Kite Runner Discussion Questions
1. The novel begins with Amir’s memory of peering down an alley, looking for Hassan who is kite running for him. As Amir peers into the alley, he witnesses a tragedy. The novel ends with Amir kite running for Hassan’s son, Sohrab, as he begins a new life with Amir in America. Why do you think the author chooses to frame the novel with these scenes? Refer to the following passage: “Afghans like to say: Life goes on, unmindful of beginning, end… crisis or catharsis, moving forward like a slow, dusty caravan of kochis [nomads].
” How is this significant to the framing of the novel?
The author chooses to frame the novel with these scenes because I think that in the first chapter the readers can see that Amir is so guilt-stricken of not being able to help Hassan and merely witnessing and running from the tragedy. The ending however shows that Amir became the kite runner. Since a kite fighter is someone who is powerful and controlling aka selfish while a kite runner is being selfless.
It symbolizes a circle, it did not end where it began but rather it was a “running” to a positive way, away from Sohrab physically but towards him emotionally.
Finally he is running with freedom in his heart instead of fear. The passage “Afghans like to say: Life goes on, unmindful of beginning, end… crisis or catharsis, moving forward like a slow, dusty caravan of kochis (nomads). ” is significant because that’s how Afghans are. Despite being occupied by the Russians and ruled by the Talibans, life goes on. Even with so many sufferings, hardships and killings they continue to live their life. 2. The strong underlying force of this novel is the relationship between Amir and Hassan. Discuss their friendship. Why is Amir afraid to be Hassan’s true friend?
Why does Amir constantly test Hassan’s loyalty? Why does he resent Hassan? After the kite running tournament, why does Amir no longer want to be Hassan’s friend? Amir and Hassan are like brothers, they were fed by the same breasts, they grew up in the same household and they would play like there’s no tomorrow. Amir is afraid to be Hassan’s true friend because Hassan is a Hazara, where they are looked down upon by other Afghans as the lowest kind of people in society. People might judge him especially the Pashtuns because Hassan is their servant and treated unequal.
Amir constantly tests Hassan’s loyalty because he knows that Hassan would do anything for him and would even die for him. He describes Hassan as a loyal dog. Amir resents Hassan since Baba always gives so much attention to Hassan. Baba would never miss a birthday and even give Hassan gifts. After the kite running tournament, Amir no longer wants to be Hassan’s friend because he feels very guilty of what happened to Hassan. He feels that Hassan was the sacrifice he had to give in order to get Baba’s attention. 3. Early in Amir and Hassan’s friendship, they often visit a pomegranate tree where they spend hours reading and playing.
“One summer day, I used one of Ali’s kitchen knives to carve our names on it: ‘Amir and Hassan, the sultans of Kabul. ‘ Those words made it formal: the tree was ours. ” In a letter to Amir later in the story, Hassan mentions that “the tree hasn’t borne fruit in years. ” Discuss the significance of this tree. The pomegranate tree represents Amir and Hassan’s friendship. They would eat its fruits, sit on its branches and Amir would read Hassan stories as if they were the only two people on Earth. As if no one else was important. They carved their names on it symbolizing that they ruled all of Kabul.
In the letter to Amir later in the story, Hassan mentions that “the tree hasn’t borne fruit in years” is very significant since it symbolizes their friendship. After the tragedy, Amir wouldn’t want to see Hassan because when he sees Hassan, he remembers what he did which was to run in fear and he did nothing about it. He feels all this guilt and because of his guilt, he decided to frame up Hassan in stealing his new watch. The tree hasn’t borne fruit in years because it is like their friendship, abandoned and forgotten. There were no longer those two boys who used to visit the tree.
The tree died with their friendship. 4. We begin to understand early in the novel that Amir is constantly vying for Baba’s attention and often feels like an outsider in his father’s life, as seen in the following passage: “He’d close the door, leave me to wonder why it was always grown-ups time with him. I’d sit by the door, knees drawn to my chest. Sometimes I sat there for an hour, sometimes two, listening to their laughter, their chatter. ” Discuss Amir’s relationship with Baba. Baba was usually aloof and cold when he was around Amir.
Since Baba was interested in sports, he felt like Amir wasn’t his son because he was into writing and was weak. In a conversation with Rahim Khan Baba said that something was missing in Amir. He said that a boy who couldn’t stand up for himself would not stand up for anything. They don’t really have a good father and son relationship because Baba expected too much of Amir. It was that winning kite tournament that somehow bonded them together but after a while, it went back to being the “cold” treatment 5. After Amir wins the kite running tournament, his relationship with Baba undergoes significant change.
However, while they form a bond of friendship, Amir is still unhappy. What causes this unhappiness and how has Baba contributed to Amir’s state of mind? Eventually, the relationship between the two returns to the way it was before the tournament, and Amir laments “we actually deceived ourselves into thinking that a toy made of tissue paper, glue, and bamboo could somehow close the chasm between us. ” Discuss the significance of this passage. The unhappiness he felt was the guilt of not being able to help Hassan when he was raped. He felt emptier than ever.
Before his birthday party, he asked Baba about changing their servants. He said that he grew up with Ali, forty years he’s been with his family Baba roared with anger. Baba even threatened to slap him if he brings it up ever again. The bond they had was only temporary and it was all because of the kite, a toy made of tissue paper, glue and bamboo. It was just a material thing, something that was also just temporary. And that was not enough to change relationships between people because relationships are built with emotions, with the heart. 6.
As Amir remembers an Afghan celebration in which a sheep must be sacrificed, he talks about seeing the sheep’s eyes moments before its death. “I don’t know why I watch this yearly ritual in our backyard; my nightmares persist long after the bloodstains on the grass have faded. But I always watch, I watch because of that look of acceptance in the animal’s eyes. Absurdly, I imagine the animal understands. I imagine the animal sees that its imminent demise is for a higher purpose. ” Why do you think Amir recalls this memory when he witnesses Hassan’s tragedy in the alleyway?
Amir recollects the memory again toward the end of the novel when he sees Sohrab in the home of the Taliban. Discuss the image in the context of the novel. The image of the sheep being sacrificed and the look of acceptance symbolize Hassan. Hassan is a brave person but he accepts his fate. The “look of the lamb” is his loyalty to Amir. He is willing to sacrifice even rape just for Amir. He also sees that look from Sohrab when he was dancing and accepting that he will be doing that for the rest of his life. 7. America acts as a place for Amir to bury his memories and a place for Baba to mourn his. In America, there are “homes that made Baba’s house in Wazir Akbar Khan look like a servant’s hut. “
What is ironic about this statement? What is the function of irony in this novel? The irony in the story is that Baba was very wealthy and influential in Kabul. A lot of people knew him because of his good works. However, in America he only works in a gas station and misses everything about his home. Baba and Amir’s going to America is Baba’s gift to Amir even if it means that he would suffer. He is terribly homesick in America. They live in an apartment in San Jose but in Kabul, Baba’s house was the most beautiful one in their district.
The function of irony in this novel is that you could be the most influential, most powerful person one day and the next day you are just an ordinary person with nothing at all. 8. What is the significance of the irony in the first story that Amir writes? After hearing Amir’s story, Hassan asks, “Why did the man kill his wife? In fact, why did he ever have to feel sad to shed tears? Couldn’t he have just smelled an onion? ” How is his reaction to the story a metaphor for Amir’s life? How does this story epitomize the difference in character between Hassan and Amir?
The irony in the story is that the man killed his wife out of greed and after he has done this he becomes miserable. This story echoes Amir’s life because he did things out of greed. He wanted the attention of Baba and he was a little jealous of Hassan. Hassan has this perceptiveness, where he criticized Amir’s story. He was only an illiterate boy but was able to point out a major flaw in Amir’s story where he asks why the man killed his wife, couldn’t he have just smelled an onion to shed those tears. Hassan did not need to see the words on the page to know it was flawed.
He did not need to look at the kite’s shadow to know where it was going. It is a metaphor in Amir’s life because he was the one with education. He was the one talented in reading and writing. Baba, in trying to redeem his own honor, raised a child who felt neglected and who acted out of fear. This was the metaphor in Amir’s life where he grew up with fear and cannot stand up for himself while Hassan was his complete opposite. 9. Why is Baba disappointed by Amir’s decision to become a writer? During their argument about his career path, Amir thinks to himself: “I would stand my ground, I decided.
I didn’t want to sacrifice for Baba anymore. The last time I had done that, I had damned myself. ” What has Amir sacrificed for Baba? How has Amir “damned himself”? Baba was disappointed by Amir’s decision to become a writer because he wanted Amir to be just like him. He wanted Amir to become a doctor or a lawyer wherein they treat those professionals of higher power. He didn’t want to sacrifice anymore. He was determined to become a writer, something he really wants to be. When he was younger, Amir wanted Baba’s attention so bad that he pretended to like the sport which Baba was interested in, soccer.
Back then he pretended to listen to Baba’s remarks about the game and the players but in the end he did not enjoy it. Baba was only disappointed in him that Amir did not inherit his dad’s athletic side. 10. Compare and contrast the relationships of Soraya and Amir and their fathers. How have their upbringings contributed to these relationships? Even if Baba is cold to Amir I believe that he is a great father. Baba really loves Amir and is willing to do everything and anything for his son. Back in Kabul, he would give Amir anything he wanted.
In America even if they didn’t have the money, Baba still gives Amir anything that he can give. Baba would sacrifice everything he had just for Amir. He even works hard in a gas station and wouldn’t take the coupons so that he will not degrade himself. General Taheri however is someone who gives importance to what others think. When Soraya ran away, he went there and threatened to kill the man and to kill himself if Soraya didn’t come home. His attitude is bad and treats his wife as dirt. He prefers to collect welfare than lowering himself to blue collar jobs. He just waits everyday to be called back to Afghanistan.
Because of their strict Afghan upbringing, Both Soraya and Amir have been very honest to each other especially when Amir was ready to tell Soraya his story of betrayal. Also because of the lack of closeness they had with their fathers it had somehow made their relationship with each other stronger and closer. 11. Discuss how the ever-changing politics of Afghanistan affect each of the characters in the novel. Because of the ever-changing politics of Afghanistan all of the characters’ lives changed. None of them were safe, no matter what privileges they have or what they believe in, anyone could be killed.
Amir and Baba’s life from being wealthy, they became average in America. Ali and Hassan’s life was always in danger because of the ethnic cleansing; they were the kind of people who were killed most of the time during those years of war. 12. On Amir’s trip back to Afghanistan, he stays at the home of his driver, Farid. Upon leaving he remarks: “Earlier that morning, when I was certain no one was looking, I did something I had done twenty-six years earlier: I planted a fistful of crumpled money under the mattress. ” Why is this moment so important in Amir’s journey?
That moment is so important in Amir’s life because he did it twenty-six years ago. He put the money under Hassan’s mattress in order to frame him up and maybe Baba would ask them to leave. It is significant because instead of plotting to ruin one’s life, he is trying to make sure that the three children do not starve. This is the part when he is trying to change things, doing the act of putting the money under the mattress again but with a different agenda. He is now doing this selfless act for others than for himself. 13. Throughout the story, Baba worries because Amir never stands up for himself.
When does this change? Amir and Baba’s relationship started to get better after the kite running competition. And I believe It was also the start of Baba’s hope that maybe Amir could do stand for himself when the time comes. Amir made his father proud, beating all of his opponents, cutting all of the kites, and being the last kite flying on thin air. It was when the Baba’s intuition that maybe his son can do handle himself someday. 14. Amir’s confrontation with Assef in Wazir Akar Khan marks an important turning point in the novel. Why does the author have Amir, Assef, and Sohrab all come together in this way?
What is this the significance of the scar that Amir develops as a result of the confrontation? Why is it important in Amir’s journey toward forgiveness and acceptance? Because the only way we could accept, forgive, and overcome any problem is to face the situation. The part where Amir, Assef and Sohrab come together in that part of the book because it is the echo of confrontation with Assef back when they were children. It’s like a continuation but instead of Hassan, Sohrab stands as his representative. This time, he has a second chance to do the right thing, a second chance where he chooses to save Sohrab from Assef.
After his fight with Assef he develops a scar that looks like a harelip. It is significant because it is a suffering to match Hassan’s. He begins to reconcile their troubled history. This is important in Amir’s journey to forgiveness and acceptance because that scar represents the feeling of closeness to Hassan. When Assef beats him to death and he got the scar, it is healing Amir of his guilt. He is now in the process of forgiving himself. 15. While in the hospital in Peshawar, Amir has a dream in which he sees his father wrestling a bear: “They role over a patch of grass, man and beast…
they fall to the ground with a loud thud and Baba is sitting on the bear’s chest, his fingers digging in its snout. He looks up at me, and I see. He’s me. I am wrestling the bear. ” Why is this dream so important at this point in the story? What does this dream finally help Amir realize? It was a somewhat a symbol that made Amir realize he’s been a good son to his father all the while. It was important because it made Amir stronger and was able to believe in himself after seeing himself as the wrestler—the wrestler whom he admired all his life, his Baba.
He hasn’t realized how life had also been his tough opponent and yet he still continue to breathe. He realized, he also has his own strength. 16. Amir and Hassan have a favorite story. Does the story have the same meaning for both men? Why does Hassan name his son after one of the characters in the story? Their favorite story is Rostam and Sohrab where Rostam kills Sohrab without knowing that he is his son. The story doesn’t have the same meaning for both men. Hassan names his son after Sohrab because he is so intrigue by the story.
The story where the father killed his son touched Hassan’s heart. It filled Hassan’s heart with such emotion that he decided to name his son with one of the character’s name. 17. Baba and Amir know that they are very different people. Often it disappoints both of them that Amir is not the son that Baba has hoped for. When Amir finds out that Baba has lied to him about Hassan, he realizes that “as it turned out, Baba and I were more alike than I’d never known. ” How does this make Amir feel about his father? How is this both a negative and positive realization?
When Amir learned about the truth he felt much betrayal. Amis felt very angry towards his father. He felt like they more alike than he’d ever known. Both betrayed people who would have given their lives for them. They betrayed the people who were the most loyal to them. Because of this he realized a lot of things. Amir should atone not just his sins but for Baba’s sins too. If he hadn’t been a coward, Ali and Hasaan wouldn’t have left and Baba would have brought them to America. He realized that there was a way to end the cycle of betrayal and lies and that was to save Sohrab, his nephew. 18.
When Amir and Baba move to the States their relationship changes, and Amir begins to view his father as a more complex man. Discuss the changes in their relationship. Do you see the changes in Baba as tragic or positive? They grow closer out of necessity and having lost everything familiar, they cling to each other. When they moved, Baba shows more affection towards Amir. The changes in Baba were positive since he was able to re-connect with his son after a long time of coldness. Baba became the father who would do everything for his son. 19. Discuss the difference between Baba and Ali and between Amir and Hassan.
Are Baba’s and Amir’s betrayals and similarities in their relationships of their servants (if you consider Baba’s act a betrayal) similar or different? Do you think that such betrayals are inevitable in the master/servant relationship, or do you feel that they are due to flaws in Baba’s and Amir’s characters, or are they the outcome of circumstances and characters? Baba devoted his life in doing works for the poor. He even devoted three years in building and funding an orphanage. He is also very firm and cold to his son, Amir. Ali in the other hand is crippled but affectionate.
Ali is very close to Hassan and he taught him to be righteous and loyal. They are both determined to protect Baba and Amir. Baba’s and Amir’s betrayals and similarities in their relationship of their servants were similar. Ali is like a brother to Baba because when his parents died, Baba’s father took him as his own child. They grew up together and Ali has been with their family for forty years. Hassan also grew up with Amir. They fed from the same breasts and Hassan’s first word was “Amir”. Hassan is loyal and suffered just like Ali. They both kept secrets about Amir and Baba.
Remaining silent about injustice is a way for them to show their loyalty. It is not inevitable in a master/servant relationship because I feel that they are due to Baba and Amir’s characters. Soraya had a servant who was illiterate but she taught her how to read, Amir chose differently, he lords his privileges and his education over Hassan. It is also the outcome of circumstances and characters because it is for the longing of Baba’s affection that Amir acts in fear. It is because of what society thinks and his status that’s why Baba kept his secret and did not tell Amir and Hassan the truth.
20. Who is Khaled Hosseini and how has his work in literature and in the world society of nations been critically received? Khaled Hosseini is the author of The Kite Runner. He was born on March 4, 1965 in Kabul. We can see that he has similarities with the protagonist of the story who is Amir. His father was a diplomat and his mother was a teacher of Farsi and history. They moved to the United States instead of returning to Afghanistan because chaos was everywhere. His family was some of the lucky ones to refuge to another country and not experience the sufferings and the killings.
Khaled Hosseini published The Kite Runner in 2003 to critical acclaim. Parts of the novel are based on his childhood in Kabul neighborhood of Wazir Akbar Khan. While some events in the story echo those in his life, the novel is fictional. He felt ashamed, like he should have suffered more. He felt estranged from the devastation in Afghanistan, but his separation from his homeland and his “Western sensibility” combined in his fiction to bring America’s, and the worlds, attention to the faces of Afghanistan. Hosseini’s devotion to Afghanistan can be seen not only in his writing but also in his activism..
He has been a goodwill envoy to the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, since 2006, and his personal website contains links to many aid organizations that are helping Afghanistan. Interviewers describe Hosseini as a smart, handsome man with a calming air, and Time Magazine called him “almost certainly the most famous Afghan in the world. ” Khaled Hosseini lives with his wife and two children in Northern California. 21. The kite flying tournament is an important event in a boy’s life in Afghanistan. Why is it significant and what does winning the kite flying tournament symbolize? How does this symbolism resonate with the novel’s title?
The kite flying tournament is significant because like in Amir’s case, winning was the key to winning Baba’s heart. The tournament sets a circle of betrayal and redemption into motion. After Hassan gets raped while running his kite, Amir cannot separate kite fighting and running from his own betrayal and cowardice. In order to redeem himself of selfishness and cowardice, Amir must go from being merely a kite fighter (someone who seeks glory) to a kite runner (someone who genuinely does things for others). This symbolism resonates with the novel’s title in terms of Amir, being the fighter in the beginning to a runner in the end.
22. Discuss how the geographic location of Afghanistan has made it the crossroads of civilizations and conquering armies from ancient times up to the present. How do the results of those conquests affect the tribes in Afghanistan up to now? Afghanistan is located in central Asia, is made up of thirty-four provinces. It is bordered by Pakistan, Iran, Jajikstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan. Afghanistan has always been by war. It used to be a kingdom ruled by a king then it b ecame a republic through a coup then it was invaded by Russia. Lastly, the Taliban took control over it. Pashtun supremacists massacred Shiites Hazaras.
After the September11, 2001 event, the United States attacked Afghanistan and defeated the Taliban. Until now Afghanistan is experiencing civil war. People are suffering and a lot take refuge in other countries. 23. Religious Fundamentalism of the Taliban is imbricated with racial or ethnic and class problems. How are these problems dramatized in the novel? The Taliban wanted to eliminate the Shiite and massacred the Hazara population in Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998. The Taliban would find the simplest things to be against the rules in order to kill some Hazara or anyone in Afghanistan.
Khaled Hosseini is an Afghan-born American author. He debuted with “The Kite Runner” which was his first novel, in 2003. The Kite Runner takes place in Kabul, Afghanistan and ends […]
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1. The novel begins with Amir’s memory of peering down an alley, looking for Hassan who is kite running for him. As Amir peers into the alley, he witnesses a […]