AUTHOR & SETTING
Khaled Hosseini was born in Afghanistan, during a tumultuous time. He moved to America in the 1980’s, escaping much of the brutal Taliban regime. This novel takes place in Afghanistan for Amir’s childhood, and in America for his adulthood. He returns to a very different Afghanistan in 2001. Amir’s timeline parallels Hosseini’s in many ways.
The major characters are Baba, Hassan, Soraya, Assef, and Sohrab.
Baba is Amir’s strict father, who wants his son to be like him. He is often disappointed in Amir.
Hassan is Amir’s best Hazara friend growing up. He is raped by Assef while Amir hides, later feeling guilty.
Soraya is Amir’s wife. She moved to the US earlier and ran off with a different man, which divides her from the Afghan community.
Assef is Amir’s tormentor. He hates Hazaras, and brutally beats Amir as an adult after joining the Taliban.
Sohrab is Hassan’s son. He is abused by Assef, saved by Amir, and goes to America. Eventually he smiles.
The story starts in Amir’s childhood, of him and Baba’s relationship being strained. He has fun with Hassan, and teases him about his illiteracy. There is a kite fight scene, with Amir winning to gain his father’s acceptance, but that is also the same day Hassan is raped by Assef. Amir withdraws from Hassan, and manages to get Ali and Hassan to leave his house.
He leaves for America with his father when he is 18, because of the hostilities due to Russia. He and Baba move to Fremont, California, and he finishes high school while Baba smokes and pumps gas. Amir is accepted into college, and he meets Soraya, his future wife. Baba gets cancer, Amir asks him to help him get married to Soraya. After their marriage, Baba dies, and Amir lives in peace for several years.
Rahim Khan, Baba’s old business partner and Amir’s favorite adult, sends a message asking for Amir to come to Peshawar, Pakistan. He goes, and a dying Rahim Khan asks him to rescue Sohrab, Hassan’s son, and that Hassan was Amir’s half brother. Hassan is now dead, and Amir feels guilty enough to go to Taliban occupied Afghanistan, and starts searching for Sohrab.
He and his driver Farid find Sohrab being abused by Assef, now an adult. Assef and Amir fight, with Assef beating Amir. Sohrab threatens to shoot Assef’s eye out, and then he does. He and Amir escape with Farid to a hospital. Amir recovers, encounters numerous difficulties in getting Sohrab back to America. Sohrab tried to commit suicide, but Amir is able to save him and take him to America. Sohrab is silent for almost a year, but through kite flying they are able to connect, and Sohrab finally smiles.
Hosseini uses his point of view, as an adult reflecting on his childhood, to add many details to the story. He uses it to foreshadow events to come, and to criticize his choices. We get truly feel when Amir regrets something, or when he was proud of something.
The tone of the novel leans towards the factual and emotional. Hosseini is trying to get you to notice things that people don’t like to talk about. Mainly the horrors committed in Afghanistan by the Taliban, rape, and abuse of power. He also tackles classism, and uses his tone to show what he thinks of each of those topics.
There is a lot of imagery in the novel. The imagery of Afghanistan tends to be much more run down and dark when compared with the way Fremont is described. When Amir is injured, we can see exactly how badly beaten he is in our mind. We can picture the darkness that swallows him as he is smuggled into Pakistan.
Some symbols I noticed was Assef being abuse of power, Sohrab being innocence, and Amir + Bab showing redemption through guilt. In general, each character can represent a facet of life. There are definitely more symbols in this book, I just need to think about them more.
“True redemption is . . . when guilt leads to good.”
This quote serves as a direct theme statement from someone in the book. Many people feel guilt throughout the story, nearly every character. All of them do good things after feeling guilty.
“Baba loved the idea of America. It was living in America that gave him an ulcer.”
This quote can be used to explore the ideas of classicism and the difference between what you see and what you get. Baba became a lower class worker once he moved, but he still embraced the idea of the country that would kill him
In Kite Runner, Hosseini makes a compelling argument that guilt leads to redemption.
Plot – Amir goes back to Afghanistan because he feels guilty. Baba creates charities to deal with his guilt. Hassan felt guilty for lying about taking money, so he moves in with Rahim Khan. Sohrab feels guilty about being abused, redeeming himself by talking with Amir about a new life.