The Kite Runner

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Key Issues

Key Issues: 

  • Protagonist starts as child - Amir tells his story as a way of redeeming himself
  • Amir can be seen as an unreliable narrator as his view can be skewed/biased by personal feelings considering that he is an intradiegetic narrator 
  • Novel should be read considering this - reader needs to attempt to decipher reality of events 
  • Unreliable narrator is common in postmodernism 
  • Graphic descriptions of treatment of Afghani citizens at the hands of the Taliban is explored - also the changes in Afghanistan and life as an immigrant in America 
  • Racial discrimination is explored - (Pashtun > Hazaras) 
  • Relationships with parents explored 
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General Comments

  • "Shame is a soul eating emotion" - Jung
  • 24 chapters spanning nearly 30 years
  • Nostalgia - significant element of the narrative, childhood 
  • Quest for redemption - "there is a way to be good again" 
  • "Frigid overcast day" - pathetic fallacy clearly evident 
  • Inclusion of main character's names in the first chapter/second 
  • Disapproving father and theme of absent mothers 
  • Amir's love for his father derives from his awe at what he achieves? when he feels he is strong enough he sees himself as his father fighting the black bear?
  • Baba almost seen as a mythical man he is that brilliant - fighting bears and building an orphanage
  • Power of reading 
  • Use of stories within stories - Amir's analepsis is the frame narrative of the present sjuzhet 
  • Amir and Hassan as opposites working together - Hassan is "so goddamn pure" 
  •  Chapter 7 - Pivotal point - **** scene 
  • Pomegranates - symbol of friendship. Once was there and natural and fruitful, but after the **** Amir tears them and lashes them at Hassan. Hassan thrusts the final pomegranates into his own face - showing the blind acceptance Amir noticed in the ****
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General Comments (cont.)

  • Mental strenght reflected in physical - car sickness that Amir suffers with makes Baba disgusted in him 
  • "Someplace with no ghosts, no memories, and no sins" - Amir wants to free himself of all of the bottled up guilt he has suffered with
  • Rahim Khan provides Amir with a chance to start over 
  • "Amir agha, my deepest respects" - we finally see Hassan's real voice and emotion - not just retold through Amir 
  • Amir feels comfort in knowing Baba kept a secret from him, as it makes him appear less perfect, a less ideal being - "Baba and I were more alike than I'd ever known" 
  • "I was learning that Baba had been a theft" - such a key moment for Amir - as the man he had admired as so much wanted to be like was a hypocrite and liar 
  • "Chinese doll face of my childhood" - reliving events that Hassan suffered under 
  • Sohrab going to the Mosque for comfort shows that he does not associate the Taliban with his religion, but as a separate organisation
  • "You will never again refer to him as "Hazara boy" in my presence" - Amir finally taking a stance verbally too - now confident after what had happened - but too late? 
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  • FATHERS AND SONS - Bad relationship between Baba and Amir - Amir feels he understands Baba better once he is dead and he knows the truth. Hassan and Ali had a more idealistic father and son relationship that Amir was envious of, even though they were not father and son biologically. Similarly, Amir is taking on Sohrab without being closely biologically related to him (nephew) - he can still provide the same love, yet it will be not be as strong as the bond he had with Hassan. Sohrab craves to go back to life with Hassan, similarly earlier Baba craved to be able to love Hassan openly 
  • REDEMPTION - Typical, well-known moral of this text. "Way to be good again", yet not just with Amir. Baba - Built the orphanage to try and give something back, releasing frustration of not being able to be a father to Hassan 
  • METAFICTIONAL - Inclusion of a narrator and protagonist who is also an author - can be viewed as metafiction 
  • RELIGION - Tensions between the Hazaras and the Pashtuns, Shi'a and the Sunni 
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  • Story told through the eyes of an adult - looking back on events (more unreliable, yet more sophistocated) 
  • Intradiegetic narration 
  • Built on a basis of frame narration told in an analepsis 
  • Amir has the benefit of hindsight when telling most of his story - foreshadowing and picking up on subtle minute details that will link to what will inevitably happen 
  • Fairly consistent narrative 
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Chapter 1 - Summary


  • Story begins in medias res (in the middle) with Amir (the narrator) receiving a phone call from a friend of the past - Rahim Khan - explaining there is a "way to be good again" - but he needs to go to Pakistan 
  • Amir goes to his local park and watches kites being flown 
  • Remembers his childhood friend Hassan - a kite runner with a cleft lip - remembers an event in an alley which he is vague about (narrator withholding/divulging information
  • Amir states how this event moulded him as a person 
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Chapter 2 - Summary


  • Amir looks back to childhood - recalls friend Hassan - family servant (Hazara) 
  • Amir remembers how he and Hassan would get into trouble with Baba (Amir's father) and Hassan would take the blame 
  • Amir's mother died giving birth to him - Hassan's mother left her husband after giving birth to Hassan (THEME - ABSENT MOTHERS) 
  • Hassan's father Ali suffered from polio
  • Hazaras persecuted by his own people the Pashtuns 
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Chapter 3 - Summary


  • Amir remembers his childhood regarding his father 
  • Baba was disappointed by his lack of manly attributes - yet Amir still loved him dearly and craved his approval heavily 
  • Baba was greatly amired by the community - had a unique ability to achieve more than what was expectd - he was successful, married a beautiful woman and built an orphanage 
  • Amir recalls becoming interested in literature and writing - utilised this as a form of escapism 
  • Amir believes Baba hates him due to his mother's death in childbirth 
  • Amir overhears Baba talking to Rahim Khan about how much more manly Hassan is than him - he cannot believe Amir is his son. Leads to Amir becoming jealous and resentful of Hassan 
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Summary - Chapter 4


  • Ali - Hassan's father was an orphan brought up by Baba's father - they grew up together yet Amir does not recall hearing Baba ever refer to him as a friend 
  • Hassan acted as Amir's servant - despite this they spent time together as friends - reading stories (Amir as Hassan was illiterate) - their favourite story was 'Rostam and Sohrab' 
  • Hassan praises a story Amir invented - sparks interest in writing 
  • Baba does not wish to read Amir's first story - but Rahim Khan does and praises it for it's irony - yet when Hassan points out a hole in the plot Amir becomes angry and more scornful 
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Chapter 5 - Summary


  • Amir and Hassan's conversation is interrupted by a loud roaring noise of gunfire - sounds of a coup which overthrows the king of Afghanistan 
  • Amir + Hassan go to their tree to distract themselves - On the way they are attacked by three bullies - one being Assef, who questions Amir about having Hassan as a friend
  • Hassan raises his slingshot at Assef - Assef promises revenge 
  • Life returns to normal after the coup - Baba arranges for Hassan's cleft lip to be corrected as a birthday present - Amir is jealous he doesn't have a deformity that Baba can fix. 
  • Amir notes this is the summer Hassan stopped smiling 
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Chapter 6 - Summary


  • Winter - the schools close - kite-fighting tournament
  • Amir asks for a new kite - Baba buys it for him - however buys one for Hassan too - Amir becomes more jealous
  • When a kite's string has been cut boys run to catch it - defeated kites are trophies, Hassan is a particularly gifted kite runner
  • Amir tests Hassan's loyalty asking him if he would eat dirt if he asks - he says he would but in return challenges Amir if he would ask him to do such a thing 
  • The 195 tournament is in Amir's neighbourhood - Amir wants to make Baba proud
  • Night before boys play cards and Amir suspects Hassan is letting him win 
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Chapter 7 - Summary


  • Hassan dreams that he and Amir are swimming in a lake with a monster 
  • Amir wins kite fighting tournament 
  • Assef rapes Hassan 
  • Amir does nothing - he runs 
  • Amir takes kite from Hassan - and checks it for rips 
  • Amir gets the admiration he always craved from his father - but at what expense 
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Chapter 8 - Summary


  • Amir feels guilty - Hassan retreats to his bed
  • Ali asks about what happened - Amir says he doesn't know about it
  • Baba takes Amir to Jalalabad for the weekend - Amir becomes car sick - which is embarrassing for Baba 
  • Amir returns, Hassan tries to patch up the relationship - Amir rejects him - treatment towards Hassan becomes more cruel 
  • Amir has a birthday party, Assef brings him a biography of Hitler as a present 
  • Rahim Khan tells Amir of a story about a girl he wanted to marry as an example of how Amir should not look at Hassan as a Hazara but as a friend - he gives him a notebook 
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Chapter 9 - Summary


  • Amir's birthday - Hassan and Ali give him a new copy of the book Amir used to read to Hassan
  • Amir plants a watch he received under Hassan's mattress, then goes to his father and accuses Hassan of stealing it 
  • Hassan admits the theft  - Amir is shocked and realises Hassan knows he saw the attack in the alley 
  • Baba forgives Hassan - but Ali decides they both have to leave -- Baba pleads with them - Amir sees something new in his father 
  • Amir watches them leave - it is raining. Imagines a scene where he runs after them and all would be forgiven - but he does not do so 
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Chapter 10 - Summary


  • 1981 - Amir and Baba escaping from Russian-controlled Afghanistan - they stop so Amir can be sick - he remembers all what he has had to abandon 
  • They are stopped at a roadblock and Baba stands up to a Russian soldier - Baba is nearly shot - but the solider is reined in by commander 
  • Arrive in Jalalabad - the truck is broken, they stay in the basement of a house with other refugees
  • They finally make the last part of the journey - one of the bullies Kamal - dies on the journey and his father kills himself 
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Chapter 11 - Summary


  • 1980s - Amir and Baba now living in California - Baba likes the strength of America but dislikes the pollution and lack of fresh foods - makes him ill
  • Baba refuses to learn English or adapt - but can still demand respect from ex-pat Afghans 
  • Amir graduates - studies English + creative writing - father wants him to study something that will lead to a 'proper job' Amir actually stands his ground
  • Baba and Amir buy and sell at a market - Amir falls in love with a girl named Soraya 
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Chapter 12 - Summary


  • Amir falls in love with Soraya 
  • Amir's attentions are welcomed by the girl's mother - but warned off by the father 
  • Baba falls ill with lung cancer - refuses to accept treatment - forbids Amir to tell anyone 
  • Baba collapses at market - Amir asks him to approach Soraya's family for her hand in marriage 
  • Soraya reveals to Amir that she ran away from home with a man when younger - Amir wishes he could tell his own secret but is unable to do so 
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Chapter 13 - Summary


  • Amir engaged to Soraya - cut short because of Baba's health. Amir thinks about Rahim Khan and Hassan 
  • Soraya moves in with Amir to look after Baba - one day Amir discovers she had been sharing stories with Baba - moves Amir to tears
  • Month after the wedding Baba dies - funeral reminds Amir of his father's stature in Kabul - how much he relies on his father's strength 
  • Amir returns to learn that Soraya's father suffers from migraines - her mother suffered a stroke - she worries about her health 
  • Amir secures place at college - first novel published 
  • Amir and Soraya cannot have children 
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Chapter 14 - Summary


  • Story returns to June 2001 - Amir receives phone call from Rahim Khan - he is sick - GOES BACK TO FIRST CHAPTER 
  • "There is a way to be good again" 
  • Amir and Soraya rarely speak of being childless - but clearly a problem in their marriage 
  • Soraya asks for her parents to stay with her while Amir is away - Amir leaves for Pakistan 
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Chapter 15 - Summary


  • Amir arrives in Pakistan - meets a very ill Rahim Khan 
  • Rahim Khan recounts to Amir the terrible changes in Afghanistan - Taliban regime. Goes on to say that he is dying an wants Amir to perform final favour for him. 
  • Amir finds out about Hassan who lived in Baba's old house  with Rahim Khan after Baba had left 
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Chapter 16 - Summary


  • Rahim Khan - relates the story of what happened to him since Amir seen him 
  • Unable to maintain Baba's house - needed help from Ali + Hassan 
  • Travels to a village where he finds Hassan - Ali was killed by a landmine 
  • Rahim Khan asks Hassan + wife Farzana to live with him - Hassan refuses but agrees after hearing of Baba's death 
  • Farzana gives birth to still born, but then gives birth to Sohrab 
  • Sanaubar returns to house - dies when Sohrab is 4 
  • Hassan tries to give his son a normal life - but becomes difficult in 1996 when the Taliban take over the country 
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Chapter 17 - Summary


  • Amir asks if Hassan is still living there - Rahim Khan shows a photograph of Hassan and Sohrab - and a letter from Hassan saying he would like to see Amir again 
  • However - revealed Hassan + wife were murdered by Taliban a month after the letter was written - Sohrab now in an orphanage in Kabul 
  • Rahim Kham asks Amir to go to Kabul and find Sohrab - also tells him Baba was Hassan's real father - therefore half-brothers. Amir is angry knowing this and storms out 
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Chapter 18 - Summary


  • Amir considers news and realises it explains Baba's affection for the boy
  • Considers the possibility that if he had not betrayed Hassan Ali and he would be alive in the USA with him 
  • Amir realises now he has no choice but to go to Kabul and rescue his nephew 
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Chapter 19 - Summary


  • Amir returns to Taliban-held Afghanistan to rescue Sohrab - suffers car sickness again 
  • Amir feels out of place in Afghanistan - Farid (driver) accuses Amir of always having been a visitor in his own country 
  • Farid takes Amir to stay w/ his brother Wahid. Wahid asks why - explains about Sohrab 
  • Wahid says he is proud to have Amir stay in his house - gives him all the food his family have to eat - Farid is ashamed of earlier accusations 
  • Farid agrees to help Amir - before they leave Amir hides a handful of money under his mattress to help repay the family for kindness 
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Chapter 20 - Summary


  • Amir is shocked by the state of Afghanistan - Kabul severely damaged by war
  • Taliban patrol the streets - Amir ia advised not to look at them 
  • Meet a beggar - former university professor - beggar gives directs to orphanage 
  • Amir arrives - after argument - discovers Sohrab has been sold by director to a prominent member of the Taliban - only way the man can fund the care of the other children
  • Direct tells them they will find man at the football match
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Chapter 21 - Summary


  • Amir returns to old neighbourhood - largely undamaged - taken over by new leaders.
  • Amir climbs hill to old cemetery discoevers the pomegranate tree has died - however inscription he had carved on had remained 
  • Amir and Farid check into a hotel and Amir finds that htings like the food and humour are still unchanged - however still prejudice about Shi'a 
  • Amir + Farid watch a man in sunglasses stone two people to death at the football match - Farid makes arrangements for Amir to meet the man (bought Sohrab) 
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Chapter 22 - Summary


  • Amir - wearing a fake beard, goes to a large house to meet the man - as he passes men with rifles he wonders if he will survive 
  • Man appears covered in blood from the stoning and removes Amir's disguise - taunts him with references to the stoning and massacre 
  • Man accuses Amir of treason for leaving Afghanistan - then sends for Sohrab to dance 
  • Man shows he knows Amir's identity and reveals himself as Assef - asks why Amir wants the boy - Amir refuses to answer
  • Assef gives Sohrab to Amir but tells him the price he must pay is to finish their childhood fight 
  • Assef fights with Amir, hurts him badly - Amir is saved by Sohrab who - like Hassan - uses a slingshot and incapacitates Assef - Amir and the boy escape to Farid 
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Chapter 23 - Summary


  • Amir is in hospital after beating, suffered severe injuries - has a dream which his father wrestles a black bear before turning into Amir 
  • Rahim Khan gone away to die in peace - leaves letter forgiving Amir - explains Baba was hard on Amir because he couldn't openly show his love for Hassan 
  • Farid searches, but discoveres no sign of adoptive partents Rahim Khan promised for Sohrab 
  • Amir decides to take Sohrab with him while he thinks of what to do 
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Chapter 24 - Summary


  • Sohrab - goes missing, but Amir finds him near the Mosque
  • Talk about Hassan, Sohrab tells Amir the Taliban men 'did things' to him which he is ashamed of - Amir invites Sohrab to live in the USA with him 
  • Amir explains to Sohrab he is his uncle but Sohrab is scared that Amir might place him in another orphanage and Amir promises this won't happen
  • Amir calls Soraya who is happy for him to rbing Sohrab home - Amir discoveres that the process of adoption is very difficult and admits to Sohrab that he may have to go into an orphanage for the time being 
  • Soraya tells Amir to bring the boy home and complete the paperwork in the USA - AMir goes to tell Sohrab but is shocked by what he finds 
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Chapter 25 - Summary


  • Sohrab attempted suicide in the bath - Amir attempts to pray for him and Hassan 
  • Boy survives but is uncommunicative afterwards 
  • When Amir reads to him Sohrab wishes for hi old life or for death 
  • Amir takes Sohrab to USA - but boy's depression doesn't end 
  • Soraya's parents meet Sohrab her dad makes a discriminatory remark of "Hazara boy" - Amir challenges the racism and reveals Sohrab's heritage 
  • Months pass, 9/11 occurs. Amir and Soraya become involved in projects to end war in their homeland 
  • Novel ends in the park, Sohrab helps Amir to fly a kite in a kite fight. Finally rekindles the boy's spirit - Amir adopts the role of the runner 
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