distant
forces pulling all the strings.
We all know this because Amir tells us, and not just
once. On the verge of his rescue mission over the
Khyber pass: “ I was afraid the appeal of my life in
America would draw me back, that I would wade
back into that great, big river and let myself forget,
let the things I had learned these last few days sink to
the bottom, I was afraid that I'd let the waters carry
me away from what I had to do. From Hassan. From
the past that had come calling. And from this one last
chance at redemption”.
There is more to kites than just redemption
SYMBOLISM: The lamb
In Islam, as in Christianity, the lamb signifies the
sacrifice of an innocent. Amir describes both Hassan
and Sohrab as looking like lambs waiting to be
slaughtered. Amir says this during Hassan`s rape: “ ... It
was the look of the lamb”, noting that Hassan
resembled the lamb they kill during the Muslim
celebration of Eid-ul Adha. Similarly, he described
Sohrab as looking like a slaughter sheep when he first
sees Sohrab with Assef. Assef had put mascara on
Sohrab`s eyes, just as Amir says the mullah used to do
to the sheep before slitting it`s throat. Both Hassan and
Sohrab are innocent who are figuratively sacrificed by
being raped, but these sacrifices have very different
meanings. In Hassan`s case, Amir sacrifices him for the
blue kite. But in Sohrab`s case, Amir is the one who
stops his sexual abuse. In this context, sacrifice is
portrayed as the exploitation of an innocent.
SYMBOLISM: Myth ofRostam and Sohrab
Myth and stories about legendary heroes
as well as stories and literacy in general,
symbolise both the similarities and
differences between the Sunni and Shia
Muslims. Socioeconomic conditions may
determine levels of literacy and
understanding , but they do not guarantee
heroic attitudes and actions. And the
heroes of Afghan and Middle Eater
cultures are shared by those of differing
beliefs and socioeconomic conditions. The
character of Rostam, which acts
dishonourably towards the king by
sleeping with his daughter, symbolises a
Amir. The character of Sohrab, who does
not know who his father is, who becomes
Hassan`s favourite hero, and who meets
an untimely death, symbolises Hassan.
SYMBOLISM :Thepomegranate tree
While Amir and Hassan are young and carefree and as close as a servant and master can
be, they carve their names in the tree, which bears fruit. Thus, the tree symbolises their
relationship . Years later, after Hassan is dead and Amir is wracked with guilt, the tree-
just like Amir`s memories still exists but no longer bears any fruit. The tree not only
symbolises a unifying force between Amir and Hassan but also serves as a source of
division.
SYMBOLISM: Slingshot
Represents two generations. The slingshot symbolises both
childhood as well as the need to stand up for what is right.
Both Hassan and Sohrab use a slingshot to stop Assef ,
although Hassan only threatens to use his, and Sohrab
actually inflicts pain.
THEME :Freindship
There are two major relationships in The Kite Runner. One is
between the protagonist and his father. The other is between the
protagonist and his best friend. Because the protagonist's best
friend is also his servant, though, and a member of the
discriminated against ethnic minority, the novel presents a
relationship that is fairly complex. Should love for a friend
outweigh the divisions of class and ethnicity? Or are these
divisions too far-reaching? To make matters more complicated,
the protagonist later learns his best friend is actually his half-
brother. In some ways, this revelation dissolves the earlier
problems posed by ethnicity, and Hosseini poses a new question:
Can ethnicity divide the members of a family?
THEME :Freindship---Quote
“Sometimes, up in those trees, I talked Hassan into firing walnuts with his slingshot at the
neighbor's one-eyed German shepherd. Hassan never wanted to, but if I
asked,really asked, he wouldn't deny me. Hassan never denied me anything. And he was
deadly with his slingshot. Hassan's father, Ali, used to catch us and get mad, or as mad as
someone as gentle as Ali could ever get. He would wag his finger and wave us down from
the tree. He would take the mirror and tell us what his mother had told him, that the
devil shone mirrors too, shone them to distract Muslims during prayer. "And he laughs
while he does it," he always added, scowling at his son.”
"Yes, Father," Hassan would mumble, looking down at his feet. But he never told on me.
Never told that the mirror, like shooting walnuts at the neighbor's dog, was always my
idea. (2.2-3)”
This passage shows up early in the novel and really tells us quite a bit about Amir and
Hassan's friendship. Hassan protects and defends Amir and, foreshadowing later
events in the novel, refuses to tell on Amir. (Hassan will later take the blame for the
wad of cash and the watch.) We should also note that Amir seems like the gang leader
in this passage, getting the two boys into trouble. Does Amir control the relationship?
Is this why Hassan often takes the blame for things? Does Amir ever take responsibility
for anything in the novel?
THEME :Warfare
In The Kite Runner, Hosseini directly compares the arrival of war to
a loss of innocence. (Soon after an invading army shows up, the
narrator watches his best friend get raped.) The book also explores
war as experienced from a distance, either through memory or
through the media and televised war. Hosseini interrogates the
effect of war on our social structures as well: Do economic class
and ethnicity dissolve in the face of war or do these categories
become even more rigid? It's not all horror and gloom, though. In
the end, Hosseini wants to show us how honor and dignity can
survive in the midst of war.
THEME :Warfare---Quote
“We stayed huddled that way until the early hours of the morning. The shootings and
explosions had lasted less than an hour, but they had frightened us badly, because none
of us had ever heard gunshots in the streets. They were foreign sounds to us then. The
generation of Afghan children whose ears would know nothing but the sounds of bombs
and gunfire was not yet born. Huddled together in the dining room and waiting for the
sun to rise, none of us had any notion that a way of life had ended. Our way of life. If not
quite yet, then at least it was the beginning of the end. The end, the official end, would
come first in April 1978 with the communist coup d'état, and then in December 1979,
when Russian tanks would roll into the very same streets where Hassan and I played,
bringing the death of the Afghanistan I knew and marking the start of a still ongoing era
of bloodletting. (5.5)”
If you were to describe Afghanistan's political situation, you might describe it as "war-
torn" or "ravaged." But those descriptions apply, really, only from 1978 on – before
then, Afghanistan was a relatively peaceful country. In this passage, Amir documents
the sea change the country undergoes in the late '70s. A way of life ends – and,
importantly, the children born after this period won't remember peace because they
never experienced it. Notice, too, that Hosseini places Afghanistan's loss of innocence
right next to Amir's and Hassan's – the infamous rape scene happens only two chapters
later.
THEME :Principles
It's one thing if your father is a principled man. That's all well and
good. We mean, morality is kind of important, right? But what if
your father isn't just any man? What if he's a legend, a myth,
someone with such force of personality you cower at his very
approach? His principles will probably seem like divine mandates.
Imagine that you disregard one of your father's most valued
principles. You're crazy with regret. Such an action leads to guilt.
It leads to a crash in the Stock Market of Self-Worth. This is pretty
much what happens in The Kite Runner.
THEME :Principles---Quote
“With me as the glaring exception, my father molded the world around him to his liking.
The problem, of course, was that Baba saw the world in black and white. And he got to
decide what was black and what was white. You can't love a person who lives that way
without fearing him too. Maybe even hating him a little.” (3.12)
A later description reads: "[...] Baba had been such an unusual Afghan father, a liberal
who had lived by his own rules, a maverick who had disregarded or embraced societal
customs as he had seen fit" (13.97).
Is Amir even describing the same person – can someone both see the world in black
and white and be a liberal maverick? At first, Baba might seem just like Amir's teacher,
Mullah Fatiullah Khan, whom Baba criticizes for being self-righteous and stodgy. Don't
those adjectives describe someone with a black and white approach? The difference,
however, is that Baba chooses his principles. ("[A] maverick who had disregarded or
embraced societal customs as he had seen fit.") Which makes the character of Baba
both a freethinker and an old-fashioned moralist. It's enough to make Amir's head spin.
THEME :Race
Does racial intolerance bring about our worst moments as human
beings? The Kite Runner examines the whole spectrum of racism:
out-and-out hatred, religious justification of racism, nonviolent but
still nasty racism, racism which coexists with generosity and
kindness, and internalized racism which manifests itself as self-
loathing. However, the plot suggests, the very ethnicity some
people treat so poorly is closer to them than they might think –
Amir finds out that his former servant, a member of the ethnic
minority, is his half-brother. Thus, the book also explores
redemption. Can we atone for a past of intolerance? Or, even
further, can we atone for the intolerance of our parents?
THEME :Race---Quote
They called him "flat-nosed" because of Ali and Hassan's characteristic Hazara Mongoloid features. For
years, that was all I knew about the Hazaras, that they were Mogul descendants, and that they looked a
little like Chinese people. School text books barely mentioned them and referred to their ancestry only in
passing. Then one day, I was in Baba's study, looking through his stuff, when I found one of my mother's old
history books. It was written by an Iranian named Khorami. I blew the dust off it, sneaked it into bed with
me that night, and was stunned to find an entire chapter on Hazara history. An entire chapter dedicated to
Hassan's people! In it, I read that my people, the Pashtuns, had persecuted and oppressed the Hazaras. It
said the Hazaras had tried to rise against the Pashtuns in the nineteenth century, but the Pashtuns had
"quelled them with unspeakable violence." The book said that my people had killed the Hazaras, driven
them from their lands, burned their homes, and sold their women. The book said part of the reason
Pashtuns had oppressed the Hazaras was that Pashtuns were Sunni Muslims, while Hazaras were Shi'a. The
book said a lot of things I didn't know, things my teachers hadn't mentioned. Things Baba hadn't
mentioned either. It also said some things I did know, like that people called Hazaras mice-eating, flat-
nosed, load-carrying donkeys. I had heard some of the kids in the neighborhood yell those names to
Hassan. (2.23)
Ethnicity is complicated in The Kite Runner. Amir and Hassan have different ethnic groups: Amir is
Pashtun and Hassan is Hazara. To make matters confusing, though, Pashtuns are Sunni Muslims and
Hazaras are Shi'a Muslims. (So ethnicity and religion intertwine.) Here, Amir talks about how the Hazara
people have been pretty much erased from official Afghani schoolbooks. Since the Pashtuns are in
control, the Hazaras don't get much space in the official history of the country. There's also an attempt, it
seems, to cover up the genocide committed by the Pashtuns against the Hazaras in the nineteenth
century. Do you think Amir's betrayal of Hassan is just another instance of Pashtuns mistreating Hazaras –
or does Amir, by telling Hassan's story, attempt to change things?
THEME :Religion
Early on in The Kite Runner it seems like there are only two
approaches to religion. Either you're an extremist like the
protagonist's teacher, who considers drinking an offense
punishable by hell, or you're liberal like the protagonist's father,
who thinks religion is silly and drinking is fun. Also, religion
justifies some of the horrific acts in the book. However, by the
end of the novel we do see the development of religious
sentiment based on spiritual awakening and recourse to God in
times of suffering. We wonder, however, if this development is
enough to counter the novel's earlier depictions of religion as a
justification for cruelty.
THEME :Religion---Quote
“The following week, after class, I showed the book to my teacher and pointed to the chapter
on the Hazaras. He skimmed through a couple of pages, snickered, handed the book back.
"That's the one thing Shi'a people do well," he said, picking up his papers, "passing themselves
as martyrs." He wrinkled his nose when he said the word Shi'a, like it was some kind of
disease.” (2.24)
Amir receives wildly different educations on ethnicity and religion right at the start of the
book. (Background Note: Hazara people are typically Shi'a Muslims and the Pashtun people
are typically Sunni Muslim.) Amir's mother, whom we later discover was a kind and
enlightened university professor, owned a book which included Shi'a Muslims in the official
history of Afghanistan. That seems very important since Amir strikes Hassan, a Shi'a, from
his personal history. Then there's Baba who loves and respects Ali (also a Shi'a Muslim), but
who doesn't refer to Ali as his friend. And at the other extreme: Amir's teacher, the soldiers,
and Sunni society in general which consistently discriminates against Shi'a Muslims. Amir
has to navigate these different degrees of racial tolerance. Where does Amir end up in this
spectrum? How does Amir treat Hassan? Is Amir guilty of religious discrimination against
Hassan?
THEME :Admiration
We're not sure if admiration is actually a good thing in The Kite
Runner. The protagonist's intense admiration for his father leads
him to some fairly dastardly deeds. In this novel, the flip-side to
admiration is jealousy, and jealousy leads to all sorts of trouble.
However, the protagonist's best friend offers an example of
unflagging admiration, which puts admiration in a better light.
His admiration seems more like loyalty and devotion than a
jealously-inspiring obsession. Moral of the story: Admire people
in moderation.
THEME :Admiration---Quote
“Upstairs was my bedroom, Baba's room, and his study, also known as "the smoking room,"
which perpetually smelled of tobacco and cinnamon. Baba and his friends reclined on black
leather chairs there after Ali had served dinner. They stuffed their pipes – except Baba always
called it "fattening the pipe" – and discussed their favorite three topics: politics, business,
soccer. Sometimes I asked Baba if I could sit with them, but Baba would stand in the doorway.
"Go on, now," he'd say. "This is grown-ups' time. Why don't you go read one of those books of
yours?" He'd close the door, leave me to wonder why it was always grown-ups' time with him.
I'd sit by the door, knees drawn to my chest. Sometimes I sat there for an hour, sometimes
two, listening to their laughter, their chatter.” (2.6)
This is a little heartbreaking. In his devotion to his father, Amir sits by the door of Baba's
study for hours. It's easy to see just how central unrequited affection becomes in The Kite
Runner. Amir's affection for Baba, which isn't returned, in some ways drives him to betray
Hassan. Jealously, as much as cowardice, may motivate Amir to leave Hassan in the
alleyway. Here's another example of unrequited affection: Would Sanaubar have slept with
Baba if she really loved Ali? What about Amir and Hassan – if Amir stayed as loyal to Hassan
as Hassan stayed to him, would the novel change? (Sufficed to say, if Amir didn't betray
Hassan, the novel wouldn't be half as interesting.)
THEME :Betrayal
The plot of The Kite Runner revolves
around the protagonist's betrayal of
his best friend. In a way, this betrayal
drives the rest of the book and
perhaps everything that precedes it. In
his pre-betrayal and post-betrayal
chapters, Hosseini asks some
important questions. For example, do
you betray someone without warning,
or do small betrayals lead up to a
larger one? Can you redeem yourself
after you've betrayed a friend? If your
father betrayed his friend are you
doomed to repeat the same mistake?
Can you redeem your sins and your
father's at the same time?
THEME :Betrayal---Quote
Hassan's favorite book by far was the Shahnamah, the tenth-century epic of ancient Persian heroes. He
liked all of the chapters, the shahs of old, Feridoun, Zal, and Rudabeh. But his favorite story, and mine, was
"Rostam and Sohrab," the tale of the great warrior Rostam and his fleet-footed horse, Rakhsh. Rostam
mortally wounds his valiant nemesis, Sohrab, in battle, only to discover that Sohrab is his long-lost son.
Stricken with grief, Rostam hears his son's dying words:
If thou art indeed my father, then hast thou stained thy sword in the life-blood of thy son. And thou didst it
of thine obstinacy. For I sought to turn thee unto love, and I implored of thee thy name, for I thought to
behold in thee the tokens recounted of my mother. But I appealed unto thy heart in vain, and now is the
time gone for meeting...
"Read it again please, Amir agha," Hassan would say. Sometimes tears pooled in Hassan's eyes as I read him
this passage, and I always wondered whom he wept for, the grief-stricken Rostam who tears his clothes and
covers his head with ashes, or the dying Sohrab who only longed for his father's love? Personally, I couldn't
see the tragedy in Rostam's fate. After all, didn't all fathers in their secret hearts harbor a desire to kill their
sons? (4.23-24)
Although you can read the story of "Rostam and Sohrab" as an allegory for Baba and Amir's relationship,
we think the most obvious parallel is to Amir and Hassan. Amir doesn't kill Hassan directly, but he does
bring about Hassan's exile from Baba's household. This exile eventually places Hassan in a situation
where he is killed. Amir, to some extent, takes the blame for Hassan's death. Like Rostam, Amir figures
out much too late who fathered Hassan. We think you could very easily substitute "brothers" for "sons"
in the final sentence: "After all, don't we all in our secret hearts harbor a desire to kill our brothers?"
("Cain and Abel" seems just as appropriate as "Rostam and Sohrab.")
CHARACTER
S
SOHRAB
HASSAN AMIR
SORAYA
ASSEF
BABA
RAHIM KHAN
•The central character of the story as well as its narrator, Amir has a privileged upbringing. His father,
Baba, is rich by Afghan standards, and as a result, Amir grows up accustomed to having what he wants.
The only thing he feels deprived of is a deep emotional connection with Baba, which he blames on
himself
• He thinks Baba wishes Amir were more like him, and that Baba holds him responsible for killing his
mother, who died during his birth
• Amir, consequently, behaves jealously toward anyone receiving Baba’s affection
•Though Hassan is Amir’s best friend, Amir feels that Hassan, a Hazara servant, is beneath him.
•When Hassan receives Baba’s attention, Amir tries to assert himself by passive-aggressively attacking
Hassan. He mocks Hassan’s ignorance, or plays tricks on him.
•At the same time, Amir never learns to assert himself against anyone else because Hassan always
defends him
• All of these factors play into his cowardice in sacrificing Hassan, his only competition for Baba’s love, in
order to get the blue kite, which he thinks will bring him Baba’s approval.
•The change in Amir’s character we see in the novel centres on his growth from a selfish child to a
selfless adult
• After allowing Hassan to be raped, Amir is not any happier. His guilt is relentless, and he recognizes his
selfishness cost him his happiness rather than increasing it
MAJOR CHARACTERS :Amir
•Once Amir has married and established a career, only two things prevent his complete happiness: his
guilt and his inability to have a child with Soraya.
• Sohrab, who acts as a substitute for Hassan to Amir, actually becomes a solution to both problems
• Amir describes Sohrab as looking like a sacrificial lamb during his confrontation with Assef, but it is
actually himself that Amir courageously sacrifices. In doing this, as Hassan once did for him, Amir
redeems himself, which is why he feels relief even as Assef beats him
• Amir also comes to see Sohrab as a substitute for the child he and Soraya cannot have, and as a self-
sacrificing father figure to Sohrab, Amir assumes the roles of Baba and Hassan.
MAJOR CHARACTERS :Amir
•If Amir’s character arc is about growth, Hassan’s arc is about not changing at all
• From the start and through his death, Hassan remains the same: loyal, forgiving, and good-natured
•As a servant to Baba and Amir, Hassan grows up with a very particular role in life
• While Amir prepares for school in the morning, Hassan readies Amir’s books and his breakfast. While
Amir is at school getting an education, Hassan helps Ali with the chores and grocery shopping
• As a result, Hassan learns that it is his duty to sacrifice himself for others
•By nature he is not prone to envy, and he even tells Amir he is happy with what he has, though he sees
all the time how much more Amir has
• Hassan comes across as the personification of innocence, and this innocence is crucial in creating the
drama and symbolism of his rape by Assef
• First, Hassan’s innocence gives Amir no justifiable reason to betray Hassan. Amir’s behaviour cannot be
rationalized, making it consummately selfish and reprehensible
• Second, Hassan’s rape becomes the sacrifice of an innocent, a recurring motif in Islam, Christianity, and
Judaism that carries a great deal of symbolic meaning.
MAJOR CHARACTERS : Hassan
We're not sure what Hosseini wants us to make of Hassan's character. We certainly admire
him. Maybe, in the end, Hosseini portrays the Hazaras of Afghanistan and Afghanistan itself
through Hassan. Here's an ethnic minority that's been persecuted and massacred. Here's a
country that's been unjustly invaded. If so, there's more than a hint of martyrdom about
Hassan's people and, conversely, Hosseini's Afghanistan
SImilarities and differences between Hassan
and Amir
SIMILARITIES DIFFERENCES
•Same father- Baba
•Both get the same weekly
allowance
•Interested in stories
•Both treated similarly by Baba
•Love for literature
•Deprived of love from their
mothers
•Similar age
•Play together
•Similar interests i.e.-kites
•Amir gets an education whereas
Hassan does not
•Amir=Sunni=Pashtun
•Hassan=Shiah=Hazara
•Hassan is closer to religion over
Amir
•Hassan considers Amir as a friend
whereas Amir considers Hassan as
a servant
•Amir has pride and thinks himself
as more superior
•Amir is more creative than Hassan
•Hassan is logical
•In his words and actions, Baba sets the moral bar in the novel
• When Amir is a boy, Baba’s major concern about him is that he doesn’t have the courage to stand up
for himself, demonstrating that Baba places great value on doing what is right. If Amir cannot take of
himself as a boy, he worries, he will not have the strength to behave morally as an adult
• Baba follows through on these beliefs in his own behavior. When he and Amir flee Kabul, he is willing
to sacrifice his life to keep the Russian guard from raping the woman with them, and in doing so he sets
the example that Amir will follow later when he must choose between saving himself or doing what he
knows to be right.
•What the reader sees of Baba from Amir’s narrative is not the full story, however. As Amir describes
him, he is proud, independent, determined, but sometimes emotionally distant and impatient
•We learn from a note Rahim Khan writes to Amir toward the end of the book that Baba was a man torn
between two halves, specifically between Amir and Hassan
• Amir never sees Baba’s inner conflict because Baba has very much separated his outward appearance
from his internal emotions. For instance, Baba builds an orphanage, which appears to be a simple act of
charity. But as Rahim Khan explains, Baba built the orphanage to make up for the guilt he felt for not
being able to acknowledge Hassan as his son
MAJOR CHARACTERS :Baba
•Baba’s hesitation to reveal his emotions causes Amir to feel that he never knows Baba completely,
alienating Amir from Baba while Amir is growing up.
•The move to America is very difficult for Baba, who is used to being wealthy and well-respected in
his community
•He goes from having wealth and a position of power to working a low-paying job at a gas station and
living modestly
• Yet his relationship with Amir improves. Baba, as Rahim Khan explains in his note, felt guilty over his
rich, privileged life because Hassan was not able to share in it. When he no longer has his wealth, his
guilt diminishes, and with Hassan not around, he is not straining uncomfortably to act one way with
Amir and another with Hassan
•As a result, he is able to open up more with Amir, and the two grow much closer in Baba’s final years
•Despite the fact that he lost everything he had as a refugee, he dies genuinely happy, feeling proud
of Amir and perhaps happy that he was able to build the relationship he always wanted with at least
one of his sons.
MAJOR CHARACTERS :Baba
•If Hassan represents all that is good and kind, Assef represents all that is evil and cruel
•Here's just one example of Assef's sociopathic tendencies:
• He leaned toward me, like a man about to share a great secret. "You don't know the meaning of the
word 'liberating' until you've done that, stood in a roomful of targets [the Hazaras in Mazar-i-
Sharif], let the bullets fly, free of guilt and remorse, know you are virtuous, good, and decent.
Knowing you're doing God's work. It's breathtaking." He kissed the prayer beads, tilted his
head. (22.24)
• Assef is pretty much the textbook sociopath.
• Assef has never really had a conscience. He displayed no remorse for his rape of Hassan, which
occurs when Assef, Amir, and Hassan are only boys.
• Perhaps Assef simply doesn't see Hazaras as equal to Pashtuns – maybe that explains (though
certainly doesn't excuse) his sadistic and cruel actions? More likely, racism is simply an additional
evil on Assef's list of cruelties, which also includes child molestation, rape, and murder.
• With Hassan it's never quite clear why he's so good. But with Assef the source of his evil remains a
mystery. Assef is like an earthquake or a tornado: you just have to accept it as a destructive force.
What's odd is that Amir often identifies himself with Assef, or with a Talib executioner.
• We guess this is what makes Amir interesting: he's caught between Hassan and Assef, two polar
opposites that seem to made themselves at home in him
• It's probably no coincidence Amir has to confront Assef in order to save Sohrab. If Amir is going to
redeem himself, he's got to come face to face with the meanest, darkest part of himself.
MAJOR CHARACTERS :Assef
• We only meet Sohrab at the very end of the novel – so there's not much room for Hosseini to
develop this character.
• Hosseini does tell us, however, just how much Sohrab resembles Hassan. When Amir finally meets
Sohrab, he says "[t]he resemblance [to Hassan] was breathtaking" (22.49).
• Like Hassan, Sohrab is a whiz with a slingshot. He's also fairly perceptive for someone so young
• When Amir tries to explain to Sohrab why Baba didn't admit that he fathered Hassan, Sohrab
catches right on: "Because [Hassan] was a Hazara?" (24.112).
• Sohrab also seems to have Hassan's innate goodness. You might expect Sohrab to lash out more
often at Amir, or to take some sort of revenge since Amir almost abandoned him. That's not the
case.
• Sohrab does remain silent for a year, but it seems more like detachment from the world in general
than anger at Amir.
• And this is the one major difference between Hassan and Sohrab. The cruelty of people like Assef
defeats Sohrab.
• When Amir tells Sohrab he's going to put him (briefly) in an orphanage, Sohrab tries to commit
suicide. We believe Sohrab is not trying to hurt Amir – he's just given up. Hassan never gets to a
point where he gives in to defeat, even though he, too, is raped and betrayed.
• It's possible Hosseini wants to show us, through Sohrab, that a country can only take so much
brutality. The first and second generations may be able to avoid the total cynicism of suicide. But
not the next generation – the third round of betrayal and abuse is too much.
CHARACTERS :Sohrab
• Ali takes some serious abuse in the novel.
• First off, Baba has an affair with Ali's wife and fathers Hassan.
• Then, Amir forces Ali and Hassan to leave Baba's house.
• Finally, in the random violence now so common in war, Ali steps on a land mine and dies.
• However, like Hassan and Sohrab, Ali is a kind and good person. He has a beautiful voice and Amir
and Hassan love to hear him sing. He remains faithful to Baba even though Baba dishonored Ali by
sleeping with Sanaubar.
• Ali is also devout – his humble, constant faith perhaps influences Amir's own religious awakening
later in the novel
CHARACTERS : Ali
CHARACTERS : Ali
Here are some early description's of Ali:
[...] Ali had congenital paralysis of his lower face muscles, a condition that rendered him unable to smile
and left him perpetually grimfaced. (2.20)
But polio had left Ali with a twisted, atrophied right leg that was sallow skin over bone with little in
between except a paper-thin layer of muscle. [...]. I watched him [Ali] swing his scraggy leg in a
sweeping arc, watched his whole body tilt impossibly to the right every time he planted that foot. It
seemed a minor miracle he didn't tip over with each step. [...]. Ali's face frightened some of the younger
children in the neighborhood. [...]. Some had taken to calling him Babalu, or Boogeyman. (2.22)
It's almost as if deformities, in this novel, suggest goodness. Remember how Hassan has a harelip?
Also, Soraya has a sickle-shaped birthmark, and Amir picks up a scar on his lip while rescuing Sohrab.
We often think of deformities as the calling cards of villains: a hook, a scar, or an eye that twitches. The
real monsters of this novel, don't have any deformities. Amir, Baba (notice the similarity between
Baba and Babalu), and Assef don't have any disfiguring marks. What does this mean? We're not sure –
but it's worth noting because Ali is both the scariest-looking and the possibly the kindest character in
the book.
CHARACTERS :Soraya
• Amir meets Soraya at the flea market
• In the course of a few chapters, she and Amir get hitched. She's beautiful, kind, and has a
complicated past. What more could anyone want in a spouse?
• She and Amir build a quiet, enviable life in California. Even though Soraya can't have children, it
seems like the best of marriages – almost like a close friendship.
• With that in mind, we think it's important to note that Soraya has a birthmark just above her jaw.
Why? Because it identifies her with Amir's childhood friend who had a harelip. Yes, none other than
Hassan. It's possible that Soraya's physical similarity to Hassan attracts Amir to her
• But it's also possible Soraya simply fits into Hosseini's larger narrative pattern.
• So, like Ali and Hassan, Soraya's birthmark signifies an essential goodness
Soraya almost seems like a combination of both Hassan and Amir.
• She's like Hassan, because of the harelip being nice
• She resembles Amir because she also has a checkered past. Amir finds this out pretty early on in
their courtship and, perhaps, finds it attractive.
• Unlike Amir, though, Soraya actually tells Amir about her past
"When we [the Taheris] lived in Virginia, I ran away with an Afghan man. I was eighteen at the
time...rebellious...stupid, and...he was into drugs...We lived together for almost a month. [...]. Pader
[General Taheri] eventually found us. He showed up at the door and...made me come home. I was
hysterical. Screaming. Saying I hated him..."(12.207-12.208)
• The General goes crazy when he finds Soraya living with her boyfriend. So, we guess that's another
similarity with Amir: they both have domineering fathers. To sum up: Soraya brings some measure
of peace to Amir's life, but she also reminds Amir of his not-so-good past.
CHARACTERS : Rahim Khan
• Rahim Khan, we think, serves as the novel's moral center
• If Hassan and Ali are off in the land of bright, shining moral purity, and Assef is in depths of devilish
cruelty, and Amir and Baba are somewhere in between, Rahim Khan is a voice reason standing
outside this hubbub of moral questing.
• He's kind of like Horatio in Hamlet – you couldn't base a whole play on him, but you're glad he's
there because he makes you feel sane.
• Come to think of it, Rahim Khan is literally the moral center or voice of reason in The Kite Runner.
• He calls Amir in California and flat-out says: "There is a way to be good again" (1.3)
• He also functions as a second parent for Amir
• When Baba ignores Amir, Rahim Khan is right there with an encouraging word. ("As always, it was
Rahim Khan who rescued me" (3.43)
• Perhaps, too, Rahim Khan helps expand Amir's understanding of ethnicity
• Rahim Khan tells Amir a story about how he almost married a Hazara woman. His family
reacted very strongly (death threats!) and Rahim Khan never married the woman, but the story lets
Amir know that someone else he admires thinks of the Hazara ethnicity as equals. (Amir's mother
would be the other someone.)
• All this confirms that Rahim Khan is a stand-up guy.
CHARACTERS : General Taheri andKhanum
Taheri
• Khanum Taheri dotes on both Soraya and Amir and the General strikes us as the bumbling public
official type. (Back in Afghanistan, the General had a cushy job with the Defense Ministry.)
• The General is officious and charming at the same time
• Khanum Taheri obsesses about her health and worries, it seems, about everything
• But the two are mostly kind and good people
• There is, however, a nasty edge to the General. When Amir brings Sohrab back to the United States,
the General asks Amir to explain why "a Hazara boy" is living with them (25.92).
• Unlike Soraya, the General still has some lingering problems with racism. Add to that the time he
almost killed Soraya's boyfriend and himself (because Soraya was living with her boyfriend), and a
darker side of the General emerges
• Although Khanum Taheri doesn't seem to share the views of her husband, she also doesn't stand up
to him that often. (The one exception is in Chapter 25.)
• We guess comfort with custom and tradition can have its down side, too
• Despite almost killing Soraya's boyfriend and the regressive racial views, the General doesn't seem
too bad.
• He and Khanum Taheri are expertly drawn in-laws: sometimes difficult, but mostly lovable.
CHARACTERS :Sanaubar
• Sanaubar is the sexiest character in The Kite Runner. Baba sounds like a good-looking guy, but really,
Hosseini reserves his raciest prose for Hassan's mother, Sanaubar: "I have heard that Sanaubar's
stride and oscillating hips sent men into reveries of infidelity" (2.21). (Hmm...we wonder who such
men could be? Baba?) The soldiers near the middle school have even heard of Sanaubar and taunt
Hassan about her.
• Even though Sanaubar doesn't get much time on the page, Hosseini does throw a monkey wrench
or two into her character
• For one, she sleeps with Baba and then runs off with a dancing troupe, setting in motion most of
the terrible things that happen in the novel. (Which is not to say she's to blame – just that she's an
invisible influence, much like Amir's mother.)
• Sanaubar's disappearance obviously affected Amir because he writes about a similar plot in his
novel A Season for Ashes. (Actually, he's probably writing about his mother and Sanaubar.)
• Sanaubar seems to dislike Ali, her husband, and says she's seen "old donkeys better suited to be a
husband" (2.26). We wonder if this might be because of his ethnicity. He's a Hazara like her, but
perhaps she is self-loathing. After all, she does sleep with Baba who is a Pashtun
• Of course, it could be that Sanaubar is attracted to the power that Baba has and that it has little to
do with ethnicity. The novel doesn't go into it, so we can only speculate
• In the end, Sanaubar returns to Baba's home and lives with Hassan. She seems to be at peace with
her family.
CHARACTERS : Sofia Akrami
• We never see Amir's mother in the novel, but nonetheless she exerts an influence
• Baba perhaps blames Amir for her sudden death (she dies giving birth to Amir)
• In a way, she's the wedge between Baba and Amir. As Baba pushes Amir more and more
toward "manly" activities like soccer and kite-flying, Amir resists by reading his mother's
poetry books
• She also has books on the Hazara people, which suggests that she, like Rahim Khan, has
some of the most forward-thinking and compassionate views on ethnicity in the novel
• It's odd how Amir's mother "feminizes" him even though she's almost completely absent
• In fact, we have to disagree with Amir when he later says "I had been raised by men; I
hadn't grown up around women" (13.97)
• Like Rahim Khan, who also encourages Amir's writing, Amir's mother has been there all
along with him.
Significance of names/ Titles
AMIR- means powerful, ruler, commander
Reflected in Amir`s personality as he is able to
command Hassan and is wealthy
In chapter two he states how Hassan “wouldn`t deny
me” when talking about convincing Hassan to fire
walnuts at the neighbours one-eye German shepherd
HASSAN- means handsome and doer of good
Hassan risks his own life (gets raped) in order to get the blue kite to Amir
Amir refers to Hassan in chapter one as “the hare lipped kite runner”
He is referred to as a “Hazara boy”
He is a Bastard
The narrator, Amir, grows up in a luxurious home in Kabul, Afghanistan, with his
father Baba. They have two Hazara (an ethnic minority) servants, Ali and his son Hassan,
who is Amir’s closest playmate. Amir feels he is a disappointing son to Baba, but he is
close to Baba’s friend Rahim Khan. Amir and Hassan flykites and read stories together,
though Hassan does chores while Amir goes to school. One day three boys
named Assef, Wali, and Kamal threaten Amir, but Hassan scares them away with his
slingshot.
In the winter there is a big kite-fighting tournament where boys try to cut each other’s
kites with glass-covered strings, and then “kite runners” chase after the fallen kites. Amir
wins the tournament, and then Hassan goes to retrieve the losing kite. When Amir goes
after Hassan he finds him in an alley, trapped by Assef, Wali, and Kamal. Amir watches as
Kamal and Wali hold Hassan down and Assef rapes him. Amir runs away, and later both
he and Hassan pretend nothing has happened.
Amir and Hassan soon drift apart. Amir is tormented by guilt, and he decides to make
Hassan leave the house. He hides some money under Hassan’s mattress and tells Baba
that he stole it, and Hassan doesn’t deny it. Baba forgives Hassan, but Ali and Hassan
leave the household.
Plot overview
In 1981, Baba and Amir flee Kabul, which has been invaded by the Soviets. They
eventually make it to Pakistan, and months later move to Fremont, California. Baba works
at a gas station and Amir finishes high school and then studies writing at college. Baba
and Amir sell things at a flea market, where Amir starts noticing Soraya, the daughter of
Baba’s friend General Taheri. After much delaying, Amir starts courting her. Soon
afterward Baba is diagnosed with lung cancer. Amir asks Baba if he will ask General Taheri
to let him marry Soraya. General Taheri accepts, and Amir and Soraya get married soon
after. Baba is pleased with Amir’s marriage, and he dies a month later. Amir gets his first
book published and he and Soraya start trying, unsuccessfully, to conceive. Meanwhile,
the Soviets are driven out of Afghanistan.
One day Amir gets a call from Rahim Khan, who is dying and asks Amir to come to
Pakistan. Once Amir arrives, Rahim Khan tells him about the horrors of the Taliban regime
and war-torn Kabul. Rahim Khan says he had been watching Baba’s house for a while, but
then found Hassan and convinced him and his wifeFarzana to come back to Kabul. Later
Farzana had a boy, Sohrab.
Plot overview
After Rahim Khan went to Pakistan he learned that Hassan and Farzana were executed by
the Taliban, and Sohrab was sent to an orphanage.
Rahim Khan asks Amir to go to Kabul and find Sohrab, saying this is Amir’s chance to “be
good again.” He also reveals that Baba was Hassan’s true father. Amir agrees to go, and he
finds the orphanage where Sohrab was supposed to be, but learns that a Taliban official
took him away a month earlier. Amir (and his companion Farid) go to a soccer game, where
at halftime the official they are looking for executes a man and woman.
Amir meets the official and the man calls in Sohrab, who has clearly been sexually abused.
The official then reveals himself as Assef, and he beats Amir with his brass knuckles until
Sohrab shoots him in the eye with his slingshot. Amir and Sohrab escape and Amir recovers
in Pakistan. Amir then asks Sohrab to come back to the U.S. with him, and Sohrab hesitantly
accepts.
Amir discovers it will be almost impossible for him to adopt Sohrab, and he tells him he
might have to go back to an orphanage. Soraya figures out how to get Sohrab an American
visa, but then Amir finds Sohrab has tried to kill himself. Sohrab survives, but stops speaking
altogether. Amir brings Sohrab to California, but he remains silent and withdrawn. One day
they are at a park and some Afghans are flying kites. Amir buys one, and he and Sohrab
fight another kite and cut it. Sohrab smiles, and Amir goes to run the kite for him.
Plot overview
December 2001
•Amir will narrate the whole book, except for Chapter 16, which is narrated by
Rahim Khan.
•Amir tells us something happened in the winter of 1975 and this event made
him what he is today. He gives us some scattered images: a crumbling mud
wall, an alley, a frozen creek.
•Amir remembers a phone call last summer from his friend Rahim Khan. He
feels like a past of "unatoned sins" is calling him up. So he takes a walk and
looks at some kites, which remind him of someone named Hassan.
•During the walk, Amir sits on a park bench. He thinks of Baba and Ali, and
Kabul, Afghanistan.
•The chapter ends where it began: "I thought of the life I had lived until the
winter of 1975 came along and changed everything. And made me what I am
today" (1.3).
Chapter 1: Summary
The opening
December 2001
I became what I am at the age of 12, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975. I remember the
precise moment, crouching behind a crumbling mud wall, peeking into the alley near the frozen
creek. That was a long time ago, but it’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how
you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realise I have been peeking
into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.
One day last summer, my friend Rahim Khan called from Pakistan. He asked me to come see him.
Standing in the kitchen with the receiver to my ear, I knew it wasn’t just Rahim Khan on the line. It
was my past of unatoned sins. After I hung up, I went for a walk along Spreckels Lake on the northern
edge of Golden Gate Park. The early-afternoon sun sparkled on the water where dozens of miniature
boats sailed, propelled by a crisp breeze. Then I glanced up and saw a pair of kites, red with long blue
tails, soaring in the sky. They danced high above the trees on the west end of the park, over the
windmills, floating side by side like a pair of eyes looking down on San Francisco, the city I now call
home. And suddenly Hassan’s voice whispered in my head: For you a thousand times over. Hassan the
harelipped kite runner.
I sat on a park bench near a willow tree. I thought about something Rahim Khan said just before he
hung up, almost as an afterthought. There is a way to be good again. I looked up at those twin kites, I
thought about Hassan, thought about Baba, Ali, Kabul. I thought of the life I had lived until the winter
1975 came along and changed everything. And made me what I am today.
The openingofthe kite runner
The contract
In his book How Novels Work, critic John Mullan says:
The novel, that most accessible, democratic of literary forms, must establish its contract with its
reader. It may be helped or hindered by all sorts of extraneous influences, cover design,
encrustrations of quotation from admiring reviewers, and the like. But it must also make its own way
in the world.
The idea of the writer establishing a contract with the reader is an interesting one. It suggests that
the opening is a promise of something – ‘I hereby promise that in this novel you will find the
following…’ The promise is not only one about genre, subject matter or type of character but also an
expectation of narrative voice, structure and style. Of course, some modern novels, in a deliberate
flouting of conventions, consciously unsettle and confuse the reader, with false expectations and
surprises. But even then, there is a contract, albeit of a different kind, a signal to the reader of what’s
in store – ‘Don’t expect a conventional read – I’m expecting a bit more from you than that!’
The openingofthe kite runner
A conventional opening?
The opening to The Kite Runner makes its contract with the reader in a fairly conventional way,
promising us things we may recognise from other books of a similar genre. The chapter starts with a
date ‘December 2001’. A quick flick through the book reveals a different date (and place) in Chapter
11, ‘Fremont, California. 1980s’ and the opening sentence of the novel starts:
I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975.
Here we have three timescales: that of an adult reflecting back, in 2001, on a critical set of events in
his childhood and on a later period of his early adult life. We may recognise this as characteristic of
the ‘rites-of-passage’ novel, a narrative which recounts the experiences of a child protagonist, who
‘grows up’ through the events of the novel, becoming an adult who has been shaped by these
formative experiences. The first person narrator of The Kite Runner gives heavy and portentous
weight to that ‘frigid overcast day’, referring to ‘the precise moment’ when something happened as
he ‘peek[ed]’ into an alley many years earlier, something that he concludes at the end of the first
chapter ‘made me what I am today’. A phonecall from a friend in 2001 takes him back to this period
and his ‘past of unatoned sins’ and the reader’s curiosity is aroused, as we become aware that the
book will reveal to us what these sins are. Half-way through the book, the present timescale of 2001
takes over as events in the adult narrator’s life take him back into the world of his childhood.
The openingofthe kite runner
Establishing trust
The first person narrator of this opening chapter speaks to us confidentially, seemingly without guile
and without the intention of holding anything back. He tells us straight of his own ‘sins’. He
establishes trust with the reader. One might compare this with some other first person narrators, who
are less trustworthy and authoritative about their own stories, such as the notoriously slippery
narrator of Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier, or the half-comprehending narrator of Fitzgerald’s
The Great Gatsby.
The opening of The Kite Runner promises us different timescales but also different places. We have
two worlds – that of a childhood in Afghanistan and a present in San Francisco, ‘the city I now call
home.’ Proper names, introduced baldly:
I thought about Hassan. Thought about Baba. Ali. Kabul
evoke the Afghan setting simply, without explanation. The two worlds and two periods are tied
together by the central symbol of the book, the idea of the kite and kite-runner. In a conventional
device for shifting from the present to past memories, Hosseini makes the witnessing of kites flying in
Golden Gate Park the spark for memories of childhood events, allowing him to take the reader back
to the times when he and his friend Hassan were partners in the local kite-running competitions in
Kabul. Hosseini makes the symbol work for him in other ways. The kites are a ‘pair’; they are ‘twin
kites’; they are like ‘eyes’ looking down on him. The identification of the kites with himself and
Hassan, as twins or a pair, introduces to us the idea of this central close relationship and the ‘eyes’ are
a reminder of the guilt that the narrator feels, at this stage unexplained but associated with the kites
and the relationship.
The openingofthe kite runner
Simplicity and poise
The final paragraph of the opening chapter sets us up for the shift to those childhood events. The
narrator’s memories of the past are stirred and Chapter 2 takes us straight into them, as we might
have expected it would:
When we were children, Hassan and I used to climb the poplar trees…
The Daily Telegraph review of The Kite Runner remarks that it is told with ‘simplicity and poise’ and
the Independent talks of ‘the tones of memory and nostalgia [...] reminiscent of those classic
European novellas of innocence bruised by experience.’ Another review from Globe and Mail Canada
comments that ‘There is no display in Hosseini’s writing, only expression.’ We can see all of this in the
first chapter. Hosseini is working within a ‘classic’ genre – the rites-of-passage novel – offering us
much of what we might expect from that genre rather than drawing our attention to the telling in
ways that make us question it. The lack of ‘display’ is regarded by the Canadian reviewer as a
strength, something that is ‘a lesson for all budding novelists’. While the style and form may be a
particularly poised version of a traditional form, what marks out The Kite Runner as being different is
its use of the ‘classic European’ rites-of-passage narrative to tell a story that has its heart in
Afghanistan and is part of a quite different modern tradition of post-colonial writing. The ‘hare-lipped’
boy who is introduced in the opening chapter, the idea of the alley and the hard-and-fast concepts of
guilt and wrongdoing, the effects of which last into adult life, prepare us for a moral universe that is
perhaps more absolute and certain than that of many of the more self-conscious and experimental
narrative writers of our times. The opening chapter makes a contract with the reader letting us know
that we are in for a delicately drawn, emotionally engaging experience, rather than a difficult,
demanding or tricksy read.
The openingofthe kite runner
Chapter 2: Summary
•Amir and Hassan get into harmless mischief together as kids. Hassan often takes the
blame if the two troublemakers get caught.
•Amir describes his childhood home, built by his father. It has rosebushes, marble floors,
mosaic tiles, and gold-stitched tapestries.
•Baba, Amir's father, has a smoking room in the house but he doesn't let Amir hang out
there.
•Some of Baba's cabinets have a few pictures: Amir's grandfather and King Nadir Shah
and one of Amir's father and mother on their wedding night. No word yet on Amir's
mother. Finally, there's one of little Amir in his father's arms; Rahim Khan stands off to
the side.
•Amir takes us inside the little shack where Ali and Hassan, their servants, live. It's
nowhere near as opulent as Baba's house.
•Amir tells us his mother died giving birth to him and Hassan's mother – her name was
Sanaubar – left soon after Hassan was born.
•One day, as Amir and Hassan are walking past the military barracks, some soldiers
heckle Hassan. Apparently, his mum was quite beautiful and a little free with her favors.
But the soldiers are really crude, and Amir tries to comfort Hassan.
•More description of Hassan's mother: Sanaubar, it seems, was really gorgeous and
"notoriously unscrupulous."
•Now, Amir tells us about Hassan's father: the lower muscles on Ali's face were
paralyzed by polio. Ali also walks with a limp. The neighborhood kids chase Ali around
and call him Babalu or "Boogeyman."
•We hear more about an emerging tension: ethnicity. Ali, Sanaubar, and Hassan are
Hazaras, while Amir and Baba are Pashtuns. Looking through his mother's old history
books, Amir discovers the inequality between the two ethnicities. Pashtuns are the
privileged majority.
•We learn Sanaubar taunted Ali along with the neighborhood kids. But Ali doesn't feel
the need to fight back against his assailants. He loves Hassan so much it doesn't
bother him.
•Little story from the midwife as told to the neighbor's servant: when Hassan was
born (with a cleft lip), Sanaubar said to Ali: "Now you have your own idiot child to do
all your smiling for you!" (2.30).
•Amir tells us he and Hassan had the same wet nurse (because Sanaubar left Ali and
Amir's mother passed away in childbirth). Ali tells the boys there is "a brotherhood
between people who had fed from the same breast, a kinship that not even time
could break" (2.34).
•Amir's first word is "Baba." Hassan's is "Amir."
Chapter 2: Summary
Chapter 3: Summary
•This chapter is more or less concerned with Amir's relationship with his father, Baba.
Amir begins by telling some stories about Baba and slowly shifts into Baba's
disappointment in Amir. Amir doesn't tell these stories in strict chronological order.
•Amir starts with this crazy story about how Baba wrestled a black bear. He swears it's
not laaf, "that Afghan tendency to exaggerate" (3.1). Sometimes Amir dreams about
Baba and the black bear; in his dreams, Amir can't tell the bear and Baba apart.
•Amir tells us Rahim Khan gave Baba his nickname, "Toophan agha, or 'Mr. Hurricane'"
(3.2).
•In the 1960s, Baba builds an orphanage. Even though Baba has no architectural
experience, he finishes the orphanage. Baba funds the entire project.
•Baba and Amir celebrate the completion of the orphanage by going to Ghargha Lake.
Baba asks Amir to bring along Hassan, but Amir lies and tells Baba that Hassan "has the
runs" (3.5). Baba pretty much ignores Amir while they eat beside the lake.
•During the opening ceremony for the orphanage, Baba's hat flies off in the wind. He's
giving a speech; Amir picks up the hat and hands it to Baba. Baba recovers marvelously
and there's lots of applause. Amir is very proud – of his father and himself.
•Amir slips in a few words on his mother: "one of Kabul's most respected, beautiful, and
virtuous ladies. [...] [N]ot only did she teach classic Farsi literature at the university, she
was a descendent of the royal family" (3.11).
•In the fifth grade, Amir returns home from school and tells Baba about Mullah Fatiullah
Khan, his teacher. Amir repeats what the Mullah said about drinking: "those who drank
would answer for their sin on the day of Qiuamat, Judgment Day" (3.13).
•As luck would have it, Baba is pouring himself a whiskey from the bar. He proceeds to
ridicule the Mullah. And he tells Amir all sins proceed from a single sin, which is theft. E.g.
"When you kill a man you steal his life" or "When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right
to truth" (3.32). Baba gets pretty worked up; he even says if a man were to steal a loaf of
bread he would "spit on such a man" and "if I ever cross paths with him, God help him"
(3.34).
•Somehow, Amir has woken up the bear-fury of Baba. Amir feels like Baba hates him a little
– didn't he did steal his mother's life by being born?
Chapter 3: Summary
•Cut to school. Amir always wins a classroom game called Sherjangi ("Battle of the
Poems"). It works like this: One person recites a line of poetry, then the next person
recites a line that begins with the letter that ended the first line. Amir is dominant in this
game and even beats the rest of his class. And he reads all his mother's books.
•Baba isn't OK with all this literature and reading stuff. Baba tries to get Amir interested in
soccer instead, but Amir is hopeless: "I shambled about the field on scraggly legs [...]"
(3.40).
•At some point, Baba takes Amir to a Buzkashi tournament. In this sport, one man rides
around on horses with a goat carcass while a bunch of other men, also on horses, do
everything they can to stop him from dropping the dead goat in a scoring circleOn this
particular day, the main rider gets trampled and Amir cries on the way home. Baba is not
pleased.
•That very night, Amir secretly listens in as Rahim Khan and Baba talk about him in the
study. Baba thinks Amir is weak and that "a boy who can't stand up for himself becomes a
man who can't stand up for anything" (3.66). Rahim Khan tries to defend Amir, but Baba
still says some pretty terrible things about his son.
Chapter 3: Summary
•This chapter – simultaneously – develops Amir's relationship with Hassan and Amir's
burgeoning interest in writing.
•Amir tells of the story of Ali: Two wealthy young men high on hashish accidentally run
over a Hazara husband and wife. The judge orders the men to enlist in the army; in an act
of kindness, the judge adopts the orphan left behind by the Hazara couple. This judge is
Amir's grandfather. Ali and Baba grow up together.
•Amir launches into a discussion of ethnicity and friendship. On the one hand, he and
Hassan are from different ethnic groups and have history and society in between them. On
the other, they have the same nurse and grow up together in the same household. Amir
doesn't come to a conclusion whether ethnicity drives a wedge between him and Hassan.
•What follows are a few warm-and-fuzzy stories about Amir and Hassan growing up
together.
•The boys throw pebbles at goats
•They go see Westerns at Cinema Park and they go to the bazaar.
•Hassan prepares meals for Amir, makes Amir's bed, and polishes his shoes.
Chapter 4: Summary
•Amir reads stories to Hassan on a hill north of Baba's house.
•Amir plays a few "harmless pranks" on Hassan. He tells Hassan "imbecile" means
"smart, intelligent" (4.20).
•Amir and Hassan share a favourite story: "Rostam and Sohrab" from the Shahnamah.
It's a story about a father who kills his nemesis, who actually turns out to be his son.
•Amir plays another trick on Hassan. Instead of reading from a book, Amir starts to
make up his own story, although he flips through the pages as if he's reading from
them. Hassan loves it. This prompts Amir to write his first short story.
•Amir, proud of his story, tries to show it to Baba. Baba isn't interested at all; Rahim
Khan comes to the rescue and reads Amir's story. Rahim Khan even writes Amir a nice
note about the story.
•Emboldened by Rahim Khan's praise, Amir reads his story to Hassan. Hassan is
enthralled and even tells Amir he'll be "a great writer" (4.55). However, Hassan points
out a plot hole. Amir knows Hassan is right, but he's also angry. He thinks some mean
things.
Chapter 4: Summary
•In this chapter, there's a sort of hodgepodge of events which set up for events to come in Chapter 7.
•So, war comes to Afghanistan. It's July 17, 1973. Ali, Hassan, and Amir huddle together in the living
room while gunfire and explosions thunder around them until morning. Baba shows up safe and
sound at sunrise, having made it through or around the blocked roads.
•Amir and Hassan decide to go climb their pomegranate tree. (In an earlier chapter, they carved their
names in this tree.) On their way there, trouble strikes in the form of Assef, Wali, and Kamal, three
neighborhood boys.
•We learn a little about Assef: he uses brass knuckles, has a German mother, and is known for his
meanness. He also torments Ali a lot.
•Assef starts talking some nonsense about the new leader Daoud Khan and how he's going to have a
man-to-man talk with Daoud Khan next time Daoud is over at his house. Assef will tell him about
Hitler and ethnic cleansing and how Afghanistan needs to get rid of the Hazaras. Amir wants to get
out of there. Assef, like always, has other ideas: he takes his brass knuckles out of his pocket.
•Hassan comes to the rescue. In a single movement, he takes his slingshot out of his back pocket and
aims it at Assef's left eye. Assef and his crew back off.
•It's Hassan's birthday. Baba always gets Hassan something special, like a Clint Eastwood cowboy hat
or train set. This year, Baba presents Dr. Kumar, from New Delhi, to Hassan. Dr. Kumar performs
surgery on Hassan, correcting his harelip.
•Amir tells us the scar from the surgery heals by the following winter. At which time Hassan stops
smiling. (Foreshadowing…)
Chapter 5 :Summary
•In this chapter, we get the skinny on winter kite fighting tournaments, and Amir's dreams of winning
this year's tournament.
•Amir loves wintertime, like most other Afghan kids. It's pretty, there's snow, no school, and, most
importantly, kite flying. Baba loves kite fighting, too, so it's a rare connection for them.
•Amir tells us a little about kite fighting. He and Hassan used to make their own kites with bamboo,
glue, string, and paper. To make the kite a fighting kite, the boys coat the string in glass and glue. (The
point of the kite fight is to cut the other kite's string with your string – thus the glass.)
•There's also kite running, which seems just as important as kite fighting. Once a kite is cut, the kite
runners chase after the released kite and try to run it down. The big deal kite to run is the
tournament runner-up – the last kite cut. Hassan, as it turns, is an expert kite runner.
•One winter day, Hassan and Amir run a kite. Hassan is a better kite runner than Amir – faster, more
athletic, and with better instincts – and Amir struggles to keep up. Hassan runs away from the kite
that's just been cut. Amir follows, and they rest on a field by a middle school.
•Amir doesn't believe the kite is going land anywhere near where Hassan has led them. So he asks
Hassan if Hassan would ever lie to him. Hassan says no, and that he'd "sooner eat dirt" (6.31). Amir
toys with Hassan. In the end, Amir makes nice and the kite floats down to where they're sitting.
•Four days before the kite-fighting tournament, Baba casually tells Amir he thinks Amir is going to win
this year. Amir starts to imagine all the wonderful things he and Baba will do together and how the
two of them will grow closer. Now, Amir really wants to win this tournament.
•The chapter ends with Hassan and Amir playing cards the night before the tournament. There's some
talk about Daoud Khan, televisions, and how Amir will buy Hassan a television some day. Hassan
thinks Amir will win the tournament the next day. Amir wins the card game but has the distinct
feeling Hassan let him win.
Chapter 6 :Summary
•This is The Big Chapter. The chapters preceding this one prepare you for this event; the chapters
following this one deal with its aftershocks.
•While Amir eats breakfast, Hassan recounts a dream he had the night before. They're both at
Ghargha Lake, along with Rahim Khan, Baba, Ali, and tons of other people. No one is swimming in
the water because there's a monster at the bottom. Amir, however, jumps into the lake; Hassan
follows and swims behind Amir. There's no monster. The crowd on the shore cheers.
•Hassan and Amir walk out into the street for the kite-fighting tournament. Strangely enough, Amir
suddenly gets cold feet. Hassan encourages him: "Remember, Amir agha. There's no monster, just a
beautiful day" (7.19). They toss the kite into the air.
•The number of kites in the sky dwindles. Soon, just Amir's kite and a blue kite are left. Amir gets a
lucky gust of wind and cuts the blue kite. He wins the tournament. Baba cheers from the rooftop. In
these tournaments, people collect or "run" the defeated kites, but the second-place kite is
considered the greatest prize. Hassan runs off after the blue kite.
•Amir takes his kite back to Baba's house and then heads off to find Hassan. After a little wandering,
he spots Hassan in an alley. Assef, Wali, and Kamal are staring Hassan down. Hassan has the blue
kite. No one sees Amir.
•Hassan tries to defend himself by throwing a rock at Assef . He does hit Assef, but the three boys
throw Hassan to the ground.
Chapter 7 :Summary
•Amir interrupts the narrative here with a few memories and a dream. In the first memory, Ali
reminds Amir that he and Hassan fed from the same breast. In the second memory, Hassan and
Amir go to a fortune-teller. The fortune-teller takes a coin from Hassan and reads Hassan's palm
and face. Visibly disturbed, the fortune-teller gives Hassan his coin back. Amir draws back when
the fortune-teller comes over to him. In the dream, Amir is lost in the snow. The wind is
blowing so hard it immediately erases his footsteps. Someone with parallel gashes on his hand
– Baba? – reaches out to Amir and they're suddenly in a summery, light-filled field.
•Cut back to the scene in the alley. Something is up: Wali and Kamal don't want to participate in
whatever Assef has planned. Assef pulls down his pants and rapes Hassan.
•Amir switches to the future tense. It's the next day, which is the feast of Eid-e-Qorban. The
feast commemorates Ibrahim's sacrifice of his son Isaac. According to the custom, each family
sacrifices a sheep. Ali, Baba, Hassan, and Amir watch as the mullah slits the sheep's throat.
•Cut back to the alley scene. Amir has one last chance to intervene. But instead he just runs
away.
•Amir meets Hassan in a ravine near the alley. Each is on his way back to Baba's house. Amir
doesn't tell Hassan he saw what happened.
•Hassan is about to tell Amir, but he composes himself and simply hands Amir the blue kite.
Hassan is a mess: his voice cracks, he has a dark stain on the seat of his pants. Amir pretends
not to notice. Hassan limps away.
•Amir returns to Baba's house with the kite. Baba gathers Amir up into his arms. Amir weeps.
Chapter 7 :Summary
Chapter 8 :Summary
•This chapter describes the weeks (and year) following the kite-fighting tournament.
•Amir rarely sees Hassan – he wakes to find his breakfast already cooked, his clothes folded.
Ali asks Amir if anything is wrong with Hassan, but Amir treats Ali pretty poorly and, worse,
doesn't tell Ali about the alley.
•Amir asks Baba if they can go to Jalalabad on Friday. Baba asks if Hassan wants to come
along. Amir wants Baba all to himself so he says Hassan is sick.
•Much to Amir's dismay, Baba invites tons of relatives to travel with them. (Enough to fill
three vans. One of Amir's cousins congratulates Amir on winning the kite-fighting
tournament. Amir throws up all over her dress.
•That night, everyone eats lots of food. People play poker and have a few drinks. Amir is
miserable. After everyone has fallen asleep – the men sleeping on the living room floor
along with Amir – Amir blurts out to no one in particular: "I watched Hassan get raped"
(8.40). No one wakes up or hears him. Amir's insomnia starts that night.
•Back in Kabul, there's more silence and distance between Amir and Hassan. Not even
the Shahnamah can bring them together. This continues for the rest of the winter. Amir
hangs out with Baba occasionally, but seems to spend a lot of time reading in his room.
•At one point during the winter, Hassan asks Amir if he's done anything wrong. Amir
pretty much tells Hassan that he just wants to be alone.
•Right before school starts up again, Amir asks Baba if they can get new servants. Baba
is furious. Amir knows he's really driven a wedge between himself and Baba now.
•That summer, Hassan and Amir walk up to the hill with their pomegranate tree. Amir
starts to read a story to Hassan, but loses interest. He picks an overripe pomegranate
and begins to pelt Hassan. Amir wants Hassan to fight back, but Hassan won't.
Eventually, Hassan picks up a pomegranate and walks over to Amir and crushes it
against his forehead.
•The chapter ends with Amir's thirteenth birthday party. Baba invites tons of people,
there's heaps of good food, and even Ahmad Zahir, the pop musician.
•Assef shows up with a gift for Amir. There's an odd rapport between Baba and Assef as
Baba asks Assef about soccer. In one of the most awkward exchanges in the book, Assef
gives Amir his present and Amir stalks off. Amir opens the present on his own. It's a
biography of Hitler.
•Rahim Khan shows up. He tells Amir a story about how he almost married a Hazara
woman. His parents and siblings, though, were outraged at the prospect of welcoming a
Hazara woman into the family. The marriage didn't happen. Rahim Khan gives Amir his
gift: it's a leather-bound writing journal.
Chapter 8 :Summary
Chapter 9: Summary
•The day after his birthday party, Amir opens all his presents. He gets two from Baba: a
Schwinn Stingray, which is "the king of all bicycles," and a brand-new wristwatch (9.2).
He throws most of his gifts in the corner because he realizes Baba wouldn't have
thrown him such a lavish party if he hadn't won the kite-fighting tournament. So, they
feel a little like "blood money" (9.1).
•Ali and Hassan give Amir a really nice hardback copy of Shahnamah. It probably took
some scrimping and saving on Ali and Hassan's part to afford this present.
•In the lowest of all low deeds, Amir puts his new wristwatch and a wad of cash under
Hassan's mattress. He tells Baba his stuff is missing. Baba talks to Ali; Ali finds Amir's
stuff in their house. The two return to Baba's house, having had a good cry together.
Baba asks Hassan if he stole the watch and money. Surprisingly enough – even for Amir
– Hassan says, "Yes." Baba immediately forgives Hassan, which again surprises Amir.
Isn't theft the worst of all sins? In any case, Ali and Hassan decide to leave.
•Baba pleads with Ali to stay. Ali refuses.
•In the pouring rain , Baba drives Ali and Hassan to the bus station. Amir considers
running out to the car to confess, but he stays at the window.
Chapter 10 : Summary
March 1981
•The chapter opens with Baba and Amir crammed into the back of an old Russian
truck. They're with other refugees on their way to Pakistan. Afghanistan has gotten
too dangerous. Neighbors have turned against each other, and everyone seems to be
a spy for the Russians.
•Amir starts to feel sick and someone asks Karim, the driver, to pull over. He does
eventually and Amir gets out. A MiG (a Russian fighter jet ) flies overhead.
•They pull up to a checkpoint. The Russian soldier manning it seems a little drunk. He
tells Karim he'll let the truck pass if he gets to spend some special alone time with
one of the women in the truck.
•Baba is outraged. Amir grabs Baba's leg, but to no avail. Baba gets up and tells the
Russian to shove it. The soldier takes out his gun out of his holsterThe gun goes off,
but no one gets hit. A superior officer shows up and gives the soldier a very mild
scolding. They make it through the checkpoint.
•Cut to Jalalabad. They arrive at a one-story house, and Karim tells everyone the bad
news: No truck to Peshawar. Baba goes crazy and grabs Karim by the throat and
almost strangles him. He would have, in fact, if it weren't for the pleas of a young
woman.
•In the basement of the house, more refugees have been waiting for weeks. Among
them are Kamal and his father. In an odd twist of events, it turns out Kamal's mother
caught a stray bullet in Kabul. Kamal was also raped in Kabul.
•Because there's no truck to take them to Peshawar, Karim comes up with an
alternative. His cousin owns a fuel truck, which would work just fine. The refugees pile
into the belly of the fuel truck. Almost immediately, Amir's eyes and nose start to burn.
Fumes! Baba tells Amir: "Think of something good" (10.73). He pictures himself and
Hassan in a field. They're flying a kite.
•The fuel truck makes it to Pakistan. A bus is going to take them the rest of the way to
Peshawar. Amir (and some of the other refugees) crawl around on the ground,
weakened by the fumes. Kamal isn't breathing. His father is stunned. He somehow gets
a hold of Karim's gun and shoots himself in the head.
•The chapter ends with Amir dry-heaving on the side of the road.
Chapter 10 : Summary
Fremont, California. 1980s
•Baba and Amir have moved to America. Certainly, it's an improvement over war-torn
Afghanistan, but it's also not smooth sailing.
•Walking in Lake Elizabeth Park, Baba enlightens Amir with his politics: there are only a few
"real men" in international politics. America, Britain, and Israel. (Baba seems to love
directness in international affairs.) Baba also loves Ronald Reagan – which makes sense.
Reagan called the Soviet Union – who invaded Afghanistan – "the Evil Empire," Reagan also
had that American cowboy bravado Amir and Baba worshipped from afar for years in
Afghanistan.
•However, Baba isn't adjusting well to America. He turns his neighborhood convenience
store upside down because they won't take his check without ID. (In Baba's defense, he's
shopped there for two years.) Amir gets him out of the store, but there's a lot of yelling
about honor and such.
•Amir reveals that Baba works at a gas station. He works a twelve-hour shift six days a week.
This image sums it up: "Baba's face drawn and pale under the bright fluorescent lights"
(11.28).
•For a while, Baba and Amir were on welfare. The day Baba gets a job, he goes to the
welfare office and returns his food stamps.
•Amir graduates from high school. Baba is actually really proud of Amir; unlike the attention
Amir got for winning the kite-fighting tournament, this affection seems long-lasting.
Chapter 11 : Summary
•They go out and celebrate. Baba drinks lots of beer, says some disparaging things about
Russians, and buys everyone drinks.
•He has Amir drive to end of their block where a gift waits for Amir. It's a Ford Gran Torino.
There's some crying, widespread happiness, and a hand-squeeze. Baba says: "I wish Hassan
had been with us today" (11.44). Amir feels profoundly guilty.
•Amir is going to enroll in junior college the next fall. He and Baba discuss majors the morning
after graduation. Amir says he's going to major in Creative Writing. Baba isn't too happy.
•Amir drives his Ford Gran Torino around a lot. He feels "free" or something. America, for the
most part, has allowed Amir to escape his past.
•Baba sells his car. He buys a '71 Volkswagen bus. They start buying up stuff at yard sales and
going to the San Jose flea market.
•At the flea market, Baba introduces Amir to General Taheri who worked for the Ministry of
Defense in Kabul. There's an exchange between His Lordship Taheri and Amir about writing.
The General wonders if Amir will write about Afghanistan or economics or some
other important topic. Nope. Amir is going to write fiction.
•Some lovely lady brings the General a cup of coffee. It's his daughter, Soraya. Amir is smitten.
•On the way home from the flea market, Amir realizes he knows the name "Taheri" from some
rumors he heard. Baba isn't one to gossip, but Amir presses him and he says: "All I've heard is
that there was a man once and things...didn't go well" (11.101). Apparently, because of this
incident, no one has approached Soraya as a suitor since then.
Chapter 11 : Summary
•Amir remembers long nights in Afghanistan (specifically the first night of winter or yelda) when he
stayed up late with Hassan. Currently he stays up late thinking of Soraya. Or, as Amir calls her, "My
Swap Meet Princess."
•Amir often goes over to the Taheri's table at the flea market to steal glances at Soraya. This is
turning into a full-fledged obsession. Or, as some would call it, a romance.
•One day at the flea market, Amir asks Baba if he wants a Coke. Baba knows what's up: Amir is going
over to talk to Soraya. He gives Amir a little speech about nang and namoos (honor and pride). Amir
says he won't embarrass anyone.
•Amir goes over to chat up the lovely lady. He probably stays a little too long by Afghan standards.
But it's going so well! Soraya even asks about Amir's writing and he promises to bring her a story
sometime. Just when things are getting a little steamy (according to Afghan standards a
conversation this long is apparently risqué), Soraya's mother walks up. She asks Amir to stay; he
politely refuses.
•Amir keeps thinking about Soraya. And going over to the Taheri booth at the flea market.
•One fine flea market Saturday, Amir and Soraya are talking at the Taheri booth. Soraya tells Amir
how she wants to become a teacher. She also tells Amir a story about how she taught one of the
Taheri family servants to read. Now she wants to be a teacher.
•The conversation is going well. Amir reaches into his pocket and hands her one of his stories (just
as he promised). Just then, the General shows up. He gives Amir a little talking-to and takes the
story from Soraya. He puts it in the garbage and reminds Amir – quite subtly for a military man –
that Amir should check himself before he wrecks himself.
Chapter 12 : Summary
•Later that very week, Baba gets a cold. It seems harmless, but then Amir catches Baba hacking up
blood.
•They go to a county hospital since Baba doesn't have health insurance. The doctor finds a spot on
Baba's lung, and sends Baba to a pulmonary clinic. Amir prays.
•At first, they meet with a Russian pulmonologist. Baba isn't happy since, well, Russia did a lot of bad
things to Afghanistan. Actually, the doctor was born in Michigan, but that's not enough for Baba.
They switch doctors.
•The new doctor gives Baba his prognosis. The cancer will be fatal.
•Baba doesn't want Amir to tell anyone about his illness.
•For a while, Baba does well. He still goes to the flea market. But he slowly wears down. He calls in
sick to the gas station one day. By Halloween, Baba no longer gets out of the car to bargain at the
yard sales. By Thanksgiving, he can't make it past noon. By Christmas, Amir is driving the van on his
own. Baba loses weight. The Sunday after New Year's Day, Baba has a seizure and collapses at the
flea market.
•The doctor at the hospital goes over Baba's CAT scans with Amir. It doesn't look good. The cancer
has spread into Baba's brain. The doctor recommends steroids, anti-seizure medication, and
palliative radiation.
•General Taheri, Khanum Taheri, and Soraya visit Baba and Amir at the hospital. Two days later, the
hospital discharges Baba. A radiation specialist tries to talk Baba into getting radiation treatment, but
he refuses.
Chapter 12 : Summary
•Baba is resting on the couch. Amir asks Baba to visit General Taheri and formally request
Soraya's hand in marriage. He does this not only because he loves Soraya, but also
because his father is dying. Amir knows the marriage will please his father. Baba calls the
General and sets up a meeting for the next day.
•Amir drops Baba off at the Taheri's home. Amir goes back home to wait for Baba to call.
The phone rings about an hour after Amir dropped Baba off. The General has accepted.
•However, Soraya needs to talk to Amir. Soraya wants Amir to know about her past before
they proceed any further. Here's the story: Soraya was living in Virginia with another man
after having run away from home. Lots of gossip. Soon enough, the General shows up. He
takes Soraya home, where she discovers her little romp has caused Khanum Taheri to have
a stroke, paralyzing the right side of her face. End of story.
•Amir still wants to marry Soraya. Remember, he's got his own checkered past. If Amir
called the wedding off, it'd be the pot calling the kettle black. No, it'd be worse than that.
•The chapter ends with Amir's regrets. He wishes he could be as open as her and tell her
about Hassan and Ali. He opens his mouth but doesn't say anything.
Chapter 12 : Summary
•The chapter opens with lafz, or the ceremony for "giving word." Baba and Amir are at the Taheri's
house to formally ask the General to accept Amir into their family.
•Khanum Taheri leads Baba and Amir through a living room packed with two dozen guests. (As
tradition requires, Soraya is not there.) Baba requests that the General accept Amir as a son-in-law. He
does, which results in applause and general good cheer.
•Soraya and Amir forgo the Shirini-khori, or "Eating of the Sweets" ceremony. (It's an engagement
party followed by an engagement period of a few months.) Baba probably won't live that long.
•Baba spends almost his whole life savings on Amir's wedding. $35,000.
•Soraya and Amir have their nika, or "swearing" ceremony. (Basically, the ceremony part of an
American wedding.) Amir thinks of Hassan: "I remember wondering if Hassan too had married. And if
so, whose face he had seen in the mirror under the veil? Whose henna-painted hands had he held?"
(13.30).
•Amir sleeps with Soraya for the first time. We have to giggle at this sentence: "That night, I discovered
the tenderness of a woman" (13.31).
•Soraya and Amir move in with Baba since he's very sick. One day, Amir comes home from the
pharmacy with some of Baba's medication and finds Soraya reading to Baba. She's reading him Amir's
stories. Amir can't take it and leaves the room crying. Baba finally supports Amir's writing.
•About a month after the wedding, Baba dies in his sleep.
•The funeral is held at a mosque in Hayward. At the gravesite, the mullah and another mourner argue
over which ayat of the Koran to recite.
•Since he's married to Soraya now, Amir learns a few things about the Taheris: about once a month,
the General has blinding migraine headaches; Khanum Taheri at one point was a famous singer in
Kabul but quit when she married the General; Khanum Taheri loves Johnny Carson; Khanum Taheri
also loves to talk about her medical ailments. Amir listens.
Chapter 13 : Summary
•At her uncle's wedding, two middle-aged women upset Soraya. They more or less call Soraya un-
virtuous a.k.a. a slut. Soraya tells Amir more about her time in Virginia: the night the General came
for her, he had a gun with him. Two bullets in the chamber: one for himself and one for Soraya's
boyfriend (if Soraya didn't go with him). Thankfully, she did. The General handed her a pair of
scissors to cut off all her hair. She obliged him.
•So, Amir and Soraya are married now. Since Baba has died, they move into a one-bedroom
apartment. Amir enrolls at San Jose State and declares English as his major; Soraya enrolls a year
later and declares Education. General Taheri isn't happy with Soraya's major – he wanted her to be a
lawyer or politician.
•Amir finishes his first novel. (It's "a father-son story set in Kabul" – sound familiar?) He sends query
letters out to a dozen agencies and gets a request for the manuscript. Amir sends them the
manuscript and, wonder of wonders, an agent agrees to represent him. In about the time it takes to
squeeze a pomegranate, Amir is a published novelist.
•A lot of other things are going on while Amir becomes a successful writer. The Soviets withdraw
from Afghanistan; civil war breaks out in Afghanistan; the cold war ends; the Berlin Wall comes
down; Tiananmen Square happens. And Amir and Soraya start trying to have a kid.
•Amir and Soraya, however, can't get pregnant. They go see a doctor; Amir passes his tests, but
Soraya doesn't. She has something called "Unexplained Infertility," which apparently isn't
uncommon.
•The young lovers tell the General and Khanum Taheri. Soraya relates some advice: "The doctor said
we could adopt" (13.139). The General isn't sure about adoption – he starts talking about "blood"
and "family" etc. In the end, Amir and Soraya don't want to adopt either.
•The chapter ends with Amir and Soraya buying a house in Bernal Heights.
Chapter 13 : Summary
June 2001
•The chapter opens with Amir lowering the telephone. He's just gotten a mysterious
call from Rahim Khan ,who is sick. Rahim Khan asks Amir to come back to
Afghanistan: "Come. There is a way to be good again" (14.19).
•Amir takes a walk and sees a pair of red kites.
•Amir decides to go to Afghanistan to see Rahim Khan. He's still has trouble sleeping,
but after he finally falls asleep he dreams of Hassan: "the hem of his green chapan [a
long cloak] dragging behind him, snow crunching under his black boots [...]" (14.25).
•The chapter ends with Amir on a flight to Afghanistan.
Chapter 14 : Summary
•Amir lands in Peshawar. The city reminds him of Kabul – the taxi driver tells Amir that
many of his fellow Afghans have ended up in a section of the city called "Afghan Town."
The driver drops Amir off at Rahim Khan's building. Rahim Khan doesn't look so good.
•For the rest of the chapter, Amir and Rahim Khan talk about Afghanistan, the past, and
Amir's life in America. Here's what they cover: Amir's marriage to Soraya Taheri, Baba,
and Amir's education and writing.
•The conversation turns to the Taliban and Afghanistan. It sounds like Kabul turned into a
war zone between 1992 and 1996 and so when the Taliban took over, the people
welcomed them. Rahim Khan tells this Taliban story: in 1998, a Taliban official smacked
Rahim Khan in the forehead for cheering too loudly at a soccer match.
•Amir learns Rahim Khan is dying.
•Rahim Khan brings up Hassan. He tells Amir: "I brought you here because I am going to
ask something of you. [...]. But before I do, I want to tell you about Hassan" (15.54).
Chapter 15 : Summary
•This chapter is in the voice of Rahim Khan.
•Rahim Khan lives in Baba's house after Amir and Baba flee to America. He's lonely and, because he's
getting old, is having trouble keeping up the house. Rahim Khan goes to Hazarajat (the central region
of Afghanistan and home to the Hazara ethnic group) to find Hassan.
•Rahim Khan finds Hassan in Bamiyan, one of the provinces of Hazarajat.
•Rahim Khan finds out Hassan has married. His wife, Farzana, is pregnant.
•When Rahim Khan asks about Ali, Hassan looks down. Ali walked into a land mine two years ago.
•Finally, Rahim Khan asks Hassan to come back to Kabul with him to care for Baba's house. Hassan asks
about Amir and learns about Baba's death.
•The next day, Hassan and Farzana agree to come back to Kabul with Rahim Khan.
•Even though there's plenty of room in the main house, Hassan and Farzana take up residence in the
old servants' quarters.
•Farzana gives birth to a stillborn girl, but soon Farzana gets pregnant again.
•Sanaubar, Hassan's mother who ditched him and Ali years ago, suddenly shows up at the gate. She's a
wreck – weak, covered in sores, and slashed by a knife. Hassan & Farzana nurse her back to health.
•Sanaubar delivers Hassan's child. Farzana, and Hassan name the child after Sohrab, Hassan's favorite
character in the Shahnamah.
•Sanaubar dies in her sleep. The fighting in Kabul intensifies.
•Hassan teaches his son Sohrab how to shoot a slingshot, how to read and write, and how to run a
kite.
•The chapter ends ominously: the Taliban has banned kite fighting and, in two years, they will
massacre the Hazaras in Mazar-i-Sharif.
Chapter 16 : Summary
Chapter 17 : Summary
•Rahim Khan gives Amir an envelope. Inside are letters from Hassan and a Polaroid photograph of
Hassan and Sohrab. Here's what the letters say:
•Letter 1: Hassan hopes his letter will someday reach Amir in America and that Amir will write back.
Hassan still thinks about Amir and tells Farzana and Sohrab all about Amir.
•Letter 2: Kabul has changed. The Taliban have imposed strict rule: even Farzana is punished in the
market for speaking too loudly. He brags about Sohrab – how good he is with a slingshot, how he likes
the Shahnamah, etc.
•Letter 3: Rahim Khan is very sick and will travel to Pakistan to see some doctors. Hassan has had a
few violent nightmares but also dreams that Rahim Khan will get well, Sohrab will "grow up to be a
good person, a free person [...]," and peace will come to Kabul. He hopes Amir will visit.
•All in all, the letters are very warm – Hassan doesn't hold any grudges against Amir.
•Rahim Khan delivers the bad news to Amir. A month after he arrived in Peshawar, a neighbor called
and told him Talib officials executed Hassan and Farzana. Even though people in the neighborhood
supported Hassan's story, the Talibs didn't believe Rahim Khan left the house in his care. Sohrab is in
an orphanage in Kabul.
•Now, Rahim Khan reveals the reason he asked Amir to come to Afghanistan: he wants Amir to rescue
Sohrab from the orphanage. There are some people in Peshawar who will adopt him.
•At first, Amir doesn't want any part of Rahim Khan's scheme. Rahim Khan gives him three reasons.
First, he is a dying man and he wants Amir to do this for him. Second, Baba once thought Amir
couldn't stand up for himself – now, Amir can prove him wrong. Third, Hassan was actually Amir's
half-brother.
•Of course, the last reason really changes things. Apparently, Ali was sterile, and Baba fathered
Hassan with Sanaubar.
•The chapter ends with Amir storming out of Rahim Khan's apartment.
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Kite runner revision pack

  • 1.
  • 2. ABOUT THE AUTHOR •In March 2001, while practicing medicine, Hosseini began writing his first novel, The Kite Runner. Published by Riverhead Books in •2003, that debut went on to become an international bestseller and beloved classic, sold in at least seventy countries. •Born in Kabul- March 4, 1965 •Just as he describes in the kite runner, Kabul was a cosmopolitan city at the time •Western cultures, including movies and literature , mixed with Afghan traditions such as kite-fighting in the winter •Lavish parties were normal in Hosseini`s family home in the upper-middle class neighbourhood of Wazir Akbar Khan •Hosseini`s father- diplomat with Afghan Foreign ministry and Mother-taught Farsi •In 1976, the Foreign Ministry relocated the Hosseini family to Paris. • They were ready to return to Kabul in 1980, but by then their homeland had witnessed a bloody communist coup and the invasion of the Soviet Army • The Hosseini`s were granted political asylum in the United States-in September 1980 moved to San Jose, California • Hosseini graduated from high school in 1984 and got his bachelor’s degree in biology in 1988 and earned a medical degree in 1993 • He completed his residency at Cedars-Sinai medical centre in Los Angeles and was a practicing internist between 1996 and 2004.
  • 3. A HISTORICAL OVERVIEWOF AFGHANISTAN •Afghanistan`s main ethnic composition includes the Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Baluchi and Turkoman people •The languages Daro and Pashto are officially recognized in the constitution •Practically everyone in Afghanistan is Muslim representing both Sunni and Shia muslims •Afghanistan emerged as a nation in the `8th century, after centuries of invasions and conquests which began in 1973, when Daiod Khan overthrew his cousin Zahir Shah •Daoud Khan spoke about ending corruption and being true to the revolution but it became apparent the regime change was only a transfer of power •Resistance against the new regime was formed immediately by Islamic revolutionary rebels •The Soviet Union raided Afghanistan in December 1979 •Returned from exile was Babrak Karmal, head of the Parcham fraction, who quickly announced general amnesty for political prisoners which included the mujahideen leaders and invited moderates to coorperate in the reconciliation •After a decade, the soviet army withdrew, leaving the state split among many ethnic fractions •In the 1990`s, the Taliban`s assumed control and introduced strict adherence to Islamic law
  • 4. The kite runner is a Shakespearean beginning to an epic tale that spans lives lived accross two continents amid political upheavals – The kite runner is about the price of peace , both personal and political, and what we knowingly destroy in our hope of achieving that, be it friends , democracy or ourselves.
  • 5. WHAT`S UP WITHTHE TITLE? Hosseini didn`t name the book the kite FIGHTER, which means he didn`t name it after his main character. Why would Hosseini put Hassan-the kite RUNNER-at the centre of the novel? One answer might be that Hassan haunts Amir and is, in one way or another, the subject of Amir`s thoughts for pretty much his whole life. However, at the end of the novel, Amir does become a kite runner. The book ends with Amir running a kite for Sohrab. It seems to be another step on his path to redemption that he does for Hassan`s son what Hassan used to do for him.
  • 6. DREAMS The morning of the kite fighting tournament, Hassan tells Amir about a dream he had: The two of them are at Ghargha lake, However no one is in the water because there is a monster in there. In Hassan`s dream, Amir jumps into the water anyway and Hassan follows. They swim out into the middle of the lake and the people on the shore cheer. The lake is renamed “Lake of Amir and Hassan, the sultans of Kabul”. So what does Hassan`s dream mean? Its possible Hassan made up the dream. Amir is very nervous on the morning of the Tournament. Hassan could be trying to comfort him through this story. Later that day, Assef rapes Hassan in the streets of Kabul while Amir stands by and watches. Amir could be the monster in the lake. Is Amir`s jealousy of Hassan the monster? Or is Assef the monster? Much like the people on the shore, Baba and Rahim Khan cheer for Amir when he wins the kite tournament. Does this mean Baba and Rahim Khan are oblivious of the monster? The monster In the lake
  • 7. DREAMS Early in the novel, as we`re getting to know Baba, Amir relates one of the legends about his father. Apparently, Baba wrestles a black bear in Baluchistan and has the scars to prove it. Amir reassures us that this story isn`t typical Afghan laaf (exaggeration). The story has obviously affected Amir because he imagines it “countless times” and even dreams about it. Interestingly, in his dreams Amir can`t tell Baba apart from the bear Baba and theblack bear On one level you interpret the bear story fairly simply: it tells us just how towering of a figure Baba is to Amir. The fact the Amir believes the story, too, tells us a little about their relationship. It`s one of the distant. But there`s also the oddity of the bear and Baba morphing into each other. Perhaps Baba become a fearful beast to Amir. Or perhaps Baba, in wrestling with his sins, merges with them. We are not totally sure. But Baba and Amir explicitly compares the troubles and hardships of Baba`s life to a bear Baba couldn`t beat
  • 8. HALLUCINATIONS Later in the novel , when he is in the hospital in Peshawar, Amir has a hallucination. In the hallucination, Baba is in Baluchistan fighting the bear. It`s a rip- roaring fight- Fur flying. When the dust clears, Amir gets a good luck at the person wrestling the bear. It`s not Baba- It`s Amir Now Amir has taken on the fight with the bear. Does this mean Amir achieves some sort of manhood- or only that he`s taken on his father`s sins? If we keep in mind the earlier dream in which Amir can`t tell Baba apart from the bear, perhaps when Amir wrestles with the bear he is really wrestling with his father
  • 9. SYMBOLISM Symbolism is the practise or art of using an object or a word to represent an abstract idea. An action, person, place , word or object can all have a symbolic meaning. When an author wants to suggest a certain mood or emotion, he can also use symbolism to hint at it, rather than just blatantly saying it.
  • 10. SYMBOLISM: The cleft lip Hassan`s cleft lip is one of his most representative features as a child ( in chapter one Amir recalls Hassan as “the hare lipped kite runner”) and it is one of the features Amir refers to the most in describing him. The split in Hassan`s lip acts as a mark of Hassan`s status in society: “You! The Hazara!Look at me when I'm talking to you” . It signifies his poverty , which is one of the things that separates him from Amir, simply because a cleft lip indicates that he and his family do not have the money to fix the deformity. Baba, who is Hassan`s biological father, chooses to pay a surgeon to repair Hassan`s lip as a birthday gift, signifying his secret fatherly love for Hassan. Later, Assef split Amir`s lip as he beats him, leaving Amir with a permanent scar much like Hassan`s. In a sense, Amir`s identity has merged with Hassan`s. He learns to stand up for those he cares about, as Hassan once did for him, and he becomes a father figure to Sohrab because of this, it also serves s a sign of Amir`s redemption. 1 2 3
  • 11. SYMBOLISM: kItes The kites serves as a symbol of Amir`s happiness as well as his guilt. Flying kites is what Amir enjoys most as a child, not least because it is the only way that he fully connects with Baba, who was once a champion kite fighter, but the kite takes on a different significance when Amir allows Hassan to be raped because he wants to bring the blue kite back to Baba. His recollections of that portray the kite as a sign of his Betrayal of Hassan. Amir does not fly a kite again until he does so with Sohrab at the end of the novel. Because Amir has already redeemed himself by that point, the kite is no longer a symbol of his guilt. Instead, it acts as a reminder of his childhood, and it also becomes the way that he is finally able to connect with Sohrab, mirroring the kite`s role in Amir`s relationship with Baba.
  • 12. SYMBOLISM: kItes A kite fight really is a proxy war. Here`s Afghanistan, jerked around like a kite for most of it`s twentieth century history by the British, the Soviets, the Taliban, played off against its neighbours by distant forces pulling all the strings. We all know this because Amir tells us, and not just once. On the verge of his rescue mission over the Khyber pass: “ I was afraid the appeal of my life in America would draw me back, that I would wade back into that great, big river and let myself forget, let the things I had learned these last few days sink to the bottom, I was afraid that I'd let the waters carry me away from what I had to do. From Hassan. From the past that had come calling. And from this one last chance at redemption”. There is more to kites than just redemption
  • 13. SYMBOLISM: The lamb In Islam, as in Christianity, the lamb signifies the sacrifice of an innocent. Amir describes both Hassan and Sohrab as looking like lambs waiting to be slaughtered. Amir says this during Hassan`s rape: “ ... It was the look of the lamb”, noting that Hassan resembled the lamb they kill during the Muslim celebration of Eid-ul Adha. Similarly, he described Sohrab as looking like a slaughter sheep when he first sees Sohrab with Assef. Assef had put mascara on Sohrab`s eyes, just as Amir says the mullah used to do to the sheep before slitting it`s throat. Both Hassan and Sohrab are innocent who are figuratively sacrificed by being raped, but these sacrifices have very different meanings. In Hassan`s case, Amir sacrifices him for the blue kite. But in Sohrab`s case, Amir is the one who stops his sexual abuse. In this context, sacrifice is portrayed as the exploitation of an innocent.
  • 14. SYMBOLISM: Myth ofRostam and Sohrab Myth and stories about legendary heroes as well as stories and literacy in general, symbolise both the similarities and differences between the Sunni and Shia Muslims. Socioeconomic conditions may determine levels of literacy and understanding , but they do not guarantee heroic attitudes and actions. And the heroes of Afghan and Middle Eater cultures are shared by those of differing beliefs and socioeconomic conditions. The character of Rostam, which acts dishonourably towards the king by sleeping with his daughter, symbolises a Amir. The character of Sohrab, who does not know who his father is, who becomes Hassan`s favourite hero, and who meets an untimely death, symbolises Hassan.
  • 15. SYMBOLISM :Thepomegranate tree While Amir and Hassan are young and carefree and as close as a servant and master can be, they carve their names in the tree, which bears fruit. Thus, the tree symbolises their relationship . Years later, after Hassan is dead and Amir is wracked with guilt, the tree- just like Amir`s memories still exists but no longer bears any fruit. The tree not only symbolises a unifying force between Amir and Hassan but also serves as a source of division.
  • 16. SYMBOLISM: Slingshot Represents two generations. The slingshot symbolises both childhood as well as the need to stand up for what is right. Both Hassan and Sohrab use a slingshot to stop Assef , although Hassan only threatens to use his, and Sohrab actually inflicts pain.
  • 17. THEME :Freindship There are two major relationships in The Kite Runner. One is between the protagonist and his father. The other is between the protagonist and his best friend. Because the protagonist's best friend is also his servant, though, and a member of the discriminated against ethnic minority, the novel presents a relationship that is fairly complex. Should love for a friend outweigh the divisions of class and ethnicity? Or are these divisions too far-reaching? To make matters more complicated, the protagonist later learns his best friend is actually his half- brother. In some ways, this revelation dissolves the earlier problems posed by ethnicity, and Hosseini poses a new question: Can ethnicity divide the members of a family?
  • 18. THEME :Freindship---Quote “Sometimes, up in those trees, I talked Hassan into firing walnuts with his slingshot at the neighbor's one-eyed German shepherd. Hassan never wanted to, but if I asked,really asked, he wouldn't deny me. Hassan never denied me anything. And he was deadly with his slingshot. Hassan's father, Ali, used to catch us and get mad, or as mad as someone as gentle as Ali could ever get. He would wag his finger and wave us down from the tree. He would take the mirror and tell us what his mother had told him, that the devil shone mirrors too, shone them to distract Muslims during prayer. "And he laughs while he does it," he always added, scowling at his son.” "Yes, Father," Hassan would mumble, looking down at his feet. But he never told on me. Never told that the mirror, like shooting walnuts at the neighbor's dog, was always my idea. (2.2-3)” This passage shows up early in the novel and really tells us quite a bit about Amir and Hassan's friendship. Hassan protects and defends Amir and, foreshadowing later events in the novel, refuses to tell on Amir. (Hassan will later take the blame for the wad of cash and the watch.) We should also note that Amir seems like the gang leader in this passage, getting the two boys into trouble. Does Amir control the relationship? Is this why Hassan often takes the blame for things? Does Amir ever take responsibility for anything in the novel?
  • 19. THEME :Warfare In The Kite Runner, Hosseini directly compares the arrival of war to a loss of innocence. (Soon after an invading army shows up, the narrator watches his best friend get raped.) The book also explores war as experienced from a distance, either through memory or through the media and televised war. Hosseini interrogates the effect of war on our social structures as well: Do economic class and ethnicity dissolve in the face of war or do these categories become even more rigid? It's not all horror and gloom, though. In the end, Hosseini wants to show us how honor and dignity can survive in the midst of war.
  • 20. THEME :Warfare---Quote “We stayed huddled that way until the early hours of the morning. The shootings and explosions had lasted less than an hour, but they had frightened us badly, because none of us had ever heard gunshots in the streets. They were foreign sounds to us then. The generation of Afghan children whose ears would know nothing but the sounds of bombs and gunfire was not yet born. Huddled together in the dining room and waiting for the sun to rise, none of us had any notion that a way of life had ended. Our way of life. If not quite yet, then at least it was the beginning of the end. The end, the official end, would come first in April 1978 with the communist coup d'état, and then in December 1979, when Russian tanks would roll into the very same streets where Hassan and I played, bringing the death of the Afghanistan I knew and marking the start of a still ongoing era of bloodletting. (5.5)” If you were to describe Afghanistan's political situation, you might describe it as "war- torn" or "ravaged." But those descriptions apply, really, only from 1978 on – before then, Afghanistan was a relatively peaceful country. In this passage, Amir documents the sea change the country undergoes in the late '70s. A way of life ends – and, importantly, the children born after this period won't remember peace because they never experienced it. Notice, too, that Hosseini places Afghanistan's loss of innocence right next to Amir's and Hassan's – the infamous rape scene happens only two chapters later.
  • 21. THEME :Principles It's one thing if your father is a principled man. That's all well and good. We mean, morality is kind of important, right? But what if your father isn't just any man? What if he's a legend, a myth, someone with such force of personality you cower at his very approach? His principles will probably seem like divine mandates. Imagine that you disregard one of your father's most valued principles. You're crazy with regret. Such an action leads to guilt. It leads to a crash in the Stock Market of Self-Worth. This is pretty much what happens in The Kite Runner.
  • 22. THEME :Principles---Quote “With me as the glaring exception, my father molded the world around him to his liking. The problem, of course, was that Baba saw the world in black and white. And he got to decide what was black and what was white. You can't love a person who lives that way without fearing him too. Maybe even hating him a little.” (3.12) A later description reads: "[...] Baba had been such an unusual Afghan father, a liberal who had lived by his own rules, a maverick who had disregarded or embraced societal customs as he had seen fit" (13.97). Is Amir even describing the same person – can someone both see the world in black and white and be a liberal maverick? At first, Baba might seem just like Amir's teacher, Mullah Fatiullah Khan, whom Baba criticizes for being self-righteous and stodgy. Don't those adjectives describe someone with a black and white approach? The difference, however, is that Baba chooses his principles. ("[A] maverick who had disregarded or embraced societal customs as he had seen fit.") Which makes the character of Baba both a freethinker and an old-fashioned moralist. It's enough to make Amir's head spin.
  • 23. THEME :Race Does racial intolerance bring about our worst moments as human beings? The Kite Runner examines the whole spectrum of racism: out-and-out hatred, religious justification of racism, nonviolent but still nasty racism, racism which coexists with generosity and kindness, and internalized racism which manifests itself as self- loathing. However, the plot suggests, the very ethnicity some people treat so poorly is closer to them than they might think – Amir finds out that his former servant, a member of the ethnic minority, is his half-brother. Thus, the book also explores redemption. Can we atone for a past of intolerance? Or, even further, can we atone for the intolerance of our parents?
  • 24. THEME :Race---Quote They called him "flat-nosed" because of Ali and Hassan's characteristic Hazara Mongoloid features. For years, that was all I knew about the Hazaras, that they were Mogul descendants, and that they looked a little like Chinese people. School text books barely mentioned them and referred to their ancestry only in passing. Then one day, I was in Baba's study, looking through his stuff, when I found one of my mother's old history books. It was written by an Iranian named Khorami. I blew the dust off it, sneaked it into bed with me that night, and was stunned to find an entire chapter on Hazara history. An entire chapter dedicated to Hassan's people! In it, I read that my people, the Pashtuns, had persecuted and oppressed the Hazaras. It said the Hazaras had tried to rise against the Pashtuns in the nineteenth century, but the Pashtuns had "quelled them with unspeakable violence." The book said that my people had killed the Hazaras, driven them from their lands, burned their homes, and sold their women. The book said part of the reason Pashtuns had oppressed the Hazaras was that Pashtuns were Sunni Muslims, while Hazaras were Shi'a. The book said a lot of things I didn't know, things my teachers hadn't mentioned. Things Baba hadn't mentioned either. It also said some things I did know, like that people called Hazaras mice-eating, flat- nosed, load-carrying donkeys. I had heard some of the kids in the neighborhood yell those names to Hassan. (2.23) Ethnicity is complicated in The Kite Runner. Amir and Hassan have different ethnic groups: Amir is Pashtun and Hassan is Hazara. To make matters confusing, though, Pashtuns are Sunni Muslims and Hazaras are Shi'a Muslims. (So ethnicity and religion intertwine.) Here, Amir talks about how the Hazara people have been pretty much erased from official Afghani schoolbooks. Since the Pashtuns are in control, the Hazaras don't get much space in the official history of the country. There's also an attempt, it seems, to cover up the genocide committed by the Pashtuns against the Hazaras in the nineteenth century. Do you think Amir's betrayal of Hassan is just another instance of Pashtuns mistreating Hazaras – or does Amir, by telling Hassan's story, attempt to change things?
  • 25. THEME :Religion Early on in The Kite Runner it seems like there are only two approaches to religion. Either you're an extremist like the protagonist's teacher, who considers drinking an offense punishable by hell, or you're liberal like the protagonist's father, who thinks religion is silly and drinking is fun. Also, religion justifies some of the horrific acts in the book. However, by the end of the novel we do see the development of religious sentiment based on spiritual awakening and recourse to God in times of suffering. We wonder, however, if this development is enough to counter the novel's earlier depictions of religion as a justification for cruelty.
  • 26. THEME :Religion---Quote “The following week, after class, I showed the book to my teacher and pointed to the chapter on the Hazaras. He skimmed through a couple of pages, snickered, handed the book back. "That's the one thing Shi'a people do well," he said, picking up his papers, "passing themselves as martyrs." He wrinkled his nose when he said the word Shi'a, like it was some kind of disease.” (2.24) Amir receives wildly different educations on ethnicity and religion right at the start of the book. (Background Note: Hazara people are typically Shi'a Muslims and the Pashtun people are typically Sunni Muslim.) Amir's mother, whom we later discover was a kind and enlightened university professor, owned a book which included Shi'a Muslims in the official history of Afghanistan. That seems very important since Amir strikes Hassan, a Shi'a, from his personal history. Then there's Baba who loves and respects Ali (also a Shi'a Muslim), but who doesn't refer to Ali as his friend. And at the other extreme: Amir's teacher, the soldiers, and Sunni society in general which consistently discriminates against Shi'a Muslims. Amir has to navigate these different degrees of racial tolerance. Where does Amir end up in this spectrum? How does Amir treat Hassan? Is Amir guilty of religious discrimination against Hassan?
  • 27. THEME :Admiration We're not sure if admiration is actually a good thing in The Kite Runner. The protagonist's intense admiration for his father leads him to some fairly dastardly deeds. In this novel, the flip-side to admiration is jealousy, and jealousy leads to all sorts of trouble. However, the protagonist's best friend offers an example of unflagging admiration, which puts admiration in a better light. His admiration seems more like loyalty and devotion than a jealously-inspiring obsession. Moral of the story: Admire people in moderation.
  • 28. THEME :Admiration---Quote “Upstairs was my bedroom, Baba's room, and his study, also known as "the smoking room," which perpetually smelled of tobacco and cinnamon. Baba and his friends reclined on black leather chairs there after Ali had served dinner. They stuffed their pipes – except Baba always called it "fattening the pipe" – and discussed their favorite three topics: politics, business, soccer. Sometimes I asked Baba if I could sit with them, but Baba would stand in the doorway. "Go on, now," he'd say. "This is grown-ups' time. Why don't you go read one of those books of yours?" He'd close the door, leave me to wonder why it was always grown-ups' time with him. I'd sit by the door, knees drawn to my chest. Sometimes I sat there for an hour, sometimes two, listening to their laughter, their chatter.” (2.6) This is a little heartbreaking. In his devotion to his father, Amir sits by the door of Baba's study for hours. It's easy to see just how central unrequited affection becomes in The Kite Runner. Amir's affection for Baba, which isn't returned, in some ways drives him to betray Hassan. Jealously, as much as cowardice, may motivate Amir to leave Hassan in the alleyway. Here's another example of unrequited affection: Would Sanaubar have slept with Baba if she really loved Ali? What about Amir and Hassan – if Amir stayed as loyal to Hassan as Hassan stayed to him, would the novel change? (Sufficed to say, if Amir didn't betray Hassan, the novel wouldn't be half as interesting.)
  • 29. THEME :Betrayal The plot of The Kite Runner revolves around the protagonist's betrayal of his best friend. In a way, this betrayal drives the rest of the book and perhaps everything that precedes it. In his pre-betrayal and post-betrayal chapters, Hosseini asks some important questions. For example, do you betray someone without warning, or do small betrayals lead up to a larger one? Can you redeem yourself after you've betrayed a friend? If your father betrayed his friend are you doomed to repeat the same mistake? Can you redeem your sins and your father's at the same time?
  • 30. THEME :Betrayal---Quote Hassan's favorite book by far was the Shahnamah, the tenth-century epic of ancient Persian heroes. He liked all of the chapters, the shahs of old, Feridoun, Zal, and Rudabeh. But his favorite story, and mine, was "Rostam and Sohrab," the tale of the great warrior Rostam and his fleet-footed horse, Rakhsh. Rostam mortally wounds his valiant nemesis, Sohrab, in battle, only to discover that Sohrab is his long-lost son. Stricken with grief, Rostam hears his son's dying words: If thou art indeed my father, then hast thou stained thy sword in the life-blood of thy son. And thou didst it of thine obstinacy. For I sought to turn thee unto love, and I implored of thee thy name, for I thought to behold in thee the tokens recounted of my mother. But I appealed unto thy heart in vain, and now is the time gone for meeting... "Read it again please, Amir agha," Hassan would say. Sometimes tears pooled in Hassan's eyes as I read him this passage, and I always wondered whom he wept for, the grief-stricken Rostam who tears his clothes and covers his head with ashes, or the dying Sohrab who only longed for his father's love? Personally, I couldn't see the tragedy in Rostam's fate. After all, didn't all fathers in their secret hearts harbor a desire to kill their sons? (4.23-24) Although you can read the story of "Rostam and Sohrab" as an allegory for Baba and Amir's relationship, we think the most obvious parallel is to Amir and Hassan. Amir doesn't kill Hassan directly, but he does bring about Hassan's exile from Baba's household. This exile eventually places Hassan in a situation where he is killed. Amir, to some extent, takes the blame for Hassan's death. Like Rostam, Amir figures out much too late who fathered Hassan. We think you could very easily substitute "brothers" for "sons" in the final sentence: "After all, don't we all in our secret hearts harbor a desire to kill our brothers?" ("Cain and Abel" seems just as appropriate as "Rostam and Sohrab.")
  • 32. •The central character of the story as well as its narrator, Amir has a privileged upbringing. His father, Baba, is rich by Afghan standards, and as a result, Amir grows up accustomed to having what he wants. The only thing he feels deprived of is a deep emotional connection with Baba, which he blames on himself • He thinks Baba wishes Amir were more like him, and that Baba holds him responsible for killing his mother, who died during his birth • Amir, consequently, behaves jealously toward anyone receiving Baba’s affection •Though Hassan is Amir’s best friend, Amir feels that Hassan, a Hazara servant, is beneath him. •When Hassan receives Baba’s attention, Amir tries to assert himself by passive-aggressively attacking Hassan. He mocks Hassan’s ignorance, or plays tricks on him. •At the same time, Amir never learns to assert himself against anyone else because Hassan always defends him • All of these factors play into his cowardice in sacrificing Hassan, his only competition for Baba’s love, in order to get the blue kite, which he thinks will bring him Baba’s approval. •The change in Amir’s character we see in the novel centres on his growth from a selfish child to a selfless adult • After allowing Hassan to be raped, Amir is not any happier. His guilt is relentless, and he recognizes his selfishness cost him his happiness rather than increasing it MAJOR CHARACTERS :Amir
  • 33. •Once Amir has married and established a career, only two things prevent his complete happiness: his guilt and his inability to have a child with Soraya. • Sohrab, who acts as a substitute for Hassan to Amir, actually becomes a solution to both problems • Amir describes Sohrab as looking like a sacrificial lamb during his confrontation with Assef, but it is actually himself that Amir courageously sacrifices. In doing this, as Hassan once did for him, Amir redeems himself, which is why he feels relief even as Assef beats him • Amir also comes to see Sohrab as a substitute for the child he and Soraya cannot have, and as a self- sacrificing father figure to Sohrab, Amir assumes the roles of Baba and Hassan. MAJOR CHARACTERS :Amir
  • 34. •If Amir’s character arc is about growth, Hassan’s arc is about not changing at all • From the start and through his death, Hassan remains the same: loyal, forgiving, and good-natured •As a servant to Baba and Amir, Hassan grows up with a very particular role in life • While Amir prepares for school in the morning, Hassan readies Amir’s books and his breakfast. While Amir is at school getting an education, Hassan helps Ali with the chores and grocery shopping • As a result, Hassan learns that it is his duty to sacrifice himself for others •By nature he is not prone to envy, and he even tells Amir he is happy with what he has, though he sees all the time how much more Amir has • Hassan comes across as the personification of innocence, and this innocence is crucial in creating the drama and symbolism of his rape by Assef • First, Hassan’s innocence gives Amir no justifiable reason to betray Hassan. Amir’s behaviour cannot be rationalized, making it consummately selfish and reprehensible • Second, Hassan’s rape becomes the sacrifice of an innocent, a recurring motif in Islam, Christianity, and Judaism that carries a great deal of symbolic meaning. MAJOR CHARACTERS : Hassan We're not sure what Hosseini wants us to make of Hassan's character. We certainly admire him. Maybe, in the end, Hosseini portrays the Hazaras of Afghanistan and Afghanistan itself through Hassan. Here's an ethnic minority that's been persecuted and massacred. Here's a country that's been unjustly invaded. If so, there's more than a hint of martyrdom about Hassan's people and, conversely, Hosseini's Afghanistan
  • 35. SImilarities and differences between Hassan and Amir SIMILARITIES DIFFERENCES •Same father- Baba •Both get the same weekly allowance •Interested in stories •Both treated similarly by Baba •Love for literature •Deprived of love from their mothers •Similar age •Play together •Similar interests i.e.-kites •Amir gets an education whereas Hassan does not •Amir=Sunni=Pashtun •Hassan=Shiah=Hazara •Hassan is closer to religion over Amir •Hassan considers Amir as a friend whereas Amir considers Hassan as a servant •Amir has pride and thinks himself as more superior •Amir is more creative than Hassan •Hassan is logical
  • 36. •In his words and actions, Baba sets the moral bar in the novel • When Amir is a boy, Baba’s major concern about him is that he doesn’t have the courage to stand up for himself, demonstrating that Baba places great value on doing what is right. If Amir cannot take of himself as a boy, he worries, he will not have the strength to behave morally as an adult • Baba follows through on these beliefs in his own behavior. When he and Amir flee Kabul, he is willing to sacrifice his life to keep the Russian guard from raping the woman with them, and in doing so he sets the example that Amir will follow later when he must choose between saving himself or doing what he knows to be right. •What the reader sees of Baba from Amir’s narrative is not the full story, however. As Amir describes him, he is proud, independent, determined, but sometimes emotionally distant and impatient •We learn from a note Rahim Khan writes to Amir toward the end of the book that Baba was a man torn between two halves, specifically between Amir and Hassan • Amir never sees Baba’s inner conflict because Baba has very much separated his outward appearance from his internal emotions. For instance, Baba builds an orphanage, which appears to be a simple act of charity. But as Rahim Khan explains, Baba built the orphanage to make up for the guilt he felt for not being able to acknowledge Hassan as his son MAJOR CHARACTERS :Baba
  • 37. •Baba’s hesitation to reveal his emotions causes Amir to feel that he never knows Baba completely, alienating Amir from Baba while Amir is growing up. •The move to America is very difficult for Baba, who is used to being wealthy and well-respected in his community •He goes from having wealth and a position of power to working a low-paying job at a gas station and living modestly • Yet his relationship with Amir improves. Baba, as Rahim Khan explains in his note, felt guilty over his rich, privileged life because Hassan was not able to share in it. When he no longer has his wealth, his guilt diminishes, and with Hassan not around, he is not straining uncomfortably to act one way with Amir and another with Hassan •As a result, he is able to open up more with Amir, and the two grow much closer in Baba’s final years •Despite the fact that he lost everything he had as a refugee, he dies genuinely happy, feeling proud of Amir and perhaps happy that he was able to build the relationship he always wanted with at least one of his sons. MAJOR CHARACTERS :Baba
  • 38. •If Hassan represents all that is good and kind, Assef represents all that is evil and cruel •Here's just one example of Assef's sociopathic tendencies: • He leaned toward me, like a man about to share a great secret. "You don't know the meaning of the word 'liberating' until you've done that, stood in a roomful of targets [the Hazaras in Mazar-i- Sharif], let the bullets fly, free of guilt and remorse, know you are virtuous, good, and decent. Knowing you're doing God's work. It's breathtaking." He kissed the prayer beads, tilted his head. (22.24) • Assef is pretty much the textbook sociopath. • Assef has never really had a conscience. He displayed no remorse for his rape of Hassan, which occurs when Assef, Amir, and Hassan are only boys. • Perhaps Assef simply doesn't see Hazaras as equal to Pashtuns – maybe that explains (though certainly doesn't excuse) his sadistic and cruel actions? More likely, racism is simply an additional evil on Assef's list of cruelties, which also includes child molestation, rape, and murder. • With Hassan it's never quite clear why he's so good. But with Assef the source of his evil remains a mystery. Assef is like an earthquake or a tornado: you just have to accept it as a destructive force. What's odd is that Amir often identifies himself with Assef, or with a Talib executioner. • We guess this is what makes Amir interesting: he's caught between Hassan and Assef, two polar opposites that seem to made themselves at home in him • It's probably no coincidence Amir has to confront Assef in order to save Sohrab. If Amir is going to redeem himself, he's got to come face to face with the meanest, darkest part of himself. MAJOR CHARACTERS :Assef
  • 39. • We only meet Sohrab at the very end of the novel – so there's not much room for Hosseini to develop this character. • Hosseini does tell us, however, just how much Sohrab resembles Hassan. When Amir finally meets Sohrab, he says "[t]he resemblance [to Hassan] was breathtaking" (22.49). • Like Hassan, Sohrab is a whiz with a slingshot. He's also fairly perceptive for someone so young • When Amir tries to explain to Sohrab why Baba didn't admit that he fathered Hassan, Sohrab catches right on: "Because [Hassan] was a Hazara?" (24.112). • Sohrab also seems to have Hassan's innate goodness. You might expect Sohrab to lash out more often at Amir, or to take some sort of revenge since Amir almost abandoned him. That's not the case. • Sohrab does remain silent for a year, but it seems more like detachment from the world in general than anger at Amir. • And this is the one major difference between Hassan and Sohrab. The cruelty of people like Assef defeats Sohrab. • When Amir tells Sohrab he's going to put him (briefly) in an orphanage, Sohrab tries to commit suicide. We believe Sohrab is not trying to hurt Amir – he's just given up. Hassan never gets to a point where he gives in to defeat, even though he, too, is raped and betrayed. • It's possible Hosseini wants to show us, through Sohrab, that a country can only take so much brutality. The first and second generations may be able to avoid the total cynicism of suicide. But not the next generation – the third round of betrayal and abuse is too much. CHARACTERS :Sohrab
  • 40. • Ali takes some serious abuse in the novel. • First off, Baba has an affair with Ali's wife and fathers Hassan. • Then, Amir forces Ali and Hassan to leave Baba's house. • Finally, in the random violence now so common in war, Ali steps on a land mine and dies. • However, like Hassan and Sohrab, Ali is a kind and good person. He has a beautiful voice and Amir and Hassan love to hear him sing. He remains faithful to Baba even though Baba dishonored Ali by sleeping with Sanaubar. • Ali is also devout – his humble, constant faith perhaps influences Amir's own religious awakening later in the novel CHARACTERS : Ali
  • 41. CHARACTERS : Ali Here are some early description's of Ali: [...] Ali had congenital paralysis of his lower face muscles, a condition that rendered him unable to smile and left him perpetually grimfaced. (2.20) But polio had left Ali with a twisted, atrophied right leg that was sallow skin over bone with little in between except a paper-thin layer of muscle. [...]. I watched him [Ali] swing his scraggy leg in a sweeping arc, watched his whole body tilt impossibly to the right every time he planted that foot. It seemed a minor miracle he didn't tip over with each step. [...]. Ali's face frightened some of the younger children in the neighborhood. [...]. Some had taken to calling him Babalu, or Boogeyman. (2.22) It's almost as if deformities, in this novel, suggest goodness. Remember how Hassan has a harelip? Also, Soraya has a sickle-shaped birthmark, and Amir picks up a scar on his lip while rescuing Sohrab. We often think of deformities as the calling cards of villains: a hook, a scar, or an eye that twitches. The real monsters of this novel, don't have any deformities. Amir, Baba (notice the similarity between Baba and Babalu), and Assef don't have any disfiguring marks. What does this mean? We're not sure – but it's worth noting because Ali is both the scariest-looking and the possibly the kindest character in the book.
  • 42. CHARACTERS :Soraya • Amir meets Soraya at the flea market • In the course of a few chapters, she and Amir get hitched. She's beautiful, kind, and has a complicated past. What more could anyone want in a spouse? • She and Amir build a quiet, enviable life in California. Even though Soraya can't have children, it seems like the best of marriages – almost like a close friendship. • With that in mind, we think it's important to note that Soraya has a birthmark just above her jaw. Why? Because it identifies her with Amir's childhood friend who had a harelip. Yes, none other than Hassan. It's possible that Soraya's physical similarity to Hassan attracts Amir to her • But it's also possible Soraya simply fits into Hosseini's larger narrative pattern. • So, like Ali and Hassan, Soraya's birthmark signifies an essential goodness Soraya almost seems like a combination of both Hassan and Amir. • She's like Hassan, because of the harelip being nice • She resembles Amir because she also has a checkered past. Amir finds this out pretty early on in their courtship and, perhaps, finds it attractive. • Unlike Amir, though, Soraya actually tells Amir about her past "When we [the Taheris] lived in Virginia, I ran away with an Afghan man. I was eighteen at the time...rebellious...stupid, and...he was into drugs...We lived together for almost a month. [...]. Pader [General Taheri] eventually found us. He showed up at the door and...made me come home. I was hysterical. Screaming. Saying I hated him..."(12.207-12.208) • The General goes crazy when he finds Soraya living with her boyfriend. So, we guess that's another similarity with Amir: they both have domineering fathers. To sum up: Soraya brings some measure of peace to Amir's life, but she also reminds Amir of his not-so-good past.
  • 43. CHARACTERS : Rahim Khan • Rahim Khan, we think, serves as the novel's moral center • If Hassan and Ali are off in the land of bright, shining moral purity, and Assef is in depths of devilish cruelty, and Amir and Baba are somewhere in between, Rahim Khan is a voice reason standing outside this hubbub of moral questing. • He's kind of like Horatio in Hamlet – you couldn't base a whole play on him, but you're glad he's there because he makes you feel sane. • Come to think of it, Rahim Khan is literally the moral center or voice of reason in The Kite Runner. • He calls Amir in California and flat-out says: "There is a way to be good again" (1.3) • He also functions as a second parent for Amir • When Baba ignores Amir, Rahim Khan is right there with an encouraging word. ("As always, it was Rahim Khan who rescued me" (3.43) • Perhaps, too, Rahim Khan helps expand Amir's understanding of ethnicity • Rahim Khan tells Amir a story about how he almost married a Hazara woman. His family reacted very strongly (death threats!) and Rahim Khan never married the woman, but the story lets Amir know that someone else he admires thinks of the Hazara ethnicity as equals. (Amir's mother would be the other someone.) • All this confirms that Rahim Khan is a stand-up guy.
  • 44. CHARACTERS : General Taheri andKhanum Taheri • Khanum Taheri dotes on both Soraya and Amir and the General strikes us as the bumbling public official type. (Back in Afghanistan, the General had a cushy job with the Defense Ministry.) • The General is officious and charming at the same time • Khanum Taheri obsesses about her health and worries, it seems, about everything • But the two are mostly kind and good people • There is, however, a nasty edge to the General. When Amir brings Sohrab back to the United States, the General asks Amir to explain why "a Hazara boy" is living with them (25.92). • Unlike Soraya, the General still has some lingering problems with racism. Add to that the time he almost killed Soraya's boyfriend and himself (because Soraya was living with her boyfriend), and a darker side of the General emerges • Although Khanum Taheri doesn't seem to share the views of her husband, she also doesn't stand up to him that often. (The one exception is in Chapter 25.) • We guess comfort with custom and tradition can have its down side, too • Despite almost killing Soraya's boyfriend and the regressive racial views, the General doesn't seem too bad. • He and Khanum Taheri are expertly drawn in-laws: sometimes difficult, but mostly lovable.
  • 45. CHARACTERS :Sanaubar • Sanaubar is the sexiest character in The Kite Runner. Baba sounds like a good-looking guy, but really, Hosseini reserves his raciest prose for Hassan's mother, Sanaubar: "I have heard that Sanaubar's stride and oscillating hips sent men into reveries of infidelity" (2.21). (Hmm...we wonder who such men could be? Baba?) The soldiers near the middle school have even heard of Sanaubar and taunt Hassan about her. • Even though Sanaubar doesn't get much time on the page, Hosseini does throw a monkey wrench or two into her character • For one, she sleeps with Baba and then runs off with a dancing troupe, setting in motion most of the terrible things that happen in the novel. (Which is not to say she's to blame – just that she's an invisible influence, much like Amir's mother.) • Sanaubar's disappearance obviously affected Amir because he writes about a similar plot in his novel A Season for Ashes. (Actually, he's probably writing about his mother and Sanaubar.) • Sanaubar seems to dislike Ali, her husband, and says she's seen "old donkeys better suited to be a husband" (2.26). We wonder if this might be because of his ethnicity. He's a Hazara like her, but perhaps she is self-loathing. After all, she does sleep with Baba who is a Pashtun • Of course, it could be that Sanaubar is attracted to the power that Baba has and that it has little to do with ethnicity. The novel doesn't go into it, so we can only speculate • In the end, Sanaubar returns to Baba's home and lives with Hassan. She seems to be at peace with her family.
  • 46. CHARACTERS : Sofia Akrami • We never see Amir's mother in the novel, but nonetheless she exerts an influence • Baba perhaps blames Amir for her sudden death (she dies giving birth to Amir) • In a way, she's the wedge between Baba and Amir. As Baba pushes Amir more and more toward "manly" activities like soccer and kite-flying, Amir resists by reading his mother's poetry books • She also has books on the Hazara people, which suggests that she, like Rahim Khan, has some of the most forward-thinking and compassionate views on ethnicity in the novel • It's odd how Amir's mother "feminizes" him even though she's almost completely absent • In fact, we have to disagree with Amir when he later says "I had been raised by men; I hadn't grown up around women" (13.97) • Like Rahim Khan, who also encourages Amir's writing, Amir's mother has been there all along with him.
  • 47.
  • 48. Significance of names/ Titles AMIR- means powerful, ruler, commander Reflected in Amir`s personality as he is able to command Hassan and is wealthy In chapter two he states how Hassan “wouldn`t deny me” when talking about convincing Hassan to fire walnuts at the neighbours one-eye German shepherd HASSAN- means handsome and doer of good Hassan risks his own life (gets raped) in order to get the blue kite to Amir Amir refers to Hassan in chapter one as “the hare lipped kite runner” He is referred to as a “Hazara boy” He is a Bastard
  • 49. The narrator, Amir, grows up in a luxurious home in Kabul, Afghanistan, with his father Baba. They have two Hazara (an ethnic minority) servants, Ali and his son Hassan, who is Amir’s closest playmate. Amir feels he is a disappointing son to Baba, but he is close to Baba’s friend Rahim Khan. Amir and Hassan flykites and read stories together, though Hassan does chores while Amir goes to school. One day three boys named Assef, Wali, and Kamal threaten Amir, but Hassan scares them away with his slingshot. In the winter there is a big kite-fighting tournament where boys try to cut each other’s kites with glass-covered strings, and then “kite runners” chase after the fallen kites. Amir wins the tournament, and then Hassan goes to retrieve the losing kite. When Amir goes after Hassan he finds him in an alley, trapped by Assef, Wali, and Kamal. Amir watches as Kamal and Wali hold Hassan down and Assef rapes him. Amir runs away, and later both he and Hassan pretend nothing has happened. Amir and Hassan soon drift apart. Amir is tormented by guilt, and he decides to make Hassan leave the house. He hides some money under Hassan’s mattress and tells Baba that he stole it, and Hassan doesn’t deny it. Baba forgives Hassan, but Ali and Hassan leave the household. Plot overview
  • 50. In 1981, Baba and Amir flee Kabul, which has been invaded by the Soviets. They eventually make it to Pakistan, and months later move to Fremont, California. Baba works at a gas station and Amir finishes high school and then studies writing at college. Baba and Amir sell things at a flea market, where Amir starts noticing Soraya, the daughter of Baba’s friend General Taheri. After much delaying, Amir starts courting her. Soon afterward Baba is diagnosed with lung cancer. Amir asks Baba if he will ask General Taheri to let him marry Soraya. General Taheri accepts, and Amir and Soraya get married soon after. Baba is pleased with Amir’s marriage, and he dies a month later. Amir gets his first book published and he and Soraya start trying, unsuccessfully, to conceive. Meanwhile, the Soviets are driven out of Afghanistan. One day Amir gets a call from Rahim Khan, who is dying and asks Amir to come to Pakistan. Once Amir arrives, Rahim Khan tells him about the horrors of the Taliban regime and war-torn Kabul. Rahim Khan says he had been watching Baba’s house for a while, but then found Hassan and convinced him and his wifeFarzana to come back to Kabul. Later Farzana had a boy, Sohrab. Plot overview
  • 51. After Rahim Khan went to Pakistan he learned that Hassan and Farzana were executed by the Taliban, and Sohrab was sent to an orphanage. Rahim Khan asks Amir to go to Kabul and find Sohrab, saying this is Amir’s chance to “be good again.” He also reveals that Baba was Hassan’s true father. Amir agrees to go, and he finds the orphanage where Sohrab was supposed to be, but learns that a Taliban official took him away a month earlier. Amir (and his companion Farid) go to a soccer game, where at halftime the official they are looking for executes a man and woman. Amir meets the official and the man calls in Sohrab, who has clearly been sexually abused. The official then reveals himself as Assef, and he beats Amir with his brass knuckles until Sohrab shoots him in the eye with his slingshot. Amir and Sohrab escape and Amir recovers in Pakistan. Amir then asks Sohrab to come back to the U.S. with him, and Sohrab hesitantly accepts. Amir discovers it will be almost impossible for him to adopt Sohrab, and he tells him he might have to go back to an orphanage. Soraya figures out how to get Sohrab an American visa, but then Amir finds Sohrab has tried to kill himself. Sohrab survives, but stops speaking altogether. Amir brings Sohrab to California, but he remains silent and withdrawn. One day they are at a park and some Afghans are flying kites. Amir buys one, and he and Sohrab fight another kite and cut it. Sohrab smiles, and Amir goes to run the kite for him. Plot overview
  • 52. December 2001 •Amir will narrate the whole book, except for Chapter 16, which is narrated by Rahim Khan. •Amir tells us something happened in the winter of 1975 and this event made him what he is today. He gives us some scattered images: a crumbling mud wall, an alley, a frozen creek. •Amir remembers a phone call last summer from his friend Rahim Khan. He feels like a past of "unatoned sins" is calling him up. So he takes a walk and looks at some kites, which remind him of someone named Hassan. •During the walk, Amir sits on a park bench. He thinks of Baba and Ali, and Kabul, Afghanistan. •The chapter ends where it began: "I thought of the life I had lived until the winter of 1975 came along and changed everything. And made me what I am today" (1.3). Chapter 1: Summary
  • 53. The opening December 2001 I became what I am at the age of 12, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975. I remember the precise moment, crouching behind a crumbling mud wall, peeking into the alley near the frozen creek. That was a long time ago, but it’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realise I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years. One day last summer, my friend Rahim Khan called from Pakistan. He asked me to come see him. Standing in the kitchen with the receiver to my ear, I knew it wasn’t just Rahim Khan on the line. It was my past of unatoned sins. After I hung up, I went for a walk along Spreckels Lake on the northern edge of Golden Gate Park. The early-afternoon sun sparkled on the water where dozens of miniature boats sailed, propelled by a crisp breeze. Then I glanced up and saw a pair of kites, red with long blue tails, soaring in the sky. They danced high above the trees on the west end of the park, over the windmills, floating side by side like a pair of eyes looking down on San Francisco, the city I now call home. And suddenly Hassan’s voice whispered in my head: For you a thousand times over. Hassan the harelipped kite runner. I sat on a park bench near a willow tree. I thought about something Rahim Khan said just before he hung up, almost as an afterthought. There is a way to be good again. I looked up at those twin kites, I thought about Hassan, thought about Baba, Ali, Kabul. I thought of the life I had lived until the winter 1975 came along and changed everything. And made me what I am today. The openingofthe kite runner
  • 54. The contract In his book How Novels Work, critic John Mullan says: The novel, that most accessible, democratic of literary forms, must establish its contract with its reader. It may be helped or hindered by all sorts of extraneous influences, cover design, encrustrations of quotation from admiring reviewers, and the like. But it must also make its own way in the world. The idea of the writer establishing a contract with the reader is an interesting one. It suggests that the opening is a promise of something – ‘I hereby promise that in this novel you will find the following…’ The promise is not only one about genre, subject matter or type of character but also an expectation of narrative voice, structure and style. Of course, some modern novels, in a deliberate flouting of conventions, consciously unsettle and confuse the reader, with false expectations and surprises. But even then, there is a contract, albeit of a different kind, a signal to the reader of what’s in store – ‘Don’t expect a conventional read – I’m expecting a bit more from you than that!’ The openingofthe kite runner
  • 55. A conventional opening? The opening to The Kite Runner makes its contract with the reader in a fairly conventional way, promising us things we may recognise from other books of a similar genre. The chapter starts with a date ‘December 2001’. A quick flick through the book reveals a different date (and place) in Chapter 11, ‘Fremont, California. 1980s’ and the opening sentence of the novel starts: I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975. Here we have three timescales: that of an adult reflecting back, in 2001, on a critical set of events in his childhood and on a later period of his early adult life. We may recognise this as characteristic of the ‘rites-of-passage’ novel, a narrative which recounts the experiences of a child protagonist, who ‘grows up’ through the events of the novel, becoming an adult who has been shaped by these formative experiences. The first person narrator of The Kite Runner gives heavy and portentous weight to that ‘frigid overcast day’, referring to ‘the precise moment’ when something happened as he ‘peek[ed]’ into an alley many years earlier, something that he concludes at the end of the first chapter ‘made me what I am today’. A phonecall from a friend in 2001 takes him back to this period and his ‘past of unatoned sins’ and the reader’s curiosity is aroused, as we become aware that the book will reveal to us what these sins are. Half-way through the book, the present timescale of 2001 takes over as events in the adult narrator’s life take him back into the world of his childhood. The openingofthe kite runner
  • 56. Establishing trust The first person narrator of this opening chapter speaks to us confidentially, seemingly without guile and without the intention of holding anything back. He tells us straight of his own ‘sins’. He establishes trust with the reader. One might compare this with some other first person narrators, who are less trustworthy and authoritative about their own stories, such as the notoriously slippery narrator of Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier, or the half-comprehending narrator of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. The opening of The Kite Runner promises us different timescales but also different places. We have two worlds – that of a childhood in Afghanistan and a present in San Francisco, ‘the city I now call home.’ Proper names, introduced baldly: I thought about Hassan. Thought about Baba. Ali. Kabul evoke the Afghan setting simply, without explanation. The two worlds and two periods are tied together by the central symbol of the book, the idea of the kite and kite-runner. In a conventional device for shifting from the present to past memories, Hosseini makes the witnessing of kites flying in Golden Gate Park the spark for memories of childhood events, allowing him to take the reader back to the times when he and his friend Hassan were partners in the local kite-running competitions in Kabul. Hosseini makes the symbol work for him in other ways. The kites are a ‘pair’; they are ‘twin kites’; they are like ‘eyes’ looking down on him. The identification of the kites with himself and Hassan, as twins or a pair, introduces to us the idea of this central close relationship and the ‘eyes’ are a reminder of the guilt that the narrator feels, at this stage unexplained but associated with the kites and the relationship. The openingofthe kite runner
  • 57. Simplicity and poise The final paragraph of the opening chapter sets us up for the shift to those childhood events. The narrator’s memories of the past are stirred and Chapter 2 takes us straight into them, as we might have expected it would: When we were children, Hassan and I used to climb the poplar trees… The Daily Telegraph review of The Kite Runner remarks that it is told with ‘simplicity and poise’ and the Independent talks of ‘the tones of memory and nostalgia [...] reminiscent of those classic European novellas of innocence bruised by experience.’ Another review from Globe and Mail Canada comments that ‘There is no display in Hosseini’s writing, only expression.’ We can see all of this in the first chapter. Hosseini is working within a ‘classic’ genre – the rites-of-passage novel – offering us much of what we might expect from that genre rather than drawing our attention to the telling in ways that make us question it. The lack of ‘display’ is regarded by the Canadian reviewer as a strength, something that is ‘a lesson for all budding novelists’. While the style and form may be a particularly poised version of a traditional form, what marks out The Kite Runner as being different is its use of the ‘classic European’ rites-of-passage narrative to tell a story that has its heart in Afghanistan and is part of a quite different modern tradition of post-colonial writing. The ‘hare-lipped’ boy who is introduced in the opening chapter, the idea of the alley and the hard-and-fast concepts of guilt and wrongdoing, the effects of which last into adult life, prepare us for a moral universe that is perhaps more absolute and certain than that of many of the more self-conscious and experimental narrative writers of our times. The opening chapter makes a contract with the reader letting us know that we are in for a delicately drawn, emotionally engaging experience, rather than a difficult, demanding or tricksy read. The openingofthe kite runner
  • 58. Chapter 2: Summary •Amir and Hassan get into harmless mischief together as kids. Hassan often takes the blame if the two troublemakers get caught. •Amir describes his childhood home, built by his father. It has rosebushes, marble floors, mosaic tiles, and gold-stitched tapestries. •Baba, Amir's father, has a smoking room in the house but he doesn't let Amir hang out there. •Some of Baba's cabinets have a few pictures: Amir's grandfather and King Nadir Shah and one of Amir's father and mother on their wedding night. No word yet on Amir's mother. Finally, there's one of little Amir in his father's arms; Rahim Khan stands off to the side. •Amir takes us inside the little shack where Ali and Hassan, their servants, live. It's nowhere near as opulent as Baba's house. •Amir tells us his mother died giving birth to him and Hassan's mother – her name was Sanaubar – left soon after Hassan was born. •One day, as Amir and Hassan are walking past the military barracks, some soldiers heckle Hassan. Apparently, his mum was quite beautiful and a little free with her favors. But the soldiers are really crude, and Amir tries to comfort Hassan. •More description of Hassan's mother: Sanaubar, it seems, was really gorgeous and "notoriously unscrupulous."
  • 59. •Now, Amir tells us about Hassan's father: the lower muscles on Ali's face were paralyzed by polio. Ali also walks with a limp. The neighborhood kids chase Ali around and call him Babalu or "Boogeyman." •We hear more about an emerging tension: ethnicity. Ali, Sanaubar, and Hassan are Hazaras, while Amir and Baba are Pashtuns. Looking through his mother's old history books, Amir discovers the inequality between the two ethnicities. Pashtuns are the privileged majority. •We learn Sanaubar taunted Ali along with the neighborhood kids. But Ali doesn't feel the need to fight back against his assailants. He loves Hassan so much it doesn't bother him. •Little story from the midwife as told to the neighbor's servant: when Hassan was born (with a cleft lip), Sanaubar said to Ali: "Now you have your own idiot child to do all your smiling for you!" (2.30). •Amir tells us he and Hassan had the same wet nurse (because Sanaubar left Ali and Amir's mother passed away in childbirth). Ali tells the boys there is "a brotherhood between people who had fed from the same breast, a kinship that not even time could break" (2.34). •Amir's first word is "Baba." Hassan's is "Amir." Chapter 2: Summary
  • 60. Chapter 3: Summary •This chapter is more or less concerned with Amir's relationship with his father, Baba. Amir begins by telling some stories about Baba and slowly shifts into Baba's disappointment in Amir. Amir doesn't tell these stories in strict chronological order. •Amir starts with this crazy story about how Baba wrestled a black bear. He swears it's not laaf, "that Afghan tendency to exaggerate" (3.1). Sometimes Amir dreams about Baba and the black bear; in his dreams, Amir can't tell the bear and Baba apart. •Amir tells us Rahim Khan gave Baba his nickname, "Toophan agha, or 'Mr. Hurricane'" (3.2). •In the 1960s, Baba builds an orphanage. Even though Baba has no architectural experience, he finishes the orphanage. Baba funds the entire project. •Baba and Amir celebrate the completion of the orphanage by going to Ghargha Lake. Baba asks Amir to bring along Hassan, but Amir lies and tells Baba that Hassan "has the runs" (3.5). Baba pretty much ignores Amir while they eat beside the lake. •During the opening ceremony for the orphanage, Baba's hat flies off in the wind. He's giving a speech; Amir picks up the hat and hands it to Baba. Baba recovers marvelously and there's lots of applause. Amir is very proud – of his father and himself.
  • 61. •Amir slips in a few words on his mother: "one of Kabul's most respected, beautiful, and virtuous ladies. [...] [N]ot only did she teach classic Farsi literature at the university, she was a descendent of the royal family" (3.11). •In the fifth grade, Amir returns home from school and tells Baba about Mullah Fatiullah Khan, his teacher. Amir repeats what the Mullah said about drinking: "those who drank would answer for their sin on the day of Qiuamat, Judgment Day" (3.13). •As luck would have it, Baba is pouring himself a whiskey from the bar. He proceeds to ridicule the Mullah. And he tells Amir all sins proceed from a single sin, which is theft. E.g. "When you kill a man you steal his life" or "When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to truth" (3.32). Baba gets pretty worked up; he even says if a man were to steal a loaf of bread he would "spit on such a man" and "if I ever cross paths with him, God help him" (3.34). •Somehow, Amir has woken up the bear-fury of Baba. Amir feels like Baba hates him a little – didn't he did steal his mother's life by being born? Chapter 3: Summary
  • 62. •Cut to school. Amir always wins a classroom game called Sherjangi ("Battle of the Poems"). It works like this: One person recites a line of poetry, then the next person recites a line that begins with the letter that ended the first line. Amir is dominant in this game and even beats the rest of his class. And he reads all his mother's books. •Baba isn't OK with all this literature and reading stuff. Baba tries to get Amir interested in soccer instead, but Amir is hopeless: "I shambled about the field on scraggly legs [...]" (3.40). •At some point, Baba takes Amir to a Buzkashi tournament. In this sport, one man rides around on horses with a goat carcass while a bunch of other men, also on horses, do everything they can to stop him from dropping the dead goat in a scoring circleOn this particular day, the main rider gets trampled and Amir cries on the way home. Baba is not pleased. •That very night, Amir secretly listens in as Rahim Khan and Baba talk about him in the study. Baba thinks Amir is weak and that "a boy who can't stand up for himself becomes a man who can't stand up for anything" (3.66). Rahim Khan tries to defend Amir, but Baba still says some pretty terrible things about his son. Chapter 3: Summary
  • 63. •This chapter – simultaneously – develops Amir's relationship with Hassan and Amir's burgeoning interest in writing. •Amir tells of the story of Ali: Two wealthy young men high on hashish accidentally run over a Hazara husband and wife. The judge orders the men to enlist in the army; in an act of kindness, the judge adopts the orphan left behind by the Hazara couple. This judge is Amir's grandfather. Ali and Baba grow up together. •Amir launches into a discussion of ethnicity and friendship. On the one hand, he and Hassan are from different ethnic groups and have history and society in between them. On the other, they have the same nurse and grow up together in the same household. Amir doesn't come to a conclusion whether ethnicity drives a wedge between him and Hassan. •What follows are a few warm-and-fuzzy stories about Amir and Hassan growing up together. •The boys throw pebbles at goats •They go see Westerns at Cinema Park and they go to the bazaar. •Hassan prepares meals for Amir, makes Amir's bed, and polishes his shoes. Chapter 4: Summary
  • 64. •Amir reads stories to Hassan on a hill north of Baba's house. •Amir plays a few "harmless pranks" on Hassan. He tells Hassan "imbecile" means "smart, intelligent" (4.20). •Amir and Hassan share a favourite story: "Rostam and Sohrab" from the Shahnamah. It's a story about a father who kills his nemesis, who actually turns out to be his son. •Amir plays another trick on Hassan. Instead of reading from a book, Amir starts to make up his own story, although he flips through the pages as if he's reading from them. Hassan loves it. This prompts Amir to write his first short story. •Amir, proud of his story, tries to show it to Baba. Baba isn't interested at all; Rahim Khan comes to the rescue and reads Amir's story. Rahim Khan even writes Amir a nice note about the story. •Emboldened by Rahim Khan's praise, Amir reads his story to Hassan. Hassan is enthralled and even tells Amir he'll be "a great writer" (4.55). However, Hassan points out a plot hole. Amir knows Hassan is right, but he's also angry. He thinks some mean things. Chapter 4: Summary
  • 65. •In this chapter, there's a sort of hodgepodge of events which set up for events to come in Chapter 7. •So, war comes to Afghanistan. It's July 17, 1973. Ali, Hassan, and Amir huddle together in the living room while gunfire and explosions thunder around them until morning. Baba shows up safe and sound at sunrise, having made it through or around the blocked roads. •Amir and Hassan decide to go climb their pomegranate tree. (In an earlier chapter, they carved their names in this tree.) On their way there, trouble strikes in the form of Assef, Wali, and Kamal, three neighborhood boys. •We learn a little about Assef: he uses brass knuckles, has a German mother, and is known for his meanness. He also torments Ali a lot. •Assef starts talking some nonsense about the new leader Daoud Khan and how he's going to have a man-to-man talk with Daoud Khan next time Daoud is over at his house. Assef will tell him about Hitler and ethnic cleansing and how Afghanistan needs to get rid of the Hazaras. Amir wants to get out of there. Assef, like always, has other ideas: he takes his brass knuckles out of his pocket. •Hassan comes to the rescue. In a single movement, he takes his slingshot out of his back pocket and aims it at Assef's left eye. Assef and his crew back off. •It's Hassan's birthday. Baba always gets Hassan something special, like a Clint Eastwood cowboy hat or train set. This year, Baba presents Dr. Kumar, from New Delhi, to Hassan. Dr. Kumar performs surgery on Hassan, correcting his harelip. •Amir tells us the scar from the surgery heals by the following winter. At which time Hassan stops smiling. (Foreshadowing…) Chapter 5 :Summary
  • 66. •In this chapter, we get the skinny on winter kite fighting tournaments, and Amir's dreams of winning this year's tournament. •Amir loves wintertime, like most other Afghan kids. It's pretty, there's snow, no school, and, most importantly, kite flying. Baba loves kite fighting, too, so it's a rare connection for them. •Amir tells us a little about kite fighting. He and Hassan used to make their own kites with bamboo, glue, string, and paper. To make the kite a fighting kite, the boys coat the string in glass and glue. (The point of the kite fight is to cut the other kite's string with your string – thus the glass.) •There's also kite running, which seems just as important as kite fighting. Once a kite is cut, the kite runners chase after the released kite and try to run it down. The big deal kite to run is the tournament runner-up – the last kite cut. Hassan, as it turns, is an expert kite runner. •One winter day, Hassan and Amir run a kite. Hassan is a better kite runner than Amir – faster, more athletic, and with better instincts – and Amir struggles to keep up. Hassan runs away from the kite that's just been cut. Amir follows, and they rest on a field by a middle school. •Amir doesn't believe the kite is going land anywhere near where Hassan has led them. So he asks Hassan if Hassan would ever lie to him. Hassan says no, and that he'd "sooner eat dirt" (6.31). Amir toys with Hassan. In the end, Amir makes nice and the kite floats down to where they're sitting. •Four days before the kite-fighting tournament, Baba casually tells Amir he thinks Amir is going to win this year. Amir starts to imagine all the wonderful things he and Baba will do together and how the two of them will grow closer. Now, Amir really wants to win this tournament. •The chapter ends with Hassan and Amir playing cards the night before the tournament. There's some talk about Daoud Khan, televisions, and how Amir will buy Hassan a television some day. Hassan thinks Amir will win the tournament the next day. Amir wins the card game but has the distinct feeling Hassan let him win. Chapter 6 :Summary
  • 67. •This is The Big Chapter. The chapters preceding this one prepare you for this event; the chapters following this one deal with its aftershocks. •While Amir eats breakfast, Hassan recounts a dream he had the night before. They're both at Ghargha Lake, along with Rahim Khan, Baba, Ali, and tons of other people. No one is swimming in the water because there's a monster at the bottom. Amir, however, jumps into the lake; Hassan follows and swims behind Amir. There's no monster. The crowd on the shore cheers. •Hassan and Amir walk out into the street for the kite-fighting tournament. Strangely enough, Amir suddenly gets cold feet. Hassan encourages him: "Remember, Amir agha. There's no monster, just a beautiful day" (7.19). They toss the kite into the air. •The number of kites in the sky dwindles. Soon, just Amir's kite and a blue kite are left. Amir gets a lucky gust of wind and cuts the blue kite. He wins the tournament. Baba cheers from the rooftop. In these tournaments, people collect or "run" the defeated kites, but the second-place kite is considered the greatest prize. Hassan runs off after the blue kite. •Amir takes his kite back to Baba's house and then heads off to find Hassan. After a little wandering, he spots Hassan in an alley. Assef, Wali, and Kamal are staring Hassan down. Hassan has the blue kite. No one sees Amir. •Hassan tries to defend himself by throwing a rock at Assef . He does hit Assef, but the three boys throw Hassan to the ground. Chapter 7 :Summary
  • 68. •Amir interrupts the narrative here with a few memories and a dream. In the first memory, Ali reminds Amir that he and Hassan fed from the same breast. In the second memory, Hassan and Amir go to a fortune-teller. The fortune-teller takes a coin from Hassan and reads Hassan's palm and face. Visibly disturbed, the fortune-teller gives Hassan his coin back. Amir draws back when the fortune-teller comes over to him. In the dream, Amir is lost in the snow. The wind is blowing so hard it immediately erases his footsteps. Someone with parallel gashes on his hand – Baba? – reaches out to Amir and they're suddenly in a summery, light-filled field. •Cut back to the scene in the alley. Something is up: Wali and Kamal don't want to participate in whatever Assef has planned. Assef pulls down his pants and rapes Hassan. •Amir switches to the future tense. It's the next day, which is the feast of Eid-e-Qorban. The feast commemorates Ibrahim's sacrifice of his son Isaac. According to the custom, each family sacrifices a sheep. Ali, Baba, Hassan, and Amir watch as the mullah slits the sheep's throat. •Cut back to the alley scene. Amir has one last chance to intervene. But instead he just runs away. •Amir meets Hassan in a ravine near the alley. Each is on his way back to Baba's house. Amir doesn't tell Hassan he saw what happened. •Hassan is about to tell Amir, but he composes himself and simply hands Amir the blue kite. Hassan is a mess: his voice cracks, he has a dark stain on the seat of his pants. Amir pretends not to notice. Hassan limps away. •Amir returns to Baba's house with the kite. Baba gathers Amir up into his arms. Amir weeps. Chapter 7 :Summary
  • 69. Chapter 8 :Summary •This chapter describes the weeks (and year) following the kite-fighting tournament. •Amir rarely sees Hassan – he wakes to find his breakfast already cooked, his clothes folded. Ali asks Amir if anything is wrong with Hassan, but Amir treats Ali pretty poorly and, worse, doesn't tell Ali about the alley. •Amir asks Baba if they can go to Jalalabad on Friday. Baba asks if Hassan wants to come along. Amir wants Baba all to himself so he says Hassan is sick. •Much to Amir's dismay, Baba invites tons of relatives to travel with them. (Enough to fill three vans. One of Amir's cousins congratulates Amir on winning the kite-fighting tournament. Amir throws up all over her dress. •That night, everyone eats lots of food. People play poker and have a few drinks. Amir is miserable. After everyone has fallen asleep – the men sleeping on the living room floor along with Amir – Amir blurts out to no one in particular: "I watched Hassan get raped" (8.40). No one wakes up or hears him. Amir's insomnia starts that night. •Back in Kabul, there's more silence and distance between Amir and Hassan. Not even the Shahnamah can bring them together. This continues for the rest of the winter. Amir hangs out with Baba occasionally, but seems to spend a lot of time reading in his room.
  • 70. •At one point during the winter, Hassan asks Amir if he's done anything wrong. Amir pretty much tells Hassan that he just wants to be alone. •Right before school starts up again, Amir asks Baba if they can get new servants. Baba is furious. Amir knows he's really driven a wedge between himself and Baba now. •That summer, Hassan and Amir walk up to the hill with their pomegranate tree. Amir starts to read a story to Hassan, but loses interest. He picks an overripe pomegranate and begins to pelt Hassan. Amir wants Hassan to fight back, but Hassan won't. Eventually, Hassan picks up a pomegranate and walks over to Amir and crushes it against his forehead. •The chapter ends with Amir's thirteenth birthday party. Baba invites tons of people, there's heaps of good food, and even Ahmad Zahir, the pop musician. •Assef shows up with a gift for Amir. There's an odd rapport between Baba and Assef as Baba asks Assef about soccer. In one of the most awkward exchanges in the book, Assef gives Amir his present and Amir stalks off. Amir opens the present on his own. It's a biography of Hitler. •Rahim Khan shows up. He tells Amir a story about how he almost married a Hazara woman. His parents and siblings, though, were outraged at the prospect of welcoming a Hazara woman into the family. The marriage didn't happen. Rahim Khan gives Amir his gift: it's a leather-bound writing journal. Chapter 8 :Summary
  • 71. Chapter 9: Summary •The day after his birthday party, Amir opens all his presents. He gets two from Baba: a Schwinn Stingray, which is "the king of all bicycles," and a brand-new wristwatch (9.2). He throws most of his gifts in the corner because he realizes Baba wouldn't have thrown him such a lavish party if he hadn't won the kite-fighting tournament. So, they feel a little like "blood money" (9.1). •Ali and Hassan give Amir a really nice hardback copy of Shahnamah. It probably took some scrimping and saving on Ali and Hassan's part to afford this present. •In the lowest of all low deeds, Amir puts his new wristwatch and a wad of cash under Hassan's mattress. He tells Baba his stuff is missing. Baba talks to Ali; Ali finds Amir's stuff in their house. The two return to Baba's house, having had a good cry together. Baba asks Hassan if he stole the watch and money. Surprisingly enough – even for Amir – Hassan says, "Yes." Baba immediately forgives Hassan, which again surprises Amir. Isn't theft the worst of all sins? In any case, Ali and Hassan decide to leave. •Baba pleads with Ali to stay. Ali refuses. •In the pouring rain , Baba drives Ali and Hassan to the bus station. Amir considers running out to the car to confess, but he stays at the window.
  • 72. Chapter 10 : Summary March 1981 •The chapter opens with Baba and Amir crammed into the back of an old Russian truck. They're with other refugees on their way to Pakistan. Afghanistan has gotten too dangerous. Neighbors have turned against each other, and everyone seems to be a spy for the Russians. •Amir starts to feel sick and someone asks Karim, the driver, to pull over. He does eventually and Amir gets out. A MiG (a Russian fighter jet ) flies overhead. •They pull up to a checkpoint. The Russian soldier manning it seems a little drunk. He tells Karim he'll let the truck pass if he gets to spend some special alone time with one of the women in the truck. •Baba is outraged. Amir grabs Baba's leg, but to no avail. Baba gets up and tells the Russian to shove it. The soldier takes out his gun out of his holsterThe gun goes off, but no one gets hit. A superior officer shows up and gives the soldier a very mild scolding. They make it through the checkpoint. •Cut to Jalalabad. They arrive at a one-story house, and Karim tells everyone the bad news: No truck to Peshawar. Baba goes crazy and grabs Karim by the throat and almost strangles him. He would have, in fact, if it weren't for the pleas of a young woman.
  • 73. •In the basement of the house, more refugees have been waiting for weeks. Among them are Kamal and his father. In an odd twist of events, it turns out Kamal's mother caught a stray bullet in Kabul. Kamal was also raped in Kabul. •Because there's no truck to take them to Peshawar, Karim comes up with an alternative. His cousin owns a fuel truck, which would work just fine. The refugees pile into the belly of the fuel truck. Almost immediately, Amir's eyes and nose start to burn. Fumes! Baba tells Amir: "Think of something good" (10.73). He pictures himself and Hassan in a field. They're flying a kite. •The fuel truck makes it to Pakistan. A bus is going to take them the rest of the way to Peshawar. Amir (and some of the other refugees) crawl around on the ground, weakened by the fumes. Kamal isn't breathing. His father is stunned. He somehow gets a hold of Karim's gun and shoots himself in the head. •The chapter ends with Amir dry-heaving on the side of the road. Chapter 10 : Summary
  • 74. Fremont, California. 1980s •Baba and Amir have moved to America. Certainly, it's an improvement over war-torn Afghanistan, but it's also not smooth sailing. •Walking in Lake Elizabeth Park, Baba enlightens Amir with his politics: there are only a few "real men" in international politics. America, Britain, and Israel. (Baba seems to love directness in international affairs.) Baba also loves Ronald Reagan – which makes sense. Reagan called the Soviet Union – who invaded Afghanistan – "the Evil Empire," Reagan also had that American cowboy bravado Amir and Baba worshipped from afar for years in Afghanistan. •However, Baba isn't adjusting well to America. He turns his neighborhood convenience store upside down because they won't take his check without ID. (In Baba's defense, he's shopped there for two years.) Amir gets him out of the store, but there's a lot of yelling about honor and such. •Amir reveals that Baba works at a gas station. He works a twelve-hour shift six days a week. This image sums it up: "Baba's face drawn and pale under the bright fluorescent lights" (11.28). •For a while, Baba and Amir were on welfare. The day Baba gets a job, he goes to the welfare office and returns his food stamps. •Amir graduates from high school. Baba is actually really proud of Amir; unlike the attention Amir got for winning the kite-fighting tournament, this affection seems long-lasting. Chapter 11 : Summary
  • 75. •They go out and celebrate. Baba drinks lots of beer, says some disparaging things about Russians, and buys everyone drinks. •He has Amir drive to end of their block where a gift waits for Amir. It's a Ford Gran Torino. There's some crying, widespread happiness, and a hand-squeeze. Baba says: "I wish Hassan had been with us today" (11.44). Amir feels profoundly guilty. •Amir is going to enroll in junior college the next fall. He and Baba discuss majors the morning after graduation. Amir says he's going to major in Creative Writing. Baba isn't too happy. •Amir drives his Ford Gran Torino around a lot. He feels "free" or something. America, for the most part, has allowed Amir to escape his past. •Baba sells his car. He buys a '71 Volkswagen bus. They start buying up stuff at yard sales and going to the San Jose flea market. •At the flea market, Baba introduces Amir to General Taheri who worked for the Ministry of Defense in Kabul. There's an exchange between His Lordship Taheri and Amir about writing. The General wonders if Amir will write about Afghanistan or economics or some other important topic. Nope. Amir is going to write fiction. •Some lovely lady brings the General a cup of coffee. It's his daughter, Soraya. Amir is smitten. •On the way home from the flea market, Amir realizes he knows the name "Taheri" from some rumors he heard. Baba isn't one to gossip, but Amir presses him and he says: "All I've heard is that there was a man once and things...didn't go well" (11.101). Apparently, because of this incident, no one has approached Soraya as a suitor since then. Chapter 11 : Summary
  • 76. •Amir remembers long nights in Afghanistan (specifically the first night of winter or yelda) when he stayed up late with Hassan. Currently he stays up late thinking of Soraya. Or, as Amir calls her, "My Swap Meet Princess." •Amir often goes over to the Taheri's table at the flea market to steal glances at Soraya. This is turning into a full-fledged obsession. Or, as some would call it, a romance. •One day at the flea market, Amir asks Baba if he wants a Coke. Baba knows what's up: Amir is going over to talk to Soraya. He gives Amir a little speech about nang and namoos (honor and pride). Amir says he won't embarrass anyone. •Amir goes over to chat up the lovely lady. He probably stays a little too long by Afghan standards. But it's going so well! Soraya even asks about Amir's writing and he promises to bring her a story sometime. Just when things are getting a little steamy (according to Afghan standards a conversation this long is apparently risqué), Soraya's mother walks up. She asks Amir to stay; he politely refuses. •Amir keeps thinking about Soraya. And going over to the Taheri booth at the flea market. •One fine flea market Saturday, Amir and Soraya are talking at the Taheri booth. Soraya tells Amir how she wants to become a teacher. She also tells Amir a story about how she taught one of the Taheri family servants to read. Now she wants to be a teacher. •The conversation is going well. Amir reaches into his pocket and hands her one of his stories (just as he promised). Just then, the General shows up. He gives Amir a little talking-to and takes the story from Soraya. He puts it in the garbage and reminds Amir – quite subtly for a military man – that Amir should check himself before he wrecks himself. Chapter 12 : Summary
  • 77. •Later that very week, Baba gets a cold. It seems harmless, but then Amir catches Baba hacking up blood. •They go to a county hospital since Baba doesn't have health insurance. The doctor finds a spot on Baba's lung, and sends Baba to a pulmonary clinic. Amir prays. •At first, they meet with a Russian pulmonologist. Baba isn't happy since, well, Russia did a lot of bad things to Afghanistan. Actually, the doctor was born in Michigan, but that's not enough for Baba. They switch doctors. •The new doctor gives Baba his prognosis. The cancer will be fatal. •Baba doesn't want Amir to tell anyone about his illness. •For a while, Baba does well. He still goes to the flea market. But he slowly wears down. He calls in sick to the gas station one day. By Halloween, Baba no longer gets out of the car to bargain at the yard sales. By Thanksgiving, he can't make it past noon. By Christmas, Amir is driving the van on his own. Baba loses weight. The Sunday after New Year's Day, Baba has a seizure and collapses at the flea market. •The doctor at the hospital goes over Baba's CAT scans with Amir. It doesn't look good. The cancer has spread into Baba's brain. The doctor recommends steroids, anti-seizure medication, and palliative radiation. •General Taheri, Khanum Taheri, and Soraya visit Baba and Amir at the hospital. Two days later, the hospital discharges Baba. A radiation specialist tries to talk Baba into getting radiation treatment, but he refuses. Chapter 12 : Summary
  • 78. •Baba is resting on the couch. Amir asks Baba to visit General Taheri and formally request Soraya's hand in marriage. He does this not only because he loves Soraya, but also because his father is dying. Amir knows the marriage will please his father. Baba calls the General and sets up a meeting for the next day. •Amir drops Baba off at the Taheri's home. Amir goes back home to wait for Baba to call. The phone rings about an hour after Amir dropped Baba off. The General has accepted. •However, Soraya needs to talk to Amir. Soraya wants Amir to know about her past before they proceed any further. Here's the story: Soraya was living in Virginia with another man after having run away from home. Lots of gossip. Soon enough, the General shows up. He takes Soraya home, where she discovers her little romp has caused Khanum Taheri to have a stroke, paralyzing the right side of her face. End of story. •Amir still wants to marry Soraya. Remember, he's got his own checkered past. If Amir called the wedding off, it'd be the pot calling the kettle black. No, it'd be worse than that. •The chapter ends with Amir's regrets. He wishes he could be as open as her and tell her about Hassan and Ali. He opens his mouth but doesn't say anything. Chapter 12 : Summary
  • 79. •The chapter opens with lafz, or the ceremony for "giving word." Baba and Amir are at the Taheri's house to formally ask the General to accept Amir into their family. •Khanum Taheri leads Baba and Amir through a living room packed with two dozen guests. (As tradition requires, Soraya is not there.) Baba requests that the General accept Amir as a son-in-law. He does, which results in applause and general good cheer. •Soraya and Amir forgo the Shirini-khori, or "Eating of the Sweets" ceremony. (It's an engagement party followed by an engagement period of a few months.) Baba probably won't live that long. •Baba spends almost his whole life savings on Amir's wedding. $35,000. •Soraya and Amir have their nika, or "swearing" ceremony. (Basically, the ceremony part of an American wedding.) Amir thinks of Hassan: "I remember wondering if Hassan too had married. And if so, whose face he had seen in the mirror under the veil? Whose henna-painted hands had he held?" (13.30). •Amir sleeps with Soraya for the first time. We have to giggle at this sentence: "That night, I discovered the tenderness of a woman" (13.31). •Soraya and Amir move in with Baba since he's very sick. One day, Amir comes home from the pharmacy with some of Baba's medication and finds Soraya reading to Baba. She's reading him Amir's stories. Amir can't take it and leaves the room crying. Baba finally supports Amir's writing. •About a month after the wedding, Baba dies in his sleep. •The funeral is held at a mosque in Hayward. At the gravesite, the mullah and another mourner argue over which ayat of the Koran to recite. •Since he's married to Soraya now, Amir learns a few things about the Taheris: about once a month, the General has blinding migraine headaches; Khanum Taheri at one point was a famous singer in Kabul but quit when she married the General; Khanum Taheri loves Johnny Carson; Khanum Taheri also loves to talk about her medical ailments. Amir listens. Chapter 13 : Summary
  • 80. •At her uncle's wedding, two middle-aged women upset Soraya. They more or less call Soraya un- virtuous a.k.a. a slut. Soraya tells Amir more about her time in Virginia: the night the General came for her, he had a gun with him. Two bullets in the chamber: one for himself and one for Soraya's boyfriend (if Soraya didn't go with him). Thankfully, she did. The General handed her a pair of scissors to cut off all her hair. She obliged him. •So, Amir and Soraya are married now. Since Baba has died, they move into a one-bedroom apartment. Amir enrolls at San Jose State and declares English as his major; Soraya enrolls a year later and declares Education. General Taheri isn't happy with Soraya's major – he wanted her to be a lawyer or politician. •Amir finishes his first novel. (It's "a father-son story set in Kabul" – sound familiar?) He sends query letters out to a dozen agencies and gets a request for the manuscript. Amir sends them the manuscript and, wonder of wonders, an agent agrees to represent him. In about the time it takes to squeeze a pomegranate, Amir is a published novelist. •A lot of other things are going on while Amir becomes a successful writer. The Soviets withdraw from Afghanistan; civil war breaks out in Afghanistan; the cold war ends; the Berlin Wall comes down; Tiananmen Square happens. And Amir and Soraya start trying to have a kid. •Amir and Soraya, however, can't get pregnant. They go see a doctor; Amir passes his tests, but Soraya doesn't. She has something called "Unexplained Infertility," which apparently isn't uncommon. •The young lovers tell the General and Khanum Taheri. Soraya relates some advice: "The doctor said we could adopt" (13.139). The General isn't sure about adoption – he starts talking about "blood" and "family" etc. In the end, Amir and Soraya don't want to adopt either. •The chapter ends with Amir and Soraya buying a house in Bernal Heights. Chapter 13 : Summary
  • 81. June 2001 •The chapter opens with Amir lowering the telephone. He's just gotten a mysterious call from Rahim Khan ,who is sick. Rahim Khan asks Amir to come back to Afghanistan: "Come. There is a way to be good again" (14.19). •Amir takes a walk and sees a pair of red kites. •Amir decides to go to Afghanistan to see Rahim Khan. He's still has trouble sleeping, but after he finally falls asleep he dreams of Hassan: "the hem of his green chapan [a long cloak] dragging behind him, snow crunching under his black boots [...]" (14.25). •The chapter ends with Amir on a flight to Afghanistan. Chapter 14 : Summary
  • 82. •Amir lands in Peshawar. The city reminds him of Kabul – the taxi driver tells Amir that many of his fellow Afghans have ended up in a section of the city called "Afghan Town." The driver drops Amir off at Rahim Khan's building. Rahim Khan doesn't look so good. •For the rest of the chapter, Amir and Rahim Khan talk about Afghanistan, the past, and Amir's life in America. Here's what they cover: Amir's marriage to Soraya Taheri, Baba, and Amir's education and writing. •The conversation turns to the Taliban and Afghanistan. It sounds like Kabul turned into a war zone between 1992 and 1996 and so when the Taliban took over, the people welcomed them. Rahim Khan tells this Taliban story: in 1998, a Taliban official smacked Rahim Khan in the forehead for cheering too loudly at a soccer match. •Amir learns Rahim Khan is dying. •Rahim Khan brings up Hassan. He tells Amir: "I brought you here because I am going to ask something of you. [...]. But before I do, I want to tell you about Hassan" (15.54). Chapter 15 : Summary
  • 83. •This chapter is in the voice of Rahim Khan. •Rahim Khan lives in Baba's house after Amir and Baba flee to America. He's lonely and, because he's getting old, is having trouble keeping up the house. Rahim Khan goes to Hazarajat (the central region of Afghanistan and home to the Hazara ethnic group) to find Hassan. •Rahim Khan finds Hassan in Bamiyan, one of the provinces of Hazarajat. •Rahim Khan finds out Hassan has married. His wife, Farzana, is pregnant. •When Rahim Khan asks about Ali, Hassan looks down. Ali walked into a land mine two years ago. •Finally, Rahim Khan asks Hassan to come back to Kabul with him to care for Baba's house. Hassan asks about Amir and learns about Baba's death. •The next day, Hassan and Farzana agree to come back to Kabul with Rahim Khan. •Even though there's plenty of room in the main house, Hassan and Farzana take up residence in the old servants' quarters. •Farzana gives birth to a stillborn girl, but soon Farzana gets pregnant again. •Sanaubar, Hassan's mother who ditched him and Ali years ago, suddenly shows up at the gate. She's a wreck – weak, covered in sores, and slashed by a knife. Hassan & Farzana nurse her back to health. •Sanaubar delivers Hassan's child. Farzana, and Hassan name the child after Sohrab, Hassan's favorite character in the Shahnamah. •Sanaubar dies in her sleep. The fighting in Kabul intensifies. •Hassan teaches his son Sohrab how to shoot a slingshot, how to read and write, and how to run a kite. •The chapter ends ominously: the Taliban has banned kite fighting and, in two years, they will massacre the Hazaras in Mazar-i-Sharif. Chapter 16 : Summary
  • 84. Chapter 17 : Summary •Rahim Khan gives Amir an envelope. Inside are letters from Hassan and a Polaroid photograph of Hassan and Sohrab. Here's what the letters say: •Letter 1: Hassan hopes his letter will someday reach Amir in America and that Amir will write back. Hassan still thinks about Amir and tells Farzana and Sohrab all about Amir. •Letter 2: Kabul has changed. The Taliban have imposed strict rule: even Farzana is punished in the market for speaking too loudly. He brags about Sohrab – how good he is with a slingshot, how he likes the Shahnamah, etc. •Letter 3: Rahim Khan is very sick and will travel to Pakistan to see some doctors. Hassan has had a few violent nightmares but also dreams that Rahim Khan will get well, Sohrab will "grow up to be a good person, a free person [...]," and peace will come to Kabul. He hopes Amir will visit. •All in all, the letters are very warm – Hassan doesn't hold any grudges against Amir. •Rahim Khan delivers the bad news to Amir. A month after he arrived in Peshawar, a neighbor called and told him Talib officials executed Hassan and Farzana. Even though people in the neighborhood supported Hassan's story, the Talibs didn't believe Rahim Khan left the house in his care. Sohrab is in an orphanage in Kabul. •Now, Rahim Khan reveals the reason he asked Amir to come to Afghanistan: he wants Amir to rescue Sohrab from the orphanage. There are some people in Peshawar who will adopt him. •At first, Amir doesn't want any part of Rahim Khan's scheme. Rahim Khan gives him three reasons. First, he is a dying man and he wants Amir to do this for him. Second, Baba once thought Amir couldn't stand up for himself – now, Amir can prove him wrong. Third, Hassan was actually Amir's half-brother. •Of course, the last reason really changes things. Apparently, Ali was sterile, and Baba fathered Hassan with Sanaubar. •The chapter ends with Amir storming out of Rahim Khan's apartment.