Literacy in The Kite Runner

774 million adults around the world are illiterate. In many places, people are not provided the opportunity to get education. In Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Amir is lucky enough to learn how to read and write, while many people in his country, including his servant, are illiterate. The power of literacy and the written word in the book is shown through Amir’s power of education against Hassan, Amir’s love of poetry and books from a young age, and the influence of Amir’s stories in his relationships.

Amir uses the power of literacy against Hassan multiple times throughout the book. Hassan is his servant and best friend, and Hassan is incredibly loyal to Amir and does everything that Amir says. “What use did a servant have for the written word?” (15). It is a known fact that Hazaras are illiterate, and will always be illiterate. Hassan would be illiterate just like his father, and like every other Hazara in Afghanistan. Amir uses the fact that Hassan hasn’t had the opportunities like him to get a proper education and learn how to read. When the two of them were young, Amir would read to Hassan under the pomegranate tree. “My favorite part of reading to Hassan was when we came across a big word that Hassan didn’t know” (15). Amir used his advantage of literacy against Hassan, and exposed Hassan’s ignorance. “I’ll use it in a sentence for you. When it comes to words, Hassan is an imbecile” (15). Hassan, not knowing anything but loyalty to Amir, believes him. When Hassan grows up, he learns to read and write, and writes a letter to Amir. He makes a promise to himself that he will not let his son grow up illiterate like he had.

Amir develops a love for books from a young age. His mother was a poet and kept many books in her house. Amir discovers these books and reads everything that he can. During the game of Sherjangi or “Battle of the Poems,” Amir would win every round and be able to recite a verse from a poem by heart. “One time, I took on the whole class and won” (10). After reading all of his mother’s books, Amir started going to the bookstore and getting as many new books as he could get his hands on. “I bought one a week from the bookstore near Cinema Park, and stored them in cardboard boxes when I ran out of shelf room” (11). His father, however, disapproves of this. “Real men didn’t read poetry – and god forbid that they ever write it!” (11). Although Baba married a poet, having only one son who wasn’t manly and liked to read was not what he wanted from a son.

Amir’s stories influence his relationships with other people. One of the most important examples of this is his relationship with Rahim Khan, his father’s business partner. While his father disapproves of his writing and reading, Rahim Khan is Amir’s biggest fan. When Amir started writing stories, Amir tried to give one of his stories to his father to read. His father didn’t show any interest in his son’s passion, and Rahim Khan was the one to save the day. “May I have it, Amir jan? I would very much like to read it” (17). Since then, Amir’s writing was a big part of his relationship with Rahim Khan. For Amir’s birthday, Rahim Khan gave him a leather bound notebook for his stories. Rahim Khan understood Amir’s passion for the written word, and for this reason Rahim Khan was the father that Amir wished he could have had. Another relationship that is influenced heavily by Amir’s love for stories is his relationship with Soraya. The first time that Amir talks to Soraya, they talk about books. He asks what she is reading, a bold question to ask a woman in the middle of an Afghan market. She shows him the title of the book, and they continue to talk about books and Amir’s writing. This marks the beginning of their relationship, and within a few weeks, Amir brings her one of his stories. But, to the horror of both Soraya and Amir, General Taheri, Soraya’s father, is standing right behind Amir (82). How Soraya and Amir’s relationship stems from books and writing is important to what their relationship becomes. Soraya is very supportive of Amir’s books. When Amir sent his first manuscript to book agencies, “Soraya kissed the carefully wrapped manuscript” (100). Books bring the two of them together, and are an important part of their relationship.

During the course of this novel, literacy and the written word proves to be a huge factor in Amir’s life, including how he uses it against Hassan, how his love for it came to be, and how it affected his relationships. Firstly, Amir uses his education against Hassan’s lack of it, even though Hassan is supportive of Amir’s writing. Secondly, Amir fell in love with literature from a young age, with the help of his mother’s books and the opportunity for education. Finally, Amir’s passion for literature affects his relationships with many people in his life, but most importantly with Rahim Khan and his wife, Soraya.

Which Character Is Most Responsible for Determining the Character of Amir?

An individual’s personality is quite often determined by the actions and remarks of another person. One can become timid because another person has caused one hurt or worry. One can become brave because another person has made one fight for position or pride. No matter what the case, these actions help to create the identity of the person that reflects on the actions. In the novel The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Amir’s character continuously changes, as the novel progresses, from a coward to a hero, from a heavy feeling of guilt to the weightless feeling of redemption. Throughout the novel, Rahim Khan is most responsible for determining Amir’s personality by being a father-like figure and mentor, by acting as a conscience when Amir moved away and by guiding Amir away from his guilt and back to his true character.

The character of Amir was greatly influenced by Rahim Khan as a father-like figure in Amir’s life. Because Baba, Amir’s father, always wanted a perfect son who was big and strong, Baba was always criticizing Amir and he wished Amir would be more like himself. Rahim Khan, Baba’s long time business partner and friend, always felt compassion for Amir, but knew that Amir was never going to live up to his father’s expectations in a physical sense. When Baba would neglect Amir, Rahim Khan would be there for Amir to talk to and Amir described him as “Baba’s quiet alter ego, my writing mentor, my pal” (Hosseini 104). Amir always had a strong passion for writing and when Baba rejected Amir’s ideas and stories that he had written, again, Rahim Khan was the person that Amir could go to for advice, help and wisdom. As a gift for Amir’s birthday, Rahim Khan encouraged Amir’s writing talent by giving him a notebook that Amir described very vividly as, “A brown leather-bound notebook, I traced my fingers along the gold-colored stitching on the borders. I smelled the leather. ‘For your stories’, he said” (106). The gift of the notebook from Rahim Khan to Amir symbolizes the confidence and optimism that Rahim Khan had in Amir, not only in writing but also in living up to his father’s expectations. Even though Baba disapproved of Amir’s passion for story writing, Rahim Khan constantly reassured him that Amir was going to grow up and impress him, especially when he said, “‘You just need to let him find his way'” (24). In addition to seeing Rahim Khan as a mentor, Amir referred to Rahim Khan as “the first grown up I ever thought of as a friend” (201), which portrays him as not only a person of great knowledge but also someone that Amir trusted tremendously. As a mentor to Amir, Rahim Khan helped shape Amir’s personality.

Rahim Khan influenced Amir’s personality not only as a mentor, but also as a model of Amir’s conscience. After the primary story changing event of Hassan’s rape, Amir felt a great deal of guilt because he felt he could have prevented the rape and saved Hassan from extreme humiliation and torture. Although Rahim Khan was not present for the incident, he could tell that something was not right with Amir, something was slightly off. Rahim Khan could tell that Amir was feeling down-in-the-dumps and he comforted Amir when he was upset. Amir’s guilt stayed with him until one day, after he and Baba moved to the United States of America for safety, when Rahim Khan called Amir and said, “Come. There is a way to be good again” (202). As the thought of Hassan hung in his head, that was the moment that Amir caught sight that Rahim Khan knew what happened that terrible day back in Afghanistan. It wasn’t until the moment Amir saw Rahim Khan in person that he knew for sure Rahim Khan knew the cause of that long, lingering guilt that lie in Amir’s heart. Amir says, “And again, something in his bottomless black eyes hinted at an unspoken secret between us. Except now I knew he knew” (202), when describing his first meeting with Rahim Khan after many years of being apart. Rahim Khan acts as Amir’s conscience by knowing what the right thing to do was, Amir was solely in charge of choosing the right act. From the moment of the rape, Rahim Khan strived to help Amir redeem himself and when the opportunity arose, he called Amir immediately to help with one last act of wisdom. Amir characterizes Rahim Khan as “one of the most instinctive people I’d ever met” (208) and from this description, Amir realized that Rahim Khan knew all along, he was trying to help him over come his guilt and redeem himself. As a conscience, Rahim Khan affects Amir’s personality by guiding him towards the right choice and the road to redemption.

As well as a father-like figure and conscience to Amir in his life, Rahim Khan also acted as a guide or teacher to Amir, specifically guiding Amir away from his lifelong feeling of remorse and towards a satisfying feeling of redemption. Rahim Khan steered Amir towards a path of goodness by inviting him back to Afghanistan to save Hassan’s son, Sohrab, and to redeem himself for both his own sake and the sake of Sohrab. In Rahim Khan’s letter to Amir, he writes, “A man who has no conscience, no goodness, does not suffer. I hope your suffering comes to an end with this journey to Afghanistan” (315). By this, Rahim Khan means that without the feeling of guilt that is contained inside of Amir, he will return to happiness and he will overcome this guilt by rescuing the son of the Hazara boy, who he initially betrayed and internally wounded. Before Amir returned to Afghanistan, the feeling of guilt was tucked away in his heart, behind this mysterious new feeling of love he found for his wife, Soraya. But as soon as he saw Rahim Khan, who began sharing stories of Hassan the past few years, “those thorny old barbs of guilt bore into me once more, as if speaking his name had broken a spell, set them free to torment me anew” (212), and as difficult as they were to avoid, the feelings came rushing back to his mind with an undesirable easiness. Once again, Amir felt all the original emotions of trauma, fear and then guilt that engulfed his head the moment of the rape. Rahim Khan led Amir away from his past and towards a new, better version of himself through the rescue of Sohrab. Rahim Khan knew that Amir would overcome the guilt and in the end, one reason Amir conquered his guilt was because of the words from Rahim Khan’s letter, “Forgive your father if you can. Forgive me if you wish. But, most important, forgive yourself” (316) and “that, I believe, is what true redemption is, Amir jan, when guilt leads to good” (316). Amir finally realized the reason Rahim Khan had been helping him and guiding him back to a guilt free life by saving Sohrab, to redeem himself. Rahim Khan helped to mold Amir’s character as a young boy and helped remold Amir’s personality after Hassan’s rape by guiding him away from his regret filled past and towards truly redeeming himself.

The personality of Amir is most determined by Rahim Khan and his actions as a mentor and father-like figure, as a conscience for Amir after Hassan’s rape and as a teacher, guiding Amir to overcome the great emotion of guilt and be a better person in The Kite Runner. As a character, Amir evolved from a selfish, young boy to a responsible, righteous man, as the story progressed. Rahim Khan influenced Amir the most to be good again and to find ways to redeem himself. It was, evidently, Rahim Khan who most inspired Amir to get rid of his guilt, to pursue his writing career and ultimately shaped Amir’s final personality.

Work Cited

Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. Los Angeles : Riverhead Books, 2003. Print.

Assef: Why Is He the Way He Is?

In the novel The Kite Runner, author Khaled Hosseini focuses on many critical parts of life. The main character, Amir, struggles to find redemption throughout the story, and finally finds it when he rescues Sohrab, his half-brother Hassan’s son, from the man who also tormented Hassan in childhood. That man, Assef, is the primary external antagonist of the novel. In the beginning of the novel, he rapes Hassan because Hassan is a Hazara and refuses to betray Amir by giving Assef the kite that Amir won. When Amir returns to Afghanistan after years of living in America, in order to rescue Sohrab, he finds that Assef has joined the Taliban. Amir also learns that Assef is the man who took Sohrab and has abused him. In contrast to Amir, who constantly strives for a redemption which he feels is unattainable, Assef never feels that he needs to be redeemed. With everything that Assef did in the novel, how can he not feel guilty and not be actively seeking redemption?

Merriam-Webster defines a sociopath as “someone who behaves in a dangerous or violent way towards other people and does not feel guilty about such behavior.” Over the course of the novel we, as readers, are given plenty of evidence that Assef is clearly a sociopath. It could be argued that because he believes that he is doing the cruel things that he does in the name of his religion, he should not be considered a sociopath. However, for the majority of what he does, he simply uses religion as a front, so it seems only to his twisted mind that he is right. The first time we see Assef do something truly cruel is when he rapes Hassan for not giving him the kite. One of his friends, Wali, says “‘I don’t know…My father says it’s sinful’” (Hosseini). His religion clearly doesn’t condone this action, so that is not a valid explanation for his actions or lack of guilt.

Later, when Amir returns to Afghanistan, his first reintroduction to Assef is the sight of Assef stoning a man and woman who committed adultery. The majority crowd was appalled, but could do nothing to stop it, if they themselves wished to remain unharmed. This scene clearly has a religious overtone, with the cleric quoting the Koran and explaining to the masses why the couple needed to be punished. It is interesting, though, that rather than listening to the cleric speak and treating the event as a religious ceremony, Assef remains in the truck until the cleric finishes speaking. He only gets out of the truck to actually be the one who gets to throw the stones, and clearly delights in the act of killing the couple.

As westerners growing up in the time of the war on terrorism, we have almost been trained to associate Assef’s cruelty and lack of empathy solely with the fact that Assef is a terrorist. We have been raised on the concept that “terrorists must be crazy, or suicidal, or psychopaths without moral feelings or feelings for others” (McCauley). Many studies, however, have discovered that this is not actually the case. In fact, “thirty years of research has found psychopathology and personality disorder no more likely among terrorists than among non-terrorists” (McCauley). This isn’t to say that Assef doesn’t have any psychological disorders, but rather that they are not directly linked to him being in the Taliban.

While Assef being in the Taliban doesn’t directly correlate to why he is a sociopath, this factor may still help us to assess how he became to be one. In his article “Understanding the Sociopath: Cause, Motivation, Relationship,” Seth Meyers tries to understand and explore the mind of of sociopath. Mainly what the article emphasizes is that we really haven’t discovered very much about what sociopathy is, except a lack of empathy and morals and an overabundance of rage (Meyers). An experiment conducted in 2010 by Christopher J. Ferguson shows that around 56% of Antisocial Personality Disorder (the medical terminology for sociopathy) diagnoses are related to genetic influences (Meyers). Since there is no clear way of knowing whether Assef inherited his sociopathy, or whether it was brought about by external circumstances, it is impossible to determine why Assef is a sociopath. However, we can still apply this information to discover why Assef joined the Taliban.

In 2003, an Algerian illegally living in London named Rachid wrote an article entitled “Inside the Mind of a Terrorist” for the Guardian. He explores what leads people to terrorism, and provides a first-hand account of what it is like to live under terrorist rule. He explains that terrorists are essentially the equivalent of gangsters (Rachid). They wear the most expensive designer brands, and receive their nicknames and “street cred” based on things such as “the speed at which he could kill policemen and then run away” (Rachid). The key to people becoming terrorists is not only people like Osama bin Laden recruiting people and calling them to arms, but also an underlying anger at being suppressed and abused for believing in a religion (Rachid). When all of these factors are considered, it is easy to see why a sociopath such as Assef would want to be a part of this group. Sociopaths have an “astonishing” sense of entitlement fueled by rage and resentment (Meyers). In a terrorist group this mentality is easily exploited, and is even considered an outstanding trait. While terrorist groups are not directly linked to psychological disorders, they are the perfect place for sociopaths indulge themselves, in the name of their religion, without risk of consequences.

There is no doubt that Assef is a sociopath or that he exploits his role in the Taliban to indulge his worst tendencies. While the terrorist groups are not breeding grounds for mental disorders, they are still definitely sanctuaries for those who veil their disorders with a front of religion. Assef never has to strive for redemption because his sociopathy allows him to detach himself and feel above redemption, while Amir, who is still connected to his emotions, has to ceaselessly strive for redemption because of his overwhelming empathy for others.

Works Cited

Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. New York: Riverhead Books, 2003. Print.McCauley, Clark. “Clark McCauley: The Psychology of Terrorism.” After 9/11. Social Science Research Council, n.d. Web. 11 May 2014. .Meyers, Seth . “Understanding the Sociopath: Cause, Motivation, Relationship.” . Psychology Today, 2 Apr. 2013. Web. 24 May 2014. .Rachid. “Inside the Mind of a Terrorist.” The Observer. Guardian News and Media, 9 Mar. 2003. Web. 11 May 2014. .

Redemption in Kahled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner

From the wealthiest neighborhood in Kabul to the poverty of San Francisco, Khaled Hosseini creates a story of redemption which transcends cultures and time in The Kite Runner. Hosseini uses the dynamics of father-son relationships to express a theme of atonement, using a web of tragedy to bring his readers the assurance that there is always “a way to be good again” (92).Hosseini begins the novel through a image which synopizes Amir’s relationship with his father: sitting outside his father’s study solemnly soaking in second-hand affections as his father jokes and laughs with his business partners. Amir’s desperate need for his father’s approval is the driving force behind his actions as a child. He grows to resent both himself and his closest companion Hassan, a Hazara boy that works as a servant in Amir’s home. Amir’s father withholds love only to bestow graciously on Hassan. In response to his father’s great act of charity towards Hassan, Amir admits his feeling of resentment. As Hassan is told Amir’s father is financing a cosmetic surgery as a birthday gift to Hassan, Amir admits: “I wished I too had some kind of scar that would beget Baba’s sympathy. It wasn’t fair. Hassan hadn’t done anything to earn Baba’s affections; he’d just been born with that stupid harelip” (41). Amir’s angry confession foreshadows the depths that father-son relationships takes on in Hosseini’s story of redemption.Amir’s need for approval from his father is so great that it is ultimately his downfall. Amir triumphantly recalls after winning a kite flying competition “I saw Baba on our roof. He was standing on the edge, pumping both of his fists. Hollering and clapping. That right there was the single greatest moment of my twelve years of life, seeing Baba on that roof, proud of me at last.”. He believes that he has finally earned the love of his father who has kept him at arms length, possibly finding restitution for the death of his mother during childbirth that he felt blamed for.Amir achieves what he has always sought after, but at a price that changes the lives of all those around him. By merely standing by as his most loyal companion sacrifices himself to preserve that fleeting affection, and through his attempts to ease his guilt Amir accumulates sins which for many years seem unatonable. Amir selfishly admits to himself , “Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba.” (77) . Amir is unaware what a great price he has paid for that affection.Baba’s approval is short lived and comes with a sharp sting of guilt. As his father gloats about Amir’s victory, the blue kite which he so proudly displays is a reminder to Amir of his betrayal. Soon the glamour of the kite race victory dulls, and Amir can not face the weight of his sin. Like the blue kite, Amir’s once great friend becomes a reminder of his failures, and in an attempt to purge himself of the guilt Amir lies, manipulating the people around him and sending both Hassan and his father away from their home as the country around them begins to change along with their home.In the face of Afghani revolution Amir’s father flees Afghanistan and the life he has built to ensure the safety of his son. Baba lowers himself from a prominent business man in the most beautiful home in Kabul, to dwelling in fuel tankers and dark, rat infested basements. While Amir believes his father is indifferent to him, this sacrifice shows the care that Baba has for Amir.When Amir and his father reach the safety of San Francisco, Hosseini’s story of redemption takes major turns in culture, as does the structure of Amir and his father’s relationship. America serves as an escape for Amir where he follows his ambitions as a writer and momentarily evades the guilt which overwhelmed him in Afghanistan. While Amir finds comfort in California his father longs for his life in Kabul; Amir reflects on this transition when he shares that, “For me, America was a place to bury my memories. For Baba, a place to mourn his” (129).Through the trials of surviving on the lower crust of American society the relationship between Amir and his father transforms. The tension which ruled their interactions in Afghanistan grows into a respect as Amir grows into a man, shaped by the influences of both America and his home country. At Amir’s graduation from American high school, Baba assures him that, “I am mofakhir, Amir …Proud.”(131).Amir’s yearning for his father’s approval and affection was so encompassing he sacrificed his most loyal friend to fleeting admiration. Then when at last his father expresses his pride in Amir, but criticized his choice in collegial majors, he can not forget the unatoned sins which he attempted to leave in Kabul as he shares, “I did not want to sacrifice for Baba anymore. The last time I had done that, I had damned myself.” (135). Amir finds this place of contentment as his father’s life come to an end.In the absence of his father’s affections, young Amir found a father figure in Baba’s closest friend Rahim Khan. A kind and inspiring man, Kahn supported Amir’s writing as a child, but as he returns to Amir’s life after Baba’s death his motives are not as lighthearted. Kahn, in his final days, meets with Amir and brings to light sins which were left unatoned in the now war-torn Afghanistan.Hosseini opens his novel with Amir’s reflection in Khan’s call, his claim that “there is a way to be good again” (2), and the sins which he has run away from for over a decade. What Amir could not have foretold was the enormity of the sins which he would be held accountable. Khan confronts Amir’s betrayal of Hassan, but along with that furthers the story’s theme of redemption through the father-son relationship. Throughout the novel Amir is reminded that “there was a brotherhood between people who had fed from the same breast, a kinship that not even time could break” (31), Amir had betrayed that brotherhood and Rahim Khan shared with him the depth of that betrayal. Khan tells Amir that “Your father, like you, was a tortured soul, Amir jan.” (301), both Amir and his father carried the wait of unredeemed sins against their closest and most loyal companions. Rahim Khan informs Amir that while he had betrayed and sacrificed Hassan for his own needs, his father also had sins which needed atonement. Hassan was not the son of Baba’s closest friend, but instead the product of Amir’s fathers infidelity with Ali’s wife. Hassan was Amir’s brother.Khan then fulfills his promise of the opportunity for redemption, not only for Amir’s sins but also for those of his father as he shares Hassan’s fate and commissions Amir to redeem himself. Rahim Kahn shares with Amir that Hassan grew into a man and found a wife and even had a child, a boy named Sohrab. The violence and corruption of Afghanistan made victims of Amir’s brother and his wife as they were publicly executed without cause, leaving Sohrab to find refuge in an orphanage. Through this young boy ripped by tragedy, Khan gives Amir a chance to redeem the sins which have held he and his father captive. He commissions Amir to find Sohrab and bring him to safety, out of the war torn slums of Afganistan and atone for his crimes against his own blood by saving this boy, his nephew.Amir’s journey to save Sohrab brings him face to face with the man who had raped Amir’s closest companion and unknown brother. Hosseini creates a rise to redemption as the man who in that alley way twenty years prior claimed that there is “nothing wrong with cowardice as long as it comes with prudence” (275), now stood to fight to the death. Facing the threat which led him to betray his brother, Amir sacrifices himself, being almost killed for the son of his brother whom he once exclaimed was not a friend but a servant (34). Trampled, close to death, but alive Amir sacrifices himself for Sohrab, atoning for the sacrifice Hassan made for him. With the guilt lifted, Amir saves Sohrab as much as Sohrab saves Amir as they flee to find sanctuary for the boy.Although Khan commissions Amir to bring Sohrab to the safety of an orphanage outside Afghanistan, Amir finds that the missionaries that were expected to take in Sohrab were nonexsistant. In his last dying wishes, Khan weaves the fates of Amir and Sohrab. Amir understands that Khan did not plan for Amir’s journey to be his restoration, but that this boy, his nephew and the last part of Hassan, to be his atonement. Amir and his wife, desperate for a child, begin the frustrating and confusing journey of the adoption of a war refuge. Amir reflects saying that “I brought Hassan’s son from Afghanistan to America, lifting him from the certainty of turmoil and dropping him in a turmoil of uncertainty.” (356).In that turmoil of uncertainty Amir and his wife do their best to accommodate and love Sohrab. Introverted and traumatized the novel does not end it a blaze of good triumphantly defeating evil, but instead ends in a note of hope. Amir shares that “I wondered if that was how forgiveness was budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.” (359) as he regards that his guilt has been replaced with a love for Sohrab. Hosseini does not regard atonement or restoration as a spontaneous act. Amir is not freed of the guilt which was built through a web of cowardice and deception through one valiant effort. The Kite Runner uses a intricately woven rug of father-son relationships to bring its characters the relief of guilt which was brought on through that same intricate weaving.

A Journey for Redemption in The Kite Runner

In Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, several major themes arise. One of the most dominant themes is the idea of redemption for past wrongdoings. The protagonist, an Afghani-American named Amir, relays the story of his childhood; through this, one realizes the issues he went through and the events that will come to shape the plot of the novel. Amir seeks redemption for his betrayal of his childhood best friend, Hassan. Because of his cowardice during Hassan’s rape, his betrayal of Hassan after the incident, and his committing of the vilest sin in Afghani culture, Amir must depart on a long and debilitating journey for the ultimate goal of total redemption that will take him back to his violent and war-torn homeland and beyond.As children, Amir and Hassan were inseparable. The two of them “used to climb the poplar trees in the driveway of [Amir’s] father’s house and annoy our neighbors by reflecting sunlight into their homes with a shard of mirror” (Hosseini 3). The two young boys, though they were of different social classes and ethnicities, were able to remain steadfast friends no matter the circumstances presented to them. Amir, a Pashtun, was of a higher class and a different religious sect than Hassan, a Hazara. This did not matter to either of the children. Though Hassan was a servant to Amir’s family, Amir held nothing above Hassan in that respect. The friendship was golden, until one fateful day after a kite fight. Assef, a boy similar to Amir in the fact that he is a Pashtun but drastically different in so many other aspects, finds and chases Hassan in an attempt to steal Amir’s lavish blue kite. Hassan will not give up the kite, and Assef refers to him in terms of a pet: “A loyal Hazara. Loyal as a dog” (72). Assef lunges himself onto Hassan while Amir timidly stands by out of sight, doing nothing to help his companion. Hassan is raped by Assef in an effort to assert his authority. After the rape, Hassan, on the verge of collapsing, walks towards Amir, who acts as though nothing has happened: “Just like I pretended I hadn’t seen the dark stain in the seat of his pants. Or those tiny drops that fell from between his legs and stained the snow black” (78).Amir’s betrayal eventually leads to the appearance of other issues between the two former best friends. Amir cannot seem to control the guilt he feels about Hassan’s rape; he even offers up a chance for Hassan to use physical violence in order to alleviate some of his internal pain: “[Amir] hurled the pomegranate at him. It struck him in the chest, exploded in a spray of red pulp. Hassan’s cry was pregnant with surprise and pain. “Hit me back!” [Amir] snapped” (92). Hassan refuses to harm Amir, which angers Amir even further. Any attempt by Amir to rid himself of the guilt he feels fails miserably. He then decides that the only way to rid himself of these feelings is to get rid of Hassan. He goes as far as to ask his father, “Baba, have you ever thought about getting new servants?” (89). Baba rejects any notion of ridding the family of Hassan or his father, and chastises Amir for suggesting such a preposterous idea. Amir still feels that Hassan must be gotten rid of; he secretly places his own watch and stacks of money under Hassan’s bed to make it look like Hassan stole the items. Amir tells Baba, who confronts Hassan about the watch and money. Hassan, who “never denied [Amir] anything” (2), took the blame for the incident, and he and his father moved out of Baba’s house. Stealing was regarded as the highest crime in Afghani culture. Ironically, though, it was not Hassan that stole something, but Amir: he took away any innocence that Hassan still possessed by framing him for this crime. Redemption still reveals itself in the novel, though. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Baba and Amir are forced to move to America. There, they settle in Fremont, California, among several other Afghani refugee families. Amir assimilates much more successfully than Baba; he goes to college, gets married, and eventually starts a life of his own. Baba eventually passes away, and thus Amir no longer has any ties to his old lifestyle; that is, until he receives a life-altering phone call: “One day last summer, my friend Rahim Khan called from Pakistan. He asked me to come see him. Standing in the kitchen with the receiver to my ear, I knew it wasn’t just Rahim Khan on the line. It was my past of unatoned sins” (1). Amir travels to Pakistan, where he finds out that Hassan and his wife have been murdered, and that their son, Sohrab, has been taken away. Rahim Khan deems the task of getting Sohrab back as Amir’s “way to be good again” (2). Amir discovers Sohrab’s whereabouts, and departs to retrieve him. The only thing standing in his way upon arrival is the indirect cause of all his grief, his childhood rival, Assef. Assef will not give up Sohrab and forces Amir into a fight. Amir is almost beaten to death, but Sohrab, much like his father would have done, protects Amir by shooting Assef’s eye out with a slingshot. In this respect, it appears that the progression of the novel has come full circle, and that the journey for redemption is complete. Though life is far from perfect as Amir and Sohrab return to the United States, a glimmer of hope appears on Sohrab’s face as Amir offers to be his kite runner. Redemption is not easy to achieve, but sometimes the hardest-fought battles reap the greatest reward. Through his struggles to make amends for his past wrongdoings, Amir not only finds redemption for his actions, but gains back a little piece of his innocent, immaculate childhood with Hassan in the form of his nephew, Sohrab.

Social and political protest writing: A Doll’s House and The Kite Runner

In the social and political protest writing Ibsen’s ‘A Doll’s House’ and Hosseini’s ‘The Kite Runner’ the desired impact upon the audience is arguably to reveal to them a truth about society or about a particular situation, to inspire empathy and perhaps to bring a new level of understanding which could sculpt change in society. Both texts had a very specific audience in mind, for Ibsen the rising middle classes, and for Hosseini Western readers who had only seen Afghanistan from afar and it is therefore interesting to explore the different methods employed to convey the desired affect and to ‘win hearts and minds’ over to the author’s and characters’ sides.

Ibsen, as one of the earliest examples of a naturalist playwright utilizes setting and character to target the Norwegian urban middle class audience. The use of the house setting with its comfortable ‘stove lined with porcelain tiles, with a couple of armchairs and a rocking chair’ ‘a what-not with china and other bric-a-brac’ meant that contemporary audiences would’ve been sat in front of a set, on which this controversial action was unraveling, which could’ve easily been a reflection of their own front rooms. Nora too, as they housewife who moved from her father’s house to her husband’s and whose life revolves around the house and children, was a ‘stock type’ character role whose life and circumstances were likely identical to that of many bourgeoisie women in the audience. This deployment of naturalism means that when the dramatic action unfolds, the audience cannot help but make parallels to their own lives and relationships. In particular Nora’s rebellious ending in which she declares ‘It’s your fault I have done nothing with my life.’, thus implicating the whole female audience in this claim and asking them to question whether they are content or proud of their place in life as a married woman and mother. This sort of impact leads to social change because it forces an audience to reflect on their own circumstances, and in this case particularly challenges bourgeoisie couples over how they treat eachother and whether their relationship is being defined by their social roles.

The Kite Runner challenges views and assumptions in a different way, as a second generation post-colonial text, by crafting a new image of the Afghan country and cultural heritage. Throughout the novel Western readers are encouraged to empathize with the plight of Afghanistan through its political characterization as a nation. Through the nostalgic retrospective child’s narrative of the first section of the book we come to know the country, almost as its own character through familiar sensory descriptions such as ‘multicoloured buses’ ‘laughter and chatter’ ‘hot tea steaming from thermoses, and the music of Ahmad Zahir blaring from cassette players.’ This immersive description of the culture creates imagery that juxtaposes both the later transformation of the sensory scape- ‘staccato of gunfire’ ‘I closed my eyes and searched for the sweetness. I didn’t find it.’ ‘A haze of dust’- after the Soviet and Taliban occupations and perhaps the popularized images of war-torn Afghanistan Western audiences would’ve been used to viewing on the news when this book was published. It not only encourages us to view the nation as a victim of war itself through this but also challenges Western perceptions of the region and culture as a whole. To this end it wins the hearts of Westerners, perhaps those with power to make a difference to the plight of Hosseini’s homeland, and encourages protest against potential inaction with Afghanistan’s contemporary situation.

Audiences in A Doll’s House are also privy to a unique perspective on the events and the juxtapositions presented as they follow Nora’s interactions with both Helmer and the play’s other characters such as Mrs Linde and Dr Rank. Nora is presented initially in the play as a foolish and naïve woman who is dependent on her husband who understood far better than she in his social role as a man and a banker, this is conveyed through her affectionate animalization and dehumanization as ‘an expensive pet’ or the possessive ‘my little songbird’. In this presentation she is entirely powerless and typical of a woman in 19th century society. However, during the course of the play, her interactions with the minor characters are used as foils to reveal, only to the audience, her strength, seriousness and capability for rebellion. When she then returns to her interactions with Helmer they are juxtaposed and undermined because they are structurally so close to the exposition of his weaknesses and Nora’s capability and therefore reveal the hollowness of their initial presentations. For example, Nora reveals to Mrs Linde, in well-structured and relatively mature language and tone, such things as how Torvald ‘he got quite jealous’ and ‘he is so proud of being a man’ or how ‘It was I who found the money.’, defying her weak female portrayal. This is then juxtaposed by her immediate interactions with Helmer in which the audience sees Torvald boast an in-control parental role such as ‘When the real crisis comes you will not find me lacking in strength or courage. I am man enough to bear the burden for us both,’ and Nora returns to a self-deprecating animalization and third person ‘Squirrel would do lots of pretty tricks for you’. This manufactures a sense of irony which only the audience perceives and thereby leads them to question the reliability of the social roles they were presented with in the beginning, and furthermore the social roles they themselves enforce in society, as here the man is weak through his obsession with reputation, and the woman has taken on the financial burden. As critic Clement Scott put it- ‘the man becomes the hysterical woman, and the woman becomes the silent, sullen, and determined man.’ Demonstrating to the audience the flimsiness of their assumed gender and social roles and thus discouraging their perpetuation.

In the Hosseini’s writing he has one final battle to pick in terms of Western perspectives. This is found in his presentation of Assef- the novel’s allegory and representation of religious extremism in society. The introduction to Assef draws on the imagery of ‘the blond, blue-eyed Assef’ ‘Born to a German mother and Afghan father’, this imagery along with the semantics of radical ideologies such as ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘watan’ help establish a clear parallel in readers’ minds between Assef and the Islamist extremism he comes to represent and the relatable Western example of Hitler- a reference made explicit through his use of ‘Mein Kampf’ as a present for Amir. This provides a point of reference for Western readers that implies the Taliban and extremists are as representative of Afghan culture as Hitler was of the West and thus forces us to reconsider our assumptions. With Assef type-cast as an almost stage villain in the text, we are inclined to join the side of Air in the Afghans in a desire to stand up to and reject the legitimacy of the modern-day extremists impacting the region. His strong demonization, presented clearly as ‘insane’ ‘a sociopath’, unites characters and audience in a rejection of this aspect of Eastern culture and once again ‘wins over the hearts and mind’ of the Western audience who come to empathise with Assef’s and extremism’s Afghan victims.

Overall then, both texts make a clear link with their intended audience, be it through naturalism and structure, or a style of writing directed at providing a relatable and empathetic perspective. Most of all these writings aim to make their audience question their assumptions, whether that is about a culture or about societal roles. It is this that is conducive change in society because it provokes disgust, guilt or newfound understanding; for Ibsen, in the constructs and condition of society, and for Hosseini in the suffering of his nation and discrimination against Eastern culture.

Afghan Culture and The Kite Runner

Afghanistan translates to “Land of the Afghans” and is a nation with a strong culture, including diverse subcultures and Islamic traditions. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is the story of a young boy, Amir. He lives in an affluent neighborhood in Kabul with his father, Baba. His best friend, Hassan, is their servant. The book follows Amir’s life, showing the problems that arise due to guilt over his turbulent past. The Kite Runner takes place predominantly in Afghanistan, but scenes in America highlight the Afghan-American community. The book explores many aspects of Afghan culture, a strong part of Hosseini’s background, which influences his writing. This includes Arabic dialogue, but also the actual storyline and character development. Afghan culture is the driving force behind the plot and character’s decisions in The Kite Runner. Kite fighting is a characteristic of Afghan culture that affects relationships in the novel. Honor, another centerpiece of Afghan culture, influences the decisions of the book’s characters. Finally, ethnic tensions and discrimination within the Afghan culture against Hazara people cause problems for Hassan and Ali but also Baba’s internal strife over his Hazara son.

Kite fighting is a key cultural element of The Kite Runner that temporarily yet drastically improves the relationship between Amir and his father, Baba. In Kabul, schools close in the winter and the boys fly kites in their spare time. Using strings coated in glass, kites fly high trying to cut each other. The highlight of this cultural tradition is the kite fighting tournament, and the last kite captured is an honorary trophy. Amir seeks to win this tournament in hopes of earning the respect of his father, who views him as overly passive and defenseless. Before the tournament, Baba says in private that Amir “needs someone who understands him, because god knows I don’t. But something about Amir troubles me in a way I can’t express. It’s like… If I hadn’t seen the doctor pull him out of my wife with my own eyes, I’d never believe he was my son” (Hosseini 23). This tense father-son relationship is an ongoing plight of Amir’s, but it sees a temporary yet drastic improvement after Amir wins the tournament. Kite fighting is aggressive, merciless, and the winners gain a triumphant, honorable reputation; thus, this important cultural event helps Amir win Baba’s favor. Amir says that winning the competition was “the single greatest moment of my twelve years of life, seeing Baba on that roof, proud of me at last” (66). The next part of the tournament, running for the kites, is also important. Hassan runs the final blue kite for Amir, which Amir describes as his “key to Baba’s heart” (71). For a brief period of time following Amir’s triumphant win, Baba starts spending more time with Amir. As result of this cultural event, Amir’s relationship with his father has a temporary improvement.

Kite fighting ends up destroying the friendship between Hassan and Amir. Amir asks Hassan to run for the blue kite to keep as a trophy. Hassan smiles as departs, saying, “For you, a thousand times over!” (67). Amir foreshadows that the next time he will ever see “him smile unabashedly like that was twenty six years later, in a faded polaroid photograph” (67). Only a short while later, Amir finds Hassan cornered by Assef and two others, who demand the kite. Hassan stands his ground, but Assef then beats him and rapes him for refusing to give up the kite. Amir watches from an alleyway, debating his options, saying he had “One final opportunity to decide who I was going to be” (77). Amir chooses to run away instead of helping Hassan, a decision that will haunt him for his entire life and sparks a chain of events that completely disrupts all the characters’ way of life. Amir knows the real reason wasn’t fear, admitting, “Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slaughter, to win Baba” (77). This again reverts back to the cultural importance of kite fighting and kite running as honorable, aggressive activities that Amir can use to win Baba’s approval. Winning the tournament was only half the battle, so Amir chose to get his opponent’s kite and winning Baba over rather than saving his best friend from a horrific rape. Amir is unable to live with the guilt, so he loses his friendship with Hassan and ultimately frames Hassan for stealing, forcing Ali, Hassan’s father, and Hassan to leave and never be seen again by Amir. This tension with Hassan, in turn, ruins Amir’s relationship with Baba once again. Kite fighting is an important cultural aspect of the book that Amir uses to win Baba’s favor but ultimately ruins all of his relationships.

The importance of honor in Afghan culture influences the decisions of Amir and Baba. Honor is a fundamental value among Afghans that has transcended generations, including that of the characters in The Kite Runner. Baba shows a devotion to his honor, which comes hand-in-hand with his dignity and public perception. He does this in small ways, such as returning government-issued food stamps once in America, which Amir says “alleviated one of his greatest fears, that an Afghan would see him buying food with charity money” (131). The book clearly shows that Afghan-Americans don’t stray far from their cultural roots, including a sense of honor. Honor plays a much more significant role in the plot; Amir inflicted injury upon Hassan, and subsequently his own livelihood, without the knowledge that Hassan was his half-brother. Baba had to shield the fact that he fathered Hassan because having an extramarital affair is considered dishonorable in Afghan culture, as well as a violation of Islamic principles. Even Baba says theft is the only sin, including stealing a man’s wife, yet he does just that. Years later, Rahim Khan reflects on this by saying “It was a shameful situation. People would talk. All that a man had back then, all that he was, was his honor, his name…” (223). Baba did not want to ruin his family name, nor lose his honored status in Kabul, by admitting he had an affair or illegitimate son.

The importance of honor in Afghan culture is also emphasized in the entire process of Amir courting Soraya, the daughter of General Taheri. Honor manifests particularly in relationships between families. Soraya’s background story involves her running away to be with a man. She believes it is unfair that she makes a single mistake and “everyone is talking nang [honor] and namoos [pride]” (164). Soraya feels she has dishonored her family, and she even asks Amir if he wants to go through with the marriage after hearing her story. He admits that his pride, his “iftikhar” (165), was hurt by this. Amir, just like his father, holds honor in high esteem. Baba warns Amir to be careful when courting Soraya because General Taheri “is a Pashtun to the root. He has nang and namoos” (145). General Taheri obviously finds honor tremendously important as well, and he demonstrates this by warning Amir not to speak to Soraya in public. Eventually, when Amir wants to marry, he asks Baba to “go khastegari… ask General Taheri for his daughter’s hand” (161) which he stated earlier was the “honorable thing” (147). Until the wedding, Soraya and Amir never even went out alone, and the only reason they skipped the engagement period was because of Baba’s declining health. Their marriage was also a traditional Afghan wedding with rituals like the Ayena Masshaf, when the bride and groom admire each other in the mirror. Honor, a centerpiece of Afghan culture, evidently guides the decisions of all the Afghan characters in The Kite Runner.

Discrimination against Hazara people by the Pashtuns causes difficulties for Ali and Hassan. Hazaras are a large ethnic minority in Afghanistan, and they are said to be descendants of the Mongol Genghis Khan. There are Asiatic features differentiate them from the Pashtun majority, and Hazaras are Shi’a Muslims, while Pashtuns are Sunni. Amir discusses Hassan’s ethnic differences right away, but he admits he knows little about the Hazara people except that people call them “mice-eating, flatnosed, load-carrying donkeys” (9). Assef, the antagonist of the novel, tells Hassan that “Afghanistan is the land of the Pashtuns… the true Afghans, the pure Afghans, not this Flat-Nose here” (40). And even after his blatant insult, Hassan still refers to Assef as ‘Agha,’ a title of superiority. Amir notices this and asks himself what it must be like to live with “an ingrained sense of one’s place in a hierarchy” (40). Amir, despite being friends and living with Hassan, still has his own biases. He calls Hassan an “illiterate Hazara” (34) after Hassan identifies a plot hole in Amir’s story. Hassan and Ali are both tormented, degraded, and demeaned because of their ethnicity not only by strangers but by Amir. They are seen as inferior, and this complex attitude plays a major role in the most pivotal scene in the plot: Hassan’s rape and Amir’s inaction. Moments before raping Hassan, Assef tries to exploit Amir’s ethnic bias and the awkwardness of the arrangement between Amir and Hassan by asking, “Would he [Amir] do the same for you [Hassan]? Have you ever wondered why he never includes you in games when he has guests? Why he only plays with you when no one else is around? I’ll tell you why, Hazara. Because to him, you’re nothing but an ugly pet” (72). Later, after Amir fails to stop the rape, Amir says to himself, “He was just a Hazara, wasn’t he?” (77). Amir justifies failing to intervene or prevent Hassan’s rape with several things. As discussed earlier, he says he was scared but admits his ulterior motive: winning Baba’s approval. In thinking deeper, though, he rationalizes his inaction by calling his best friend “just a Hazara,” something inherently inferior and therefore expendable. In the end, Hassan is Amir’s servant, but he’s also Baba’s. Moreover, and unbeknownst to the children, he is Baba’s other son.

Baba’s internal strife over his illegitimate son is partly caused by the Pashtun-Hazara ethnic divide. Amir and Hassan can’t show their friendship in public. After winning the tournament, Amir and Hassan embrace one another but stop when they notice Baba motioning them to let go. Amir describes this, saying, “But he was doing something now, motioning with his hands in an urgent way. Then I understood. ‘Hassan we–‘ ‘I know,’ he said, breaking our embrace” (66). Amir and Hassan are not supposed to publicly to show affection, friendliness, or brotherhood because, in their culture, it would be inappropriate for a Hazara servant to have such a close relationship with his Pashtun master. For the same reason, Baba cannot show affection to Hassan, a Hazara, either. Nevertheless, he does so in subtle ways, such as through gestures of kindness, buying Hassan gifts, or even paying for a hair-lip surgery. The relationship between Ali and Baba also demonstrates Baba’s inability to openly accept his Hazara son. Baba describes his childhood with Ali in a warm way but never refers to Ali as a friend. Ali points out that he was the “poor laborer” to Baba’s “mischief” (25). Baba is not supposed to befriend a Hazara, let alone have a Hazara son. Baba believed the cultural and social stigma associated with having a Hazara son would ruin his reputation. Despite all this, he snaps at Amir for suggesting they get new servants, saying Hassan is their “family” and with them is “where he belongs” (90). Baba’s internal conflict, unbeknownst to Amir, is balancing fatherhood with the social stigmas of having an illegitimate, Hazara son.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini revolves around the strong Afghan culture. Social customs, religious tenants, family tradition, personal honor, and even negative elements like racism and ethnic tension are elements of Afghan culture presented in the novel. Afghan culture is the driving force behind the plot and character’s decisions in The Kite Runner, as elements of Afghan culture like kite fighting, honor, and an ethnic divide affect the relationships between characters, character’s decisions, and the entire storyline. Afghan culture is deeply rooted in the Afghani people, and, as the book demonstrates, neither political turmoil nor human exodus can strip the people of their beliefs, their culture, or their values.

Hassan’s Symbolism as a Sacrificial Lamb in The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, centers around the interplay between guilt, redemption, and sacrifice. Hosseini refers to the concept of religious sacrifice through which individuals cleanse themselves of sin and free their consciences. Betrayal leads to guilt, which requires healing. The healing, in The Kite Runner’s case of generations of guilt and betrayal, is done through emblematic sacrifice. The character Hassan often serves as a bridge between two characters, allowing for reconciliation with one another. In the novel, Hosseini employs Hassan as a symbolic, sacrificial lamb, who acts as a means of redemption for those who have sinned.

From the start of the novel, Hassan was used by others as a means of redemption and reconciliation with other characters. Beginning at his birth, Hassan lived with and was taken care of by Baba so that Baba could redeem himself for sleeping with Ali’s (Hassan’s father’s) wife. Although he was not necessarily sacrificed, considering his living conditions were far better than those of the other Hazzaras in Kabul, this situation foreshadowed Hassan’s future as a vector for redemption. Hassan’s first major manipulation as a sacrifice occurred when he was twelve years old, where he mediated the reconciliation between Amir and Baba. Throughout Amir’s entire life, he felt unworthy and unloved by his father. He believed that he killed his mother in childbirth and that his father resented him for it. He was nothing like Baba and believed himself to be a constant disappointment to him. At age twelve, Amir found that he could gain his father’s approval by winning a kite flying tournament. He believed that if he won the tournament, it would “[S]how him [Baba] once and for all that his son was worthy. Then maybe my life as a ghost in this house would finally be over… And maybe, just maybe, I would finally be pardoned for killing my mother” (Hosseini 56). As Amir’s “kite runner,” Hassan ran to catch the second-place kite so that Amir could present it to Baba as a prize and a final plank on the bridge between the two’s relationship.

While retrieving the kite, Hassan was raped by the psychopath Assef because he refused to give up the kite and let Amir, his best friend, down. It is in this scene, Hosseini made a major reference to the sacrifice of a lamb. He said “… I had seen it before. It was the look of the lamb” (76). Here, Hassan’s rape forced Amir into a flashback to a moment when he watched a lamb’s sacrifice. He said ” I watch because of that look of acceptance in the animal’s eyes… I imagine the animal sees that its imminent demise is for a higher purpose. This is the look…” (76,77). When Amir spoke about “that/the look,” he was referring to the look on Hassan’s face as Amir watched the selfless sacrifice in the same way that he watched the lamb’s slaughter. Instead of stopping it, Amir stood watching the entire time. He consciously allowed the sacrifice of his best friend to occur before his eyes because “… Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba” (77). The sacrifice was successful in mending the relationship between Baba and Amir (however only temporarily because the real problem was Baba’s deep-rooted guilt), but destroyed the relationship between Amir and Hassan. Hassan’s selfless sacrifice for Amir became the subject of Amir’s unfaltering guilt, leading to Hassan’s second sacrifice for Amir.

Amir’s guilt over his selfish acts is the focus of the rest of the novel. Amir not only felt guilt, but contempt for himself after experiencing Hassan’s God-like and forgiving nature. This sent him into a downward spiral of cruel attacks on Hassan in an attempt to force the same angry reaction out of Hassan. When these attempts failed and Amir still could not forgive himself, he was forced to manipulate his father into making Hassan leave the house so that he would not have to see Hassan again and be reminded of his mistake. Amir framed Hassan for stealing one of his possessions and Hassan, knowing Baba would take his truthful word over Amir’s, sacrificed himself for Amir and wrongly confessed to the theft. Again, Hassan acts as a lamb, sacrificed for the benefit of Amir and the relationship between him and his father. This is clearly a second sacrifice, as Amir says “[T]his was Hassan’s final sacrifice for me… He knew I had betrayed him and yet he was rescuing me once again… I wasn’t worthy of his sacrifice” (105). Then, after being surprisingly forgiven by Baba, Hassan and Ali left the household only to enter into poverty, carrying out somewhat of a third sacrifice to Amir. This sacrifice could have been done to save Amir from the guilt of facing Hassan, or simply because Hassan and his father were so hurt by Amir’s act. As a result, Amir and Baba’s relationship was saved a second time through Hassan’s selfless sacrifice, reinforcing his role as a sacrificial lamb.

From teenage years into adulthood, Amir was haunted with the guilt of allowing his perfect, pure, and God-like friend to be raped, as well as pushing Hassan and Ali into poverty and blackening their names. After more than twenty years, Hassan’s final sacrifice was administered through his son, Sohrab, to save Amir from his sins and from himself. Hassan, who eventually lived on Baba’s property after he was gone, refused to give up the property to the Taliban and was murdered on the street. This sacrifice unintentionally allowed for Amir’s redemption through a piece of Hassan: his orphaned son, Sohrab. Sohrab, like Hassan, was raped by Assef, a member of the Taliban. In an attempt to rescue Sohrab, Amir unknowingly redeemed himself from his mistake-laden past. Again, a reference was made to the biblical sacrificial lamb during Sohrab’s rape when Amir said “Sohrab’s eyes flicked to me. They were slaughter eyes” (285). While Sohrab was not directly being sacrificed for Amir’s benefit, he was carrying on his father’s role as a path to reconciliation between a Amir and Hassan and Amir and himself. After adopting Sohrab into his family, Amir was finally able to obtain a pure and guilt-free conscience. By the end of the novel, Amir was cleansed of the sin of betrayal, which was shown when he was finally able to fly a kite again with a part of Hassan (Sohrab) by his side.

Throughout the novel, Hassan is representative of a symbolic, sacrificial lamb who acts as a means of redemption for characters who have sinned against other characters. Because of Hassan’s God-like qualities and morals, his sacrifice could be compared to the biblical sacrifice of Jesus, sometimes called “The Lamb.” In biblical context, God’s sacrifice through his son, Jesus, provides a way for sinners to reach heaven. Similarly, Hassan’s sacrifice is a passage to redemption, good relationships, and adulthood. After Amir used Hassan as a sacrifice for the first and second times, he passed from childhood into adulthood. In the same way, Hassan’s death and unintentional sacrifice of his son, Sohrab, allowed Amir to pass from his life dominated by a guilty conscience to a life free of shame, where he is able to finally forgive himself.

The Balance of Dying: Complex Approaches to Mortality in The Kite Runner

There is a considerable difference between being dead, and dying. Everyone is dying, some people die for ninety years, others for three. Death cannot be escaped. Although, with this mindset, a question is sparked-is anyone truly living? Humans are born into this world with a blank slate and an infinite number of pages to fill; the sole purpose being to live fully and completely within this notebook. People are meant to live each second to its fullest potential, basking in the expanse of the world without hesitation. Terrified of missing a second in an entity of time, the main goal is to preserve in whatever means necessary, spending as much time as we have surrounded by friends and loved ones. If we think on this behavior for a moment, all of this is a drive someone feels when they are given an expiration date. So, it appears as if living and dying are two contrasting words with the same meaning. It is Khaled Hosseini (born in Kabul Afghanistan) whom most effectively argues death is not what is important, but rather the pages beforehand. In The Kite Runner, an exuberant novel written in 2003, Hosseini uses personal references, and knowledge of the Soviet invasion in his home country to stretch classic ideals of living and dying. In fact, it is proven perception and reaction are the factors impacting these ethics. Hosseini proves continuously death in life is possible. The characters are so desperate for viability and happiness, they spend their entire lifetimes dying for unreachable targets. Whereas Hassan, and the tragedy surrounding him, live on vibrantly throughout life and death.

Amir is a prime example of death in life. He is constantly presented dying, in one sense or another. Early on, Amir shows signs of morbidity. Feeling responsible for his mother’s demise during childbirth, Amir struggles with guilt, longing, and desperation. In turn, he spends his lifetime dying and hungry for his father’s love and approval. Fearing a lifetime of guilt and burden, Amir’s mindset begins to change. Thus, showing through his reoccurring thoughts “[he] always felt like Baba hated [him] a little. And why not? After all, [Amir] did kill [Baba’s] beloved wife, his beautiful princess [didn’t] [he]? The least [Amir] could [do] [is] to have the decency to [turn] out a little more like [his father]” (19). Baba’s demeanor, words, choices, and behaviors impact Amir throughout his existence, leaving the boy devastated and guilt stricken. Feelings, that stem from the dilemma “[he] [hasn’t] turned out like [Baba]” (19). Desperately, Amir reacts to his father by frantically trying to earn his respect. Despite the good-hearted intentions that lay behind Amir’s actions, it is evident he is the author of his own death. Within the span of a few chapters, Amir finds himself dying from a new guilt, blossoming from his injustice against Hassan. The failure hangs over his head, driving Amir to confess he had been “[hoping] […] someone would wake up and hear, so [he] wouldn’t have to live with [his] lie anymore[.] But [when] no one woke up…[he] understood the nature of [his] new curse” (72). Amir is so eager to abridge his sins and release himself from guilt, his life becomes revolved around this, and this alone. Often finding himself feeling empty, forlorn, and incomplete, Amir begins missing out on the world around him. Amir never truly experiences life, proving the ideal death in life is possible. Similarly, to Amir’s situation, if an event is perceived so negatively that it becomes an obsession, it has the ability to destroy life, and demolish the potential of true living.

Meanwhile, Baba has his own unique way of showing unsuccessful attempts at living a life of happiness. His most obvious, and perhaps worst offense is his constant disappointment in Amir. The world to Baba, is clean-cut, black and white, where everything and everyone has its place. But, Amir is a benevolent spirit, and lacks the conformity of Baba’s standards. Anger, and pure confusion renowned the only response that Baba can muster. He wants nothing more than Amir to grow up exactly like him. Instead, Amir is a “boy who can’t stand up for himself” (22), and Baba’s worst concern is Amir will then “[become] a man who can’t stand up for anything” (22). These actions and thoughts eventually lead to Baba’s downfall. Filled with loss, emptiness, and guilt, Baba struggles to come to terms with an imperfectly sculpted son, and a boy he can never claim as his own. Baba’s decisions are the causation of his own awareness. Baba, Hassan’s biological father, knows he can never legitimately accept Hassan as his own. The knowledge of this causes an unspeakable turmoil- one that can never be shared or understood by anyone else. When Ali, Baba’s childhood friend and the man that Hassan calls father, decides to leave with Hassan, Baba’s suffering is amplified. Amir’s father pleads, yells, and fights for Hassan and Ali, but it is with no avail. “‘Please,’ Baba [says], but Ali […] already turned to the door, Hassan trailing him. I’ll never forget the way Baba said that, the pain in his plea, the fear” (107). Due to the tragedy of his own sins, a lifetime of desperation is cemented in Baba; attributes masked behind judgement and anger. Baba is best described as “[a] man torn between two halves […] [Amir] and Hassan. [Baba] loved [them] both, but he could not love Hassan the way he longed to, openly and as a father. So, he took his anger out on [Amir] instead […] When he saw [Amir], he saw himself. And his guilt. […] [he] was also being hard on himself. [Baba], like [Amir], was a tortured soul” (302). Inconceivable emotions transform Baba, and he spends the rest of his life full of urgency to atone for his greatest sins. Everything Baba did, “feeding the poor, giving money to friends in need, it was all a way of redeeming himself…” (302). However, nothing helps Baba, and he remains unpleased, sorrowful, and on the brink of death. Thus, Baba goes to show spending a lifetime yearning and desperate, it is the equivalent of spending a lifetime dying; hence showing the extraordinary power of death in life.

Assef is another example of dissolution in existence being an inducement of human perception. The classic textbook example of a sociopath, Assef is murderous, heinous, and evil; marketing all words that stand out as prominent quality traits for destruction. The catch is Assef appears truly happy with his life and choices, equally speaking out and saying; “you don’t know the meaning of the word ‘liberating’ until you’ve…stood in a roomful of targets, let the bullets fly, free of guilt and remorse, [knowing] you are virtuous and good and decent, [knowing] you’re doing God’s work” (277). Assef speaks out about how his life is complete, happy, admitting that he is “free of guilt” and “doing God’s work”. Upon closer examination, it appears in reality Assef shares a bond with the other characters. He is in a state of pain, desolation, and lifelong death. All of Assef’s behaviors and choices can be tied back to his childhood. As a boy, Assef was raised to believe he was above everyone and everything, never having a true role model to light the way for him. In this state of loneliness and confusion Assef acts out. His actions are rash, and to one’s eye, evil. But the reality of it is that Assef was merely hungry for self-realization; hungry to find something that made him belong. In his eyes, his injustices against Hassan, the Hazara population, and nearly every person in Afghanistan, was nothing more than a plea for peace and acceptance. As evident in the case of Assef, when desperation is present, it has the power to be catastrophic.

Hassan is the shining example of the human perception involved with the concept of living and dying. Hassan lived a truly cataclysmic life, beginning without a mother- a woman who had rejected him due to a deformity beyond control. His mother, Sanaubar “[took] one glance at the baby in Ali’s arms, [saw] the cleft lip, and barked a bitter laughter… She [refused] to even hold Hassan, and just five days later she was gone” (10). Hassan’s tragedy grows, transforming into a brutal rape, and a betrayal by his childhood best friend, and biological brother. But his suffering comes to a close, when he is ferociously murdered in the courtyard of his own home. It is this, however, that proves to be the most important mark about Hassan. Hassan does withstand an insufferable amount of adversity, but he drastically differs from the other characters in the novel. Hosseini presents the idea that Hassan’s reaction to negativity and pain is the reason behind his genuinely happy life. He is free from guilt, and yearning. Hassan looks upon life with endless positivity and happiness. These quality traits are the building blocks on which Hassan views his time on earth. From there, Hassan grows phenomenally, overcoming all tragedy, and proving that through forgiveness and loyalty, a life without pain is always within reach. Hassan goes on to write a letter to Amir, confirming his happiness and contentedness with life. The letter is presented to Amir by Rahim Khan, and exposes Hassan’s pure state of lifelong euphoria. I dream of good things, and praise Allah for that. I dream that Rahim Khan sahib will be well. I dream that my son will grow up to be a good person, a free person, and an important person. I dream that lawla flowers will bloom in the streets of Kabul again and rubab music will play in the samovar houses and kites will fly in the skies. And I dream that someday you will return to Kabul to revisit the land of our childhood. If you do, you will find an old faithful friend waiting for you. May Allah be with you always. (218) Even in the end when Amir was certain he had immensely wronged Hassan, and he was undeserving of forgiveness, Hassan remained loyal, faithful, and forever a friend to Amir. Thus, it is proven throughout contrasting differences, Hassan believed nothing in life was worth permanent suffering. He made it clear his pain was real and evident, but the reaction to suffering has the ability to create either pure happiness, or lifelong devastation- a sensation of dying throughout existence.

Imagine a life of authentic joy, free from feelings of yearning, pain, and guilt. Hosseini utilizes his characters to prove that a life of this variety is possible. By illuminating desperation, human backlash, and juxtaposing the standard ideas of living and dying, Hosseini shows what is possible if negativity over rules life. Amir, Baba, and Assef are clear pieces of evidence that aid in forming this argument. The three men dedicate their lives to atoning for sins and suffering, back-sliding into a constant aspiration for more. Hassan and the death around him, are polar opposites. Hassan frees his life and spirit of the death revealed with suffering, and lives on truly and vibrantly. Thus, proving true happiness comes from within, and pain is meaningless if we refuse to relinquish control. Hosseini masters language and emotion to sculpt the argument, self-pity is a concept of human creation. If avoided, a life of undeniable bliss is possible. However, with suffering, we are all damned to a lifetime of eternal death.

How Khaled Hosseini uses literature and stories to demonstrate the power of words to harm and heal in times of injustice.

Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner depicts the lives of two Afghan boys who grow up in the turmoil of invasion, heartbreak and war. Amir, the protagonist and narrator of the story, is Pashtun and Hassan, a Hazara boy, is Amir’s servant with a cleft lip. Despite being separated by different ethnic and social backgrounds, the boys share a close friendship. However, the afternoon of a kite-fighting tournament in 1975, leads to circumstances that neither boy can foresee, an event that traumatises their lives. Afterwards, Amir struggles to find his place in the world, filled with guilt and regret. When the Russians invade Amir and his father, Baba, have to flee from Afghanistan to America. Amir eventually realises he must return to a war-torn Afghanistan in redemption of his sins. But Afghanistan has changed and will never be the same. From a foreign perspective, The Kite Runner positions the reader to gain insight of the history and injustices of Afghanistan, from the downfall of the monarchy and the oppression of the Hazaras, to the invasion of the Russians and the assumed control of the Taliban. Many symbolic elements of the story reflect the history of Afghanistan. In particular, the element of storytelling is used by Hosseini to symbolise the oppression of the Hazaras, who are illiterate. The bond between Amir and Hassan is strengthened by their love of stories and literature. Amir reads to Hassan and together they create stories, including one where they are ‘Amir and Hassan: Sultans of Kabul.’ The juxtaposition between Amir and Hassan as characters is a technique used by Hosseini to construct the image of injustice in Afghanistan, and how the power of stories can bring both harm and healing in times of turmoil. In The Kite Runner, the power of the written word is used with prejudice by Amir against Hassan, but he eventually begins to amend for this by rescuing Sohrab, Hassan’s son, from the clutches of the Taliban. Powerful stories can position people to understand how injustice occurs, how it can be carried out, and how it may be eventually resolved.

Books and storytelling are integral aspects in the lives of Amir and Hassan; it serves as the bond between the two boys, but also affirms their differences. Amir, a Pashtun and son of Baba, a wealthy man with a renowned name, is literate; he can read, write and understand complex words. Hassan is a Hazara and son of Ali, both servants in Baba’s household. Unlike Amir, Hassan is illiterate, unable to read and write, a fate decided by being born Hazara. “That Hassan would grow up illiterate like Ali and most Hazaras had been decided the minute he had been born, perhaps even the moment he had been conceived in Sanaubars’s unwelcoming womb – after all, what use did a servant have for the written word?” (Hosseini 26) However, what Hassan lacks in literacy, he compensates for in natural intelligence, a gentle nature and courage, unlike Amir, who is not respectful in his position over Hassan and abuses his privileges as master. The crafting of stories between Amir and Hassan does not seem to be harmful – imagining themselves as ‘Amir and Hassan: Sultans of Kabul’, Amir’s short story about tears turning into pearls, Hassan’s dream about the monster in the lake, and Amir reading to Hassan from the Shahnamah – but Amir often used the power of the written word against Hassan, ridiculing him for not understanding certain words. It is the power that Amir holds over Hassan that brings harm to their relationship and ultimately leads to Amir’s act of cowardice when he does not rescue Hassan from being sexually assaulted. “I actually aspired to cowardice, because the alternative, the real reason I was running, was that Assef was right: Nothing was free in this world. Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba. Was it a fair price? The answer floated to my conscious mind before I could thwart it: He was just a Hazara, wasn’t he?” (Hosseini 73) Amir’s jealousy over the care his father gave Hassan was the catalyst of his betrayal, and Amir came to believe that Hassan was a worthy sacrifice to gain his father’s love. Amir truly believed that Baba preferred Hassan to him as son. “Self-defence has nothing to do with meanness. You know what always happens when the neighbourhood boys tease him? Hassan steps in and fends them off. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. And when they come home, I say to him, ‘How did Hassan get that scrape on his face?’ And he says, ‘He fell down.’ I’m telling you, Rahim, there is something missing in that boy… If I hadn’t seen the doctor pull him out of my wife with my own eyes, I’d never believe he’s my son.” (Hosseini 21 – 22) Amir is considered weak in the eyes of Baba, unlike Hassan who is honest in everything he does. Hassan’s integrity and courage are what Baba admires, and according to Amir, Baba does not love him because he is a coward.

The Shanamah, described as a tenth-century epic of ancient Persian heroes, features the tale of ‘Rostam and Sohrab’. It is Amir and Hassan’s favourite story. It follows the tale of Rostam, a warrior, who mortally wounds his nemesis, Sohrab, in battle only to discover that Sohrab is his son. In The Kite Runner, the fates of Amir and Hassan symbolically reflect the tragedy of ‘Rostam and Sohrab’. After not rescuing Hassan from his attackers in the alley, establishing him as a thief and then discovering that they were brothers, Amir believes that his cowardice and actions against Hassan were what led to his death, not being shot in the back of the head by the Taliban, “I follow the barrel on its upward arc. I see that face behind the plume of smoke swirling from the muzzle. I am the man in the herringbone vest.” (Hosseini 221) An opportunity for redemption and healing presents itself to Amir though, rescuing Sohrab, Hassan’s son, from the clutches of the Taliban. Sohrab, a symbol of all the terrible things that happened to the characters and Afghanistan, creates a picture of hope. Thus, the power of stories ultimately brings harm to Hassan; Amir abusing his literacy skills over Hassan’s illiterate status and Amir’s jealous nature over Hassan’s sense of wisdom. Healing is brought to this injustice through Sohrab, whom Hassan named after the Persian tale of ‘Rostam and Sohrab’, when Amir rescues him to amend for his sins against Hassan.

The use of language is crucial in any story; it develops tone and style and decides the narrative point of view. In The Kite Runner, Hosseini uses a first person narrative in order to develop the personal story of Amir, his tone attributable to his personal characteristics. The combined use of the English and Fari language allows the reader to connect on a more personal level with Amir, giving a sense of heritage to his character. “If the story had been about anyone else, it would have been dismissed as laaf, that Afghan tendency to exaggerate…” (Hosseini 12) As a child Amir’s tone is lyrical, illustrating the naivety of youth, and develops a darker and morbid sense of self-evaluation as he becomes an adult, “sometimes my entire childhood seems like one long lazy summer day with Hassan, chasing each other between tangles of trees in my father’s yard, playing hide-and-seek, cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians…” (Hosseini 24) The sense of freedom Amir felt as a child with Hassan conveys the notion of innocence that both held. However, after Hassan is attacked, their innocence and sense of naivety is stolen. The style of the text is structured by the genre of bildungsroman – the development from childhood to adulthood of a character whose personality is shaped by an experience. The Kite Runner is formed using a three-part structure, beginning with Amir’s childhood, then his experience in America and his return to Afghanistan. As a narrator, Amir provides the reader with personal insight into different events and characters. However, he is limited in understanding and forms a biased perspective as a character, “and that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too.” (Hosseini 51) In Amir’s opinion, Hassan is honest, but believes he uses it in a selfish manner with expectations of others. As an adult narrator, Amir becomes more mature but remains cowardly in his actions towards Hassan. His change in tone, less portentous and more considerate, gives his character a sense of growth from the time he was a child. “We had both sinned and betrayed. But Baba had found a way to create good out of his remorse.” (Hosseini 278) After rescuing Sohrab from the Taliban, Amir visualises more of his father in him than he did as a child, and discovers more about himself personally. Overall, Amir’s use of language and role as narrator illustrates that harrowing issues such as war cannot be appreciated until it is made personal.

History can be woven into stories, and history may also inevitably become its own story. When reading The Kite Runner, this notion is acknowledged by the mention of Amir and Hassan’s mothers, who are respectively dead and estranged. Amir, who has a troubled relationship with Baba, has similar character traits to his mother who died in childbirth. He believes he killed his mother and that Baba blames him. Amir would often avoid his father by reading his mother’s books. “That was how I escaped my father’s aloofness, in my dead mother’s books.” (Hosseini 19) However, Amir’s love of literature and becoming a writer is what brings healing to his and Baba’s relationship, as Baba realises that writing stories helps Amir connect to people, particularly with Soraya whom he later marries, and he becomes proud. “’Liar.’ I lifted Baba’s blanket. ‘What’s this?’ I said, though as soon as I picked up the leather-bound book, I knew… ‘I can’t believe you can write like this,’ Soraya said. Baba dragged his head off the pillow. ‘I put her up to it. I hope you don’t mind.’ I gave the notebook back to Soraya and left the room. Baba hated it when I cried.” (Hosseini 159) When Amir discovers Baba has read one of his stories, he accepts that, despite his hardness in character, Baba finally appreciates and loves him for who he is. The mentions of Sanaubar, Hassan’s mother, are portrayed like folk-lore or fairytales, as if she had existed and then did not after she was condemned with a dishonourable reputation. “While my mother haemorrhaged to death during childbirth, Hassan lost his less than a week after he was born. Lost her to a fate most Afghans considered far worse than death: She ran off with a clan of travelling singers and dancers.” (Hosseini 6) The stories of Sanaubar create harm for Hassan, especially when he is bombarded by soldiers who have claimed to have “taken her”. The misdeeds of Sanaubar are eventually exonerated by Hassan when she returns years later as an older woman seeking forgiveness and taking care of Sohrab.

In The Kite Runner, the role and integrity of women is portrayed through stories of the past, including Soraya, Amir’s wife, who ran off with an Afghan man years before. Hosseini uses this as means to express the injustice of male dominance over women. Soraya expresses this injustice, “their sons go out to nightclubs looking for meat and get their girlfriends pregnant, they have kids out of wedlock and no one says a goddamn thing. Oh, they’re just men having nang and namoos [pride and honour], and I have to have my face rubbed in it for the rest of my life”. (Hosseini 164) Injustice for women in The Kite Runner is not completely resolved. Eventually, Soraya and Amir are married despite her past. Amir believes that he cannot judge her for her sins, “and in the end the question that always came back to me was this: How could I, of all people, chastise someone for their past?… I suspected there were many ways in which Soraya Taheri was a better person than me. Courage was just one of them.” (Hosseini 151 – 152) Amir’s past experiences in Afghanistan ultimately cause him to admire Soraya rather than despise her; her honesty and courage of her situation ironically reflecting his cowardice in his actions towards Hassan. A feminist perspective of Soraya’s courage and honesty, over Amir’s cowardice, could be perceived as a sense of power for Afghan women. Her genuine attitude regarding her past, and marrying Amir because of his admiration for this, is healing for her. When Baba and Amir flee to America, it changes their lives and leaves Baba yearning for what was – his status as a wealthy man and honourable reputation in Afghanistan. “I glance at him across the table… the smells of the gas station – dust, sweat and gasoline – on his clothes… He missed the sugarcane fields of Jalalabad and the gardens of Paghman. He missed people milling in and out of his house, missed walking down the bustling aisles of Shor Bazaar and greeting people who knew him and his father, knew his grandfather, people who shared ancestors with him, whose pasts intertwined with his.” (Hosseini 119 – 120) Baba continues to feel a strong sense of cultural heritage and connection to Afghanistan; America stripped this past from him. However, America offers hope for Amir and a new beginning. Thus, stories of the past can create justice for some, but injustice for many.

Even before the invasion of the Russians, Afghanistan was an oppressed country. The divide between the Pashtuns and Hazaras is evidenced in The Kite Runner by Amir and Hassan’s friendship, the brotherhood between Baba and Ali, and the abuse both Ali and Hassan receive in public. Hazaras have characteristic Mongolian features, and both Ali and Hassan receive abuse for this, particularly Ali. “They chased him on the street, and mocked him when he hobbled by. Some had taken to calling him Babalu, or Boogeyman. ‘Hey, Babalu, who did you eat today… Who did you eat, you flat-nosed Babalu?’” (Hosseini 8) Ali had been a victim of polio at a young age, and walked with a stiff leg. People often create stories to provide answers to problems and ethical issues. In The Kite Runner, Hosseini addresses this issue through Amir’s guilt over Hassan’s fate, telling himself that Hassan was an appropriate sacrifice. When rescuing Sohrab from the Taliban, Amir is beaten up and ironically it is through this that he finds healing for what he did to Hassan. “Another rib snapped, this time lower. What was so funny was that, for the first time since the winter of 1975, I felt at peace. I laughed because I saw that, in some hidden nook in the corner of my mind, I’d even been looking forward to this… My body was broken – just how badly I wouldn’t find out until later – but I felt healed.” (Hosseini 265)

In today’s media, many stories and reports are addressed in response to the refugee crisis, wars and alienation. Hosseini constructs the character of Hassan to symbolise the injustices of Afghanistan; Hassan is raped by Assef, an older, wealthier boy and bully, and Afghanistan is ravaged by war, by both the Russians and the Taliban. Sohrab, Hassan’s son, is a symbol to express the troubled nature of the country. From a reader’s perspective, The Kite Runner is an allegory of the war in Afghanistan, a coming of age tale, with an ending filled with hope for a forgiving future. Within the novel there are several moments when Amir feels justified in his actions, but none as powerful as when he recues Sohrab and senses that Hassan has forgiven him for his injustice. “I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with a fanfare or epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.” (Hosseini 329) The Kite Runner, as a story of harming and healing, positions the reader from Amir’s point of view to grow with him and experience the changes in his life. One element in the story, the cleft lip, comes full circle, with Hassan being born with the feature and Amir splitting his lip in the middle when he is beaten by Assef during his rescue of Sohrab. “The impact had cut your upper lip in two, he had said, clean down the middle. Clean down the middle. Like a harelip.” (Hosseini 273) This one element symbolises that Amir and Hassan’s fates were inevitably bound and that Amir would find healing in their troubled friendship.

The power of stories and words can bring harm and healing in times of injustice. Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner expresses the injustices of war and how stories can create justice for some, but injustice for many. The friendship of Amir and Hassan suffers, jealousy and betrayal prevailing over their love for each other. The tragedy of their friendship, as symbolised by the tale of ‘Rostam and Sohrab’, reflects the tragedy of Afghanistan; their friendship was harmed by an act of impurity, and Afghanistan is ravaged by the act of war. Ultimately, Amir’s rescue of Sohrab heals their relationship, symbolising the importance of doing what is right in the midst of conflict.