The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is the debut novel written in English by an Afghan writer. The setting of the novel differs from chapter to chapter because it deals with five different periods of time: Afghanistan in late 1970s, Soviet occupation, Afghan community in Fremont, California from the 1980s to the early 2000s, and Afghanistan during the Taliban regime. This unforgettable and breathtaking novel is about the power of literature, the price of betrayal and dishonesty, and the possibility of redemption and mercy. Major themes explored in the novel are loyalty, devotion, forgiveness, friendship, redemption, sacrifice, class, fear and others.
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In my paper I would like to discuss the relationship between two antagonists of the novel: Amir and Hassan, which is the underlying force of the novel. Briefly I would like to explain the motives that Amir was guided by when refusing to be Hassan’s true friend and when testing his loyalty. To begin with I find it necessary to introduce Amir and Hassan. Amir is a wealthy boy from a good family, he is a Pashtun, he enjoys his life and is willing to become a writer. Hassan is the victim of constant discrimination because he is a Hazara, a minority whom the Pashtuns, the wealthy upper class, treat like slaves.
The relationship between two boys is rather difficult and many-sided. From one side, it can be seen that Amir loves Hassan in his own way. Hassan is the person he spent his childhood with and the person who had always been there for him. In fact, Hassan is actually Amir’s half-brother, but he is a servant, because no one but Baba, Amir’s father and Ali, Hassan’s father knows the truth. Still even though loving Hassan, Amir was ashamed to be his friend because he feels that it was beneath his place to have a Hazara boy for his best friend. He was a Pathan, the ruler and Hassan was a Hazara, the ruled. It took Amir many years to reconcile for how terribly he treated the loyalty and love that Hassan always offered no matter how bad of a treatment he was getting from Amir.
Even though the way Amir feels about Hassan is ambiguous they spent most of their time together. One of their most cherished times was when Amir read stories to Hassan under a pomegranate tree. As I have already mentioned, Amir had a love for literature, however that was something his father was not satisfied with. Baba was a pillar of strength, courage, and manliness for Amir. He was a true Pathan in his masculine spirit and bearing, he was as well a man of great heart, from whom none returned empty-handed. So, following his principles, Baba wanted Amir to be manlier, he was against Amir’s passion for writing and wanted him to be more engaged in male activities.
Trying to accomplish his goals Baba put Amir on a soccer team and tried to teach him to defend himself, but his attempts failed. Amir often felt he possessed neither his father’s generosity of spirit nor his courage. Amir loved his father greatly and not meeting his expectations was a heartbreak for him. He became increasingly insecure and developed hatred toward Hassan, whom Baba seemed to love more. That was the first time when Amir realized Hassan could not be his true friend, and after that everything Hassan would do just made Amir unreasonably mad.
However, even seeing Amir’s loathing Hassan did not stop being a good and loyal friend for him and continued to save him from the teasing boys of the neighborhood. Still Amir could not accept Hassan because he was jealous of his father’s deep affection for Hassan, which he was deprived of. Not knowing what do with his feeling of hate and anger, Amir often tested Hassan’s loyalty for him. He asked Hassan for ridiculous things, which he, in his turn, performed willingly. Being insecure and self-conscious Amir enjoyed the little power he had over Hassan. Still somewhere deep inside it was clear for him that Hassan was fulfilling all of the absurd tasks not out of fear but out of love. That was the way the boys spent their childhood till the day came that doomed Amir into repentance and nightmares.
The fatal event happened after the kite fighting game, the game in which children attempt to cut down each other’s kite strings. Amir set himself on winning because for him it was the last chance to show his father that he was worth of something – and he won. Hassan was his partner in the game and at the end of the game ran to get the flying kite. Hassan was gone for a long time and having grown impatient Amir went to search for him. He found Hassan in a deserted alley surrounded by Asef, the cruel leader of the local hooligan gang. From standing behind the tree Amir saw how viciously Hassan was beaten by the hooligans and then raped by Asef. Amir witnessed it all breathlessly, being disgusted by his cowardice to step in for a friend.
After that occurrence Amir could not look at Hassan’s eyes any more. The weight of his guilt of cowardice was too heavy for him to bear, plus he was sure that if the situation had happened vice versa Hassan would have definitely stood up for him. Being in full despair and not knowing what to do, Amir accused Hassan and his father of thievery and they had to leave the house they spent years at. After this the story takes its normal course, Amir and his father escape to the USA, however through all his life Amir is tortured by the feeling of shame and remorse. The damage he had done in childhood caused irreversible scars that could not be made to disappear. Conversely, at the end of the book Amir reconciled with conscience, he went back to Afghanistan and saved Hassan’s son from the Taliban regime.
Both emotionally fascinating and well timely and topically written, The Kite Runner is an unusual, rather unexpected and powerful debut. The narration is written in the old-fashioned style, however its subject — the overwhelming history of Afghanistan – is contemporary indeed. The Kite Runner is a novel to be read, translated, discussed, and enjoyed by anyone who wants to change his life, correct the mistakes and reconcile with the past. This book gives us all strong hope that even though reconciliation never comes easy there is always a hope for it.—————————————————————————–
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