In The Kite Runner, redemption is so important because sin is so enduring. Amir opens the story by telling us not about how exactly he sinned, but about sin's endurance: "... It's wrong what they say about the past, I've learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out." Hosseini uses structure to emphasize the themes of sin and redemption. Because Amir tells the story in retrospect, every memory, even the blissful ones of his childhood before the rape, are tainted with it. If the timeline of the novel was strictly chronological, we would not have the power of hindsight. Hosseini uses the first chapter almost like a thesis for the novel. As Amir retells the story of his life, he weighs each event against his sin, his betrayal of Hassan. As we learn towards the novel's end, Amir is not the only character who needs redemption, Assef notwithstanding. Until reveals Baba's secret, Amir thinks he is the only sinner among his family and friends. Even before Amir betrays him, Hassan makes him feel guilty simply by being such a righteous person. Amir is constantly trying to measure up to Baba, because he does not realize that Baba is so hard on him because of his guilt over his own sin.
In Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, discrimination is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. On the one hand, the Taliban do not seem to care whom they are beating, torturing, or executing. Children like Sohrab and grandmothers like are all susceptible to the Taliban's cruelty. In this way, the Talibs discriminate against everyone but themselves. As Amir notices, forces Sohrab to dance to music for his enjoyment dancing and listening to music have long been banned. Amir thinks, "I guessed music wasn't sinful as long as it played to Taliban ears." On another level, the Taliban discriminate specifically against the Hazara people. They massacre the Hazaras not only in Mazar-i-Sharif, but in the region of Hazarajat and nearly anywhere else they can find them. Assef and his fellows do not see the Hazaras' lives as worthwhile; they barely see them as human. Assef tells Amir, "Afghanistan is like a beautiful mansion littered with garbage, and someone has to take out the garbage." Like his idol, Hitler, he feels entitled to killing those he deems unworthy of living in his land. He even relishes the term "ethnic cleansing" because it goes so well with his garbage metaphor. Hosseini has mentioned in interviews that his focus on discrimination in The Kite Runner angers some Afghans, who feel it is inappropriate. Like Baba, many people do not mention the Hazaras' history of persecution. Perhaps these people are so uncomfortable with this topic because by having Assef appear in pre-Taliban times and emerge as a leading Talib, Hosseini shows that the Taliban's persecution of the Hazaras and other Shiites is not new, but a greatly intensified outgrowth of long-held discrimination.
Amir's life in America does involve suffering, especially regarding Baba's death. But Baba's death is peaceful. Because America is a haven from violence, the violence under the Taliban in Kabul is even more shocking and sobering. Amir gets a taste of violence when he and Baba are fleeing for Pakistan and Kamal's father commits suicide. However, nothing can prepare him for the extent of violence and suffering in Afghanistann. One of the most graphic accounts is of the stonings at Ghazi Stadium. Like the rapes of Hassan and Sohrab, the event symbolizes the devastation of Afghanistan as a whole, as Afghans once knew it. Anothr very violent event is Amir's fight with Assef. At the time, Amir's pain makes him feel happy and "healed"; it is as though by suffering, he is repaying Hassan for all the violence he suffered on Amir's behalf. Amir's split lip, though minor compared to his other injuries, is most significant because it represents this feeling of closeness to Hassan. Yet we learn that violence is not the answer to Amir's problems, nor does he understand just how deep its consequences run. When young Sohrab tries to kill himself, Amir sees that his nearly fatal injuries were nothing compared to the pain Sohrab and other Afghans have suffered. Ultimately, he finds out that the only way to heal the violence done to Hassan and Sohrab is to forgive himself.
Even though Hosseini has stated that he wanted to remind people of a peaceful Afghanistan, he also does the service of revealing the suffering the nation has experienced in a quarter century of conflict. Violence pervades the novel, even in the seemingly innocuous activity of kite fighting. Not only is kite fighting violent because it is a kind of battle, but boys injure their hands when they participate. This fact suggests that Afghanistan has become a place where joy cannot exist separately from pain; Afghans' memories of their homeland are tainted with suffering. The entire novel centers around a single act of violence, Hassan's rape, and the sin Amir commits by pretending that violence did not occur. Symbolically, Hassan's rape is echoed by Sohrab's rape decades later and by Afghanistan's continual rape by war and terrorism.
The Kite Runner is a novel by Khaled Hosseini. The Kite Runner study guide contains a biography of Khaled Hosseini, 100 quiz questions, a list of major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
The Kite Runner essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.
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The Kite Runner tackles the issue of ethnic discrimination in Afghanistan with an example of the relationship between Pashtuns and Hazaras. Baba's father sets an example for him of being kind to Hazara people, even though they are historically demeaned and persecuted. He could have easily sent to an orphanage after his parents' death, but chose to raise him in his household. Baba does the same with Hassan, although this is complicated by the fact that Hassan is actually his son. Even in Baba's house, the house of best intentions, the class barrier between the Pashtuns and Hazaras endures. Ali is as dear to Baba as a brother; he calls him "family." But Ali still lives in a hut and sleeps on a mattress on the floor. He tends the garden, cooks, and cleans up after Baba, and raises Hassan to do the same. So strong is Hassan's identity as a servant that even as an adult, when Baba is gone, he has no sense of entitlement. He insists on staying in the hut and doing housework. When Hassan dies defending Baba's house, he does so not because he feels it belongs to him, but because he is being loyal to Baba and Amir.
The activity of kite fighting is violent by nature. The kites battle and so too do the children flying them. The string, which is covered in ground glass, carves deep gashes into the fliers' hands as they try to cut each other down, and once kites fall out of the sky, the kite runners retrieve them with the same furious determination as, say, a hunting dog does a slain bird. In its violence, kite fighting represents the conflicts that rage Afghanistan nearly throughout the course of the novel. When Hosseini paints us a picture of hundreds of kites trying haphazardly and with great determination to cut each other down, he shows us also the warring factions of Afghanistan overthrowing one another. At the same time kite fighting is violent, the mere act of kite flying is innocent and speaks of freedom. Amir and Hassan do not have control over the differences between them; in fact, they are both the victims of a lie, and their relationship would have been different had they known they were brothers. Yet despite their differences and the symbolism of their respective kite-fighting roles, flying kites is an activity that brings the boys together. For a moment, they are part of a team. For many years, Amir feels as though he and Hassan are adversaries for Baba's love. After the rape, Hassan's very existence infuriates Amir because it reminds him of his cowardice. Despite all this, when the boys fly kites together, they are on the same team. They are more like brothers then than perhaps any other time, because the activity is somewhat mutual. It allows them to momentarily escape their differences and enjoy a shared sense of exhilaration and freedom. The cover of The Kite Runner shows a kite flying very high over Kabul. This image can be seen to represent Amir and Hassan's shared sense of freedom, one that takes them away from life's realities until the kite is grounded again.
One can tell kites are central to the novel just by reading its title, "." On a plot level, the grand kite tournament of 1975 sets a circle of betrayal and redemption into motion, around which the story revolves. After gets raped while running his kite, cannot separate kite fighting and running from his own betrayal and cowardice. Therefore, even after all of his injuries and trials on 's behalf, it is the act of kite running that finally makes him feel redeemed. Beyond their significance to the plot, kites have multiple layers of symbolism in the story. One of these layers involves the class difference between Amir and Hassan, which largely dictates and limits their relationship. In kite fighting, one boy controls the kite while the other assists by feeding the string. Just as Hassan makes Amir's breakfast, folds his clothes, and cleans his room, so does he cater to Amir in kite tournaments. Even though Hassan shares in the excitement of kite fighting, he does not actually have control over the kite. Hassan may help the kite "lift-and-dive," but Amir is the one who claims a victory. Hassan may catch a cherished rival kite and hold it in his arms, but always to bring it back to Amir, to whom it then belongs. His joy is vicarious, just like his experience of wealth and privilege while living in 's household. In order to free himself of selfishness and cowardice, Amir must go from being merely a kite fighter-someone who seeks glory-to a kite runner, someone who genuinely does things for others.
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