The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini Chapter 18 and 19 Summary and Analysis

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini Menu
CHAPTER 18 Summary

Amir wanders the streets of Peshawar, disoriented and feeling foolish, for having been so blind. Now, as he thinks back, he can see that all the signs were there: Baba having Hassan’s harelip repaired, never missing Hassan’s birthday, telling Amir that Hassan wasn’t going anywhere and that he was family; and the fact that Baba had wept when Ali and Hassan had left. Amir is also angry that Baba had lied to him all those years and he remembers that Baba had told him that the only sin was theft. Now all he can think is that Baba stole his right to know that he had a brother. Then, it occurs to him that he and Baba were more alike than he ever knew: they had both betrayed the people who would have given their lives for them. He is also tormented by the thought that if he hadn’t driven Ali and Hassan out of his home, things might have turned out differently. He can’t use the excuse that he has a wife and a home, because his actions may have denied Hassan his own family. He comes to the conclusion that he can end the cycle of lies, betrayals, and secrets by bringing Sohrab home. It is time for him to do his own fighting and so he returns to Rahim and tells him he will go to Afghanistan.

Notes

This chapter is a journey though the mind of man who is finding the strength he has never shown before in order to finally be good again. Amir must go to Afghanistan, not only for the sake of Sohrab, but also because he will never be able to live with the man he would become, if he didn’t.

CHAPTER 19 Summary

In the car to Afghanistan, Amir suffers again from carsickness. Farid, his driver, shows him nothing but animosity as if he thinks carsickness is the sign of a weak man. Amir accepts his offer of a lemon slice to cure the sickness, but it doesn’t help. Rahim had introduced Amir to Farid, who had fought in the war against the Russians, and had seen his father and two daughters die because of them. The deaths of the children had made him move his family to Peshawar. The other preparations that Amir has made besides hiring Farid to drive him are money and clothing: the clothing being a traditional Afghani garment and pakol on his head as well as an artificial beard. As he looks out the window at the poverty of his country, he says he feels like a tourist in his own country. Farid responds by saying that a boy who grew up rich and spoiled like Amir had always been a tourist in his country. The real Afghanistan is the poverty that he sees now.

Farid takes Amir to the home of his brother in Jalalabad and Amir sees that Farid is not as unapproachable and snide as he had seemed. He jokes with his family and shows affection to both the adults and the children there. When Farid’s brother finds out Amir is writer, he tells Amir that he should write stories about what the Taliban is doing to their country. Amir tells Wahid, Farid’s brother, about his mission to find the son of his half-brother and Wahid responds to this news by telling Amir he is an honorable man and a true Afghan. It makes Amir cringe inside. He then sees Wahid’s children staring at his watch and gives it to the youngest son. Later, Farid apologizes for assuming Amir had come to Afghanistan to sell land and make money.

That night, Amir dreams of Hassan’s execution and when he sees the face of the man in the herringbone vest and a rifle in his hands, the face is his. He shoots his own brother while the brother mutters, “A thousand times over.” He awakens with a scream in his throat and has to step outside. There he comes to some realizations about the Afghanistan he never knew and how it is a land he had never forgotten. Inside, he overhears the voices of Wahid and his wife as they argue about the food that had been given to Amir, leaving nothing for the children. Now he knows that the children were not staring at his wristwatch; they were staring at his food. Just before he leaves, when no one is looking, Amir plants a fistful of money under a mattress, just as he had done twenty-six years before in his father’s house.

Notes

Amir learns many things about himself by riding with Farid and staying at the home of Wahid: he grew up spoiled and never really knew the truth about how Afghanis lived; he is not the honorable man he appears to be; and an Afghan will honor his guest even if it means he and his family will go hungry. Amir benefits from this traditional gesture.

By placing the money under the mattress this time, Amir is on his way to atoning for his sins against Hassan. This time the money is placed there for the good of the hungry children and not to make Hassan look like a thief.