English Literature - AQA - The Kite Runner (Section A - Themes)

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Fathers and sons - Baba and Amir

Problematic as Baba has mixed feelings about Amir due to the death of Sofia and him being the unknown father of Hassan. Influences Amir, his personality and the events of his life. This relationship is shown to be reconciled when he sees his son grow into a man with his wife - shown when Amir catches Soraya reading stories to Baba: 'I put her up to it. I hope you don't mind' (p151) as he is admitting to the fact he wanted to hear the stories he previously dismissed but he is seeking his son's forgiveness.

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Fathers and sons - Baba and Hassan

This relationship is never acknowledged and therefore never reconciled. Shown as a very positive relationship where Baba treats Hassan equally to Amir but he does not have to cope with animosity that might occur if Hassan knew his true parentage. Baba always carries the guilt with him over the betrayal as well as him never being able to formally acknowledge his other son.

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Fathers and sons - Ali and Hassan

Ali fulfills the fatherly role to Hassan although he too carries the secret of Hassan's parentage. Despite this is does not affect Ali as much as Baba as he is still able to pretend that Hassan is his son. Ali and Hassan's relationship is much closer in comparison to the relationship of Baba and Amir.

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Fathers and sons - Hassan and Sohrab

They have similar lives to those of Ali and Hassan and their relationship is relatively the same despite the added fact that Hassan is Sohrab's natural father. However, when the novel draws to a close Amir becomes Sohrab's guardian which reflects Ali raising Baba's son as Amir now raises Hassan's. The acts of caring, loving and guiding are as influential as blood ties. 

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Fathers and sons - Rahim Khan and Amir

Rahim Khan acts as a surrogate father to Amir and when Amir and Baba's relationship is strained he acts as a source of support and comfort for Amir. In his later role, Rahim Khan provides Amir with a chance to make amends and Rahim Khan says and does things that Baba wished to without ever being able to. He finds a way for Amir to reconcile both himself and Hassan with their father. In his letter he tells Amir: 'I want you to understand that good, real good, was born out of your father's remorse' (p.263) and he goes on to detail some of Baba's actions (e.g. building the orphanage, feeding the poor, helping friends...). Through this we understand that the actions which had made Baba such a legend in Amir's eyes were driven in large part by remorse over Hassan's parentage. This allows Amir to equate his own guilt with his father's and therefore feel closer to him.

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Redemption - Amir

Amir's story is encapsulated in the offer made to him by Rahim Khan in the first chapter: 'there is a way to be good again, Amir' (p.2). It is the desire to make up for the events of his childhood and the fear of what it might cost him to achieve this, which drive all oof Amir's decisions in the novel and form the basis of his character. His return to Afghanistan is a key part of his search for redemption, because by going to the USA (where he fits in so well) he has effectively run away from the events of his childhood, his heritage and all the things which should form the person he is. He can only reconcile who he is with the person he wants to be by returning. He returns are rescues Sohrab from the Taliban and symbolically rescues Hassan from his tormentors, thus finally making up for his lack of action all those years ago. 

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Redemption - Baba

Both in public activies (e.g. building an orphanage) and in the private ways in which he interacts with his two sons, Baba is searching for a way to atone for his infidelity with Sanaubar and his inability to acknowledge Hassan. In addition, in a reaction against this guilt, he feels a need t reconcile his relationship with Amir. While he never gets a chance to resolve his remorse over Ali and Hassan, he and Amir become much closer during their time in the USA.

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Redemption - Soraya

Soraya seeks redemption for past sins - this is the one reason why she and Amir would seem to be such a good match. He is in a position to understand her need for forgiveness and is therefore able, when she informs him of her disgrace, to reply: 'Nothing you said changes anything. I want us to marry' (p.144). Later, when he finds out more details, he once more dismisses the topic adding: 'Let's never talk about this again' (p.157). 

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Redemption - Rahim Khan

He carries guilt over his failure to speak up at a time when it could hae made a difference, regarding both Hassan's **** and his parentage. Unable to seek atonement for himself, his request that Amir rescues Sohrab from Kabul is his way of achieving redemption. 

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Religion and Ethnicity

Amir and his father are not devout Muslims. The only times prayer are mentioned are during moments of ectreme fear and distress. However, both Amir's nominal religion and his ethnicity form key parts of the narrative, as they do for the other characters too. Amir's journey, whilst mostly of redemption, is closely tied in with the idea of what it means to be an Afghan. Part of Amir and Baba's problems are with what his father believes what a man should be like, involving his idea of what an Afghan should be like. Baba considers himself an Afghan no matter what the situation and this is what informs both his bravery in the face of the Russian soldier and his anger and confusing when asked for identification in the American mini-market. His ethnicity is an integral part of him and so when Amir does not match up to his idea image of what it means to be an Afghan man, this drives them apart. This is reinforced by the way Amir fits in the American society with ease - passages in which he tells stories in the USA, his house and his success as a writer. It is also clear from how he feels out of place on his return to Afghanistan where Amir tells Farid that he feels like a tourist in his own country and when Farid replies that Amir has always been a tourist, it confirms to the extent which Amir has never fitted in. The attainment of Farid's respect coicides with Amir finally feeling more comfortable in his home country. 

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Religion and Ethnicity (2)

The tensions between the Pushtun and Hazara ethnic groups form a thread throughout the novel. The teasing and bullying of Ali and Hassan occur because of their ethnicity and the befriending by Baba and Amir of these Hazaras puts them on the wrong side of the ethnic divide. As such Baba would seem to be more advanced in his opinions than many of his fellow Afghans and oassas this liberal attitude onto his son. However, Amir is not confident enough to act on these beliefs until the end of the novel when he tells his father-in-law to refer to Sohrab by name rather than by his ethnic group and this shows that he has built this confidence. It is significant that Fahrid, a confirmed Afghan, demonstrates the same disciminatory views as were present in Amir's childhood, showing that this is still a problem in contemporary Afghanistan. The suggestion that Hosseini seems to be making is that it is the lack of respect for different peoples which underlies all the problems in Afghanistan. Hassan, Ali and Sohrab are Hazaras who are shown as being much more spiritual and devout than Amir and his father. Aimr refers to Hassan having 'prayed the morning namaz with Ali' (p.23) while he is still emerging from his bed, having taken no part in morning prayers. However, this devotion is not sufficient for the Taliban to spare them because they follow the Shi'a branch of Islam rather than the Sunni branch which the Taliban follow. As Hazaras and also Shi'a muslims, Hassan and his family struggle against both religious and ethnic persecution. 

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Story Telling

The whole narrative is told to us as a story, with Amir setting the scene for us at the beginning and providing background, narrating the story from it's end point. As a narrator he constantly intrudes into the story, foreshadowing events to come and reminding us that we are being told a story. The symbolism of this idea is reinforced when Amir tells us of the stories he would read to Hassan as a child and then his development into a professional storyteller, a novelist. The artificial nature of what we are told is regularly foregrounded and there is a constant reminder that we are being told a story which forces the reader to interpret it for its underlying meanings, rather than simply accept the narrative at face value. When Amir informs Wahid that he is a writer, Wahid tells him to write about Afghanistan but Amir says he is not that sort of writer and by this it is clear that Hosseini is questioning why, unlike him, Amir isn't writing about Afghanistan when they are both from similar backgrounds. This idea is associated with Amir's difficulty in accepting his Afghan heritage, but also places Amir as a fiction writer (he makes things up rather than describing the real world). The story he is narrating demonstrates a change brought about by his visit back to Afghanistan and therefore 'The Kite Runner' represents a story which Amir has found too hard to relate before, both in terms of the harsh reality of his homeland and the internal landscape which he has previously found it too painful to explore. 

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Story Telling (2)

The stories told within the novel are all symbolic because they are stories if friendship and loyalty. The stories which Amir reads to Hassan form a large part of their bond, but also provide Amir with another way to tease and bully Hassan: 'When it comes to words, Hassan is an imbecile' (p.25). However, it is these stories which lead to Hassan naming his sonm a refernce back to the connection between Amir and Hassan and a gesture of forgiveness from Hassan to Amir's behaviour. 

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Story Telling (3)

The ultimate reconciliation of Amir and his father, just prior to his death, comes at the moment when Amir discoveres Soraya reading his stories to Baba. It is through this act of acceptance that Amir finally realises his father's love for him: 'I put her up to it. I hope you don't mind' (p.151). 

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Story telling (4)

Other stories in the novel come in the form of the letters from Hassan and Rahim Khan and Rahim Khan's tale of his time in Kabul after Amir and his father left. These give us an alternative perspective from Amir's and allow us a little distance with which to judge how truthful Amir's narrative has been. 

The stories in the novel are constantly bound up with teaching and learning, whether it is Amir's mother's book being a source of her teaching materials, Amir failing to teach Hassan to read, or Soraya teaching her servent to read. When Amir has finally learned his lesson, he buys a copy of the book which he used to share with Hassan, misleading and teasing him. He now plans to use it to build a bridge to Sohrab, which he should've done all along, with Hassan.

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Interaction of Personal and Global History

'The Kite Runner' is also a story about events in Afghanistan in the 1970's to the first years of the C21st. Hosseini uses the story of Amir to tell the story of Afghanistan at the same time, intertwining the two so that the history does not become either a backdrop or an interruption, but an integral part of the plot and narrative. (E.g. The sounds of the coup in 1973 intruding on Amir's childhood as the first real signs of what is to come or the flight, or Amir and Baba from Kabul, Baba's confrontation with the Russian soldier, the Taliban killing Hassan, and Assef becoming a leader in the Taliban). The greatest symbolic interaction of the story and historical events is the banning of the kite flying and fighting by the Taliban - this is the centre of the novel and this shows to what extent the Taliban were opposed to the desires and wishes of Afghans.

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AO4 - Historical Background

The Rule of Kings in Afghanistan to 1973 - throughut C19th it was largely under the influence of the UK as part of its occupation of the Indian subcontinent - 'Great Game' whereby the Russian and British empires contended for control of the region > 3 Anglo-Afghan Wars (1838-42, 1878-80, 1919). 1919 - Afghanistan finally achieved a measure of independence after King Amanullah Khan (wife named Soraya, as Amir's) took power and began a move for self-government. Full indepenence was gained in 1921. His reforms were considered too radical and he was forced to abdicated in 1929 by forces led by Habibullah Kalakani, who assumed power. Mohammed Nadir Khan (cousin of Amanullah) defeated and killed Habibullah none months later - this is whom Amir's home district of Kabul was named after: Wazir Nadir Khan. Nadir Khan was assassinated in 1933 and was succeeded by Mohammed Zahir Shah, his 19 year old son. This allowed an extended period of peace in Afghanistan which lasted until former prime minister (Mohammed Sardar Daoud Khan - king's cousin and brother-in-law) seized power in a military coup in 1973.

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AO4 - Historical Background

The Republic, Unrest and Civil War in Afghanistan, 1973-92 - Afghanistan lasted as a Republic under Daoud for 5 years. 1978 - People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) overthrew his administration and he and his family were killed. 1979 - uprisings and heavy reprisals which lead to the government of the new Democratic Republic being forced to call on Russian troops to help quell the disturbances. The Souviet Army carried out military missions against US-supported Islamic rebels for the next 9 years, finally withdrawing its troops in 1989. However, the Souviet Union continued to lend aid to the Afghan government until its collapse in 1919.

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AO4 - Historical Background

The Islamic State of Afghanistan, 1992-2004 - without the support of the Souviet Union the PDPA government was vulnerable and was overthrown in 1992 by a coalition of resistance fighters. The Democratic Republic was replaced by the Islamic State of Afghanistan. However, following the withdrawal of the common enemy, the different groups in Afghanistan turned on each other, creatig a civil war between the various classes, ethnic groups, militias, etc. As a reaction against his fighting, and due to a lack of Pashtun representation in the government, the Taliban (group of highly religious scholars and fighters) emerged from the souther province of Kandahar. By the end of 2000, the Taliban had control of the majority of the country. The only opposition to them at the time of the attacks in 2001 was the Afghan Northern Alliance (a small group in the north-east) which continued to be recognised by the United Nations as legitimate government of Afghanistan. Following these events, the USA and a coalition of allies attacked Afghanistan as an effort to overthrow the government. This was because of the Taliban's refusal to help the USA to find Al Qaeda terrorist forces hiding in Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden who was in charge of Al Quaeda. After the removal of the Taliban government, an interim authority was formed; Hamid Karzai led authority for 6 months. He was then appointed president by a group led by the former king, Zahir Shah. In 2004, Afghanistan's first democratic election was held: Karzai was officially voted into preseidency. Elements of the Taliban and other Islamic groups are still fighting in Afghanistan against the coalition's troops. 

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Amir

  • Main character and narrator - all told by him during a period between December 2001 and March 2002 but covering events from his childhood in the early 70s to the present. 
  • Never given a description of him - inferred from his voice.
  • Afghanistan - at the time he lives there it has been at relative peace for decades and is a stable environment - allows Amir to present himself as a happy, settled child who enjoys his life and his friendship with Hassan.
  • 'I never thought of Hassan and me as friends' (p.22) - felt distanced from Hassan, due to their ethnicity and status in life. Early sign we cannot always rely on the things Amir chooses to tell us because it is clear from the tales he relates that Hassan was indeed his closest friend. The desire to distance himself from the boy is a result of his childhood jealousy and of his later guilt.
  • Hassan is a major influence in Hassan's life - defining relationship. The novel itself is named after Hassan and it is shown in the way Amir relates events back the boy (friendship or guilt terms) - E.g. On his wedding day (an intimate moment) he wonders if Hassan has married and 'whose face he had seen in the mirror under the veil' (p.149).
  • 'I became what I am today [...] in the winter of 1975' (p.1) - don't find out for another five chapters what it was but everything we are told, before and after the event, shows emotions of anger, guilt and sorrow. 
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Amir (2)

  • Feelings about Hassan are also positive - his desire to write is formed by his time spent reading stories to Hassan, his later success as a writer can be seen to emerge from a desire to assuage his guilt by doing something which he knows Hassan would enjoy and approve of, thanks to the stories they shared as children. His marriage to Soraya and his yearning for children can be seen as his way of recreating the situation of his own childhood but this time with the change to make up for his past mistakes. When the story moves to modern-day Kabul, this idea is even more powerfully emphasised - when Rahim Khan asks Amir to save Sohrab, Amir is really being given a second chance to save his friend. 
  • Lack of love and respect - he feels he gets from his father. The first half of the novel concerns the tensions which Amir feels in his life between wanting to be his own man and the desire to be the man his father wants. Central factor in his decision not to help Hassan during the attack in the valley. Even when Baba is dead he is still a presence in Amir's life and Amir's decision to re-visit Kabul and retrieve Sohrab can be seen as his attempt to reconcile his feelings for his father. He stands up to Assef and fights for the posession of Sohrab, Baba's grandson, meaning he has become who his father wanted him to be. His return to the USA shows this - building a hospital in Afghanistan mirrors his father's orphanage.
  • Stories and writing - inherited from his mother who taught literature. Escape - from percieved lack of love from Baba and later problems in his life and homeland.
  • Amir's life turned to narrative (coherent story) - writing a book about himself (catharsis).
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Hassan

  • He gives the title of the book - arguable the most significant character. Hassan's story and what he represents to Amir and Baba are crucial driving forces in the novel. 
  • Disappears in Amir's narrative early on - reappears in Rahim Khan's and a letter. But his presence lingers taking part in events.
  • Chapter 2 - description of him. His cleft lip is corrected in Chapter 5. Other than this all we learn about his is from his letter in Chapter 17 via Amir's perception - only a partial perspective.
  • Hassan has been born into servitude but doesn't resent this - his father becomes ill, causing burdens - he's a Hazara and so looked down upon. Despite this, he recieves a great deal of warmth and love from Ali and so does not suffer from the same need to strive for his father's affections which appears to feature so much in Amir's life.
  • Up to his **** the hardships he has to live do not bother him - but the tales of Hassan are coloured by Amir's 30 years of guilt - Amir feels the need to remember his friend as a happy and carefree boy up the the point of his betrayal. The only way we see a true picture of Hassan's life is though his letter he writes to Amir 25 years after they last saw eachother.
  • Forced to grow up faster than Amir although he is younger - Chapter 6 he allows Amir to win at cards knowing that otherwise an outburst might be provoked. Amir says he will buy Hassan a TV and he says 'I'll put it on my table where I keep my drawings' (p.51) which saddens the reader as it shows Hassan's belief that his life will never change/improve.
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Hassan (2)

  • Resignation with which he greets both Amir's question about eating dirt and the pomegranate attack. The willingness to take whatever is forced upon him shows a child who is used to carrying burdens and coming off second best; who is willing to take responsibility for Amir's actions without comment. (E.g. When Hassan responds to Amir's enquiry about eating dirt in simple, non-judgemental tones - 'Would you ever ask me to do such a thing, Amir agha?' (p.48) and again the pomegranate attack by literally turning his cheek).
  • The only time we are presented with Hassan's direct voice, rather than it being filtered through Amir's perceptions is in the letter he gives to Rahim Khan to pass to Amir. This is an adult Hassan, not the child of Amir's recollections, but the contents of the letter show the character of Hassan as he must've been, even as a child. He opens and closes the letter with religious invocations - Hassan's beliefs are of greater importance to him than Amir's tales suggest. 
  • There is also a kind and considerate tone to the letter: 'I pray that this letter finds you in good health' (p.189). It is clear that Hassan does not hold a grudge against Amir and he is not as weighed down with it as Amir. This shows that Amir's guilt is one-sided and selfish and caused more damage than the **** itself. Only when he allows himself to comfort Sohrab following the relevation of his molestation by Assef and the other Taliban that Amir finally understands what Hassan had suffered and how he, Amir, should have dealt with it. 
  • Hassan signs off his letter referring as Amir's friend - Amir could never do this. Hassan's love and loyalty to his former master have not waned over the years.
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Baba

  • Most of what we learn about him is from Amir's prespective - Amir is very proud of his father and is in awe with him; Baba is often painted as a larger-than-life character who is almost unbelievably charismatic and successful: 'a towering Pashtun specimen with a thick beard, a wayward crop of curly brown hair [and] hands that looks capable of uprooting a willow tree' (p.11). It is easy to see this as an overstatement due to the way Amir sees his father. However, as corroboration, Amir adds a quotation of Rahim Khan that Baba had a 'black glare that would "drop the devil to his knees begging for mercy"' (p.11).
  • From the man who kisses Baba's hand after Baba prevents the Russian soldier from ****** his wife, and the men in the bar in Hayward who become friends and admirers of Baba in a single evening after Amir's graduation, it is clear that he has a powerfully charismatic personality which affects people around him.
  • It is certain that Baba is a successful, man living in a large house, which he built himself, in a wealthy and respectable park of Kabul. We know this from the Taliban's rule - elite of the Afghan's regime chose to live in that area and that house. Additionally, the orphanage proves his weath - however, it may be argued that it is an act of a concerned member of society, a benefactor and a man with a love of children. Not a side of Baba revealed by Amir - due to his own alienation feeling from his father's love.
  • The dream of Baba fighting a black bear - shows the high regard Amir has for his father, he worships him like a god or idol. 'In those dreams I can never tell Bab from the bear' (p.11).
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Baba (2)

  • The loss of his wife - Amir believes that Baba hates him for killing Sofia: 'I had killed his beloved wife, his beautiful princess, hadn't I?'. This is another reason for Amir's guilt and poor self-esteem despite it most likely being untrue although it is evident that this has affected Baba - he does not re-marry, nor are we told about any other women in his life other than his affair with Sanaubar and therefore we can assume that he still thinks of her as his wife and does not want to replace her. It is likely that Amir reminds Baba of Sofia however with his love of books and reading. This would account, to some extent, for the distance that Amir feels between him and his father. Baba can allow himself to feel closer to his other son, Hassan, because there is not the same set of associations.
  • When we find he is Hassan's father, it sheds light on his actions throughout the novel. Part of Amir's alienation from his father comes from the way that he insists on treating Hassan equally to him. Only when Amir realises that Hassan was actually his half-brother can he come to see this as fair, rather than an insut whereby he is seen to be of no more importance to his father than the servent's son.
  • Baba's need to overcome guilt over his affair with Sanaubar, and his torment at his inability to publically name Hassan as his son, in many ways make him the driven and proud man who is presented to us through Amir's narrative.
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Ali

  • Hassan's father and Baba's childhood friend. His relationship with Amir's father is a direct reflection of Hassan's relationship with Amir. Left as an orphan at a young age, Ali was brought up by Baba's father's servents and was a servent to Baba in the same way that Hassan was brough up as a servent to Amir.
  • Suffered from polio as a child Ali has one withered leg and walks with a profound limp. This makes him an object of fun for the neighbourhood children who are happy to tease and bully him. As with Hassan he also carried the stigma of being a Hazara. We are told that 'of all the neighbourhood boys who tortured Ali, Assef was by far the most relentless' (p.34). It is, to some extent, the fact of who his father is that leads to Hassan being a target of Assef and his friends.
  • Hassan is not his son but Ali does not seem upset by this and treats Hassan with all the love and respect that we can imagine he would have given his biological son. This shows a man who is kind and compassionate as well as loyal. This last aspect is emphasised when Ali and Hassan have to leave Baba's house as Ali obviously knows what Amir has done and what he failed to do but does not reveal these things to Baba. Hassan has sworn him to secrecy and even though revealing all to Baba would allow them to stay, and would give Ali a way to get back at Baba for his affair with Sanaubar, Ali keeps his promise to Hassan and says nothing. This shows that Ali, although mostly in the background of the story, is a man of strong character, and much more of an equal to Baba then Amir is to Hassan.
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Rahim Khan

  • Baba's friend and business colleague.
  • Constant presence in Amir's childhood. 
  • Sensitive and patient in comparison to Baba - powerful and sometimes dismissive. Provides a balance for Baba.
  • He acts as a surrogate parent for Amir, providing the support, guidance and understanding that he fails to get from his father, and can't get from his mother because of her ansence. He is a positive influence on Amir and gives him the foundations for his later success.
  • Rahim Khan reappears later in the novel but this time as a figure of redemption. Having been such a strong presence in Amir's childhood, he is one of the few people who could cause him to come back to Afghanistan and force him to face his childhood fears and mistakes. Having guided Amir through his childhood, he now acts as a guide into adulthood and maturity.
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Soraya

  • Amir's wife and the daughter of the Afghan general.
  • Amir describes her in a sense of vivid images which reflect his feelings for her. From his first impressions of 'the way her luminous eyes had fleetingly held mine' (p.24), to the moments of their wedding when 'A blush, red like henna, bloomed on her cheeks' (p.149) to the way, upon his return to the USA, he 'smelled apples in her hair' (p.312), Amir reserves his most colourful and poetic imagery for his descriptions of his wife.
  • She is similar to Amir's mother mother in that she is a teacher but like Amir she has her own guilty past which lays a burden on her (Chapter 12). Unlike Amir she is able to give up her burden and move on with her life. As such she acts as a reflection of Amir's inability to do these things.
  • The implication in the text is that the infertility that Soraya and Amir suffer from is Soraya's rather than Amir's, especially as Amir tells us that he passes his firtility test 'with flying colours' (p.161). However, it would seem, in metaphorical terms, that the infertility results from Amir's failure to fully grow up and to move away from his childhood. It is only at the end of the story that he appears to earn the gift of a child. This part of the story reflects the history of Ali, Baba and Hassan. Just as Ali was unable to father a child and was given Hassan by Baba, so Amir and Soraya are given Sohrab coutesy of Hassan.
  • Her name connects the story back to a more hopeful and peaceful time in Afghanistan's history - Soraya was the wife of King Khan - reforming King of Afghanistan.
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Assef

  • Amir's childhood bully and a high-ranking member of the Taliban in Afghanistan later. Both these roles of him show how the treatment of the Afghan people by the Taliban is really a form of bullying itself but on a larger and more comprehensively violent scale. However, the fact that he wears Western-style sunglasses (John Lennon - Chapter 13) and has a sexual preference for children indicates that he does not hold to the strict moral and relgious code that the Taliban espouse and that he is simply using them as a cover to follow his own twisted agenda.
  • Amir describes him as a 'sociopath' which means that he has no regard to the concequences. By placing Assef at the centre of the most violent and disturbing parts of the novel - bullying, ****, mass murder, execution, etc. - we see how the problems in Afghanistan over the tme period covered by the novel are also a result of the persuasive violation of rights and laws by and against many different groups. One group being particularly victimised is the Hazaras and Assef's relationships with both Ali and Hassan are representitive of this.
  • Assef's professed love of Hitler is also a significant element of his character. This tells us immediately about his extreme views and instability and provides a short-hand way of understanding his intentions and beliefs.
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Sohrab

  • Continues a dynasty of discarded children, starting with Ali who was made an orphan at an early age, moving down through Hassan who was both illegitimate and abandoned by his mother, and finally Sohrab who is also orphaned. These characters are representitive of their ethnic group, the Hazaras, who could be said to be orphaned and abandoned by the Afghan state. If this methaphor is continued, however, then the rescueof Sohrab by Amir, an ethnic Pashtun, suggests a potentially positive future for the reminaing Hazaras, with a reconciliation and drawing back into the mainstream.
  • Sohrab is a substitute for Hassan in Amir's eyes. By saving him from the orphanage he is finally able to make up for not saving Hassan from the **** in the ally. The boy himself does not, however, have the same resigned attitude as his father and, when passed, takes a stand against further brutality by attemption to take his own life. This in large part can be seen as the result of the more traumatic upbringing he has had, with constant violence in Kabul, the death of his parents and the abuse at the hands of the Taliban.
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Sofia and Sanaubar

  • Both absent mothers of Amir and Hassan.
  • Sofia - a teacher at university died whilst giving birth to Amir. As such she is absent in his life but present through his love of books, reading and writing. Because of her untimely death she becomes a symbol for both Amir and Baba of things that are good and pure. When Amir later meets a beggar in the devastated Kabul who knew his mother, this is a sign that a memory of goodness can prevail even through the hardest of times.
  • Amir also carries guilt over the death of his mother, believing that the distance he feels between himself and his father is due to Baba blaming him for her death. It is not stated in the novel, but it would seem reasonable that when he finds out the cause of his distance between them is, in fact, the illegitimacy of Hassan, Amir would be able to reconcile this aspect of his guilt.
  • Sanaubar - depreciated in very earthy terms as a **** and sexually active woman who Amir describes as a 'beautiful but notoriously unscrupulous woman who lived up to her dishonourable reutation' (p.7). Unlike her counterpart, she did not die, but instead deserted Hassan shortly after his birth. Again, this in part can be explained by her unfaithfulness to Ali with Baba. Many years later she returns and we see from Hassan's reaction that he has felt great resentment at her betrayal. However, true to his character, he forgives her and she is welcomed back into the family, becoming a beloved grandmother to Sohrab.
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Comments

Dla2lag

A thorough exploration of some key themes that will prove very useful during revision for the exam. You can identify the way the themes fit into the narrative blocks and find your own references from the text.

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