The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini Key Facts

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini Menu
KEY FACTS


Title

The Kite Runner

Author

Khaled Hosseini

Date Published

2003

Meaning of the Title

It refers first to Hassan who runs down the kite cut by Amir in the tournament. It also refers to Amir who must make up for betraying his friend by taking on the task of bringing Hassan’s son out of Afghanistan. In the final analysis, it is a symbol of the loyalty and devotion one shows to the friend he loves.

Setting

Kabul, Afghanistan and Fremont, California from 1975 to the present day. A minor setting includes Pakistan.

Protagonist

Amir, the narrator of the story, who details his sins against his childhood friend and half-brother, Hassan, as well as how he finally atones for those sins.

Antagonist

One antagonist is Assef, the bully who rapes Hassan and later becomes a Talib and uses his position to torture and kill people in the name of the government. The greatest antagonist, however, is Amir who fights against his own cowardice in order to bring honor to Hassan, the friend he betrayed, but never forgot.

Mood

At times, the mood is tragic, filled with despair, and very sad; at other times, it is uplifting and hopeful; finally, it is a triumphant commentary on the human spirit.

Point of View

First person (Amir is telling the reader the story of the events between him and Hassan in Afghanistan of the 1970’s to the present day.)

Tense

This story is written in the past tense since Amir tells it in flashback.

Rising Action

It occurs from the beginning of the novel when Amir begins the story about his relationship with Hassan and ends when he finally fulfills a sort of revenge against the bully who had tormented him and Hassan their whole lives – Assef.

Exposition

Amir tells about the unique relationship he has with Hassan, a Hazara boy who is the victim of discrimination, but ironically is the half-brother of Amir, a Pashtun. Amir is overwhelmed with guilt when he allows Hassan to be beaten and raped on the day Amir wins the kite flying tournament. He also lies to have Hassan accused of theft, so he will leave their home and Amir can try to forget his guilt.

Eventually, Amir and his father flee Afghanistan after the Russians invade and Amir takes his tragic memories to America to start a new life. Unfortunately, his debt to Hassan must be paid and he returns to his country to find Hassan’s orphaned son and rescue him. There, he discovers that Sohrab, Hassan’s son, has become the sexual plaything of Assef, the bully who had tormented both Amir and Hassan when they were young. Ultimately, Amir must defeat Assef in a raging physical battle, take the damaged Sohrab out of Afghanistan, and try to help him repair his spirit.

Climax

Amir meets Assef, now a Talib, in hand-to-hand combat and Sohrab, like his father before him, saves Amir with his slingshot.

Outcome

Amir recovers from his terrible beating and they get out of Afghanistan and flee to Pakistan. There he tries to find a way to take Sohrab to the United States. However, he runs into many bureaucratic walls and snafus. He is finally told that if he places Sohrab into an orphanage temporarily, he might have an easier time obtaining the necessary paperwork. Sohrab tries to commit suicide at this news and even though he is saved and they find a way to get him to America, he retreats from any trust in Amir or anyone else. It is only when they participate in a kite flying contest in America that Sohrab comes out of his silence and begins to heal. It is also the moment when Amir makes his final atonement for the sins he committed against Hassan, Sohrab’s father.

Major Themes

Strength of Character; Man’s Inhumanity to Man; The Resiliency of the Human Spirit; The Fragile Relationship Between Father and Son; Loyalty and Devotion; Discrimination, Bigotry, and Racism

Symbols/Motifs

Slingshot, The Taliban, Hassan’s father’s suicide, the pomegranate tree, feeding from the same breast.

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