I left a few things ambiguous because I wanted to drive the book clubs crazy. A lot of my childhood friends had a very hard time. Some of our cousins died. One died in a fuel truck trying to escape Afghanistan [an incident that Hosseini fictionalizes in The Kite Runner ]. Talk about guilt. He was one of the kids I grew up with flying kites. His father was shot. Riverhead Books published The Kite Runner , ordering an initial printing of 50, copies in hardback. Amir, a well-to-do Pashtun boy, and Hassan, a Hazara who is the son of Ali, Amir's father's servant, spend their days kite fighting in the hitherto peaceful city of Kabul.
Hassan is a successful "kite runner" for Amir; he knows where the kite will land without watching it. Both boys are motherless: Amir's mother died in childbirth, while Hassan's mother, Sanaubar, simply abandoned him and Ali. Amir's father, a wealthy merchant Amir affectionately refers to as Baba, loves both boys. He makes a point of buying Hassan exactly the same things as Amir, to Amir's annoyance. He even pays to have Hassan's cleft lip surgically corrected. On the other hand, Baba jan is often critical of Amir, considering him weak and lacking in courage, even threatening to physically punish him when he complains about Hassan.
Amir finds a kinder fatherly figure in Rahim Khan, Baba's closest friend, who understands him and supports his interest in writing, whereas Baba considers that interest to be worthy only of females. In a rare moment when Amir is sitting on Baba jan's lap rather than being shooed away as a bother he asks why his father drinks alcohol which is forbidden by Islam. Baba jan tells him that the Mullahs are hypocrites and the only real sin is theft which takes many forms.
Assef, an older boy with a sadistic taste for violence, mocks Amir for socializing with a Hazara, which according to him, is an inferior race whose members belong only in Hazarajat. Assef is himself only half Pashtun, having a German mother and a typical blond haired blue eyed German appearance. One day, he prepares to attack Amir with brass knuckles , but Hassan defends Amir, threatening to shoot out Assef's eye with his slingshot. Assef backs off but swears to take revenge one day.
One triumphant day, Amir wins the local kite fighting tournament and finally earns Baba's praise. Hassan runs for the last cut kite, a great trophy, saying to Amir, "For you, a thousand times over. Hassan refuses to give up the kite, and Assef severely beats him and rapes him. Amir witnesses the act but is too scared to intervene.
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He knows that if he fails to bring home the kite, Baba would be less proud of him. He feels incredibly guilty but knows his cowardice would destroy any hopes for Baba's affections, so he keeps quiet about the incident. Afterwards, Amir keeps distant from Hassan; his feelings of guilt prevent him from interacting with the boy.
Hassan's mental and physical well-being begin to deteriorate. Amir begins to believe that life would be easier if Hassan were not around, so he plants a watch and some money under Hassan's mattress in hopes that Baba will make him leave; Hassan falsely confesses when confronted by Baba. Although Baba believes "there is no act more wretched than stealing", he forgives him.
Amir is freed of the daily reminder of his cowardice and betrayal, but he still lives in their shadow. In , five years later, the Soviet Union militarily intervened in Afghanistan. Baba and Amir escape to Peshawar , Pakistan , and then to Fremont, California , where they settle in a run-down apartment. Baba begins work at a gas station. After graduating from high school, Amir takes classes at San Jose State University to develop his writing skills.
There, Amir meets fellow refugee Soraya Taheri and her family. Baba is diagnosed with terminal cancer but is still capable of granting Amir one last favor: he asks Soraya's father's permission for Amir to marry her. He agrees and the two marry. Shortly thereafter Baba dies. Amir and Soraya settle down in a happy marriage, but to their sorrow, they learn that they cannot have children. Amir embarks on a successful career as a novelist. Fifteen years after his wedding, Amir receives a call from his father's best friend and his childhood father figure Rahim Khan.
Khan, who is dying, asks Amir to visit him in Peshawar. He enigmatically tells Amir, "There is a way to be good again. Ali was killed by a land mine. Hassan and his wife were killed after Hassan refused to allow the Taliban to confiscate Baba and Amir's house in Kabul. Rahim Khan further reveals that Ali was sterile and was not Hassan's biological father. Hassan was actually Baba and Ali's wife, Sanaubar's, son and Amir's half brother. Finally, Khan tells Amir that the reason he has called Amir to Pakistan is to ask him to rescue Hassan's son, Sohrab, from an orphanage in Kabul.
Amir, searches for Sohrab, accompanied by Farid, an Afghan taxi driver, and veteran of the war with the Soviets. They learn that a Taliban official comes to the orphanage often, brings cash, and usually takes a girl away with him.
Occasionally he chooses a boy, recently Sohrab. The orphanage director tells Amir how to find the official, and Farid secures an appointment at his home by claiming to have "personal business" with him. Amir meets the Taliban leader, who reveals himself as Assef. Sohrab is being kept at Assef's house as a dancer. Assef agrees to relinquish him if Amir can beat him in a fight. Assef then badly beats Amir, breaking several bones, until Sohrab uses a slingshot to fire a brass ball into Assef's left eye.
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Sohrab helps Amir out of the house, where he passes out and wakes up in a hospital. Amir tells Sohrab of his plans to take him back to America and possibly adopt him. However, American authorities demand evidence of Sohrab's orphan status. Amir tells Sohrab that he may have to go back to the orphanage for a little while as they encounter a problem in the adoption process, and Sohrab, terrified about returning to the orphanage, attempts suicide. Amir eventually manages to take him back to the United States. After his adoption, Sohrab refuses to interact with Amir or Soraya until Amir reminisces about Hassan and kites and shows off some of Hassan's tricks.
In the end, Sohrab only gives a lopsided smile, but Amir takes it with all his heart as he runs the kite for Sohrab, saying, "For you, a thousand times over. Because its themes of friendship, betrayal, guilt, redemption and the uneasy love between fathers and sons are universal, and nand gender gaps to resonate with readers of varying backgrounds.
Khaled Hosseini identifies a number of themes that appear in The Kite Runner , but reviewers have focused on guilt and redemption. Even after leaving the country, moving to America, marrying, and becoming a successful writer, he is unable to forget the incident.
Hassan is "the all-sacrificing Christ-figure, the one who, even in death, calls Amir to redemption". Amir's motivation for the childhood betrayal is rooted in his insecurities regarding his relationship with his father. Both [ The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns ] are multigenerational, and so the relationship between parent and child, with all of its manifest complexities and contradictions, is a prominent theme.
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I did not intend this, but I am keenly interested, it appears, in the way parents and children love, disappoint, and in the end honor each other. In one way, the two novels are corollaries: The Kite Runner was a father-son story, and A Thousand Splendid Suns can be seen as a mother-daughter story. When adapting The Kite Runner for the theatre, Director Eric Rose stated that he was drawn into the narrative by the "themes of betraying your best friend for the love of your father", which he compared to Shakespearean literature.
In the first two years following its publication, over 70, hardback copies of The Kite Runner were sold along with 1,, paperback copies. Critically, the book was well-received, albeit controversial. Erika Milvy from Salon praised it as "beautifully written, startling and heart wrenching". Much of it based in a world we don't know, a world we're barely beginning to know.
Well-written, published at the 'right time' by an author who is both charming and thoughtful in his personal appearances for the book. It's about human beings. It's about redemption, and redemption is a powerful theme. Hosseini's depiction of pre-revolutionary Afghanistan is rich in warmth and humor but also tense with the friction between the nation's different ethnic groups. Amir's father, or Baba, personifies all that is reckless, courageous and arrogant in his dominant Pashtun tribe The novel's canvas turns dark when Hosseini describes the suffering of his country under the tyranny of the Taliban, whom Amir encounters when he finally returns home, hoping to help Hassan and his family.
The final third of the book is full of haunting images: a man, desperate to feed his children, trying to sell his artificial leg in the market; an adulterous couple stoned to death in a stadium during the halftime of a football match; a rouged young boy forced into prostitution, dancing the sort of steps once performed by an organ grinder's monkey. Meghan O'Rouke, Slate Magazine ' s culture critic and advisory editor, ultimately found The Kite Runner mediocre, writing, "This is a novel simultaneously striving to deliver a large-scale informative portrait and to stage a small-scale redemptive drama, but its therapeutic allegory of recovery can only undermine its realist ambitions.
People experience their lives against the backdrop of their culture, and while Hosseini wisely steers clear of merely exoticizing Afghanistan as a monolithically foreign place, he does so much work to make his novel emotionally accessible to the American reader that there is almost no room, in the end, for us to consider for long what might differentiate Afghans and Americans.
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