Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, was a fictional story about a boy’s life growing up in Afghanistan. The story takes place from about the 1970s until around 2000. The main characters in the story are Amir, Baba, Ali, and Hassan.
Amir is the central character and narrator (first person) of the book.
Baba (Arabic word for father) is his dad. Baba is a complex, impressive, strong, conflicted, and respected character in the book. He is a large man with a strong moral sense. He married well and began businesses which other Afghan people said he would never do. He drinks whiskey with his closest friend Rahim even though it is forbidden in Muslim culture.
Ali and Hassan are Baba’s two servants. They are from a different social class as they are hazaras, a persecuted ethnic group in Afghanistan. They live in a mud hut behind Baba’s house. Although they are servants to Baba and Amir, there is a tremendous deal of loyalty and love among the 4 people. We find out in the very end of the book, that Hassan and Amir are half brothers. Baba slept with Ali’s wife. It was kept secret for everyone’s entire life because it would bring too much shame to the family. This is one difference between their culture and ours. There is a tremendous emphasis on honor and pride.
As children, Hassan and Amir would climb trees and shoot Hassan’s slingshot and Amir would read stories to Hassan. Hassan couldn’t read. What surprised me about the story, is how beautiful and rich the culture and land of Afghanistan was. In the winter it would snow and they wouldn’t go to school. The Afghans had rich traditions during the winter, on of which was kite fighting. The Kite Flyers would fight their kites in the air and do whatever was necessary to cut the line of the other kites. When a kite was destroyed, All the boys in the city would chase is as it fell from the sky. The author described the herd of boys chasing the kite as the running with the bulls in spain. Hassan is by far the best kite runner in the city, which is why the book is entitled kite runner. This beautiful tradition was foreign to me. I had never heard of kite fighting.
A central theme in the book is the relationship between Baba, Hassan, and Amir. Amir never really stands up for himself and cries often. Hassan constantly stands up for himself and Amir. Hassan will often fight groups of boys at a time in order to defend Amir. Hassan also always take the blame for any trouble that the two get into. Hassan’s loyalty to Amir is incredible.
As a result of this, Amir always feels that Baba doesn’t show him the love he desires. Amir is very aware of the ways in which he disappoints his father. To illustrate the contrast between Baba and Amir, there is a story in which Baba stood up to a Russian soldier who had a gun pointed at his head. The soldier was attempting to rape an Afghan refugee and Baba told him that he had better kill him with that first shot because if not he was going to kill him with his bare hands.
There are parallel events that illustrate the strong difference in the courage and loyalty of Hassan and Amir. One day while Hassan and Amir are hanging out, they run into 3 older boys. The leader of the three boys is Assef and Amir says that he is a sociopath even though there is no word for sociopath in his language. He learned this word later when he learned English. Assef and his two sidekicks threaten Amir and tell him he should be ashamed of himself for hanging out with a Hazara. There are about to beat him up when Hassan pulls out his slingshot and threatens to shoot his eye out if he touches Amir. The boys back off and run away.
Later, After Amir wins the annual Kite Fighting tournament, a day of great pride for Amir (he knows his father will finally be proud of him), he chases down Hassan who has gone to run down the final kite of the tournament. He finds Hassan surrounded by the same three kids. Amir hides behind the corner and he watches Hassan get raped by Assef. Amir knows that if he doesn’t step in to save Hassan he will never forgive himself and this memory of knowing how much of a coward he is and how much he lets Hassan down haunts him for the remainder of the book. Amir’s inability to stand up for himself results in the central conflict of the book.
Amir is overwhelmed by his guilt. He eventually plants money in Hassan’s house and tells Baba that Hassan stole from them.
This book review is not finished…