The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini Symbolism / Motifs / Imagery / Symbols

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini Menu
SYMBOLISM / MOTIFS / IMAGERY / SYMBOLS

Other elements that are present in this novel are symbols and metaphors. Symbols are the use of some unrelated idea to represent something else. Metaphors are direct comparisons made between characters and ideas. There are many symbols and metaphors used by the author such as:

1.) The fact that two boys feed at the same breast is symbolic for brotherhood.

2.) The stories about Rostan and Sohrab in the Shahnamah symbolize the goodness and heroic qualities of Hassan and the characteristics to which Amir aspires.

3.) The kite flying symbolizes a time when the two boys – Amir and Hassan – are not separated by class or by secrets. It is a time when they are as one, working together to win the contest.

4.) The suicide of Kamal’s father after he finds his son dead is symbolic of the dying of the old life in Afghanistan and facing an uncertain future.

5.) Amir’s decision to go to Afghanistan is symbolic of his long journey to find redemption.

6.) Amir had placed his birthday money under Hassan’s mattress to make him look like a thief. This is symbolic of his guilt from all he had done to Hassan. When he places the money under the mattress in Wahid’s house to help a poor family, the money becomes symbolic for atonement.

7.) Afghanistan under the Taliban is a dragon’s lair.

8.) The slingshot is symbolic for good conquering evil.

9.) The fact that Sohrab hits Assef in his eye and blinds him is symbolic. Assef has been blind emotionally to basic human compassion and now he is blind in reality. It reinforces the Old Testament adage of “an eye for eye.” It balances what is unbalanced in their universe.

10.) The dream Amir has of wrestling the bear like his father is symbolic of his mortal battle with Assef. He has become the man his father was. This will be further emphasized in Rahim’s final note when he tells Amir that his father was a tortured soul, too. So, Amir is more like his father than he ever believed.

11.) It is also symbolic that Assef cut Amir’s lip in half so it looked like he had a harelip. He is Hassan at this point, suffering at the hand of the man who had tormented them both all through their boyhood.

12.) The pomegranate tree symbolizes the healthiness of the relationship between Amir and Hassan. It was the place where they experienced some of their happiest times together, especially reading from the Shahnamah. It was young and healthy, and produced succulent fruit before the rape occurred. After the rape, Amir could not stand to go to the tree until he wanted to provoke Hassan into beating him up as a way of atoning for his sin of betraying him. He invites Hassan there and when the Hazara boy fails to rise to the challenge, he just continues to pelt him with the red fruit until Hassan is coated in what looks like blood. This is not only symbolic of Amir’s fears that he contributed to Hassan’s death, but it also foreshadows that death. When Hassan smashes the fruit on his forehead and asks Amir if he is satisfied now, it symbolizes Hassan as the willing sacrifical lamb that he had always been when it came to Amir.

Then, when Amir returned to Afghanistan to find Sohrab, he had Farid drive him to his old home and he went up the hill to the pomegranate tree. When Amir finds it again, it is dying and is no longer producing fruit. This would symbolize that the old days are gone and that the friendship he destroyed between him and Hassan can never be rejuvenated. However, the fact that the tree no longer produces the “blood” of the fruit might be interpreted to symbolize that Amir, by coming back to get Sohrab, has finally stopped the bloodletting he started when he betrayed his friend.