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Studying The Story Of The Kite Runner English Literature Essay

The story begins with the narrator, Amir, recalling an incident that happened to him a long time ago, saying that the event transformed him. Chapter one takes place in San Francisco, United States. But the reader soon recognizes that the story will take place in Kabul, Afghanistan. In Kabul, the young Amir lives with his father, whom he refers to as “Baba”. Baba is a very wealthy and successful man and he is well known by all in Kabul. They also live with their Hazara (racial minority) servant, Ali, and his son, Hassan. Hassan and Amir grow up together and they form a very strong brother like friendship. However, Amir shows occasional bitterness and jealousy towards Hassan. Baba and Amir never really have a good father son relationship at the start of the story. Baba criticizes Amir for not being adequately manly. Amir felt that his dad held him responsible for the death of his mom since she passed away giving birth to him. However, Baba’s friend and business partner, Rahim Khan, serves as a paternal figure for Amir.

One day, after Amir won a famous kite fighting competition, Hassan ran to bring the last defeated kite to Amir. Unfortunately, Hassan came across Assef, the infamous neighboorhood bully. Assef wanted the kite but Hassan refused to give it up. Assef then went on to raping Hassan. Amir see’s the rape take place, but is too afraid to interfere. Amir returns home feeling guilty and ashamed. He quickly becomes unable to live in the same house as Hassan because he is too often reminded of his cowardice and his guilt. To get rid of Hassan, Amir frames him for theft by putting money and a wristwatch under his pillow. Baba meets with Hassan and Ali. Hassan admits to stealing the money although he did not. Baba forgives him although he despises the act of theft. “There is only one sin. And that is theft” [1] . Ali and Hassan move away against Baba’s wishes.

After a few years, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. Baba and Amir decide to escape the country. They fled to Pakistan, then to Fremont, California. Baba worked at gas station and Amir went to school studying to become a writer. On Sundays, they would sell old stuff they got from garage sales at a local Afghani flee market. One day, they come across one of Baba’s old friends, general Taheri. Amir falls in love with the general’s daughter, Soraya. At this point in the novel, Baba’s health condition is weakening, and he is diagnosed with lung cancer. Amir quickly marries Soraya so that his father can live to see the day. Baba dies one month later. Fifteen years after his marriage, Amir gets a call from Rahim Khan, who is dying from a sickness. Rahim tells Amir that he can redeem himself. Upon his arrival, he learns of the death of Ali, Hassan and his wife Farzana. He also learns that Hassan had a child named Sohrab. Rahim also informs Amir that Hassan was his half brother; Baba had impregnated Ali’s wife. Rahim asks Amir to go bring Sohrab from an orphanage in Kabul. Amir agreed to go bring Sohrab. Upon his arrival in Kabul, Amir learns that Sohrab is being held captive by a Taliban official who turns out to be Assef. The two men engage in a brawl. Assef was beating Amir to death until Sohrab shot Assef in the eye with his slingshot. They escape and Amir finds himself in a state of healing for the next few weeks. After recovering, Amir files for Sohrab’s immigration but the issue becomes complex. Amir tells Sohrab that he might have to stay in an orphanage until the formalities are taken care of. After hearing this, Sohrab attempts to commit suicide. In the end, Amir is capable of bringing Sohrab home to Fremont where he will live with Amir and Soraya. Even after arriving to Fremont, Sohrab does not speak at all. The story finishes on a good note as Amir and Sohrab defeat another kite at the park and Sohrab smiles.

Character analysis:

Amir is the storyteller and the main character of the story. Right from the start of the story, the reader learns that Amir is a very clever and imaginative young boy. We also learn that he is insecure mainly because his father’s disinterest in him. Amir was also a very envious child. “I already hated all the kids he (Baba) was building an orphanage for; sometimes I wished they’d all died along with their parents” [2] . As the story proceeds, the reader learns that Amir is a coward. We also learn that he is selfish, disloyal and passive as he did not act while Hassan was getting raped. However Amir does evolve. In the end, he becomes courageous, unselfish and generous. He faces his fears by going back to Kabul. He redeems himself by saving Sohrab and he proves his loyalty to Hassan.

Unlike Amir, Hassan is a static character throughout the whole novel. In the beginning of the novel, we learn that he is kind and that he defended Amir constantly. “ “Yes father” Hassan would mumble looking down at his feet. But he never told on me” [3] . Hassan did not go to school like Amir. Nevertheless, he is still very bright and clever. “ “Well” he said, “if I may ask, 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?” [4] Although Hassan proposed a simple idea, the educated Amir did not think of it. Hassan is also a very loving, Forgiving and dedicated individual. Hassan also proved to be a brave character as he was not afraid of Assef or of the pain he would inflict. Most of all, Hassan is loyal. He maintained his loyalty towards Amir even after Amir watched him get raped. His death is also evidence of his loyalty as he died protecting the house of his master.

Baba is Amir’s father. He is a successful and wealthy businessman. Baba is very proud of himself. He is also very confident in himself even if other people doubt in him. He is a very generous and helpful man. He is strong willed, good man with morals and ethics. He is very good at hiding his true emotions. He lacks the ability to have an intimate relationship with his son. “If I hadn’t seen the doctor pull him out of my wife with my own eyes, I’d never believe he is my son” [5] . He is also very hard-headed. He has trouble accepting that his son not like him. Like Amir, he also is in the quest for redemption. Just as Amir had betrayed his childhood friend Hassan, Baba had betrayed his childhood friend Ali by impregnating his wife. In the end, Baba manages to forgive himself. He builds a good relationship with Amir. He dies a happy man.

Assef is the famous neighbourhood bully. He is an evil individual. He is clearly lacking morals and ethics. After Hassan’s rape, it’s apparent that he is sadistic and merciless. It is also made clear in the novel that he is racist as he wants to get rid of all the Hazara’s. He is vicious and he is very violent. The role model by whom he is inspired is Hitler. The young child even instigates fear in his parents. “I realized that neither of his parents had said a word” [6] . That quote displays the fear of Assef’s Parents-even to the point where they barely speak.

Personal Reaction:

I want to start by saying that I really enjoyed reading this novel. The imagery in the novel is striking. The way he describes Kabul before the soviet invasion really allowed me to feel as if I am part of the story. The author describes everything about Kabul’s culture in a vivid manner. For instance, the western movies that Amir and Hassan would watch, the literature, the prolific parties etc... Also, I really liked how the Author Khaled Hosseini lived in Kabul as well. Therefore, he really knows what he is talking about. I also really enjoyed Hosseini’s integration of Farsi language. The vocabulary is great; it really helped me grasp the novel. I found the Themes and symbols of The kite runner to be very fascinating. The themes in the novel really allow the reader to reflect on his or her life. I also really loved how the novel opens the reader’s eyes to the pain and suffering in the world. Not many books are capable of doing that. Another aspect I really liked was the narration. I admire the fact that the story is being told by a man who is full of regret. In today’s society, many people can relate to that. This allows the reader to form an intimate connection with Amir. I also appreciated the way Khaled integrated surprising events throughout the plot. Those surprising event kept me emotionally involved to the book. For instance, Hassan’s rape, Amir finding out Hassan is his half brother, Baba developing cancer etc... All these events took me by storm. I was upset when I found out that Hassan was killed. At that point, it seemed like Amir no longer had a chance at redemption and reconciliation. Amir quickly gets another chance at redemption when he finds out Hassan had a son who needs to be saved. However, I would have preferred a closed ending instead of an open one. I feel like there are too many unresolved questions. For example, will Sohrab ever return to normal? Will Soraya and Amir have a child of their own? What happens to Assef? On the other hand, Sohrab’s smile at the end gives the reader an optimistic view on Afghanistan future.

To conclude, I must say that I really took pleasure in reading The kite runner. It is definitely one of my favourite novels of all time.

Symbols:

The return of Assef is a very important Symbol. Assef as a character symbolizes a lot of things. He is a reminder of regret to Amir. He also represents everything that’s immoral in Afghanistan. Therefore, his return has great symbolism. Assef’s return symbolizes the impossibility to run from your past. “For me, America was a place to bury my memories” [7] . Amir only realizes that it’s impossible to run from your problems when he confronts Assef for a second time. “It’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past always claws its way out” [8] . And it was through that realization that he finally found happiness. “ My body was broken-just how badly I wouldn’t find out until later-but I felt healed. Healed at last. I laughed” [9] . The return of Assef also symbolizes the power of a vow. Assef vowed revenge on Amir as a child and he got it as an adult.

The pomegranate tree is another very important symbol. When he was a child, Amir carved his name next to Hassan’s in a pomegranate tree near his house. The two boys would often go to that tree and Amir would read stories to Hassan. “Amir and Hassan, the sultans of Kabul” [10] . The pomegranate tree is a representation of their friendship. The state of the tree can also be compared to the state of their friendship. Before the rape separated the two friends, the tree was blooming and fruitful. When Amir returns later on in the story, he sees that the tree has withered and ceased to bloom; similarly to his friendship with Hassan.

Hassan’s slingshot is one more very noteworthy symbol. The slingshot is significant in a several ways. The slingshot symbolizes loyalty and devotion Hassan has towards Amir. Hassan used the slingshot to scare away Assef and his crew. That act not only shows that he is loyal, it also show’s he’s willing to put himself at risk for Amir. The slingshot is also a symbol of defence and empowerment. Even though Assef is big and muscular, his stature could not stop the little Sohrab from using the slingshot.

Themes:

Sin and redemption is the main theme of the novel. Amir’s quest to redemption is the foundation of this novel. Throughout the novel we see that Amir is a good person. However he committed one momentous sin that haunts him all the way through the novel; he did not act as Assef raped Hassan. Amir then goes through a phase where he tries to escape his past. In the end, he redeems himself by saving Sohrab and he proves his loyalty to Hassan. This theme is also present with Baba. Just as Amir had betrayed his childhood friend Hassan, Baba had betrayed his childhood friend Ali by impregnating his wife. Baba, like Amir, is full of guilt and regret. Baba started doing charitable acts all around Kabul. “I’d never seen him deny a peddler” [11] . He built an orphanage

Self discovery is a very important theme in The kite runner. Throughout the story, Amir is always trying to discover himself. “This isn’t you part of me said. You’re gutless. It’s how you were made” [12] . Even in such a late point in the book, Amir has not discovered who he is. He is on a brave mission to save Sohrab, but deep down, he is convinced that he is still a coward. Amir also discovers another aspect about himself late in the book; Hassan is his half brother. This discovery only deepened his regret.

Father and Son Relationships is a very significant theme and it occurs often in The kite runner. First of all, Fatherhood is very important theme because mothers are rarely present in the story. In the beginning novel, Amir and Baba have a problematical relationship. The two lack an intimate relationship. Baba was hard on Amir because it eased the guilt of not treating Hassan equally. However, in the end of the novel, Baba and Amir build a good relationship with each other and Baba dies a happy man. On the contrary to Baba and Amir’s relationship, Sohrab and Hassan have a great father and son relationship until Hassan’s death.

Style and voice:

In my opinion, the success of the novel is because of Khaled Hosseini’s style. Khaled Hosseini's writing style is informal and easy to comprehend for the reader.

Hosseini language is often colloquial; he integrates Farsi language all throughout the novel. Words such as kabob, Moalem really give a nice touch to the text. Hosseini's language is often highly descriptive and the novel is packed with vivid detail of life in Kabul and in Fremont. “The streets Glistened with fresh snow and the sky was a blameless blue” [13] . Passages like that are very common in the novel.

He also describes Kabul’s culture in the same manner. For instance, the western movies that Amir and Hassan would watch, the literature, the extravagant parties etc... These flamboyant descriptions allow the reader to feel part of the story. The novel is written in a contemplative approach that always lets the reader know he is using flashbacks to tell the story. He also uses other literary devices. For instance, he uses foreshadowing several times in the novel. “God help us all if Afghanistan ever falls into their hands” [14] . That passage foreshadows the eventual collapse of Afghanistan.

In terms of voice, Hosseini’s presence is strongly felt in the novel. Hosseini makes his thoughts very clear. He evidently shows his dislike of what the Taliban have done in Afghanistan. His appreciation of Kabul before the soviets invaded is also very clear. Hosseini also has similarities to Amir. For instance, they both grew up in Kabul, both enjoyed reading and writing and they were both affected by the Taliban [15] . As a result, we feel Khaled’s voice is present through Amir’s narration.

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